ML134: Warren Shaeffer on Audio First Learning, Launching a Startup and How To Filter Experts

Learn how to launch a startup including how to find a co-founder and build a product, the importance of the audio revolution and why audio first learning has so much potential and how to filter experts on the internet.

ML134: Warren Shaeffer on Audio First Learning, Launching a Startup and How To Filter Experts

Warren Shaeffer is the CEO and Co-Founder of Knowable, an audio-first learning platform backed by top investors like Andreesen Horowitz, Initialized, and Upfront.

After graduating from Harvard and a brief spell in finance Warren founded a couple of startups with his co-founder Alex including Vidme, a video platform for independent creators that raised $9 million and sold to Giphy in 2018.

He’s now working on Knowable, an audio-first learning platform that brings together world-class experts and storytellers to create audio courses that stimulate and inspire curious minds. In this episode we discuss:

- How to launch a startup including finding a co-founder and building a product
- The audio revolution and why audio first learning has so much potential
- The importance of expertise and how to select for it on the internet

We also talk about how Warren manages his own learning and how he tries to instil a learning culture at Knowable. So whether you’re looking to supercharge your learning or find experts you can trust, this has you covered.

Show Notes

  • Introducing Warren [00:39]
  • What was school like for Warren? [02:23]
  • When did Warren become aware that he was good at something? Which subjects did he enjoy most growing up? [03:52]
  • How did Warren’s entrepreneurship begin? [04:31]
  • Is there value in attending higher education? What future lies ahead for higher education and its place in society? [05:45]
  • What motivated Warren to leave his investment banking career for the startup experience? [07:06]
  • What are common mistakes that startup founders make while building their companies? [10:04]
  • How does Warren’s relationship with his co-founder Alex Benzer work? How do their skills complement? [11:08]
  • How do you come up with a successful startup idea? What lessons did Warren learn from building Vidme? [12:08]
  • How do startup founders know when it is time to exit? What were Warren’s key takeaways from Vidme’s acquisition? [13:55]
  • How did Warren and Alex decide to pivot to creating Knowable after Vidme got acquired? [15:41]
  • What is the philosophy behind Knowable? How did Warren come up with the idea of a self-learning audio education? [16:49]
  • What was the MVP for Knowable? How did Alexis Ohanian’s involvement lay the groundwork for Knowable? [18:48]
  • How do you achieve a prismatic experience with an audio-based learning platform? What philosophies did the founders of Knowable want to highlight? [19:53]
  • With the lack of regulation that comes with online learning, how do you find experts that can bring real value to learners? [21:42]
  • What is Knowable’s business model and relationship with its content creators? [22:47]
  • How is Knowable different from other online learning platforms? [23:56]
  • How does Knowable differ from podcasts? [24:59]
  • What was the decision-making process behind Knowable’s initial courses? What are the top 3 values Knowable wants to impart to their users? [25:55]
  • What are key insights that Knowable has learned so far from their user data? [26:50]
  • Nasos shares his firsthand experience with Knowable courses [28:26]
  • Why is taking risks a necessary and gratifying part of the startup experience? [32:25]
  • What are the things that Warren is currently learning? How does he optimise his learning process? [34:47]
  • What ideas from the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal has Warren applied to his life? [36:34]
  • How does identity-based learning affect one’s learning process? [38:50]
  • How is Knowable facilitating their employees’ personal learning experience and opportunities? [39:38]
  • What is something that Warren has changed his mind about recently? [41:26]
  • What are the tools and practices that Warren implements to manage his time more effectively? [43:14]
  • Warren shares their dream course and their dream instructor for Knowable [45:23]
  • Closing remarks [46:40]


🖥Knowable - Audio courses that build new skills


📖The Miracle Morning - Hal Elrod