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The Startup Chat with Steli

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Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life by Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, two serial entrepreneurs who've both built multi-million dollar SaaS startups.

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life by Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, two serial entrepreneurs who've both built multi-million dollar SaaS startups.
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Palo Alto, CA




Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life by Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, two serial entrepreneurs who've both built multi-million dollar SaaS startups.




065: How to Become More Self-Aware

Today Hiten and Steli discuss the importance of being self-aware. Self-awareness is knowing how you make others around you feel. Individuals can be self-aware as well as companies. Examples of good self-awareness in companies are HubSpot and Facebook. Companies with good self-awareness are able to take their mistakes and correct them for future growth. Even companies that seem to have a distorted reality of their brand (for example Steve Jobs) have a form of self-awareness. Many people...


064: Marketing vs Sales

Today’s topics are so closely intertwined that people often don't realize the differences between the two: sales and marketing. Steli and Hiten will be building a few much needed bridges between them, so let’s dive in. Our backgrounds in sales and marketing continue to shape the things our businesses do today. Steli has been involved in sales his entire life. The internal software developed in his business led to the CRM software that inside sales teams and startups around the world are...


063: Reality Distortion Fields

The term Reality Distortion Field (RDF) refers to somebody’s ability to distort reality around them and impact those who come in contact with them. According to Wikipedia’s entry about RDF, in 1981 Bud Tribble at Apple Computer borrowed the term from a Star Trek episode to describe Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ charisma and ability to impact those working on the Macintosh project. “The Reality Distortion Field is actually the ultimate execution of a goal.” Today we are talking about how...


062: Uncommon Fundraising Advice

Steli and Hiten share some uncommon nuggets of wisdom about fundraising for your company. These practical tips will help you approach fundraising in a smart and professional way. Tune in and take notes! Don’t over value one investor over the others. -- Your business will change and investors will come and go. Inform yourself. -- Do your homework and learn how to fundraise. Communicate with founders, not investors. -- Develop a relationship with founders and eventually ask for an...


061: Trust in Startup Teams

Trust is a fundamentally important thing in any team and sometimes it’s something we don’t give enough thought to. Today we are talking about trust among your co-founders and team members and how we think about evaluating people in regard to trust. Steli talks about a recent retreat his team had and how the topic of trust was discussed. It was an opportunity to refresh and reevaluate company core values. Those shared core values allow for the building of trust. Being able to trust your...


060: Storytelling for Entrepreneurs

Today Hiten and Steli discuss the importance of telling a good story. Storytelling is a part of everyday life. It is a core skill that is used to educate and entertain audiences and business connections. Hiten and Steli share how they use storytelling to introduce themselves and make a memorable impression. Some of the reasons storytelling is so effective are: It’s visual -- using storytelling gives the audience an image to associate with your message. It’s easier to teach a lesson --...


059: Website Teardowns Screencast

Welcome to the Startup Chat’s first Website Teardown Edition. Steli and Hiten will be going through all of the websites posted on the Facebook group, and giving their feedback and advice, hate delivered kindly, about each one. These are the websites they tore down: Tryhousecall Saasmetrics Less Films Q-see Opsh Lawvu Startup Resources Absence Metrilo Buildicus Steli and Hiten had a few tips that applied to almost every website: - Focus on your niche. Portray the company’s unique qualities...

057: Discover and Embrace Your Authentic Self

Steli inspired today’s episode. One of his biggest business tips is always being yourself, but being able to recognize your strengths, your weaknesses, your quirks, and all of the things that make up who you are is not necessarily an easy thing. Knowing who you truly are and being true to yourself means pushing your ego aside and recognizing all of the things that inspire, motivate, and define your behavior and self-esteem. We know that self-esteem doesn’t mean you’ll avoid struggle and...


056: Work-Life Balance for Founders

Today we dive into Steli and Hiten’s top tactics and strategies for work-life balance and life happiness. It boils down to measuring your own time, and asking yourself if what you’re doing is creating value in the world, whether you feel productive and whether you’re working on things that recharge you and make you happy. “Naturally you’re going to be unbalanced, I like to ask myself regularly am I spending enough time with the people that matter?” – Steli Today’s topics include: Why you...


