So You Want to Learn More About Startups.
My curated list of blogs, podcasts, and email newsletters that I personally recommend to anyone passionate about product, growth, analytics, and startup investing.
I have a passion for working with startups and have an insatiable appetite for content in this space. I read, watch, or listen to anything I can get my hands on, particularly around startup growth (analytics), product management, and startup investing. Friends frequently ask for new sources of content and instead of replying privately to the 6th friend that asked me, I’ve decided to open source my list below.
I’ll keep this list up to date. Most recent update: Jan 2016
Blogs and RSS Feeds
If you are a blogging pro, RSS readers are your best friend. Wouldn’t you rather have content pushed to you instead of having to pull it by visiting each blog each week? I highly recommend using Chrome’s popular RSS Feed Reader. Whenever the author publishes something new, you’ll be notified via the icon. Super simple and not too distracting.
The blogs I follow are:
- Julie Zhuo. She is amazing. Julie is a product designer director for Facebook and knows more about product design than anyone I’ve read. I read all her stuff and can’t recommend her enough. Her recent post went viral: Average Manager vs. Great Manager.
- Jim Scheinman. Jim is a genius when it comes to the psychology and behavior of how consumers engage with digital products and services. He is an industry thought leader and the managing partner at Maven Ventures, a VC firm that invests exclusively in consumer startups. If you have a startup, or want to build a startup, then definitely follow Jim. My favorite post is Top 10 Reasons Your Consumer Startup Will Succeed.
- Jason Calacanis. Jason is the king of startup content. He is the only person in my post listed under each category! (see below) Jason is great at spotting talent, especially early in the founder’s career. His product and founder instincts are strong, mainly because he’s personally built multiple startups himself. His advise is real and raw, especially in You Don’t Have What it Takes.
- The Angel VC. For those founders that are analytical and love numbers, Christoph Janz’s blog, The Angel VC, is a must follow. If you want to learn more about SaaS startups, startup metrics/benchmarks, or early-stage investing, this is it. Christoph, a partner at Point Nine Capital, has an easy-to-read writing style and very informative posts. He also provides some of the best excel templates I’ve seen (and used!) for SaaS metrics. My recent favorite post is Five Ways to Build a $100 Million Business.
- PEVCBanker. Samir Kaji is an industry thought leader and has more domain expertise of micro-VC firms than anyone I’ve met or read. What are micro-VC firms and why should you care? A micro-VC firm is defined as a firm with less than $100 million of assets under management. You should care because of two reasons. Firstly, these firms are usually the first money into your startup. They act as filters and deal sources for the much larger VC firms. Secondly, many micro-VC firms have a specialized niche (like Maven Ventures) and can provide lots of value add. I highly recommend following Samir if you want to learn more about the psychology of how to pitch these type of firms and about the market trends. I especially recommend Micr0-VC, by the #s.
- Andrew Chen. Great blog for product marketing, case studies about startups, and growth marketing. Andrew is responsible for popularizing the term growth hacker in Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing.
- Paul Graham. I think this one is self-explanatory. Paul Graham is a legend and has recently started blogging more often. His focus is on early stage startups and unicorn investing. I really like Startup = Growth.
- Sam Altman. Sam is a managing partner of YCombinator, the world’s most successful incubator. His posts are packed with wisdom about startup investing and life in general. I recommend reading The Days are Long but the Decades Are Short.
- Des Traynor. Des is a co-founder of Intercom and has some of the sharpest product instincts of anyone I know in tech. If you want to learn more about product management, start here. His most recent piece is brilliant, Trajectory Matters More Than State.
There’s a handful more I read regularly but I don’t want to overwhelm you. I’ll add more to this list in the coming months.
A nice compliment to the blogs are email newsletters. These are great because many of them do the curation for you. It takes me about 120 seconds to read a newsletter and if I find something that interests me, I click the link to read the post. Most of the time the newsletter will summarize the main points anyway.
The email newsletters I subscribe to are:
- Mattermark Daily. This newsletter is famous in the Valley. It covers everything tech — from entrepreneurship, to investing, to the startup ecosystem. The subscriber count is somewhere in the tens of thousands.
- Launch Ticker News. This is a weekly email by Jason Calacanis and his team. It contains about 20 headlines from the week in tech and is a great way for me to stay up to date with what’s going on. Lots of news about fundraising and new popular products.
- Startup Digest. This is another famous newsletter. To clarify, this is actually a dozen or so different newsletters. When you sign up you get to choose which topics interest you the most. I personally subscribe to the following topics: Startups, Product, Analytics, Angel Investing, Venture Capital, and Developer. Each week they send me a list of about four articles on each topic.
- Benedict Evans. With over 46,000 subscribers, he must be doing something right. Each Sunday, Benedict sends out a succinct email about the tech industry and news. It’s bitesize and focuses mostly on mobile.
Podcasts seem to have gone through a renaissance as of late. It seems like each week a new podcast is launched. They’ve completely replaced radio for me. If you commute often or have a lot of alone time, podcasts will be your savior.
The podcasts I listen to are:
- ThisWeekInStartups. Twice a week Jason Calacanis interviews people from the tech industry. He also occasionally does a news roundtable where he and his guests chat about recent news in tech (these episodes are my favorite). I used to listen to each show religiously but more recently I choose the guests or topics that are of most interest.
- The Information’s 411. This is a weekly episode about recent news in tech. The Information is an online news source that costs money but their podcast is free. It’s great to learn about what topics they wrote about the previous week. Very informative.
- NPR Hourly News Summary. This podcasts is definitely not about tech but is the only one on my list that I listen to every single day. Each morning and night they publish a 5 minute episode about national and global news. It’s bitesize and helps me stay current with what’s happening in our world.
- Re/code Decode. This is Kara Swisher’s podcast. She lands some pretty impressive guests — Obama, Dick Costolo, Zuck. I listen to these episodes selectively, depending on the topic or guest. I will admit though, of all the interviewers, she really knows how to push hard on the tough topics. No one leaves the interview unscathed.
- a16z. This is Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast. Their episodes range from awesome interviews with a16z’s partners to bleeding edge technologies like VR, trends in mobile, and self-driving cars. If you want to learn more about the future, listen to this podcast.
- Startup Podcast. If you’ve never listened to this podcast, start from season I. It’s a great educational resource for anyone wanting to learn more about startups and what it takes to create a startup.
- Serial. This is the Queen of all podcasts. Not only is it the most popular podcast of all time but it’s also phenomenal reporting. Although it’s not about startups or tech, it made the list because of how popular it is within the startup community. Start from season I.
- Product Hunt. Eric, the host, is one of the best young interviewers I’ve ever heard. It’s not his questions that make him good, it’s his follow up conversations with his guests that impress me. I’m also surprised at the awesome lineup of guests he’s landed on the show.
There’s a ton here. Frankly, I don’t have the bandwidth to consume everything. Be selective. Find one or two that you like and go from there.
As always, hit me up on twitter if you have any comments or questions: https://twitter.com/benhoffman_
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