For Christina Tosi, baking wasn't just a delicious childhood hobby – it was a daily creative outlet and a way to blow off steam. After college, she went to culinary school and honed her pastry technique at high-end restaurants in NYC. But she also craved the opportunity to make unfussy, nostalgic desserts like the ones she grew up eating. So in 2008, Christina opened her first Milk Bar bakery in the East Village, with the help of her mentor, Momofuku chef David Chang. Soon, people from around the country were calling her up, begging for her gooey pies, confetti birthday cakes, and pretzel-potato-chip cookies. Today, Milk Bar has spread to 16 locations and the aisles of Target, and reportedly brings in tens of millions of dollars a year. This show was recorded live at The Town Hall in New York City.
When Carley Roney and David Liu got married, they had a seat-of-the-pants celebration on a sweltering Washington rooftop. They never planned to go into the wedding business, but soon saw an opportunity in the market for a fresh approach to wedding planning. In 1996, they founded The Knot, a website with an irreverent attitude about "the big day." The Knot weathered the dot.com bust, a stock market meltdown, and eventually grew into the lifestyle brand XO Group, valued at $500 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Tyson Walters who got so tired of his St. Bernard shedding everywhere that he created a zip-up body suit for dogs: the Shed Defender.
The very first time Tristan Walker shaved, he woke up the next morning with razor bumps all over his face. "I was like, what is this?" he remembers saying. "I am never shaving again—ever." He soon discovered that like him, many men of color were frustrated by the lack of shaving products for coarse or curly hair. Fifteen years after that first disastrous shave, and after countless meetings with doubtful investors, Tristan launched Bevel, a subscription shaving system built around a single-blade razor. Eventually his brand Walker & Company grew to include 36 hair and beauty products, used by millions of men and women across the U.S. In 2018, Walker & Company was sold to Proctor & Gamble, and Tristan became P&G's first black CEO. Recorded live in Washington, D.C.
Andy Puddicome 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. Nine years later, Headspace's guided meditation app has users in 190 countries and an annual revenue of over $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how a quick fix to a broken pair of sunglasses inspired Jensen Brehm and Nikolai Paloni to create an armless set of shades: Ombraz Sunglasses.
In 2010, Katrina Lake recruited 20 friends for an experiment: she wanted to see if she could choose clothes for them that accurately matched their style and personality. That idea sparked Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service that aims to take the guesswork out of shopping. Today, it has about three million customers and brings in more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Justin Li, who created wearable equipment to keep cool and hydrated called IcePlate.
In the late 1980s, Curt Jones was working in a Kentucky lab, using liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze animal feed. He wondered if he could re-invigorate his favorite dessert by pouring droplets of ice cream into a vat of liquid nitrogen and – voila! – out came cold and creamy pellets that he soon branded Dippin' Dots. The novelty treat spread to fairs, stadiums and shopping malls, and eventually grew into a multi-million dollar brand. But a few years ago, Curt was forced to walk away after the company was hit with debt, recession and a punishing lawsuit. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Nadine Habayeb hopes to popularize puffed water lily seeds from India with her snack brand Bohana.
In the late 80s, brothers Bert and John Jacobs were living as nomads, traveling from college to college selling t-shirts out of their van. It wasn't a sustainable living – until one day, they created a new design. It was a simple sketch of a grinning face, with three words printed underneath: Life Is Good. The optimistic message was deeply personal to the brothers, who grew up in what they describe as a dysfunctional home – and it also resonated with customers, who started buying Life Is Good designs printed on just about anything, from towels to tire covers. Today, the Life Is Good Company has a reported annual revenue of $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," Jim Malone of CounterEv Furniture describes how he turns reclaimed wood from bowling alleys into tables and chairs for fast-casual restaurants.
Cotton muslin baby blankets are commonplace in Australia, where Raegan Moya-Jones grew up. But when she started a new life and family in NYC, she couldn't find them anywhere. So in 2006, she started the baby blanket company Aden + Anais, which now makes more than $100 million in annual revenue. We first ran this episode in 2017 – but about a year later, Raegan's role as leader and co-founder took a dramatic turn. She fills Guy in on what happened in this special updated episode. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Brian Sonia-Wallace, who started the business Rent Poet, and makes a living writing spontaneous poetry at weddings, corporate events, and other gatherings.
In 1983, two hippie farmers decided to sell homemade organic yogurt to help raise money for their educational farm in New Hampshire. As the enterprise grew into a business, it faced one near-death experience after another, but it never quite died. In fact it grew — into one of the most popular yogurt brands in the US. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Carin Luna-Ostaseski, who became the first American woman to start a Scotch whisky company after she created her own blend called SIA Scotch.
After high school, Marcia Kilgore moved to New York City with $300 in her pocket and no real plan. One step at a time, she became a successful serial entrepreneur. First, she used her high school bodybuilding experience to find work as a personal trainer. Then she taught herself to give facials, and eventually started her own spa and skincare line, Bliss. The spa became so popular that it was booked months in advance with a list of celebrity clientele. After selling her shares in Bliss, Marcia went on to start four new successful companies: Soap & Glory, FitFlop, Soaper Duper, and Beauty Pie. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Emma Cohen, who explains how she helped develop and market The Final Straw, a collapsible metal drinking straw.
In 2004, German programmer Tobias Lütke was living in Ottawa with his girlfriend. An avid snowboarder, he wanted to launch an online snowboard shop, but found the e-commerce software available at the time to be clunky and expensive. So he decided to write his own e-commerce software. After he launched his online snowboard business, called Snowdevil, other online merchants were so impressed with what he built that they started asking to license Tobi's software to run their own stores. Tobi and his co-founder realized that software had more potential than snowboards, so they launched the e-commerce platform Shopify in 2006. Since then, it has grown into a publicly-traded company with over 4,000 employees and $1 billion in revenue. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," after Barb Heilman invented a device that easily releases child car seat buckles, she started a business with her daughter Becca Davison called Unbuckle Me.
