DiscoverCreator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Author: Bilal Zaidi

Subscribed: 2,037Played: 18,970


Conversations with leading entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, award winning designers, educators, artists and everything else in between.

We dig deep into their stories, have honest conversations about how they made their ideas come to life and the lessons learned along the way.
32 Episodes
Full show notes: Landing In Mexico City There’s an energy that radiates through Mexico City that is unique to this part of the world. Colorful buildings paint the streets next to food carts full of locals trading stories from their day. Innovative design, delicious food & a rich culture is at the heart of this mega-city. “Emerging Mexico” as I would learn, is alive and well. I could see why The New York Times named it the #1 place to visit in 2016. But when I first visited in 2015 to hang out with my old friend Hassan, I knew little about what was bubbling under the surface. That was the halfway point of our now 10yr friendship, meeting as young, ambitious employees in Google’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin. Bonding over Arsenal games, Fifa marathons & long chats in Slattery’s Pub, we talked about one day building companies that we would be proud of. And Hassan has stayed true to that vision ever since. Finding Opportunities In Emerging Markets Hassan co-founded GAIA, one of Mexico’s leading startups that is disrupting the furniture business. They’ve re-imagined what a vertically integrated player could look like: from designing & producing their own products, bringing technology to create new retail experiences & even having their own GAIA trucks to control the delivery experience for their customers – they’ve been a shining light of what the future of retail should look like. In just over 5 years, they’ve grown to 18 stores, 350+ employees & built a multi-million dollar e-commerce business that has a healthy mix of online to offline revenue. Hassan forged his own path. Leaving his safe job at Google in Europe, to move to Brazil to learn about startups in the region, before planting his own seed in Mexico. It’s his ability to get up and run towards the action that I was most fascinated to dig into. In an age of endless debate around luck vs skill – Hassan shows what it looks like to take control of the decisions you have agency over. But what I love most about this convo, is that we talk through some of the challenges that many of us face when trying to go down the entrepreneurial route. Where do you start? What should you focus on? When is it safe to leave your job? What skills do you need to build & who are the people you need to look out for to turn your idea into a reality? Five Things To Listen Out For: (1) Emerging Markets – why he thinks there’s so much opportunity in emerging markets like Mexico (2) Knowing When To Leave – how he thought through leaving his safe job, to move twice & settle into countries where he didn’t speak the language (3) Preparing For Entrepreneurship – the skills you can develop in a job to become a better entrepreneur (4) The evolution of the CMO role – how marketing is changing (5) Growth Debt – and how to avoid making mistakes when growing so quickly Subscribe and watch on: Full show notes: Links: Connect with Bilal on social: Instagram @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm Twitter @bzaidi @creatorlabfm Thank you to our sponsors, who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
“Silicon Valley’s buzziest start-up” - The New York Times Rahul Vohra is no novice to the startup world. He previously built and sold Rapportive to Linkedin before setting out to build “the fastest email ever made” for the power users who fell out of love with Gmail, Outlook, and others. You can’t argue with their results. Superhuman have 220k+ people on their waitlist, which costs $30/month and they’ve raised north of $50mil at a $260mil valuation from elite investors like First Round Capital & Andreessen Horowitz. But what stood out most to me while meeting Rahul was his focus on the long term. We discussed “building a company that can last for 100yrs” while convincing his co-founders to “do their life’s work” with him. At one point, Rahul described sitting in front of his computer in tears because he realized he hadn’t built what he had set out to. A Unique Approach Sometimes, their unique approach can feel counter-intuitive. For example, what if I told you they are happy to turn away paying customers if it would distract them from their “high expectation customers”. Or their mandatory human onboarding where a Superhuman employee takes a new user through a 30-60mins call to get them setup, understand how they personally use email & customize their experience vs a more scalable online experience that would save money in the short term. Superhuman have turned paying customers into their biggest fans – on average, every new user of Superhuman brings in one new user down the road. In this episode, we go deep into the engine they’ve built, how they design their product using video game dynamics and learning how to listen to the right customers. Five Things To Listen Out For: (1) Building a product-market-fit engine – we discuss several product-market-fit definitions and the approach Rahul took to understand when they had hit this point (2) High Expectation Customer – what this is and why it’s important to find (3) Turning Email Into A Video Game – how to design products to make you feel a certain way by taking principles from video game design (4) Following Your Passion – is this misguided or good advice? (5) Preparing For A Recession – is this something Rahul is thinking about and how he thinks this might impact the business world Subscribe and watch on: Full show notes: Links: Connect with Bilal on social: Instagram @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm Twitter @bzaidi @creatorlabfm Thank you to our sponsors, who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
