9 Podcasts for First-Time Founders 🎧

or Nine podcasts I wish I was listening to when I was founding SoapBox

Brennan McEachran 👨‍🚀
The Startup
Published in
6 min readJul 11, 2018


Startups are hard. As a first-time founder myself, I feel like I can tell you that. (In fact, it’s my rule to tell you…) For me, I love the process and the grind. It’s the learning and growing that motivates me. So, I’m always looking to learn from cool, smart leaders — and podcasts make that infinitely easier. I get all their worldly wisdom, and I don’t even need to buy them a beer! 🍻

With that, here are nine awesome podcasts I wish had been around when I was founding SoapBox.

1. StartUp

This podcast has gone through a number of evolutions. It started as a documentary-style look at the challenges of starting a business, with the entire first season dedicated to the founding of the podcast’s parent company, Gimlet Media (episode one includes the founder’s extremely awkward pitch to Chris Sacca). Now, seven years later, the topics range more — for example, season seven is following venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton.

Episode to try:

“Diversification of Worry” (Season 4, Episode 1) — a surprisingly candid look at the growing pains at Gimlet Media as it continues to expand rapidly.

2. Masters of Scale

Hosted by Reid Hoffman (of LinkedIn fame), this podcast spotlights founders and leaders like Peter Thiel of PayPal, Reed Hastings of Netflix and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, digging into the real stories of how some of the biggest companies in the world got to where they are.

Episode to try:

“The Big Pivot” (Episode 13) — Slack’s Stewart Butterfield describing how he got the idea for Flickr while suffering from food poisoning in a New York hotel is worth a listen. 🤭

3. The Growth Show

HubSpot’s long-running podcast has covered everything from Netflix to the NBA, all under the umbrella of sustaining company growth. But their latest season is particularly cool. Titled “The Turnaround,” it’s featuring companies (like Nintendo and Absinthe) that nearly had to call it off — only to pull out a last-minute comeback.

Episode to try:

“The Turnaround: Nintendo” — a look at how Nintendo started operating at a loss for the first time ever, and how they made an epic return.

4. People Leading People 🎉😅

Is this my own company’s podcast? Yes.

Am I one of the hosts? Yes.

Is this a shameless plug? Yes.

But the whole point of why we dipped our toe into the podcast game was because I was already having these amazing conversations with entrepreneurs and leaders over beers after work, and I thought, why not get them on tape? Our only goal was for you to walk away from each episode with a few nuggets of actionable management advice — and I think we nailed it. 😏

Episode to try:

“Mike Katchen of Wealthsimple on building amazing teams” (Season 1, Episode 5) — hearing how Mike built Wealthsimple up, despite every bank telling him not to, is a fascinating journey.

5. This Week in Startups

If you’re trying in vain to stay up to date on what the heck is happening in Silicon Valley, this podcast makes it easier. Jason Calacanis brings on investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and other guests to talk about “the best, worst, most outrageous and interesting stories from the world of Web companies.” Check out the Startup Tuneup episodes to hear startups pitch their ideas to Jason.

Episode to try:

“Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital” (Episode 291) — the Facebook, Twitter and Uber investor gets candid about his first-ever investments, lawsuits the developer community and more.

6. The Official SaaStr Podcast

SaaStr is a massive community of SaaS company founders and execs — and this podcast is where they talk about how to make it in this industry: boosting revenue, scaling, hiring star performers and more. They also tap into investors’ brains, learning what they look for in SaaS businesses — and the founders behind them.

Episode to try:

“Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas on What Makes A Truly Great SaaS CEO Today, The Top Considerations You Must make Before Going To Enterprise & Why The Way We Sell Has To Fundamentally Change” (Episode 182) — well, it’s all in the title. 🤷‍

7. The Tim Ferriss Show

If you’ve somehow never heard of Tim Ferriss’s wildly popular podcast, you may have heard of his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. On his show, he interviews guests like Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Robbins and Kevin Costner, looking to mine their brains for little usable nuggets: favourite books, morning routines, time-management tricks…the list goes on.

Episode to try:

“The Benevolent Dictator of the Internet, Matt Mullenweg” (Episode 61) — the creator of WordPress offers up his arsenal of tricks and tools he uses to transform himself into a hyper-productive beast. Yes please. 👇

8. How I Built This

What makes this NPR program unique is the diversity of companies that Guy Raz spotlights. Yes, you’ve got your LinkedIn and Airbnb and other tech giants — but you also have the story of how Bob’s Red Mill got ahead of the health food boom, and how Chuck E. Cheese’s was born.

Episode to try:

“Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger” — a no-holds-barred look at the chaotic (read: near-disastrous) start to one of the most popular social media platforms of all time.

9. Seth Godin’s Startup School

In 2012, author and former executive Seth Godin brought together 30 startup founders for a three-day workshop. He recorded the whole thing, broke it into 15 segments, and published it as a podcast — which means that listeners get a full Seth Godin workshop for free. He covers everything from what a cap table is to the difference between a CFO and a COO — specific, useful tips for newbies.

Episode to try:

“Tactics” (Episode 10) — Seth’s explanation of how the life of a standup comic is similar to the life of a startup founder is pretty mind-blowing. 🤯

You made it to the end!

I hope by compiling this list, I can help a few younger versions of myself start to navigate the startup founder journey. Have others that should be added? Respond below.

Happy listening! 🎧

p.s. If your startup has hired a few employees (or you’re a manager ), you should really check out our product SoapBox now.

Brennan is the CEO & Co-founder of SoapBox, the #1 place to work in Canada. SoapBox, is an app and assistant for managers to have better one-on-ones, team meetings, AMAs, town-halls and more, with their team.

If you liked this article, you should give it 9 👏’s (one for each podcast) to help others find it!👇

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Brennan McEachran 👨‍🚀
The Startup

CEO, Co-Founder of @SoapBoxHQ. I split my time between the Business, the Tech, and @mrsmceachran