In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about the new positioning for The Startup Chat.

After over 400 episodes of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten have decided to step back a little and review the podcast positioning, content and brand.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the history of the Startup Chat, why the name was chosen, why the show is all about startup mentality and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:35 Why this topic was chosen.

02:25 A little bit of the history of the podcast.

03:24 What Steli thinks of the name of the show.

05:05 What Hiten thinks of the name of the show.

06:48 Why the show is all about startup mentality.

07:28 How the content of the show helps a wide range of people.

08:24 About the show’s tagline.

08:58 A more accurate description of the show.

10:18 How you don’t need to be starting a startup to get value out of the show.

3 Key Points:

  • It’s really about the startup mentality
  • The name could be misleading but could also be accurate.
  • The name has been a question mark for me


Steli Efti: Hey everybody. This is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, we actually want to do … This is going to be a behind the scenes one. We have had this topic on the docket of talking about the podcast, especially about, we’ve done now over 400 episodes. I think that we both love each other, we love the podcast, we’ve had tremendous, I think, impact. Even trying to be humble, lots and lots and lots of people over the years have given us the feedback loop needed that this is something that provides a lot of value to people. We also are helpless self-improvers and people that try to grow so I think we’ve been thinking about, “What’s next for the podcast?” We’ve been thinking a little bit about the brand and positioning of the podcast and what is going to be the next stage. Are we still happy with both the name, The Startup Chat? Are we happy with the positioning that we have which is two experienced entrepreneurs just talking shop? And the intro that we have. We don’t even have an outro I think.


Hiten Shah: Nope.


Steli Efti: The intro that we have that’s basically a bit of a funky music and then the two of us that are just like, “We just want to talk startups. Talk entrepreneurship with no bullshit and just have the best business podcast.” All that, our positioning, our name, the way we intro, everything, really happened 400 episodes again in episode number one which was basically, we had the idea, “Should we do a podcast?” And then we started recording. We recorded a 20 or 30 minute episode where we figure things out really quickly, “How long should this be? What should it be about? How would we structure it? What’s the name?” And then boom. And we never looked back. So we thought four years into this, maybe we should take a few minutes and check in and see, “Are we still happy? Do we need to adjust or improve or change something about it?”


Hiten Shah: I think all great questions that we currently don’t necessarily know the definitive answers to. Let’s go at it. I think we did this. I actually had a domain-


Steli Efti: That’s true.


Hiten Shah: … Actually, is it The Startup Chat or is … Yeah, it’s I always forget. We have the Twitter handle, The Startup Chat, and, Startup Chat. Use Startup Chat on Twitter but don’t tweet much because someone would have to do that. I think another thing about this is that you and I just spend our time focusing on the content by getting on and talking about things that we feel are interesting in the world or interesting to us, or that we think people will get some value from, we hope get value. Apparently some people do get value because we’re still here 400-and-something, over 410 episodes later. What do we think about the name?


Steli Efti: I think that I thought about the name on and off. On the one hand I like it. Now it’s an established thing and it’s a little bit of a brand in and of itself. It does describe accurately what’s happening on these episodes. We talk, we chat about startups, but we don’t really, I think we don’t really talk about other startups. We talk about what it means to be an entrepreneur, what it means to work at a startup. I think we are very tactical and practical, but we can also be very philosophical. I think a lot of the episodes have to do with the internal work that’s going on in life and in startups and entrepreneurship. I could see some people if you’ve never heard of us or the podcast before, I could see people interpreting it as, “They’re going to be talking about startups out there. They’re going to be chatting about the latest startups.”


Hiten Shah: That’s true.


Steli Efti: That could be misleading although it could also be accurate. At times I’ve always felt, “We’re doing more than just chatting about startups so maybe it should be a bit broader.” I’ve noticed that a lot of times people will … Some people will refer to it as, “The Startup Chat,” but a bunch of people will refer to it as, “I listen to Steli and Hiten’s podcast.” They won’t even say the name. They’re just going to say, “You should listen to Steli and Hiten’s podcast,” or, “Hiten and Steli’s podcast.” I don’t know. The name, I think, has been a question mark for me. At times I’m like, “it’s cool.” And at times I’m like, “Hmm, maybe something else would be better.” I’m undecided.


Hiten Shah: For me, I don’t think about it a lot. I haven’t thought about it until you brought it up. I think the way I think about this though is it’s really about the startup mentality and how people should have a startup mentality. As we think about this show and what we talk about, I think a lot of it is we’re talking about the startup mentality, we’re not talking about startups.


Steli Efti: That’s true.