Angie and Dan Bastian weren't trying to disrupt an industry or build a massive company – they just wanted to put aside some money for their kids' college fund. In 2001, Dan stumbled across an internet ad touting kettle corn as a lucrative side-business, so he and Angie decided to take the plunge, investing $10,000 in equipment. At first, they popped kettle corn in front of local supermarkets in the Twin Cities and at Minnesota Vikings games. Eventually, they moved indoors to Trader Joe's, Target, and Costco – and got a crash course in how to run a business along the way. Angie's Kettle Corn eventually took on a bold new name: BOOMCHICKAPOP. And in 2017, the company was acquired for a reported $250 million. Recorded live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a new vacuum cleaner — one that didn't use bags. It took him five years to perfect the design, building more than 5,000 prototypes in his backyard shed. He then tried to convince the big vacuum brands to license his invention, but most wouldn't even take his calls. Eventually, he started his own company. Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world, and James Dyson is a billionaire. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with television producer Mike Sorrentino, who created an iPhone case called EyePatch that cleans and protects the phone's camera.
In the early 1990s, Susan Griffin-Black was working for Esprit in San Francisco. On a business trip to London, she walked into a Covent Garden apothecary shop, picked up a bottle of lavender oil and took a whiff. The aroma — "like being in a beautiful garden" — literally changed her life. That was the inspiration to develop her own line of essential oil products. For 15 years, she and her husband and co-founder Brad Black barely scraped by, but the business eventually thrived. And though their marriage ultimately ended, their partnership continues. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," Lia Heifetz of Barnacle Foods describes how she and her partners turned Alaskan bull kelp into pickles and salsa.
In 1989, college senior Wendy Kopp was trying to figure out how to improve public education in the US. For her senior thesis, she proposed creating a national teaching corps that would recruit recent college grads to teach in needy schools. One year later, she launched the nonprofit, Teach for America. Today, TFA has close to 60,000 alumni and continues to place thousands of teachers across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with 19-year-old CEO Abby Kircher who turned a peanut butter obsession into Abby's Better Nut Butter.
Dave Dahl's entrepreneurial journey began in prison. In 1987, he was addicted to drugs and incarcerated for home burglary. For 15 years he bounced from one sentence to the next. But in the mid-2000s, Dave returned to his family bakery where he was inspired to make bread – organic, nutty, and slightly sweet. He sold the loaves at farmers markets and shared his story of recovery on the package – a branding decision that attracted fans and media attention. In 2015, the Dahl family sold the business for $275 million dollars. Today, Dave's Killer Bread sells over a dozen types of bread in grocery stores nationwide. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," armpit entrepreneurs Jason and Erica Feucht tell us how they turned whiskey and vodka into the natural deodorant Pit Liquor.
In 2004, two former Paypal engineers, Jeremy Stoppelman and Russ Simmons, were spit-balling new internet ideas. Out of their brainstorm came a site where you would email your friends asking for local business recommendations. The launch was a flop, but they discovered that people seemed to enjoy writing reviews not just for friends, but for the general public. Fifteen years later, Yelp is a publicly traded company with more than 4,000 employees and over 140 million monthly visitors. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," Liz Bales explains how putting cat food inside plastic mice became her full-time business and why it could revolutionize the way humans feed their cats.
Twenty-five years ago, after Mei Xu emigrated from China to the U.S., she loved going to Bloomingdale's to gaze at their housewares. She eventually started making candles in her basement with Campbell's Soup cans, an experiment that led to the multi-million dollar company Chesapeake Bay Candle. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz, who turned up-cycled beer grain into a snack bar called ReGrained.
Growing up, Tim Brown discovered he was very good at two things: design and soccer. While playing professional soccer in New Zealand, he was turned off by the flashy logos on most athletic gear. He started making simple canvas shoes for his teammates, but soon discovered a better material: soft merino wool from his country's plentiful sheep. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, his future business partner Joey Zwillinger was frustrated that most companies lacked a genuine commitment to sustainability. In 2015, Tim and Joey teamed up to create Allbirds, a company with two ambitious goals: create the world's most comfortable shoes, and do it in a way that was completely carbon-neutral. Today, just three years after launch, Allbirds is worth $1.4 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Kirby Erdely saw a problem with flying beach umbrellas and developed a new kind of tent stake—with a twist.
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. Recorded live in Portland, Oregon.
In the 1990's, Stacy Madison and her boyfriend Mark Andrus were selling pita sandwiches from a converted hot dog cart in Boston. They decided to bake the leftover pita into chips, adding a dash of parmesan or cinnamon-sugar. At first they handed them out for free, but soon discovered that people were happy to pay for them. So they eventually decided to leave the sandwich cart behind and launch Stacy's Pita Chips. They hoped the brand might grow into a modest regional business—but it kept growing. Roughly ten years after the launch, Stacy's sold to PepsiCo for $250 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Prerak Juthani and some friends from college took organic chemistry to the next level with REACT!, a board game that aims to demystify the stigma of molecular science.
Computer scientist Tony Hsieh made millions off the dot-com boom. But he didn't make his mark until he built Zappos — a customer service company that "happens to sell shoes." Now Zappos is worth over a billion dollars and known for its completely unorthodox management style. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Mike Bolos and Jason Grohowski, who brought the office desk closer to the light by creating Deskview, a portable desk that attaches to a sheer window with a suction cup. (Original broadcast date: January 23, 2017).
Chet Pipkin was the kind of kid who loved to take things apart and put them back together. As a young man in the early 1980s, he started hanging out in mom-and-pop computer shops, where he realized he could meet a growing need by selling the cables that connect computers to printers. That simple idea became the main ingredient in Chet's secret sauce: instead of making his own computers, he would make the accessories needed to make them work. Belkin International eventually grew into a massive manufacturer of electronic goods — last year, it sold to a subsidiary of Foxconn for more than $800 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Clay McCabe decided to rebrand his dad's zipper repair business into Zipper Rescue, a repair kit that helps people fix their broken zippers at home.
