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How I Built This with Guy Raz

Author: NPR

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Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.
199 Episodes
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While she was a student at business school, Shazi Visram ran into an old friend-- a new mother of twins. The friend confided she felt like a bad mom because she had no time to make her kids healthy meals. That gave Shazi her initial idea: why not make organic pureed baby food, and sell it frozen instead of jarred? People told her she was crazy to take on Gerber, but she convinced dozens of friends and family to invest in Happy Baby. 15 years later, the brand is known as Happy Family Organics and reportedly makes more than $200 million a year. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," after learning that many restaurants use gallons of running water to defrost food, Dylan Wolff invented CNSRV WTR-- a recirculating tub that keeps water from going down the drain.
Spindrift: Bill Creelman

Spindrift: Bill Creelman

2020-01-1301:06:4313

Bill Creelman graduated from college in 1996 with a business plan — to sell smoked fish from Nantucket. But over time, that idea morphed unpredictably into a brand that sold cocktail seasonings and supplies. After selling that company to liquor giant Diageo, Bill wanted to stay in the beverage industry. As a way of kicking his Diet Coke habit, he started making sparkling water with a fresh squeeze of lemon or grapefruit. That deceptively simple idea grew into Spindrift, a beverage that came with huge production challenges. Today, the company has an annual revenue topping $100 million. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," Gaurav Chawla loved home-made chai but hated how long it took to make. So he quit his engineering job and started the five-year process to create Chime — an automatic chai brewer that uses tea and spices from India.
Our fifth episode from the 2019 How I Built This Summit features serial entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss, FitFlop, BeautyPie and more. The animating question behind all of Marcia's business ideas is 'So What?'— if she can't answer it, she doesn't pursue it. We'll be releasing more episodes from the HIBT Summit over the next few weeks, so keep checking your podcast feed!
Dell Computers: Michael Dell

Dell Computers: Michael Dell

2020-01-0600:49:1122

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 dropped out of school to focus full time on the PC business. At age of 27, he became the youngest CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. Today, Dell has sold roughly 700 million computers. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Vanessa and Casey White, who turned their grandfather's pierogi recipe into Jaju Pierogi, hand-made Polish dumplings that are sold across the Northeast.
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, a chain that now has close to 150 locations in the U.S. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Ofer and Helene Webman who developed the Tonewood Amp, a device that can change the way an acoustic guitar sounds without bulky pedals and amps.
Our fourth episode from the 2019 How I Built This Summit features Tariq Farid, founder of Edible Arrangements. In a live conversation with Guy, Tariq talks about flowers, fruit, and family—and how he wouldn't be where he is without the sacrifices and support of the people he loves the most. We'll be releasing more episodes from the Summit in the new year, so keep checking your podcast feed!
Steve Madden: Steve Madden

Steve Madden: Steve Madden

2019-12-2300:55:4311

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 in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with "kid-preneur" Gabrielle Goodwin and her mom Rozalynn who invented GaBBY Bows—double snap barrettes that don't slip out of your hair.
Our third live episode from the 2019 How I Built This Summit features Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, co-founders of Instagram. They talk to Guy about what they've been doing since they stepped down from the company, and whether they think social media can still help make a kinder world. In the new year, we'll release more episodes from the HIBT Summit, so keep checking your podcast feed!
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. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," Thomas Althaus made his wife a bracelet and earrings out of a tin can for their tenth wedding anniversary. What began as a lighthearted gift became Canned Goods—a recycled jewelry company that donates one can of food to charity for each piece sold.
Our second episode from the 2019 How I Built This Summit features founder and investor Troy Carter, who re-started his career in the music business after becoming Lady Gaga's manager. In a live conversation with Guy, he offers advice on staying hungry, being humble, and admitting when you don't know the answer. Every Thursday through the new year, we'll release new episodes from the HIBT Summit, so keep checking your podcast feed!
Minted: Mariam Naficy

Minted: Mariam Naficy

2019-12-0900:52:2911

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.com, 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 in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Christopher Rannefors who created BatBnB, a sleek wooden box that hangs on your house and provides a safe home for mosquito-eating bats.
Our first episode from the 2019 How I Built This Summit features Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. In front of a live audience, she tells Guy how she stayed confident in the earliest days of building the business, and why one day she still wound up sobbing on the floor of Office Depot. Every Thursday through the new year, we'll release new episodes from the HIBT Summit, so keep checking your podcast feed!
In the 1980s and 90s, Curt Richardson started making simple plastic boxes in his garage in Fort Collins, Colorado. They were originally designed to keep small items dry while you're fishing or skiing, and Curt and his wife Nancy called them "Otter Boxes." But after the launch of the Blackberry and the iPod, Curt started tailoring the boxes to fit and protect the breakable devices – and OtterBox evolved from an outdoor goods supplier into a company tightly adhered to the tech industry. With the rise of smartphones, Otter Products grew by more than 1000% in just five years. Today, it controls a massive share of the phone case market and sells more than $1 billion in cases each year. This interview was recorded live at the Paramount Theatre in Denver, Colorado.
Outdoor Voices: Tyler Haney

