300 episodes

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten Steli Efti & Hiten Shah: Serial Entrepreneurs, Sales & Marketing Experts, Startup Investors & Advisors, CEOs running multi million dollar SaaS Startups

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Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

    529: Self-Management Is the Best Management

    529: Self-Management Is the Best Management

    Today on The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk how self-management is the best management.



    Managing yourself is one of the most important skills a person can develop, especially if you want to be a successful leader and manage other people.



    In today’s episode of the show, Steli and Hiten what self-management means, the importance of self-management, some principles of good management and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About today’s topic



    00:39 Why this topic was chosen.



    01:21 Why knowing what you control is super important.



    02:25 Why self-managed people are some of the best people to work with.



    02:39 What self-management means.



    03:38 Why you should start with you.



    04:27 Why you should live a truly good life in front of your children.



    05:35 How it’s so much easier to tell people what to do.



    08:40 The importance of self-management.



    09:07 The principles of management.



    3 Key Points:



    A lot of it has to do with knowing what you control.Self-managed people are some of the best people to work with.Self-management is figuring out what to do and not ask other people what you should be doing.



    Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.
    Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. And today on The Startup Chat, we're going to talk about how self-management is the best management, because I tweeted that and I think Steli liked it.
    Steli Efti: Yeah.
    Hiten Shah: And I tweeted it because it just came in my head. I had no rhyme or reason.
    Steli Efti: How the fuck do you do this? You're just like, you're just walking down the street and you see birds chirping, and you're like, "Ah, wait a second, before I continue watching these birds. Self-management is the best management." How did it just pop up in your head?
    Hiten Shah: I don't know. I just thought about it. I don't know. I just thought about it. I just thought about something and it just popped in my head, and I was like, "Oh, yeah, this is a good one. Let me go share this today." I strongly believe that. And a lot of it has to do with knowing what you control. And you just control yourself and how you manage yourself. And I think that can extend to many different areas. We can talk about it in many different ways, but at the end of the day, I really truly believe self management is really the best management. And one thing, one way, if you are a manager of any kind that you can kind of resonate with this or maybe have some familiarity with the concept, is when you have somebody who you're managing, you're responsible for, and their ability to manage themselves is just incredible. So, the management you have to do is very light because they're bringing what their needs to the table for you. They're documenting things. They're basically managing themselves, which makes it so that you don't have to manage them. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't manage them. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be involved. This isn't even a management style thing. This is literally, self-managed people are some of the best people to work with. Self-managed people are sort of some of the people that have the most ... That appear to be more put together because they're just managing themselves. Even if everything's going to hell in a hand basket or whatever they call it, they're still sitting there capable of basically figuring out what to do. So, a lot of self-management to me is more about figuring out what to do and not having to ask other people what you should be doing. And this applies to so many different scenarios. It's kind of hilarious because it's kind of like this thing where you're taking control of what you can control, and you're not worried about things that are outside of your control. If you think of self-management and think of it as self-management, you could put yourself in that mindset even if you don't have a lot of experience

    528: Pro Tip: Share Your Work

    528: Pro Tip: Share Your Work

    In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about why you should share your work.



    While a lot of startups conduct their business in secret, some are now beginning to share what they are working on with the public, and like everything in life, sharing your work has it’s pros and cons.



    In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about what cross-promoting is, why you shouldn’t feel forced to share your work, what type of things you could share with the public, the benefits of sharing and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About the topic of today’s episode



    01:37 Why this topic was chosen.



    02:58 Why you shouldn’t feel forced into sharing.



    04:53 Things to consider before sharing your work.



    05:17 What most startups share about their work.



    05:58 How not to share your work.



    06:34 Why sharing your work in real-time is riskier.



    06:54 How sharing your work shows vulnerability.



    07:26 How sharing your work sparks curiosity.



    07:38 When to share your work.



    3 Key Points:



    Don’t feel forced into sharingThere’s beauty and power in sharing your workMost people don’t share their work