Susan Tynan's experience in the ephemeral e-market of LivingSocial made her want to start a business that she could touch and feel. After being charged $1600 to frame four posters at her local framing store, she decided to create a mail-order framing company that offers fewer designs at lower prices. Framebridge is now five years old and still feeling growing pains, but is slowly reshaping the rules of a rigid industry. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Len Testa, who created an app that uses real-time data to help people avoid long lines at Orlando area theme parks. (Original broadcast date: November 27, 2017)
John Foley started climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder at a young age, first as a fast food server and eventually as an e-commerce executive. Still, at 40, he couldn't climb out of bed fast enough to make it to his favorite spin class. John couldn't understand why there wasn't a way to bring the intensity and motivation of a boutique fitness class into the home. Having never worked in the exercise industry, he teamed up with a few friends to create a high-tech stationary bicycle called the Peloton Bike. Today, Peloton has sold close to half a million bikes, with a valuation as high as 4 billion dollars. Recorded live in New York City.
At age 22, Whitney Wolfe helped launch Tinder, one of the world's most popular dating apps. But a few years later, she left Tinder and filed a lawsuit against the company alleging sexual harassment. The ensuing attention from the media – and cyberbullying from strangers – prompted her to launch Bumble, a dating app where women make the first move. Today, the Bumble app has been downloaded close to 30 million times. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Michael Dixon, whose business Mobile Vinyl Recorders uses portable record lathes to cut vinyl at parties, weddings, and music festivals. (Original broadcast date: October 16, 2017)
In 1970, George Zimmer was a college graduate with no real job prospects and little direction. That's when his father, an executive at a boy's clothing company, asked him to go on an important business trip to Asia. It was that trip that propelled him into the world of men's apparel. In 1973, the first Men's Wearhouse opened in Houston with little fanfare. But by the mid-80s, George Zimmer managed to carve out a distinct niche in the market – a place where men could buy a good quality suit, at "everyday low prices," along with all the shirts, ties, socks, and shoes they need. With George as the face of the brand, Men's Wearhouse became a multi-billion dollar empire with hundreds of stores across the U.S. But then, in 2013, a bitter battle forced him to give it all up. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with two brothers from Guinea, West Africa who founded a company that makes Ginjan, a spicy-sweet juice from their childhood that mixes pineapple and ginger.
In the 1960s, Alice Waters studied abroad in France – and discovered a culinary world far from the processed food popular in America. When she returned to California, she tried to find restaurants to recreate her experiences abroad, but she couldn't. In 1971, she opened a small restaurant in Berkeley called Chez Panisse, where she focused on serving fresh, local ingredients. Just a few years later, Chez Panisse was named one of the best restaurants in America, and became one of the hottest locations for fine dining in the Bay Area. Despite her success, Alice chose not to turn Chez Panisse into a restaurant empire. Instead, she continued to insist on cooking with food raised locally, sustainably, and ethically. Today, most chefs agree Alice Waters and Chez Panisse sparked the farm-to-table movement in the restaurant industry. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Piersten Gaines took the trauma out of salon visits for women with highly textured hair.
In the late 1980s, a New Zealand engineer named Keith Alexander wanted to buy a trampoline for his kids. After his wife said trampolines were too dangerous, Keith set out to design his own — a safer trampoline, without metal springs. He tinkered with and perfected the design over the course of a decade. But he was daunted by the challenge of bringing his invention to market — and he almost gave up. At that point Steve Holmes, a Canadian businessman, bought the patent to Keith's trampoline, and took a big risk to commercialize it. Today, Springfree Trampoline generates over $50 million in annual sales and has sold over 400,000 trampolines. PLUS in our postscript, "How You Built That," how Cyndi and Chris Hileman created a candle in a planter pot that can later be used to grow wildflowers.
In 1981, engineer Rod Canion left Texas Instruments and co-founded Compaq, which created the first IBM-compatible personal computer. This opened the door to an entire industry of PCs that could run the same software. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Danica Lause, who turned a knitting hobby into Peekaboos Ponytail Hats: knit caps with strategically placed holes for a ponytail or bun. (Original broadcast date: May 22, 2017).
In early 2015, Jen Rubio was racing through an airport to catch a flight when her suitcase broke, leaving a trail of clothing behind her. She tried to replace it with a stylish, durable, affordable suitcase — but she couldn't find one. So she decided to create her own. In less than a year, Jen and her co-founder Steph Korey raised $2.5 million to build their dream travel brand: a line of sleek, direct-to-consumer suitcases simply called Away. Jen's hunch that the brand would emotionally resonate with young, jet-setting customers paid off. Today, Away has become a cult luggage brand that has sold more than one million suitcases. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Jon Maroney made sledding easier for adults and more dynamic for kids with a pair of sleds that strap to your legs.
In 2010, Logic the rapper, born as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, released his first official mixtape titled "Young, Broke & Infamous." At 20 years old, Logic certainly was young and broke, and while crashing on a friend's couch, he poured himself into his music. Logic's career could have fizzled if it wasn't for Chris Zarou, a young college athlete-turned-manager who had no more experience in the music business than Logic. Undeterred, the two decided to work together, continuing to use free music and social media to build Logic's reputation as a talented, fast-flowing rapper with a hopeful message. In 2012, Logic signed to Def Jam Records and in 2014 dropped his debut album "Under Pressure," which shot to number 4 on the Billboard charts. His third album in 2017 went platinum and included the breakout single "1 800 273 8255." PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Cassy Burnvoth who built a skincare company using an unlikely ingredient – beef tallow.