Hiten Shah has built multiple SaaS companies including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics & FYI. In this conversation, we discuss the future of remote work and lessons learned from building, investing and advising 120+ companies. 63% of US companies now have remote workers and 96% of remote workers would recommend working remotely to a friend. But what does “remote work” actually mean? Many people think of digital nomads galavanting around tropical islands while fitting in some Wifi work time. Or freelancers working out of trendy coffee shops… But as Hiten and I discuss, most of us are already participating in some form of “remote work”. Whether that’s a remote meeting we have with external partners, flexible work schedules or simply, “working from home” – this is an important macro trend that is going to impact all of us as the nature of work continues to evolve. Five Things To Listen Out For: What remote work really means – Hiten’s team did a deep dive to uncover what remote work means in practice Understanding intent through keyword research – how Hiten used keyword research to understand the specifics around what people are really looking for Facts vs Feelings – mental frameworks to separate facts and feelings to make decisions Dealing with loss – the lesson Hiten’s dad shared when his mother passed away at a young age and how that has helped shape him today Why words matter – the difference between “self-funding” and “bootstrapping” You can check out the full analysis Hiten and his team published here. Hiten on Twitter @hnshah. Subscribe and watch on: Full show notes: Connect with Bilal on social: Instagram @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm Twitter @bzaidi @creatorlabfm Thank you to our sponsors, who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
I met Christophe when I first moved to New York. I was drawn in by his infectious energy, French charm and distinct sense of humor. He had started multiple companies and our friendship grew over chats about life in America & the world of entrepreneurship. One evening after an epic meandering night out, we landed in Koreatown to chow down on plates of bibimbap & bulgogi. It was a few days before his life was about to change with the birth of his daughter and I asked Christophe about any regrets he had from the past…he started to share this story: “This one time, I had a call from the CFO of Groupon and they had made an $80mil offer on our company, Totsy! It would have been a 10X return for our investors and it was going to be a life-changing moment for me”… The table went silent as we crept towards the edge of our seats… “But then my board blocked the deal, we had to say no! A short while after, we got crushed by Zulily and had to sell for much less. I made nothing from the sale.” It was the sort of honest conversation you could only have with real friends. And yet, it was a familiar outcome that 90% of founders face when starting a company. The type of story that hasn’t been perfectly crafted by a PR machine or used as the tee-up to the inevitable “but look at me now!” It was just plain, honest, truth. In this episode, we revisit that story in more detail to share the stark reality of entrepreneurship – the high highs and the low lows, what it takes to bounce back and move on to a new adventure. We also get into how his world has changed since having a baby daughter, why he thinks being a parent can make you a better entrepreneur and what his new company, UpFlex, is focused on. I hope you enjoy the honesty that Christophe shares in this revealing conversation – if so, shoot me a note, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Five Things To Listen Out For: Ups and Downs of entrepreneurship – the true reality for many entrepreneurs who start companies $80mil acquisition offer – what really happened when he had to reject this offer and what you can learn from his experience Being a parent and a founder – how to find your own balance and why Christophe says it makes him a better entrepreneur Leaving Your Company – when and why you might ever leave the company you started Upflex – his new company and why there’s a need for “Workplace-as-a-Service” Subscribe and watch on Full show notes: Social: Instagram: @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm Everywhere else: @bzaidi @creatorlabfm Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
