The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

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 creating online courses for your startup business. Creating a course that suits your audience well, requires some upfront work. Steli and Hiten discuss the importance of searching for the BEST topic first and from whom? No one better than your own clientele or target audience. Listen in as Steli and Hiten both share the steps you should take to create your content, and why quantity cannot replace quality when it comes to your online course.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:27 – Today’s topic is about creating online courses for your startup

00:58 – Opt-ins have become a typical thing for every market

01:43 – #1 You might think quantity wins


01:53 – If you create a lot of ebooks or content; at most, only one of them will get you the best leads

02:42 – Before actually creating the content, first find out what will be the best piece of content to create


03:10 – The danger of creating a LOT of content is that the courses you create may not be very good or attractive

04:14 – Steli has only done 3 courses over 4 years


04:21 – The basic email course that was based on a few of their blog posts was the most successful

04:53 – Steli also experimented with having someone create a course for them on Udemy

05:34 – Udemy does not allow you to capture people’s emails and the quality of people who participate are also questionable for Steli’s course


06:11 – Currently, Steli is releasing ebooks every 2 months where they target different user personas

06:33 – Hiten’s caveat is an ebook strategy that hits more than one user persona

07:50 – Find out what’s a winner and double down on that


08:05 – Instead of creating more ebooks or courses, focus on the ones that really work well

09:04 – Courses can be in the form of simple lessons sent thru email, on platforms like Udemy or Teachable, and via webinar course


09:54 – Hiten strongly believes that following a process can help eliminate mistakes


10:24 – Run a lightweight marketing experiment

11:10 – Once you figure out a topic, then you can figure out the best way to deliver that topic/lesson

11:26 – Hiten shares an example of this

11:31 – He has tens of thousands of people on his email list whom he asked the question, “What is their #1 product challenge?”

11:40 – They found out that product prioritization was their audience’s problem

11:43 – They built a course about product prioritization with 2 workshops

12:42 – As they discover what the problem is, everything Hiten does goes around that problem

13:02 – If they didn’t ask their audience in the first place, they wouldn’t know what their audience needed help with


13:25 – What matters most for Hiten is NOT wasting any time

13:50 – If you have NO email list, use ADS

14:53 – Hiten didn’t have any software when they addressed their audience’s problem with product prioritization


15:20 – They thought about the best way for their audience to consume the content

16:04 – Start with MVPs or minimum viable products


16:32 – Following up is a topic aligned with Steli’s business

17:39 – Courses that provide people a certificate


18:10 – Create courses to offer certification for people; this is a different marketing strategy

18:57 – Mostly big SaaS brands offer this

19:21 – If your company has thousands of paying customers, this is possible

20:17 – Specialist certification works best if you can start a trend of a certain type of expertise


21:57 – We want to hear your opinion on this topic! Email Steli or Hiten


3 Key Points:


Before creating any course, research what would be the BEST topic to address.

The platform you use to launch a course should be the easiest for your audience to consume.

Key points in this episode

Key Highlights

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