Like many classic technology stories, Squarespace started in a college dorm room. In 2003, 21-year-old Anthony Casalena created a website-building tool for himself. But after hearing some positive feedback from friends, he decided to put the tool online and start a business. For years, Anthony ran Squarespace almost entirely on his own but the stress took a toll and he reached the limits of what he could accomplish by himself. The journey to hiring a staff and scaling the company had its own set of growing pains for Anthony, including difficulty letting go of control, and learning how to manage other people. Today, Squarespace has grown to more than 800 employees, and valued at $1.7 billion. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Kate Westervelt took an overwhelming experience and turned it into a gift box for new moms – filled with essential items women need to recover from childbirth.
In 1983, Eileen Fisher signed up for a fashion trade show with no experience, no garments, no patterns or sketches – nothing but a few ideas for a women's clothing line focused on simplicity. Within three weeks, she came up with 12 pieces, a logo, and a name: Eileen Fisher. Today, the Eileen Fisher brand is still known for its elegant and minimalist designs, but it has grown to more than 60 locations and makes over $300 million in annual revenue. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Glenn Auerbach who invented nICE mug, a container made entirely from ice that keeps drinks cold.
In the 1970s, Roxanne Quimby was trying to live a simpler life – one that rejected the pursuit of material comforts. She moved to Maine, built a cabin in the woods, and lived off the grid. By the mid-80s, she met a recluse beekeeper named Burt Shavitz and offered to help him tend to his bees. As partners, Roxanne and Burt soon began selling their "Pure Maine Honey" at local markets, which evolved into candles made out of beeswax, and eventually lip balm and skin care products. Today Burt's Bees can be found in nearly every grocery store and drugstore around the U.S. PLUS, in our postscript "How You Built That," Leigh Isaacson explains how her sister's break up inspired them to create a dating app – for dog owners.
Blake Mycoskie started and sold four businesses before age 30. But only in Argentina did he discover the idea he'd want to pursue long term. After seeing a shoe drive for children, he came up with TOMS — part shoe business, part philanthropy. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Dillon Hill, who built Gamers Gift to help bedbound and disabled patients enjoy a wide range of places and experiences through virtual reality.
In the mid-90s, David Neeleman wanted to launch a new airline. He had already co-created a regional airline out of Salt Lake City that was acquired by Southwest. And despite his admiration of Southwest's business model, Neeleman felt there was a market for a different kind of budget airline. He envisioned flights to cities other budget airlines avoided and excellent customer service, with high-tech amenities. In 2000, he launched JetBlue and in its first year, the company flew over 1 million people, and cultivated a loyal customer following. Then came the 2007 Valentine's Day ice storm. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Lisa Dalton turned a relationship mishap into a game-changing braille label that solves a daily problem for blind consumers.
When she was just 19 years old, Melanie Perkins dreamt of transforming the graphic design and publishing industries. But she started small, launching a site to make yearbook design simpler and more collaborative. Her success with that first venture — and an unexpected meeting with a VC investor — eventually landed her the backing to pursue her original idea, and the chance to take on software industry titans like Adobe and Microsoft. Today, Melanie's online design platform Canva is valued at over $1 billion, joining the list of Australia's "unicorn" companies. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Tristan Corriveau collected used bars of soap from a hotel and recycled them into liquid soap with The One Gallon Soap Company.
When Andy Dunn was in business school, his housemate Brian Spaly created a new type of men's pants: stylish, tailored trousers that fit well in both the hips and thighs. Together, they started the men's clothing company Bonobos, which became an instant hit due to the pants' signature flair and innovative e-commerce experience. But within a few years, Andy hit challenging roadblocks, including a struggle with depression and a falling-out with his co-founder and friend. Despite many moments of crisis, Andy steered Bonobos to massive success, and in 2017, it was acquired by Walmart for a reported $310 million. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Amy and Brady King created an easy-to-assemble portable shelter meant to provide natural disaster relief and help house people experiencing homelessness.
Jerry Murrell's mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,500 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Hannah England, who turned a common parenting problem into Wash. It. Later. — a water-tight bag for soaking soiled baby clothes before they stain. (Original broadcast date: June 5, 2017)
Before Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice met, they shared a common belief: New York City gyms didn't have the kind of exercise classes they craved, and each of them wanted to change that. A fitness instructor introduced them over lunch in 2005, and before the meal was done they were set on opening a stationary bike studio, with a chic and aspirational vibe. A few months later, the first SoulCycle opened in upper Manhattan. Today, SoulCycle has cultivated a near-tribal devotion among its clients, with studios across the United States and Canada. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how "kid-preneur" Gabrielle Goodwin and her mom Rozalynn invented a double-face double snap barrette that doesn't slip out of little girls' hair, no matter how much they play around.
The co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, has died. He was 87. We are grateful Herb shared his story with us in 2016. We are republishing it as a tribute to his life and career, in which he transformed the US airline industry. More than 50 years ago, competitors sued to keep Herb Kelleher's new airline grounded. After a 3-year court fight, the first plane took off from Dallas. Today Southwest Airlines is the country's largest domestic airline.
In the early 2000s, Perry Chen was trying to put on a concert in New Orleans when he thought, what if fans could fund this in advance? His idea didn't work at the time, but he and his co-founders spent the next eight years refining the concept of crowdfunding creative projects. Today Kickstarter has funded over 155,000 projects worldwide. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Dustin Hogard who co-designed a survival belt that's full of tiny gadgets and thin enough to wear every day. (Original Broadcast Date: July 31, 2017.)
Years after his father created a hit singing group of anthropomorphic rodents called The Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. made it his mission to revive his dad's beloved characters. Over the last 40 years, Ross Jr. and his wife Janice have built The Chipmunks into a billion dollar media franchise – run out of their home in Santa Barbara, California. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Alexander Van Dewark, who created a portable mat that helps people mix cement without a wheelbarrow or a paddle. (Original Broadcast Date: September 18, 2017.)