055: Steli and Hiten Talk About Patrick McKenzie (patio11)

We’re trying out something different today on The Startup Chat as we talk about a mutual friend of ours who is somebody we think we can all learn a lot from. Patrick McKenzie, an engineer known as patio11 on Hacker News, became an important contributor of that community and from there his career and life went in an interesting direction. “If you start small and it’s authentic and you share, it starts growing” Today we take a look at Patrick’s career and share some stories about him....


054: How to Run a Service and Consulting Business

Today’s topic is consultancy businesses. The show kicks off with Hiten and Steli talking about their wins and losses when starting up their first consultancies. Hiten had started off with his company called Elastic Sales, and Steli was in full-on SEO mode. But what they did was start with an audience they knew and a subject they knew a lot about, because that’s how you gain experience to move on to the thing you really want to be doing. They dove head first into what they did to make their...


053: What We Do for Fun

What do you do for fun? It’s a fairly simple question, but one we struggle to answer. Today we talk about the things that give us enjoyment and help to make us more rounded individuals. We both agree that learning is our favorite thing to do for fun. Steli is taking an online course from the High Performance Institute that deals with managing your own high performance. He talks about how it teaches managing different types of energy, such as quality, quantity, focus and force. Steli is...


052: How to Conduct a Great Job Interview

Today we’re going to talk about hiring and the interview process. There are a few things that hold true regardless of what type of employee you’re hiring and a few that are more specific to the type of employee you’re trying to bring on board. As a team, there should be a hiring process. Every person in the chain should not be asking the same questions. It’s a waste of time for the interviewer and the person who’s seeking a job. Put a process in place - make each interviewer responsible...


050 How to negotiate with friendly strength

Everything in life is a negotiation, in way or another. Or at least, that’s how Steli and Hiten want you to look at it. Today we’re talking about negotiating broadly in life. Stepping out of your typical mind frame, remembering your value, and using time to your advantage are all crucial points. The more time you invest, the more invested you are. Today’s topics include: The importance of negotiating Why you need to start laying out your intentions The core principles of negotiation It’s...


049: Advice for Entrepreneurial Millenials

Today we’re featuring Hiten and Steli’s advice for the younger and experiential generation. Steli goes in depth and tells us how he evolved from being bad at giving advice to being Hiten’s role model, what the advice was he gave (he actually reads the messages!) and how it would be different today; tying all this back to how it relates to millenials. Today’s topics include: The importance of being effective Why you should be creating a new framework How to create a customized way of giving...


048: How to Get from 10 to 100 Customers for your Startup

Today's episode is one of the most requested topics from within the Facebook group: How to get from 10 to 100 customers. Typically the things that get us that initial traction won't get us to the scale we need to be a viable company. We invite you to join our Facebook group, which is 1,000 members strong! It’s great to have such an incredible group of entrepreneurs out there making it happen every day. Please join us in ourFacebook group and share your experiences, challenges, and...


047: Batman and Robin - Founder Dynamics

Superheroes; more specifically, Batman and Robin, are the stars of today’s episode. Batman is always choosing his rivals, going out, and fighting crime… But he’s stubborn. And when faced with adversity, Robin jumps in as his backup and saves the day. One isn’t more important than the other, and in this case the roles vary depending on the situation the partners in at the time. Whether it be in a cofounder relationship or in a romantic one, someone should be Batman and the other should be...


046: How To Build a Great Reputation

In this episode we’ll be discussing the importance of reputation. Though there’s a slight minority of people that work better alone, you pretty much can’t win without people. Your reputation is all you have, and it’s built every day by your actions and the opinions you’ve planted in others. Being yourself is always the best way to go when moving towards a solid reputation; consistency is key. It’s good to have an idea of what you want your reputation to be, so you can strive towards it and...


045: Founder Self Awareness - The Weight of Your Words

Being a founder makes you an authority figure to other people. We think it’s important to be aware of how your words impact others. While some people may feel intimidated around you, there are likely some ways you can lower the nervousness they feel. When you are interacting with an employee, be conscious of the weight that you carry in impacting their lives. Having a reverse respect for people allows you to gain some equal footing. Getting that person’s context first gives you the...