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 this episode, Steli and Hiten may hate this particular question but are deciding to tackle it today: what are the things they wish they knew when starting their companies? Steli and Hiten give their candid responses which includes a discussion of how hard it actually is, what it means to put people first, and how to build a company with long-term objectives in mind. Listen in as they discuss how the answer actually does NOT lie in Steli and Hiten, but in you.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:05 – Today’s episode is about the things Hiten and Steli wish they knew when they started their first companies

00:34 – This is one of the questions that Hiten and Steli get asked a lot

01:18 – For Hiten, he would start by kicking his younger self in the groin

01:31 – “It’s going to hurt more than that so get used to that”

01:42 – Hiten realized that at times, he did not appreciate the pain

02:14 – The second thing for Hiten is knowing that it really is about working with people

03:09 – For Hiten, people are the number one thing regardless of what you want to accomplish

04:07 – Steli says he would not kick himself in the groin

04:17 – Steli agrees with Hiten that it was hard and painful

04:46 – Steli knows someone who has a luxury furniture business

05:32 – The guy had a friend who bought furniture overseas and was having problems with how to transport it

06:03 – The guy asked himself, “How hard can this be?”, and it turned out to be really hard

06:22 – The guy wanted to do it again so he could make money, not lose it

07:03 – Steli would have told himself it is easier than you think

07:29 – Steli would have told himself to think in the longer term

08:40 – Build your company in a way that will build your career, reputation and brand for the decades to come

09:31 – When working with people, Steli says he would nurture his relationship with people

10:42 – Steli says he would have told himself to not be too focused on audacious short-term goals

11:01 – It is about having the discipline to accomplish something worthwhile

12:31 – To be honest, Hiten hates this question

13:05 – It is a personal question and the one asking would not get much value from it because it varies from person to person

13:55 – Hiten’s tip: For anyone asking this question, think about what it means to you and why you care

14:14 – It is about learning about yourself

14:25 – Steli also hates this question and he says his answers depend on the context

15:06 – Steli was asked the question in an email and thought it would be an interesting topic for the podcast

15:55 – Steli knew Hiten did not like the question as much as he did

16:36 – Steli’s tip: Ask yourself that question and really think it through

17:29 – End of today’s episode

3 Key Points:

Starting a business can be hard OR easy depending on how you look at it.

People are always the #1 priority to focus on—build those relationships.

When you build your business, think long-term; how can I build my name, brand, and company in a way that will last?


Steli: Hey, everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten: And this is Hiten Shah.



Steli: In today's episode, we're going to talk about the lessons learned, the things we wished we had known when we first started our first company. This is a super common question if you are interviewed often, if you are invited on podcasts, if you are on stage just like you've been on off, this is a question that people ask a lot. It seems to be something that people are interested in, "Hey, I'm wondering what is the one thing or what are some of the things that you wish you had known before you started your first company?

Key points in this episode

In this episode

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