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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.
161 Episodes
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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.
Zappos: Tony Hsieh

Zappos: Tony Hsieh

2019-05-2000:34:1820

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.
Framebridge: Susan Tynan

Framebridge: Susan Tynan

2019-05-0600:59:33

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.
Bumble: Whitney Wolfe

Bumble: Whitney Wolfe

2019-04-2200:43:566

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.
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Comments (202)

Chris Toler

type your it t

Jun 19th
Reply

Chris Toler

type your it t

Jun 19th
Reply

scott

loved this episode and the way the two CEOs talk about Sustainability ♥️

Jun 17th
Reply

Ka Rin

Very arrogant and incredibly bitter... Lost the interest to continue even though the companies interested me.

Jun 14th
Reply

Niketmistry7

This was the best live episode EVER!!!!!

Jun 13th
Reply

Suzanne Gowdie

Great story. I love how she kept going one small step at a time.

Jun 7th
Reply

Katriel Pritts

I'm curious where Myro came from. They have a great operation it seems like, great concept and product design, but they just popped up it seems like! I'd love to learn more, Guy. Thanks!

Jun 7th
Reply

Teresa Ellis

I didn't realize how big a footprint farm animals had. I am going to recommit to eating a lot less meat. Justifying any behavior isn't pretty. My son can't go vegan or vegetarian because of allergies and food issues, but I can.

Jun 6th
Reply

SANJAY GORA

Teresa Ellis great

Jun 9th
Reply

Teresa Ellis

My son is the same when it comes to Thanksgiving. It stresses him out to have a holiday that is just about foods he considers new or strange. He and I now have a Thanksgiving tradition of a fun activity instead of a fancy meal.

Jun 6th
Reply

SANJAY GORA

Teresa Ellis kool

Jun 12th
Reply

Robin Bhan

Awesome journey of 1 cup at a time.

Jun 3rd
Reply

Zach Gagné

I loved this episode

May 21st
Reply

Michael Anthony

The voice. Ow

May 21st
Reply

Amanda Henry

I think she's really dilusional to think that luck had nothing to do with it. Sure, she's worked hard, but she was *in the right place at the right time* to even meet the Tinder cofounder and get a job while she was aimlessly wandering after college, and then unlimited funding and resources just happened to fall into her lap when we wanted to launch something at 22. I'd consider that extremely lucky.

May 17th
Reply

Christy Snow

I remember watching the documentary about Burts Bees on Netflix I believe..and she pretty much screwed the Burt guy over in everything. yes, she had a vision but the truth of the matter was that he really got screwed over.

May 14th
Reply

Heather Spaw

Christy Snow I seen the same show and your right she screwed that guy. He was just a happy salt of the earth kind of person content with his bees. I'm sure didnt see her coming because he didnt think along the lines of screwing people over.

Jun 17th
Reply

Michael Erkotidis

I met my fiance through bumble so it definitely works!

May 11th
Reply

Jenifer Grady

I wonder if diversity is something that Bumble intentionally sought or are promotions directed towards people of color, and older people for new members?

Apr 23rd
Reply

Ka Rin

Terrible episode. Jen is incredibly unprofessional on the business side. Could have gone horribly wrong without any samples, unrealistic time lines and using investors' money for other products (picture books instead of suitcases?!).

Apr 19th
Reply

Tracy Smith Jr.

Excellent story telling. Conveyed a great sense of the route the founder took. Pulled in the sense of the time and atmosphere in college and Berkley.

Apr 17th
Reply

Sricharan Muppidi

very inspirational.

Apr 16th
Reply

Lee Graham

Not great by hibt standards

Apr 12th
Reply
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