Full video on YouTube: Steve Schlafman is a Partner at Primary Venture Partners. He’s been an investor in the NYC startup ecosystem for the last decade. Prior to his roles in VC, he was the Director of New Ventures at The Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots. He’s worked at startups like Turntable FM & began his career at Microsoft. Steve has worked on investments in companies like TheSkimm, Bowery Farming, Breather, Giphy, Percolate & SmartThings (sold to Samsung). He also works with founders & CEOs as a qualified leadership coach. In this revealing conversation, we discuss how he thinks about personal + professional growth, building healthy habits, navigating your career, the fear of death, dealing with anxiety, overcoming “functional addiction”, sobriety & why the best performers – people like Eric Schmidt & Lebron James, all work with coaches. Five Things To Listen Out For: Cornerstone Habits – habits that create a domino effect in other areas of your life What Lebron James & Eric Schmidt have in common -we discuss why you might feel resistant to the word “coach”, what a coaching practice looks like & examples of common discussions you might have Being A “Functional Addict” – dealing with addiction & why Steve has been sober for many years Dealing With Anxiety + The Fear Of Death – how Steve has consciously worked on his anxiety and coming to terms with death 360 reviews – why Steve recommends doing this after a recent experience, dealing with constructive criticism & how you can do this too Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here. Steve: Bilal: @creatorlabfm @bzaidi212 (Instagram) & @bzaidi everywhere else Full show notes: Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
Oz Pearlman is an Emmy award-winning mentalist & magician. He captivated millions across the world as the runner up & finalist on America’s Got Talent.  In this episode, listen carefully as Oz baffles the senses by performing mentalist tricks live on air. From reading Bilal’s mind, to elaborate tricks that you have to see with your own eyes to believe ( & an epic conversation discussing human psychology, non-verbal communication & turning your side-hustle into a lucrative business – there’s so much to take away from this revealing conversation. Five Things To Listen Out For: Tricks – 3 mind-blowing tricks performed live Side Hustle – Turning a side hustle into a lucrative business – from hustling in restaurants as a kid, to captivating millions on TV Social Dynamics – from cat string theory to time constraints & appearing to be a scarce resource Remembering People’s Names – how Oz approaches this in his work & what you can take from it Psychology – behind success + happiness Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here. Social: @OzTheMentalist @creatorlabfm @bzaidi212 (Instagram) & @bzaidi everywhere else Full show notes: Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space
Nigel Eccles is best known for being the co-founder of FanDuel, a company that pioneered the daily fantasy sports market in the US. You may have seen their high impact commercials on TV, heard of them becoming one of the few unicorn $1bil startups to come out of Europe or their eventual sale to Paddypower/Betfair for $465mil. You may have even seen him featured in the infamous John Oliver “This Week Tonight” episode covering the industry he helped to create! It’s safe to say – there are not many people on the planet that have the experience that Nigel has – after starting & selling multiple companies – he’s been around the block & back as a serial entrepreneur. At Fanduel his experience includes raising $400mil+ in venture capital, competing with their closest rival, Draft Kings who raised over $1bil+, to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in customer acquisition on channels like TV, radio & paid digital. In this revealing conversation, he opened up to share his perspective on: how to come up with business ideas in the first place raising venture capital vs bootstrapping how to accelerate paid customer acquisition & measure your marketing effectively building a high growth team the highs & lows of selling a company & lessons learned why founders & early employees might not always make a return from a sale because of preferred vs common stock creating a new market vs capturing an existing one why “going viral” isn’t a good strategy for paid products what to do if you’re a non-technical founder the process of taking an initial idea & evaluating its business potential applying the same logic to his new company, Flick, going after the podcast market Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here. Join the Creator Lab group on Nigel's new app, Flick: Thank you to our sponsor who helps make this show possible -SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space    
Watch the full episode on YouTube: How many times have you heard bitcoin, crypto, blockchain and thought to yourself – “what the hell are they talking about?”  Well, you’re not the only one. This is a topic that has a lot of value but too often you’ll find so-called “experts” using complicated jargon to make things sound more complicated than it is. In this conversation with Ali Hassan, an ex-Goldman Sachs banker & venture capitalist, turned entrepreneur – we try our best to simplify and discuss what bitcoin and blockchain is in simple terms and explore the practical applications of this technology. Going beyond definitions – we discuss real use cases, why the value of bitcoin fluctuates so much, if bitcoin is a direct alternative to the traditional money supply system, comparing it to other assets like gold, and how his team has developed one of the leading passive index funds for investing in cryptocurrency Here are five things to listen out for: What is Bitcoin? And what is Blockchain in simple terms? – Ali describes in easy to understand language and with examples, what bitcoin is and why it’s a valuable asset & technology   Comparing Bitcoin to Gold – what makes an asset like gold valuable and why that idea can be applied to an asset like bitcoin.   