Outdoor Voices: Tyler Haney

2019-11-2501:07:0625

In 2013, Tyler Haney was a 24-year-old graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York. One day on a jog, she realized that her workout outfits looked, and felt, like they were made for competitive athletes. Tyler envisioned a brand of athletic wear for more everyday activities, like walking the dog or hiking with friends. She launched Outdoor Voices and she got her two-piece "kit" — a crop top and leggings – into a few specialty boutiques. Soon afterward, her brand made it into J. Crew stores and took off. Today, Outdoor Voices has raised close to $60 million from investors and has around 350 employees. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," after a lunch with some new moms turned into baby bedlam, Beth Fynbo created Busy Baby Mat — a placemat that would securely stick on any table, keep toys off the floor, and provide a fun surface for babies to eat and draw.
The founder of Burton Snowboards, Jake Burton Carpenter, has died. He was 65 years old. We are grateful that Jake shared his story with us in 2017 and we are republishing it as a tribute to his life and career in which he elevated snowboarding into an international sport. 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.
Crate & Barrel: Gordon Segal

Crate & Barrel: Gordon Segal

2019-11-1800:32:0112

In 1962, Gordon Segal—with his wife Carole—opened a scrappy Chicago shop called Crate & Barrel. That store turned into a housewares empire that has shaped the way Americans furnish their homes. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Ashlin Cook, whose love for dogs inspired her to create Winnie Lou: a Colorado business that sells healthy dog treats.
Evite: Selina Tobaccowala

Evite: Selina Tobaccowala

2019-11-1101:05:0514

At the height of the first dot-com boom, Selina Tobaccowala and college friend Al Lieb were determined to start a tech company. After a few false starts, they landed on the idea for Evite—an on-line invitation business that within its first year, attracted a million followers and $37 million in investment. When the tech bubble burst, Selina and Al were forced to lay off dozens of employees before selling Evite in 2001. But the company has survived to this day, and Selina remains a role model for women in tech. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," Jamia Ramsey describes how her frustration with pink ballerina tights led her to create Blendz, apparel for dancers that matches darker skin tones.
Luke Holden grew up in Maine, working on lobster boats and in his father's lobster processing plant. But his parents pushed him to find a more stable career, so after college, he moved to New York and got a job in finance. One of the things he missed most about home was lobster rolls, so he decided to open his own lobster shack as a side project. Luke posted an ad on Craigslist looking for help, and linked up with Ben Conniff, a history major with a passion for food but no restaurant experience. Ben and Luke opened a 200-square-foot take-out restaurant in the East Village in 2009. Ten years later, Luke's Lobster has over 500 employees, and more than 40 locations in the U.S. and in Asia. This show was recorded live at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston.
FUBU: Daymond John

FUBU: Daymond John

2019-11-0400:54:4826

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 in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Loren and Lisa Poncia who turned a 100 year-old family business into an organic beef supplier: Stemple Creek Ranch.
LÄRABAR: Lara Merriken

LÄRABAR: Lara Merriken

2019-10-2800:55:5610

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 in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Gerry Stellenberg who combined his knack for technology with his love of pinball to create a company for modern pinball enthusiasts called Multimorphic.
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Comments (279)

Teresa Ellis

I need to tell my sister-in-law about this episode. I think she will enjoy it.

Jan 20th
Reply

JML

This guy has a voice for sign language.

Jan 13th
Reply

Zach G

I was enjoying this podcast until I heard that you are sponsored by Koch industries. I don't know how many listeners are paying close enough attention to notice, but I can't trust anything that they are willing to support.

Jan 12th
Reply

Wen Byar

Love listening to the shows, lots of interesting people. I do find the background music distracting; sometime it interferes with my ability to follow the conversation.

Jan 11th
Reply (1)

Ari Fisher

Just picked this up. Learned about this from Wow in the World, and he is very pleasant to listen to!

Jan 8th
Reply (1)

Andrew Pettigrew

Lovely interview, absolutely lovely

Jan 1st
Reply (1)

Dammie Azeez Adenihun

Sara is that bestfriend/mentor in my corner.... Always love her podcast Ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy

Dec 11th
Reply

Tony Kharioki

I've always wanted to go into aviation and airlines and this is inspiring

Dec 9th
Reply (1)

Kamilah Amica

great interview

Dec 6th
Reply (1)

Kamilah Amica

I love everything about Sara Blakely. She's a true role model 💖 #girlpower #femaleentrepreneur #lovesarablakely #Inspiration

Dec 6th
Reply (1)

Sudhanshu Singh

I love her vibe

Nov 28th
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Somtochukwu Ofodum

Great story. Question: How do you know when your startup is ready for such funding?

Nov 28th
Reply (1)

Manuel Lisbona

topic is excellent but background music too loud and distracting...

Nov 27th
Reply

Richard Ottley

Great story 👍 of what was happening during the dot.com era.

Nov 25th
Reply (1)

Jose Quivaja

trying to see if this is a podcast I I'd be interested in subscribing. any episode recommendation

Nov 21st
Reply (1)

Kamilah Amica

funny!💖

Oct 26th
Reply

Xiyan Han

like it

Oct 18th
Reply

Xiyan Han

like it

Oct 18th
Reply (1)

Mitul Shah

it's so hard to listen to this if ur a headspace user bcus u just expect to be meditating with his voice

Oct 11th
Reply

xa

i love this one, her voice is so soothing.

Oct 8th
Reply
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