It's our final episode in our series from this year's How I Built This Summit! Today, we're featuring Lisa Price of the beauty brand Carol's Daughter. When Lisa sat down with Guy Raz in October, she described how her business expanded well beyond her Brooklyn kitchen. As it grew, she decided "not to sit at the head of the table," and deferred to the experts. She later came to regret that.
At the end of 2010, Michael Dubin was working in marketing when he met a guy named Mark Levine at a holiday party. Mark was looking for ideas to get rid of a massive pile of razors he had sitting in a California warehouse. Michael's spontaneous idea for an internet razor subscription service grew into Dollar Shave Club, and his background in improv helped him make a viral video to generate buzz for the new brand. Just five years after launch, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1 billion. Recorded live in Los Angeles.
Today we have another live episode from the How I Built This Summit, featuring Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix. Katrina sat down with Guy Raz in front of a live audience in San Francisco in October to discuss building culture at a billion-dollar company, and why it's important – even for the CEO – to "rehire" yourself every year. We have one more episode from the Summit coming up next Thursday; stay tuned for Guy's conversation with Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter.
In 1977, 23-year-old Jake Carpenter set out to design a better version of the Snurfer, a stand-up sled he loved to ride as a teenager. Working by himself in a barn in Londonderry, Vermont, he sanded and whittled stacks of wood, trying to create the perfect ride. He eventually helped launch an entirely new sport, while building the largest snowboard brand in the world. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Jane Och, who solved the problem of guacamole turning brown by designing a container that removes air pockets: the Guac-Lock. (Original broadcast date: October 23, 2017)
Next in our series of episodes from the How I Built This Summit: Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb. Joe sat down with Guy Raz in front of a live audience in San Francisco, and talked about why he and his co-founders pursued their idea despite overwhelming feedback that it would never work. We're publishing another two episodes from the Summit – so keep checking your podcast feed every Thursday.
In the late 1970s Janice Bryant Howroyd moved to Los Angeles and began temping as a secretary. She soon realized there were many other young people in situations similar to hers. So with $1,500 in her pocket, Janice rented an office in Beverly Hills and created the staffing company ACT-1. Today, ActOne Group is an international workforce management company, making Janice Bryant Howroyd the first African-American woman to own a billion-dollar business. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Ofer and Helene Webman developed a device that can change the way an acoustic guitar sounds without bulky pedals and amps.
Next up in our series of episodes from the How I Built This Summit: John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft. John sat down with Guy Raz in front of a live audience in San Francisco last month to talk about Lyft's visions for the future of transportation – and their fierce competition with Uber. Coming up next month: three more episodes from the Summit – so keep checking your podcast feed every Thursday.
In 2010, while working as a fashion assistant at Vogue, Emily Weiss started a beauty blog called Into The Gloss. She quickly attracted a following of devoted readers hooked on the blog's intimate snapshots of style makers' beauty routines. Within a few years, Emily realized her readers were hungry for a new beauty brand, one that listened to them directly, and understood their lives. Without any prior business experience, she won over investors and found the perfect chemist to create Glossier, a line of beauty and skincare products with a focus on simplicity. Today, just four years after launch, Glossier is valued at an estimated $400 million. Recorded live in New York City.
This episode from the How I Built This Summit features Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, co-founders of Method cleaning products. Adam and Eric joined Guy Raz live on stage at the Summit in San Francisco, to talk the highs and lows of their business partnership. Every Thursday until mid-December, we'll be releasing more episodes from the Summit – so keep checking your podcast feed.
In 1978, college drop-out John Mackey scraped together $45,000 to open his first health food store, "Safer Way." A few years later he co-founded Whole Foods Market — and launched an organic food revolution that helped change the way Americans shop. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Steve Humble, whose company Creative Home Engineering makes hidden secret passageways in people's homes ... just like in the movies. (Original broadcast date: May 15, 2017.)
Our first episode from the How I Built This Summit features Jenn Hyman, co-founder of Rent The Runway, a designer clothing rental service that pulls in $100 million a year. When Jenn sat down with Guy Raz for a live interview at the Summit in San Francisco, she shared her long term strategy for launching the company in phases, plus her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Every Thursday until mid-December, we'll be releasing episodes from the Summit – so keep checking your podcast feed.
In 2013, Tony Xu was brainstorming ideas for a business school project when he identified a problem he wanted to solve: food delivery. For most restaurants, it was too costly and inefficient, leaving most of the market to pizza and Chinese. Tony and his partners believed they could use technology to connect customers to drivers, who would deliver meals in every imaginable cuisine. That idea grew into DoorDash, a company that's now delivered over 100 million orders from over 200,000 restaurants across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we hear from the winner of our 2018 HIBT Summit Pitch Competition: Ashlin Cook. She combined her love for dogs with an entrepreneurial itch to create Winnie Lou: a Colorado business that sells healthy dog treats in independent pet stores and from a food truck.
Sadie Lincoln and her husband, Chris, had what seemed like the perfect life – well-paying jobs, a house in the Bay Area, two kids. But one day they decided to sell everything and start a new business called Barre3: a studio exercise program that blends ballet with pilates and yoga. Today, Barre3 has more than 100 studios across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Alexander Harik, who turned his mom's recipe for fragrant Middle Eastern za'atar spread into Zesty Z: The Za'atar Company. (Original broadcast date: September 11, 2017.)
When Jon Stein realized he couldn't stand the sight of blood, he gave up the idea of becoming a doctor. Instead, he went into finance, but soon grew restless with "helping banks make more money." So he decided to build a business where he could help everyday investors make more money: an online service that would use a combination of algorithms and human advisers. Jon launched Betterment at a precarious time — shortly after the financial crash of 2008. But today, the company has roughly 13 billion dollars under management. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Gerry Stellenberg combined his knack for technology and his love for pinball to create the P3: a pinball machine that allows a real-life ball to interact with virtual objects.