Hiten Shah: We’re talking about startup mentality. That applies to people working at a big company, people working at a startup, founders, executives. I think it applies to anybody. The reason this makes sense is maybe 400 episodes ago it was about a startup or startups and people who were working in a startup or doing their own startup, I think now this whole idea of the startup mentality has permin … Permeated far and wide. There’s Eric Ries’s book, The Startup Way, which is really targeted at enterprise companies. But it’s called, “The Startup Way.” It’s not called, “[Lean] Startup,” anymore or anything like that. It’s literally, The Startup Way. It’s pretty much like, “This is how startups are.” I feel like we’re, this is even before you came up with the name we were doing this, and a lot of the stuff we talk about is applicable, a ton of it is applicable to any individual anywhere. Any age as long as your post, probably, high school, once you’re in college as stuff starts making sense to you because you got to figure your life out. That’s been my take which is this is really about startups, or, this is not about startups like, “Oh, a company.” This is about how to think a certain way or how to be a certain way or how to just improve all the time the way a startup always needs to with the limited amount of resources you have.


Steli Efti: I think it’s a lot about how to think like a startup, how to approach things like a startup or enter … Like an entrepreneur. We have talked a lot of tactics, but we’ve talked even more external tactics, but we’ve talked a lot more fundamental internal thought processes. The way to think, the way to act, the way to communicate. These things are very universal. It really doesn’t matter the industry or the job position or the context within … You work, you could use most of the episodes. This is feedback we’ve gotten consistently from people, a lot of people have told us, “It doesn’t even …” like, “My wife is listening to you guys. She doesn’t even work in a startup and she’s still getting a lot out of it,” or, “My friend is listening to it.” We had a lot of people directly say, “I work at a big ad agency but I still love the podcast and get a lot out of it.” It’s really nothing just to do with if you want to start a startup. One thing that we discuss is maybe this is a positioning thing. Changing the name I think, everything’s always on the docket, but I think the changing the name always seemed like a lot … A ton of work. Maybe a step towards the right direction is to think about, “What’s even the tagline?” Today our tagline as a positioning is unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life, which sounds very … It doesn’t sound like us, to be honest. It’s not a bad tagline but it doesn’t necessarily … It sounds very-


Hiten Shah: It’s a little dry.


Steli Efti: It’s a little dry. It doesn’t sound like us for sure. So the current positioning for people who don’t know the podcast that list … Read the subtitle is, this is unfiltered insights, actionable advice from two people that are running startups. It seems like it’s a bit dry and we’re not happy with it. What would be a more accurate description or summary of what the podcast is about?


Hiten Shah: Usually you’d ask your audience. How do we ask our audience Steli?


Steli Efti: I don’t know, you’re the king of surveys. Obviously we’re thinking about this so if you’ve been a … Well, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a long time listener or this is the first episode you’ve ever listened to, send us an email. We always like to hear from you directly. You can email us at or, or if it’s easier for you and you’re on Twitter right now as you’re listening to this podcast, you can tweet at us @steli or @hnshah. Just let us know, “Love the name. Hate the name. Here’s a better name. Here’s the way I would summarize in my own words how-


Hiten Shah: How do you describe it?


Steli Efti: “… How I would describe your podcast to somebody else.” We might throw out a Twitter survey in between times to get more feedback. I think we talked about this earlier already, this … I think the podcast is a lot more about exploring how to think like a startup, exploring the startup mentality. Then-


Hiten Shah: It’s, think like a startup and then defining that a little bit as how I think about it, at least, if I were to put a tagline on it. It’s like, no matter who you are, you can think like a startup. No matter who you are and what you do, you can think like a startup.


Steli Efti: If we look at that, that I think broadens the audience which has happened organically already to be where we’re saying, “You don’t have to be starting a startup to get value out of this,” which I think is important. Would that then mean that we might want to take a look at the name as well? Or is that just still too much work? Should it be instead of, The Startup Chat, The Startup Way? Or maybe the Startup Way is Eric Ries’s book.


Hiten Shah: It’s his book. He has it.


Steli Efti: All right, I don’t want to do that. Or, The Startup Mentality, or something along those lines?


Hiten Shah: Yeah, for me, I hate rebranding things. I’m always going to try to push for a, “Let’s not rebrand it.” The reason I hate rebranding things is because we’ve built up so much brand equity around the name already. There’s all these podcast episodes that have that name on them. We say it every time on every podcast episode and so I would say that if there’s a really good reason, yeah, we should do it. Otherwise we should keep the name and really focus on the positioning so that it’s more accurate and resonates with us and the audience a lot more.


Steli Efti: This is as unfiltered as it can be. We haven’t really talked about this too much before so you see us [live] contemplating things in real time. This is an important one, the effort and time and energy it takes to rebrand the whole thing, and the return on that investment is probably super disproportionate so it doesn’t make sense. Rather use a different tagline, maybe a different intro and outro. Let me ask, a good amount of people that start listening to the podcast probably started listening to it because they know you or they know me and they want to listen to us a bit more, they’re interested in that. Do you think it still makes sense today, a big part of the brand is that the podcast has our two mugs on the cover of it. Do you think that it makes sense to move past that or change that at all, or do you think that’s still probably a really good idea? It is the two of us that talk and if you’re not interested in the two of us, you don’t want to listen to the two of us, you’re not going to … You probably shouldn’t subscribe to the podcast in the first place.