    Steli Efti: Hey, everybody. This is Steli Efti.
    Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. Today, on The Startup Chat, we're going to talk about one of my pro tips that I tweeted about recently. It just said, "Pro tip, share your work." Here, we like talking about more than just sales and marketing.
    Steli Efti: We just want to b******t and chat about business and life, and hopefully, while we're doing that, provide a lot of value to people.
    Hiten Shah: The world's best business podcast.
    Steli Efti: Oh.
    Hiten Shah: Shit.
    Steli Efti: Shit, we got it.
    Hiten Shah: For people trying to get shit done.
    Steli Efti: Done. Yeah. We don't want to give you feedback that's b******t.
    Hiten Shah: We want you to do your best. I think it caught Steli's eye, which I'm not surprised about. What did it spur for you?
    Steli Efti: Well, first of all, the tweet popped up in my timeline. I have to look it up again. It was not just you, but it was you with a tweet and a reply. You'll know from whom. It was your tweet that said, "Pro tip, share your work." And then below it, it showed the reply of somebody saying, "I love you." Which was-
    Hiten Shah: Yeah, Julian Shapiro.
    Steli Efti: Julian Shapiro, who's a badass. [crosstalk 00:00:58].
    Hiten Shah: It was great.
    Steli Efti: And a great follow. I had to laugh, both because I love what you tweeted, but also loved his response, just, "I love you." It's just classic. As always, when your tweets are inspiring or at least slow me down on my tweets, scroll, track. Wait a second.
    Hiten Shah: Yeah, that's fun, all that.
    Steli Efti: This seems right. Hold on. I'm always curious, what prompted this? What happened in Hiten's life? What thought, what conversation did he have? What happened just before he picked up his phone and was like, "All right, let me share this with the world. Pro tip, share your work." Tell us.
    Hiten Shah: Yeah, one of the most secretive people I know is David Cancel from Drift. I was looking up something he shared on LinkedIn. Over at Drift, they created yet another new category. They created a category called Conversational Marketing over the last few years. They recently, a few weeks ago, maybe a couple months ago, threw it out and said basically, "We're creating a new category now again, and it's called Revenue Acceleration." Then, when they announced it, a bunch of folks, Dave Gerhardt, who used to work at Drift, had some commentary, a few other folks had some commentary about it, and then David decided to share some slides, I'm going to call them ugly because they are, and that's a compliment in this case, share some slides that he worked on internally. And he had a nice little note about it basically saying that there's no point keeping these secrets

    527: Should Founders Be Doing Sales? Will Prospects Take Their Startups Serious?

    527: Should Founders Be Doing Sales? Will Prospects Take Their Startups Serious?

    In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about if founders should be doing sales.



    Sales can be tricky for experienced and new founders, and it’s very common for some founders to want to delegate sales to someone else as they worry that customer will judge them or see their company as a small company and not want to do business with them. However, the opposite is the case most of the time and in practice, people love talking to founders.



    In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about how some founders are concerned about doing sales themselves, why it’s better for founders to do sales themselves, how some founders’ let their insecurities get in the way of their success and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About today’s topic.



    00:45 Why this topic was chosen.



    01:55 How some founders are concerned about doing sales themselves.



    02:25 Why it’s better for founders to do sales themselves.



    04:06 How Hiten does sales for his own startup.



    04:54 How some founders’ let their insecurities get in the way of their success.



    05:30 How the customer wants you to solve their problem.



    06:07 How the customer matters.



    06:35 How people are thrilled to talk to founders.



    07:50 How Hiten and his cofounder get on sales calls together



    3 Key Points:



    I think it’s better if the founder sells.Insecurities can stand in the way of success.The customer wants you to solve their problem.



    Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.
    Hetin Shah: And this is Hetin Shah.
    Steli Efti: And today on the Startup Chat, we're going to talk about, how do we want to frame this, should founders sell themselves, or is that projecting a weird or weak message to the world? So, this is going to be a short rent episode, but I feel like, maybe especially our audience or some people in the audience, will benefit from hearing this. I was on a mentor call recently, and there were a bunch of self-funded founders and self-funded SAS entrepreneurs on that call. And there were a lot of questions around selling. And then one founder asked a question. It's one of those rare ones where I've heard it many times over the years, but I've never addressed it afterwards, in kind of a one piece of content to share that, my opinion about this, with the world. It kind of clicked and I was like, "I can't believe I've never talked about this on the podcast. I've never talked about this on a video or something like that." So I wanted to chat with you about this real quick, the basic premise being... And I'll ask you first, see what you think and what you would have told this founder and then I'll tell everybody what I told them. But here's a founder that has built a SAS product that is in the early days. And he asked me, he said basically, "Listen, I'm a bit concerned that if I'm starting to reach out to people by email and cold calling and all that, and I'm like, 'Hey, I want to sell you this product.' And then they're like, 'Oh what's your position in the company?' And I have to say, 'I'm the founder.' Then it will obviously communicate that I am tiny, there's nobody else working at this company, and I'm probably desperate because why otherwise would the founder involve themselves in cold emailing people, and ask them for appointments, and giving them demos, and trying to close them on a deal?'" And he was like, "Wouldn't it be better if it just hired somebody to do this? So, we maintain the appearance of being a successful, maybe bigger company." That question was directed to you, Hetin. If somebody was like, "Hetin, should I sell myself? Or will they create kind of a bad impression in the market because I'm the founder? Should I rather just hire somebody to do that, so people don't think I'm desperate and small?" What's your general response to that?
    Hetin Shah: I think it's better if the founder sell

    526: Is There Too Much SAAS?