At age 40, Bobby Trussell's promising career in horse racing hit a dead end. With bills to pay and a family to support, he stumbled across a curious product that turned into a lifeline: squishy-squashy memory foam. He jumped at the chance to distribute Swedish memory foam pillows and mattresses to Americans. Tempur-Pedic USA began by selling to chiropractors and specialty stores, providing one of the first alternatives to spring mattresses. Today, the company is one of the largest bedding providers in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Christopher Rannefors created BatBnB: a sleek wooden box that hangs on your house and provides a home for mosquito-eating bats.
Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has a reported annual revenue of $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Monica Mizrachi and her son Solomon who built EzPacking, a business that sells sets of clear squishy plastic packing cubes. (Original broadcast date: August 7, 2017.)
In the late 1990s, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan took on the notion that "green doesn't clean" by setting out to make soap that could clean a bathtub without harming the environment. Adam started experimenting with baking soda, vinegar, and scented oils, while Eric worked on making sleek bottles that looked good on a kitchen counter. Just a few years later, Adam and Eric were selling Method cleaning products in stores throughout the country, after a bold gamble got them on the shelves of Target. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Loren and Lisa Poncia turned a 100 year-old family business into an organic beef supplier: Stemple Creek Ranch.
In the pre-Internet 1970's, Sandy Lerner was part of a loosely-knit group of programmers that was trying to get computers to talk to each other. Eventually, she and Len Bosack launched Cisco Systems, making the routing technology that helped forge the plumbing of the Internet. But when things turned sour at the company, she was forced to leave, giving her the chance to start something entirely new: an edgy line of cosmetics called Urban Decay. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Justin Li created a solution for staying cool and hydrated in the heat with IcePlate.
As a refugee growing up in Tel Aviv, Haim Saban remembers not having enough money to eat. As an adult, he hustled his way into the entertainment business, writing theme songs for classic cartoons like Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff. But producing the mega-hit Mighty Morphin Power Rangers put him on track to becoming a billionaire media titan. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Chris Waters who created Constructed Adventures, elaborate scavenger hunts for all occasions. (Original broadcast date: March 27, 2017.)
Bobbi Brown started out as a makeup artist in New York City, but hated the gaudy color palette of the 1980s. She eventually shook up the industry by introducing "nude makeup" with neutral colors and a natural tone. In 1995, Estée Lauder acquired Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Bobbi remained there for 22 years, until she realized the brand was no longer the one she had built. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Emma Cohen and Miles Pepper saw a problem with plastics and developed a collapsible, reusable drinking straw.
In 1991 newlyweds Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch took out a second mortgage on their home in Fort Collins, Colorado to start a craft brewery in their basement. Jeff had been inspired by the fruit and spice-infused beers he had tasted on a bike trip to Belgium, so they named their company New Belgium, and launched a beer with the whimsical name, Fat Tire. Today, New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., and Kim Jordan remains one of the few women founders in a male-dominated industry. Recorded live in Boulder, Colorado.
In 2007, architect Miguel McKelvey convinced his friend Adam Neumann to share an office space in Brooklyn. That was the beginning of WeWork: a shared workspace for startups and freelancers looking for an inspiring environment to do their work. Today, WeWork has created a "community of creators" valued at nearly $16 billion. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Kristel Gordon who invented a solution for easily stuffing a duvet back into its cover – it's called Duvaid. (Original broadcast date: June 19, 2017.)
In 1997, Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick was deployed in Southeast Asia, where he was stationed in a remote warehouse for weeks with no way to exercise. So he grabbed an old jujitsu belt, threw it over a door, and started doing pull-ups. Today, TRX exercise straps dangle from the ceiling in gyms across the country and are standard workout gear for professional athletes. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with a husband-and-wife team who experimented with fruit, spices and vinegar and came up with a gourmet ketchup line called 'Chups. (Original broadcast date: June 26, 2017).
In 1995, Angie Hicks spent months going door-to-door in Columbus, Ohio, trying to get people to sign up for a new home services referral business. Today, Angie's List is a household name, referring millions of members to plumbers, painters, and more. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Joel Crites who created the app Micro Fantasy, where fans can make predictions about what will happen next in a baseball game. (Original broadcast date: November 28, 2016)
In 2013, Peter Rahal was obsessed with CrossFit, but noticed it didn't sell any snacks to align with its pro-paleo philosophy. So instead of joining his family's business, Rahal Foods, he recruited his friend Jared Smith to start making their own protein bar. They made the first RXBAR in a Cuisinart in Peter's parents' home in suburban Chicago. By 2016, RXBAR was doing over $36 million in sales, and in November 2017, the founders sold the company to Kellogg's for $600 million. Recorded live in Chicago.
Lisa Price worked in television but had a passion for beauty products. At her mother's suggestion, she began selling her homemade moisturizer at a church flea market. Twenty years later, Carol's Daughter is one of the leading beauty brands catering to African-American women. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Aiden Emilio who, along with her husband Jesse, created RexSpecs — UV-protecting goggles for dogs.
In the early 2000s, Stewart Butterfield tried to build a weird, massively multiplayer online game, but the venture failed. Instead, he and his co-founders used the technology they developed to create the photo-sharing site Flickr. After Flickr was acquired by Yahoo in 2005, Butterfield went back to the online game idea, only to fail again. But the office messaging platform Slack rose from the ashes of that second failure — a company which, today, is valued at over $5 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how a peanut butter obsession turned teenager Abby Kircher into a CEO before she was old enough to drive.
A decade ago, full-time mom Alli Webb noticed a gap in the beauty market: there was no place that just focused on blow-drying hair. Now with more than 100 locations, Drybar is testament to Webb's motto: Focus on one thing and be the best at it. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Chris Healy, a long-haired Southern Californian who co-founded The Longhairs and created special hair ties for guys.
