The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

December 31, 2019

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.



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In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the benefits and importance of diversity in startups. For Steli and Hiten, having a diverse team can widen your understanding and empathy for others. This can only serve as an advantage for your business, especially in your day-to-day interactions with your customers. Tune in to find out how diversity is not about filling a quota, the benefits of being challenged by people who are different than you, and why Steli and Hiten specifically seek it out.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:05 – Today’s episode is about diversity in startups

00:40 – Diversity is a loaded topic in tech startups

01:01 – In Uber, they have gender, ethnicity and race diversity issues

01:27 – This episode is NOT about judging companies, but is a discussion about the benefits and importance of diversity

02:18 – Close.io recently had a company retreat and they are the most diverse team Steli has ever been a part of

03:02 – Steli’s favorite thing was that wherever they went, people were wondering why they were all together

04:27 – A company has a diverse set of customers and if your team does reflect that sort of diversity, it can be harder to have empathy for your customers


05:11 – More empathy for customers leads to better results


05:23 – It is now easier to look for staff in different countries

05:45 – Google is stringent about diversity because they are trying to be the most diverse company; they even have a count system

06:37 – Hiten says diversity is not about filling a quota

06:51 – Steli says he takes cues from nature and through this he sees that diversity is how everything good happens

07:39 – Steli says diversity is a practical framework from which to create – not just financially, but wealth in ideas, experiences, knowledge, perspectives and solutions

08:20 – Personally, Steli is attracted to people who are different from him but are still aligned with their work ethic—this leads to diversity on his team

09:04 – Steli shares they were not strict in creating diversity for the team, but it organically happened

09:21 – They are a more creative team and have less blind spots because of their diversity and Steli’s life has become more interesting because of them

10:34 – Hiten says you have to first believe that diversity is good for your business

10:58 – When you’re evaluating a potential team member, ask the question, “When they get on the team, are they going to challenge us in the way that we want?”

11:38 – Teams should be able to say that they have enough diversity in thinking and in experience; if not, they need to decide if they are okay with that

12:50 – Older people add a different perspective to the business

13:10 – Hiten wants diversity so he seeks it out

13:34 – Steli says you give more energy to get to know people who are different from you as opposed to those who are similar to you and that you instantly like

14:31 – Steli says it might take a bit longer to understand and know people who are different from you; but once you get to know each other, it is a more fulfilling and stimulating relationship

14:55 – Do you seek comfort or do you seek people who can help you think differently?

15:27 – Be willing to make an investment to create a richer network of humans in your life and team

15:41 – End of today’s episode


3 Key Points:


A diverse team has the advantage of being more empathetic to a diverse set of customers.

Diversity is not about filling a quota, it’s about the belief that diversity will challenge and enhance the dynamics of your business.

Be open—it may take more energy to get to know someone that is different from you; but, making that effort can result in a fulfilling and stimulating relationship.


Steli: Hey everybody,

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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