    526: Is There Too Much SAAS?

    In today’s episode of the startup chat, Steli and Hiten talk about if there’s too much SaaS.



    In the startup world, there are a lot of SaaS solutions for different industries and niches. One of the reasons is that it’s become so easy to build a SaaS product and founders are doing just that. Unfortunately, this leads to oversaturation and standing out is a challenge.



    In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about how people are building a lot of software right now, bottlenecks that affect selling a SaaS product today, advice for founders looking to start a saas company and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About today’s topic.



    01:15 Why this topic was chosen.



    01:37 How people are building a lot of software right now.



    02:04 How bottlenecks affect selling SaaS today.



    03:07 The current state of the SaaS industry.



    04:16 How it’s easier than ever to build a SaaS product.



    05:31 What customers think about the current state of SaaS.



    05:59 How the market might go in the coming years.



    07:36 If founders should be worried about competition.



    08:01 Advice for founders looking to start a saas company.



    3 Key Points:



    People are building a lot of software right now.I think there are all kinds of bottleneck today in selling SaaSIt’s easier than ever to build a SaaS product.



    Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.
    Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.
    Steli Efti: And today on The Startup Chat, we're going to answer the question, isn't it too much SaaS? So this is another infamous episode that's based on a tweet that you made, and that tweet was based on a ton of work and exposure that you've had in this area, I assume. But you recently tweeted something that stood out to me and it kind of stirred the pot a little bit, a lot of people that, a lot of friends, a lot of people that are respected, the SaaS space responded to it in one way or another. So I felt like that's the perfect material to unpack for our listeners. So let me ask you, maybe you tell people a little bit about that tweet and what proceeded there. What made you write about that? And then let's just unpack this question of there's too much SaaS and what does that mean for founders out there that are currently building their first SaaS product or running a small SaaS product?
    Hiten Shah: Yeah, I mean, there is a lot of SaaS, so what I tweeted was this idea that nobody you don't talk to people and they're all like, "Hey, I want more software." You know?
    Steli Efti: Yeah.
    Hiten Shah: And the reason I tweeted that is because people are building a lot of software right now. There are new sort of products coming into the market all the time in almost every category and there's people making very good living building the software too. So the comment was more like, I see a lot of software that's being built and then whether it's no code or things that people are just building really quickly and then kind of considering it a project, and then they end up moving on. And so that's one scenario. Another scenario is I think there's all kinds of bottlenecks in selling today that selling SaaS that just didn't exist before, because there was less SaaS. So we're seeing things like if you're in certain markets, you need a number of features that are parody for the market, which basically means it takes you more effort, more time to build the product you need to build, and you might take it to market and people might have expectations that you were not even expecting until you actually built it and gave it to them. So, yeah, there's just a lot going on in the world when it comes to software and SaaS and kind of all aspects of it. So that's kind of where it came from. I've interviewed a ton of people about all the different tools they use and all kinds of different sort of configurations in terms of the interviews from understandi

    525: A Founders Guide to Feeling Feelings

    525: A Founders Guide to Feeling Feelings

    Today on The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about a founders guide to feeling feelings.



    Running a business is difficult and comes witha lot of stress that if not managed properly can lead to a lot of problems for a founder. Problems that could affect your personally or worse, the health of your business.



    In today’s episode of the show, Steli and Hiten what it means to suppress your emotions, why doing so might not be a good thing, how to get in control of your emotions and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About today’s topic



    00:32 Why this topic was chosen.



    01:38 How Steli deals with his emotions.



    03:25 One factor that determines how you deal with your feelings.



    05:02 Another factor that determines how you deal with your feelings.



    06:16 One way to get in control of your emotions.



    08:35 The importance of recognizing your emotions.



    09:05 A real-world example of dealing with emotions.



    10:34 How Steli reacted to an emergency situation.



    11:41 Why you can pay a big price if you suppress your emotions.



    3 Key Points:



    I can’t quite fully trust my emotions.Think things through before you act.Personality has a lot to do with how you express yourself to the outside world.