Steve Madden fell in love with the shoe business in the 1970's, when he sold platform shoes at a neighborhood store in Long Island, New York. That was in high school. About 15 years later, he struck out on his own, designing and selling shoes with a high-end look at affordable prices. As his business – and his ambitions — began to grow, he got involved in a securities fraud scheme and wound up serving two and-a-half years in prison. In 2005, he returned to Steve Madden, where he helped the company grow into a business valued at $3 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Chris Dimino turned a school design project into the Keyboard Waffle Iron, which makes waffles in the shape of a computer keyboard.
In 1972, Maureen and Tony Wheeler bought a beat-up car and drove from London "as far east as we could go." They wound up in Australia, by way of Afghanistan, India and Thailand. Their notes on how to travel on a shoestring became a book, which grew into Lonely Planet — the largest travel guide publisher in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an update with Melanie Colón, a frustrated renter who created an easier way to communicate with noisy neighbors, called Apt App. (Original broadcast date: May 8, 2017)
For many of us, chicken salad is just another sandwich filling, but Stacy Brown turned it into a $75 million business. In 2007, she was a divorced mother of three looking for a way to make ends meet. So she started making chicken salad in her kitchen and selling it out of a basket, door-to-door. She eventually turned that home operation into Chicken Salad Chick, and took her recipes to cities across the U.S. Today, Chicken Salad Chick is one of the fastest growing companies in the country. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz up-cycled beer grain into ReGrained nutrition bars.
In 2006, John Zimmer was a college student and ride-hailing wasn't yet "a thing." But a class on green cities got him thinking about the glut of underused cars on the road. Eventually, he co-founded Lyft, a company that has helped make ride-hailing a fixture of American urban living. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an update with Kyle Ewing, who almost set fire to his living room making Terraslate, a tough waterproof paper.
After noticing more and more people sign up for yoga in the late 1990s, Chip Wilson bet everything on an athletic apparel company aimed toward young professional women. What started as a small pop-up store in Vancouver eventually became the multibillion-dollar brand Lululemon Athletica, spawning a new fashion trend and forever changing what women wear at the gym. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Mike Sorentino developed the EyePatch Case, an iPhone case that cleans and protects the phone's built-in cameras.
In 1997, after going for a long run, Seth Goldman was frustrated with the sugar-filled drinks at the corner market. So he brewed up a beverage in his kitchen, and turned it into Honest Tea. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Jaya Iyer for an update on Svaha Inc., a unique apparel brand that focuses on STEM-themed clothing for babies, kids, and adults. (Original broadcast date: January 16, 2017)
We are incredibly saddened by the loss of the brilliant designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade. We are grateful she and her husband Andy Spade shared their story with us in 2017. The origins of the Kate Spade brand can be drawn back to a 1991 conversation at a Mexican restaurant, when Andy asked Kate, "What's missing in designer handbags?" Kate's answer was a simple modern-shaped handbag that launched the iconic fashion brand.
In 2000, Mariam Naficy sold her first company, an online cosmetics store called Eve.com, for $110 million. Several years later, she got the entrepreneurial itch once again: she founded Minted, an online stationery store that solicits designs from artists all over the world. Today Minted is one of the biggest crowdsourcing platforms on the Internet. PLUS for our postscript, "How You Built That," how Vanessa and Casey White turned their grandfather's pierogi recipe into Jaju Pierogi.
As a kid, Troy Carter dreamed of being a rapper, but soon discovered he was a better manager than a musician. He took Lady Gaga from obscurity to stardom – helping shape both her music and her brand. Then he turned his gift for spotting talent to spotting investment opportunities with his company Atom Factory. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Robyn Gerber for an update on Parkarr, a mobile app that helps drivers find street-parking.
In the 1960s, Bob Moore read a book about an old grain mill and was inspired to start his own. Using giant quartz stones from the 19th century, he made dozens of different cereals and flours, positioning his company at the forefront of the health food boom. Today, Bob's Red Mill has grown into a $100 million business – and at nearly 90, Bob goes to work at the mill every day. PLUS, for our postscript, "How You Built That," how Mike Bolos and Jason Grohowski created the portable desk, Deskview.
Barbara Corcoran grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family in Jersey – with nine brothers and sisters. But she used her charisma to conquer the streets of Manhattan and build the real estate company, The Corcoran Group. She then reinvented herself as a shark – on Shark Tank. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Aryel Rivero and Vanessa Clavijo for an update on their business, Gift Wrap My Face, which designs and prints custom gift wrapping featuring the faces of people you love. (Original broadcast date: April 24, 2017)
Brothers Patrick and John Collison founded and sold their first company before they turned 20. They created software to help eBay users manage inventory online, which set them on a path to help make e-commerce frictionless. Today, John and Patrick are the founders of Stripe, a software company that uses just a few lines of code to power the payment system of companies like Lyft, Warby Parker and Target. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Robert Armstrong turned his grandma's cookie recipe into "G Mommas," buttery, bite-sized pecan-chocolate-chip cookies that are now sold in stores across the Southeast U.S.
In the early 1980s, Ron Shaich bought a small, struggling Boston bakery chain called Au Bon Pain, and built it out to 250 locations nationwide. Ron then saw an opportunity to build something even bigger: Panera Bread. It was the start of "fast casual" – a new kind of eating experience, between fast food and restaurant dining. Today, Panera Bread has over 2,000 stores, and $5 billion in annual sales. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Tyson Walters got so tired of his St. Bernard shedding everywhere that he created the Shed Defender, a zip-up body suit for dogs that captures loose hair.
Jane Wurwand moved to Los Angeles with a suitcase and a beauty school diploma. She started what would become Dermalogica, an international beauty empire that set the standard for skin care. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Nick Gilson for an update on his company, Gilson Snowboards, a snowboard & ski company based in Pennsylvania. (Original broadcast date: October 24, 2016)
After selling their first small business and shuttering their second, former college roommates Niraj Shah and Steve Conine thought about getting "normal" jobs. But in the early 2000s, they stumbled across an unexpected trend: people were buying furniture online to get a wider selection. Within a few years, Niraj and Steve launched 250 different websites, selling everything from barstools to birdhouses. Eventually, they consolidated these sites into one giant brand: Wayfair. The company now carries more than 10 million items for home and last year brought in more than $4 billion in sales. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Carin Luna-Ostaseski fell in love with scotch and became the first American woman to create a Scotch whisky company.