Hiten Shah: I think so. I think the two of us still make sense. The reason is because we’re the ones talking and that’s … It’s what we want to talk about. It’s not what some guest wants to talk about or anything like that. We’re not really interviewing anybody. I do think it makes sense. There are now actually a lot more podcasts that have faces on them. I really believe we were one of the first to put two people. Now there’s a lot more that have two people and they’re just talking about things. We could change it if there’s a way to make it more relevant in terms of what we want it to be about and what we want people to come in and … Make it more relatable. I think people like other people. Seeing our faces and knowing that we’re part of it is probably still a big deal. That would be my take.


Steli Efti: The other thing that I was thinking about, there’s a least five podcasts that I know that started after us that use a very similar … Down to the name, the look. The whole thing. Which is cool, we got inspired by other people as well and so it’s always cool to see people be inspired by what we do. The other thing is though, that we’ve done very differently, let’s check in on that as well, is that we think from a … From the get-go we decided, “We don’t want to have guests.” The reason we didn’t want to have guests, it was a multitude of reasons. Number one, we didn’t want to be like every other podcast. Number two, we wanted to talk to each other. Quite honestly, we’re just more interested in talking to each other than talking to somebody else and differentiate ourselves from the pack. There’s so many great podcasts that do a good job interviewing people, how much of a better job can we do interviewing the same person? How much effort would it take us to do that? How much longer would these episodes be? It would completely change the format, where today we can have these super quick, 10 minute episodes in most cases. 10, 15 minute episodes and really go deep on one very focused topic and unpack, explore, and share some of our tactics, wisdom, and experiences with people. We’ve also, I think in real life, one thing that we’ve noticed is that one thing that we both enjoy doing and people get a lot of value from is giving people feedback on their pitches, on their ideas, on their struggles, on their website. I think one of the first things that we ever done together on stage was where you had a website tear-down session on stage and at that event, at that conference, was the first time that we really hung out for a whole day and became really close friend … Fast friends. You invited me onstage. You’re like, “We should do this together. It’s just more fun if we do it together.”


Hiten Shah: That’s right.


Steli Efti: And then we did it together and people loved it and we enjoyed it. We know we haven’t done this on the podcast, we’ve done this a long time ago I think, but giving real founders and real people out there feedback. Not the famous founders that everybody wants to interview, but giving people in the trenches that are starting out feedback on their website, on their emails, on their lending pages, on their ideas, on their elevator pitch. That’s something that we’ve always enjoyed and we find that we have … We complement each other really beautifully in the type of feedback we give and the amount of information and feedback we can give to somebody in a very short period of time. That’s something that think we might want to explore doing a little bit more on the podcast is actually having you, the listeners, send us things you want feedback from and you want us to chat about. And us doing quick two, three minute feedback rounds that is specific to the work that people are putting out there.


Hiten Shah: I think we can experiment with that and even structure it. You and I both like giving feedback and it’s nice to give feedback on someone’s website or someone’s business or someone’s idea or even anything that I … Can be valuable to other people too. What I always find interesting is when you do this kind of stuff how much value, depending on what you’re giving feedback on, anyone that’s listening to it can get. I think you might have just figured out some kind of experiment we might want to do.


Steli Efti: Again in the spirit of, this is, I think, the real behind the scenes and a real open dialogue we have, and we want to hear from you. We need to hear from you. You’re the end user at the end of the day, the consumer of the podcast. Let us know if you’d like us to do more of these feedback, elevator pitch episodes where we help people, where you can send us anything you want to critique. Maybe here’s the first experiment. If you listen to this and you’re like, “Oh my god, yes please. I would send you my website,” or, “My landing page,” or, “I would send you …” anything that you would like to get feedback on that’s concrete, just send us an email and you might find us giving feedback about whatever you wanted us to give feedback on on an upcoming episode of The Startup Chat. Just send us an email at and We might collect a few of them and then experiment and run an episode and see how you like it and how we like it and if we want to make that more of a staple of the show. And in general any feedback that you have, anything you’d like us to do more of or less of or anything that you think, “This is not obvious improvement. I wish these guys would just do X, that would be so awesome,” now is the time. Sometimes it’s the wrong timing but right now would be the perfect time to share that feedback with us. We’re very open. We’re in a state where we’re taking a step back, looking at it, the big picture, and thinking, “How can we fuck around with this? What can we learn next? How can we experiment? How can we expand what we do with the podcast?” Any and every kind of feedback is highly welcome. And then look out for us maybe playing around with different things coming up. We might try longer or even much shorter episodes. We might publish a few more episodes in a week to experiment with that and we might play around with content. The next couple of months look out for some new stuff around The Startup Chat. We’d love to have your feedback along the way. We’ll keep you in the loop as we learn things and as we learn what works and what doesn’t work.


Hiten Shah: Absolutely.


Steli Efti: That’s it from us for this episode. We’ll hear you very soon.


Hiten Shah: Looking forward to your feedback.