    [0:00:01]
    Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.
    [0:00:03]
    Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.
    [0:00:04]
    Steli Efti: And today on the Startup Chat, we're going to figure out if founders know how to feel their feelings or they're just thinking them. So, here's why I wanted to quickly talk to you about this. Anybody that's been listening to the Startup Chat for a long time knows we have talked a lot about the inner game of being a founder. We've talked a lot about it, we have a good amount of episodes around managing your emotions, managing your states, managing other people's emotions, because it's an emotional game. And if you don't control your feelings, they might lead you astray and into problematic situations. One thing that I recently discovered about myself, and I wanted to quickly unpack with you for founders, because I thought this might be useful to people that listened to us, is this realization that I had about myself that I think at some point at a young age, I started realizing that I can't quite fully trust my feelings, and if I just act on my emotions, I wreak havoc, and I create all kinds of problems. So, I started focusing more on controlling my feelings through my mind, and through thinking things through, and not acting immediately, and slowing it down, and de-intensifying my feelings, analyzing them first. Over a long period of time, very subconsciously over decades, I think that I mastered... I overdid this to the point where over the last many, many years, I think I thought most of my feelings, especially the negative ones, right? So, I could tell you here's a situation that I think I was hesitant in and probably was driven by some kind of a fear, I didn't feel fear or I didn't feel hesitant, but I didn't feel nervous. I just thought, "I'm probably nervous in this situation," but it didn't have a physical sensation. And for many, many reasons, I think that that's not a good idea. It's not a good idea to just think your feelings. I think it's a much better idea to actually feel them, be present for them, not let them overwhelm you or runaway with you, but not run away from them either, but actually being fully present for the feeling. And then, you can still decide to think things through at times before you act. But, as I was thinking about all my friends that were CEOs and founders and entrepreneurs, I was wondering if this is maybe not so unique of a case. And what the downside, let's just talk about that, the potential downside could be for founders who have lost touch with their feelings, who've lost the ability to feel their feelings and are just so cognitively focused,

    524: How to Acquire and Cross-Promo SAAS Apps

    524: How to Acquire and Cross-Promo SAAS Apps

    In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to acquire and cross-promo saas apps.



    Acquiring and cross-promo saas apps is a common strategy stirrups use to grow. However, it can get very messy when not done right. There specific questions that need to be answered before you commit to making a purtcahse so that you avoin problems or regret.



    In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about what cross-promoting is, how companies use it to grow, why it isn’t as simple as people think and much more.



    Time Stamped Show Notes:



    00:00 About the topic of today’s episode



    00:32 Why this topic was chosen.



    02:45 Why cross-promoting isn’t as simple as people think.



    03:29 Why you should be conservative with your expectations.



    04:05 Things to consider before using this strategy.



    05:22 How to introduce the new app to customers.



    06:37 Why you should be clear about buying an app.



    07:38 Why you should be cautious about buying an app.



    07:41 Questions to ask before buying an app.



    10:03 About Basecamp’s marketing strategy.



    3 Key Points:



    Cross-promoting typically failsBe conservative with your expectations.Over time, most companies rebrand.



    [0:00:01]
    Steli: Hello everybody. This is Steli Efti.
    [0:00:03]
    Hiten: And this is Hiten Shah.
    [0:00:04]
    Steli: And today on this [hollow chat 00:00:05], we're going to talk about buying and cross-promoting apps in SAS, or products in SAS. So here's the deal. As the world of SAS products has matured and grown and scaled and exploded, and there is a ton of different SAS products out there. There's SAS extensions, mobile apps, web apps, whatever, desktop apps. Now we're getting to the stage where we don't just see kind of one type of company or startup that is building a SAS product, to be kind of a venture funded Silicon Valley based company or something like that. But you have single founders, you have people that build these SAS apps as side projects. Some of them are big. Some of them are small. And so now we're starting to see kind of this trend of more acquisition happening in the space where companies buy smaller products to promote them, or to use them as lead gen for their main product. And I thought it'd be fun to unpack this a little bit for somebody that's already a founder running a startup, or a SAS product, is it a viable strategy to buy other apps that have maybe similar customer base and cross promote? You've done this a good amount, you're probably one of the more experienced people in SAS in buying apps or launching different products and doing the cross promotion. And so I wanted to unpack the strategy and kind of maybe highlight some of the unintuitive truths to this. Here's the shit that everybody thinks would work easily, but it doesn't. Or here's the stuff that you think would be profitable, but most people don't do X, Y, and Z when they do the math. So let me ask you, with kind of all the experience that you've had trying this, first of all, just throwing out there the big question in my mind which is, what's not simple about the strategy of saying let's buy an app or a SAS product that has a similar customer base that then we'll be able to promote our main product to, and kind of do cross selling or cross promotion? What about that basic idea is what people miss? Because if it was that simple, everybody would do it and would do it incredibly successfully, and I'm not sure that that's really the case. So what's some stuff that we don't know about this strategy or this idea?
    [0:02:44]
    Hiten: What you probably don't know is it typically fails. And it's not that you don't know that, it's just that when you're in it and you see an opportunity, you're thinking about all the things that could go right. And I think that that ends up getting people to be very optimistic about something that they should actually be very con

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