Daymond John grew up during the 1980s in the heart of hip hop culture: Hollis, Queens. In his early 20s, he was working at Red Lobster and trying to figure out how to start a business. Eventually, he stumbled on the idea of making clothes for fans of rap music. In 1992, he started FUBU (For Us By Us) and began selling hats outside of a local mall. Three years later, FUBU was bringing in $350 million in sales. Today, he's a judge on Shark Tank, and a motivational speaker and author. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That", how Len Testa created an app that uses real-time data to help people avoid long lines at theme parks.
In 2010, Katrina Lake recruited 20 friends for an experiment: she wanted to see if she could choose clothes for them that accurately matched their style and personality. That idea sparked Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service that aims to take the guesswork out of shopping. Today, it has over two million customers and brings in nearly a billion dollars in annual revenue. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That", how Brian Sonia-Wallace built "Rent Poet" — a poem-on-demand service for weddings, corporate gatherings, and other events.
Before he turned 40, Nolan Bushnell founded two brands that permanently shaped the way Americans amuse themselves: the iconic video game system Atari, and the frenetic family restaurant Chuck E. Cheese's. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an update on H2OPS, a non-alcoholic take on craft-brewed – a fragrant sparkling water made with hops. (Original broadcast date: February 27, 2017)
In 2000, Lara Merriken was 32, recently divorced, and without a job when she decided to make energy bars by mixing cherries, dates, and almonds in her Cuisinart. Eventually, she perfected the recipe and launched her company: LÄRABAR. After just two years, the company was bringing in millions in revenue. In 2008, she sold to General Mills, but stayed on to help grow LÄRABAR into one of the biggest energy bar brands in the U.S. Plus, for our postscript "How You Built That", how two brothers from Guinea, West Africa founded a company that makes Ginjan, a spicy-sweet juice from their boyhood, which mixes pineapple and ginger.
When Carley Roney and David Liu got married, they had a seat-of-the-pants celebration on a sweltering Washington rooftop. They never planned to go into the wedding business, but soon saw an opportunity in the market for a fresh approach to wedding planning. In 1996, they founded The Knot, a website with an irreverent attitude about "the big day." The Knot weathered the dot.com bust, a stock market meltdown, and eventually grew into the lifestyle brand XO Group, valued at $500 million. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Michael Dixon's business, Mobile Vinyl Recorders, uses portable record lathes to cut vinyl at parties, weddings, and music festivals.
Brian Scudamore didn't dream of a life hauling away other people's trash. But when he needed to pay for college, he bought a $700 pickup truck, painted his phone number on the side, and started hauling. Now 1-800-GOT-JUNK? makes close to $300 million in annual revenue. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," an update on Bloomerent, an online service that helps couples save wedding costs by letting them share flower arrangements on the same weekend. (Original broadcast date: April 17, 2017)
Even as a kid, Jeni Britton Bauer knew she was going to start a business one day. But she had no idea that her love for perfume would inspire her to start experimenting with ice cream. After years of hustling, she eventually launched Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, a company that now has more than 30 stores nationally and touts unique flavors like Brambleberry Crisp and Lemon Buttermilk. Recorded live in Columbus, Ohio.
During the dot com boom of the late 1990s, Jimmy Wales was running an internet search company. That's when he began to experiment with the idea of an online encyclopedia. In 2001, Wales launched Wikipedia, a website where thousands of community members could contribute, edit, and monitor content on just about anything. Today, the non-profit has stayed true to its open source roots and is the fifth most visited website in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Florence Wetterwald created Blabla dolls – eco-friendly knitted dolls made in Peru.
In 2008, it was nearly impossible to buy a fashionable, affordable pair of glasses online. That simple frustration inspired the idea behind Warby Parker – and disrupted the eyewear industry. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," an update on Bellyak, a kayak where you lie on your belly and paddle with your hands. (Original broadcast date: December 26, 2016)
In 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a new vacuum cleaner — one that didn't use bags. It took him five years to perfect the design, building more than 5,000 prototypes in his backyard shed. He then tried to convince the big vacuum brands to license his invention, but most wouldn't even take his calls. Eventually, he started his own company. Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world, and James Dyson is a billionaire. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Theresa Stotesbury made a business out of fake blood — a synthetic material that helps create a realistic crime scene for police training.
Melissa and Doug Bernstein's first success was a wooden 'fuzzy puzzle' of farm animals. Today, Melissa & Doug makes over 2,000 kinds of toys and serves as an antidote to the rise of digital toys. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," an update on The Cut Buddy, a stencil device that helps you cut your own hair. (Original broadcast date: December 19, 2016)
Before it became fashionable to start a tech company in your dorm room, Michael Dell did exactly that. In 1983, he began selling upgrade kits for PC's out of his dorm at UT Austin. A few months later he gave up his plan of being Pre-Med, and dropped out of school to focus on the PC business. At age of 27, he became the youngest CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. Today, Dell has sold more than 650 million computers. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Hannah England turned a common parenting problem into Wash. It. Later. — a water-tight bag for soaking soiled baby clothes before they stain.
After high school, Marcia Kilgore moved to New York City with $300 in her pocket and no real plan. One step at a time, she became a successful serial entrepreneur. First, she used her high school bodybuilding experience to find work as a personal trainer. Then she taught herself to give facials, and eventually started her own spa and skincare line, Bliss. The spa became so popular that it was booked months in advance with a list of celebrity clientele. After selling her shares in Bliss, Marcia went on to start four new successful companies: Soap & Glory, FitFlop, Soaper Duper, and Beauty Pie. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Steve Kral has created a successful business fulfilling a very particular niche: selling TV remotes for outdated television sets.