In the 1980s—the early days of cable television—John Hendricks got stuck on an idea he couldn't shake: to create a channel that would teach people cool things in an entertaining way. In college he had seen hours of documentaries on history, science, and outer space; and he figured if he was interested in them, others would be too. So around the age of 30, he left a comfortable consulting business to begin a delicate juggling act: leasing a satellite, licensing content, and wooing cable distributors, all the while pounding the pavement to finance it all. Today, Discovery reaches more than 400 million homes around the world, and John is still in the content business, having launched Curiosity Stream in 2015.
1 hr 14 min
When she was working corporate jobs in New York City, Sarah LaFleur hated getting dressed in the morning; the choices in her closet felt overwhelming, many items didn't fit right or wore out too quickly. So in 2011 she launched a line of clothing for working women that would be simple, elegant, and well-tailored. She had no experience in fashion but partnered with a top-line designer, Miyako Nakamura, to create M.M.LaFleur. Today it's a multi-million dollar company with loyal customers from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.
1 hr 10 min
Andy Puddicombe is not your typical entrepreneur—in his early twenties, he gave away everything he owned to train as a Buddhist monk. But after ten years, he decided he wanted to bring the benefits of his meditation techniques to more people. While running a meditation clinic in London, Andy met Rich Pierson, who had burned out on his job at a high-powered London ad agency. Together, they founded Headspace in 2010. Over ten years later, Headspace's guided meditation app has users in 190 countries and an annual revenue of over $100 million.
1 hr 9 min
This week, we thought we'd bring you a little bonus from another show that Guy hosts called Wisdom From The Top. In 2012, to say there was a crisis at Best Buy—is an understatement. In January, Forbes published an article with the headline: WHY BEST BUY IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. And then, in March, the company reported a loss of $1.7 billion dollars. In April, the CEO resigned because of an "inappropriate relationship" with an employee. Hubert Joly stepped in, determined to fix Best Buy, and he started by valuing the people who work there.
Dec 29, 2021
1 hr 10 min
Kathleen King was 11 years old when she started baking cookies to sell at her family's farm stand on Long Island. After college, she opened a small bake shop, and eventually started selling her cookies to gourmet grocery stores in Manhattan. But after twenty years of running a small business, she wanted more time for herself. She brought in two partners to grow sales, but the partnership was a disaster—and after bitter lawsuits, Kathleen was forced to start over from scratch. 18 years later, Tate's Bake Shop—the second cookie brand that she built out of the crumbs of the first—sold for $500 million.
Dec 26, 2021
What makes a good How I Built This story? Why do our episodes take weeks to produce? How does Guy prepare for an interview? As a bonus this week, Guy wanted to take some time and answer a bunch of your questions! If you have other burning questions about the show, our process, or even just about Guy, you can Ask Guy Anything by submitting a question at guyraz.com.
Dec 22, 2021
Ronnen Harary built a 4 billion dollar toy company without relying on market research or focus groups. Instead, he believed wholeheartedly in intuition: the "ah-hah" moment that comes from thinking like a 7-year old. Over a 25-year period, he and his Spin Master partners launched innumerable hit toys and amusements, including Air Hogs, Bakugan, and the smash hit franchise PAW Patrol. Spin Master's journey began in the mid-1990s, when Ronnen and his friend Anton Rabie began selling the Earth Buddy, a chia-pet-like novelty gift made of pantyhose, sawdust, and grass seed. Today, it's a publicly traded company with a portfolio that includes TV shows, video games, and toys ranging from puzzles to plush.
Dec 19, 2021
1 hr 8 min
In 2010, rocket scientists Robbie Schingler and Will Marshall set an ambitious goal for themselves: to launch an aerospace mission with the speed and agility of a Silicon Valley startup. They set up shop in their garage, left their NASA jobs, and began pursuing their vision of building small, relatively inexpensive satellites to take daily images of the earth. Today, their company Planet has a fleet of roughly 200 satellites that capture millions of pictures daily, tracking everything from forest fires and oil spills to the health of coral reefs and crops. The company now has hundreds of clients around the world, and just went public on the NYSE.
Dec 12, 2021
1 hr 2 min
As college students in the late 1980s, Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan launched two projects that came to define their trajectories as entrepreneurs: the "punky but poppy" band Chunk, and the scrappy record label, Merge. For decades, the partners juggled the demands of managing their own band while negotiating record deals and recording dates for other indie artists. But the two worlds also collided in happy ways: touring in their own band was a great way for Mac and Laura to discover new talent, and they also learned that musicians tend to trust a label more if its founders play in a band. Today, Chunk is still going strong as Superchunk, and Merge has morphed into one of the most influential labels in indie music, with bands like The Mountain Goats, Spoon, and Arcade Fire.
Dec 5, 2021
1 hr 19 min
Seth Tibbott may be the only founder in the world who grew his business while living in a barn, a teepee, and a treehouse. His off-the-grid lifestyle helped him save money as he started to sell tempeh, a protein made of fermented soybeans. Throughout the 1980s he barely scraped by, but things took a turn in 1995, when he discovered a stuffed tofu roast made in Portland, Oregon. Knowing vegetarians had few options at Thanksgiving, Seth named the roast Tofurky and started selling it at co-ops in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly 25 years later, Tofurky sells plant-based protein around the world, and has estimated sales of $40 million a year. This show was recorded live at Revolution Hall in Portland, Oregon.
Nov 28, 2021