Real World Applications – where can bitcoin and blockchain be useful in the real? From the idea of a bitcoin being a store of value, to ethereum helping to automate processes through smart contracts, to helping the unbanked people of the world – we discuss where blockchain could provide real utility in the long run   Comparing Ethereum to the Apple app store – we discuss in simple terms what ethereum is and why it’s allowing people to build on top of their ecosystem, similar to how Apple did with their app store   Creating An Index Fund For Crypto – why Ali and his team left their traditional finance roles at companies like Goldman Sachs & VC firms to create a leading passive crypto index fund, Crescent Crypto. Subscribe to Creator Lab videos on YouTube here. Thank you to our sponsor who helps make this show possible, SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space      
Watch the full episode on YouTube: Fabrice Grinda has been called the most prolific angel investor in the world, even being ranked #1 in Forbes based on investment volume + number of exits. He’s exited hundreds of millions of dollars from 500+ investments in companies like Alibaba, Viagogo, Tencent, Airbnb, Betterment, Uber, Fanduel & Palantir. Before setting up his “startup studio” & investment fund, he started and sold multiple companies including OLX, the leading “Craigslist” marketplace of countries like India, Brazil & Pakistan. But things weren’t always so rosy. Fabrice shares stories of living on $2/day, living in his office because he couldn’t afford an apartment & missing payroll 27 times! We also discuss the future of marketplaces, how he’d think of business ideas if starting today, the science of happiness, minimalism, and why we’re still at the very beginning of the tech revolution. Here are five things to listen out for: Reasons to be optimistic – why we’re the luckiest people in the world to be alive at this time and why we’re only at 1% of the tech revolution Minimalism – from living on a 20-acre estate in Bedford, New York, to “island shopping” and then selling all his possessions – Fabrice has lived both extremes and shares his perspective on a healthy balance The Science of Happiness – factors that make people happy and hacks to maximize your own “mean level of happiness” The Future of Marketplaces – 3 trends in marketplace businesses and a framework for thinking about business ideas How Venture Capital Works – the typical startup fundraising cycle, from initial investment to venture capital at series A, B, C etc. CONNECT ON SOCIAL: Full show notes: Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out to find your next office space Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. Use the code “creator8” to get 20% off your order on Amazon.
Watch the full episode on YouTube: Nathan Latka is making more than $100k/month from 30+ revenue streams. We go into all of the details documented in his book: “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital” From his approach to building systems that scale beyond himself, growing his podcast to 10+mil downloads, investing in real estate, food trucks, buying software companies, building teams around the world and even landing a TV show – there’s so much packed into this conversation! We also go into why someone should be a capitalist in the first place, the pros, and cons of capitalism and the many creative ways he's finding success in many different areas.  Nathan is a true capitalist in every sense of the word & a savvy entrepreneur that likes to break the rules.  You can check out his WSJ bestselling book, “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital”, on Amazon here Five things to listen out for: Capitalism vs Socialism – why you would want to be a capitalist in the first place and the pros & cons of a purely capitalist society. Making $100k/month – why he chooses to spread his risk by working on many things at once and examples of investments you can make to generate income Systems vs Goals – why you should focus on building, multiplying & stacking systems instead of setting goals “My Podcast Is A Massive Front” – how he’s developed a piece of code to automatically turn his daily podcast into a database that he sells to VCs for $20-30k/month His Book – what you can expect, including specific page numbers you can skip ahead to CONNECT ON SOCIAL: Full show notes: Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon here 
Watch the full episode on YouTube: Faraz Zaidi, is the founder & creative director of Profound Co, a multi-million dollar fashion brand that sits at the intersection of streetwear and high fashion. Profound has built a loyal following over 10yrs+, with celebrity fans like Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber wearing their clothes. They’ve been featured in Time, Fast Company & Forbes and have collaborated with leading musicians & major brands like Pepsi. In this in-depth conversation, Faraz shares the full backstory of their humble beginnings, scaling their business and how he would approach building a fashion brand from scratch if he was starting again today. Five things to listen out for: Genesis – how Faraz started with a couple of t-shirts & a printer Starting a Brand – how he would start a brand from scratch today Celebrities + Influencers – how a Profound intern landed a connection to Rihanna and their approach to working with influencers Retail – getting into physical stores like Selfridges & boutiques around the world. Struggles – examples of when things haven’t gone so well, mistakes made and how he mentally deals with the lows CONNECT ON SOCIAL: Full show notes:
Subscribe and watch the full video interview on YouTube: Tyler Riewer (head of creative at charity: water) shares 5 principles that can make you a better storyteller. We discuss the concept of the "hero's journey" and how the best brands, writers & politicians use this idea to tell effective stories. Five Things To Listen Out For: Role of storytelling – and its impact on every part of an organization The Hero’s Journey – how savvy brands, politicians, and writers use the concept of the hero’s journey to tell effective stories 5 Principles – that Tyler has picked up along the way as a professional storyteller that you can apply to your own life and work From Concept to Campaign – how they took an inspirational letter from a 6yr old and turned it into a successful brand campaign through the principles we discuss Stories from his travels – and the stories that make up the 663 million people that lack access to clean drinking water SOCIAL: TYLER: charity: water Watch The Spring: Nora's story: Full show notes: Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or 
Watch the full video interview & subscribe on YouTube: Jane Lu has been named “Cosmopolitan’s Girl Boss of the Year”, “Forbes 30 under 30” and her company, Showpo, was crowned Australia’s “Online Retailer of the Year” in 2018. But rewind a few years and Jane was struggling for motivation in her accountancy career. We discuss what it took to take a risk to go all in on her business while having to hide it from her parents while living in their house! We dig into the details of how she took her first steps, grew the company with zero investment, built an audience on social with millions of followers, and how she would approach starting an e-commerce business from scratch today. Show Notes Here are five things to listen out for: Leaving her job + keeping it a secret from her parents – how Jane plucked up the courage to leave her job in the middle of the financial crisis Her first failed business – connecting the dots from her first failure, getting out of debt and launching Showpo Working ON her business vs IN her business – how a trip to Ultra Music Festival forced Jane to replace her work by hiring someone full time and the lessons from that experience Growing to $60mil with zero investment – we go into detail from when she was bringing in $5k/month, and the things she did to grow step-by-step, why she chose to never raise money, keep control and grow If she started again today – how she would start an e-commerce business today & actionable tactics around growing a social following, paid vs organic, youtube content strategy & more Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or 
Watch full interview on video: Full show notes & timestamps:   Ronnie Madra is the co-founder of the Butter Group which has an extensive portfolio of brands including legendary nightclubs 1OAK and Up and Down. They’ve hosted after-parties for events like the Oscars, Met Gala & Cannes Film Festival attracting A-List celebrities along the way. Alongside business partner, Richie Akiva, they’ve developed properties in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Dubai & Maldives – building one of the leading food & beverage (F&B) brands around. However, after 25+ years in nightlife – Ronnie developed a severe hearing issue which causes constant ringing in his ears. To address this issue for the 1.1bil people who will develop hearing issues in their lifetime – he created, EAROS, an in-ear protection system & an acoustical filter. Ronnie shared stories he has never shared before. He opens up about growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana, landing in NYC as a minority amongst minorities, personal stories about dealing with bullies as a kid, running into trouble with a gang & landing on his feet into nightlife in NYC. FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR: Childhood – growing up with no electricity in Guyana, landing in NYC and how his early experiences shaped his outlook Fitting in & dealing with a bully – a raw and honest chat about dealing with bullies, trying to fit in and finding the confidence to be yourself. Building a name – alongside Richie Akiva, Ronnie has built a name for himself in the nightclub space, attracting A-List celebrities like Jay Z, Pharrell, Rihanna, Kate Hudson, Kanye, Gigi Hadid, Virgil and others to their venues. We go into all the details of how they started and built a name for themselves. Coming up with business ideas & developing a product – scratching his own itch, why he started EAROS, ways you can think about finding inspiration for ideas and knowing how to take action. Building Brand & Service – learning from his experience in creating a brand, product development, making people feel safe. TIME STAMPS: 2:34 – What Ronnie is known for: 1OAK, Butter Group & Earos 5:25 – Scale of their nightclubs & restaurants 7:42 – Growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana 11:16 – Landing in Queens, NYC 13:15 – Teenage Ronnie 13:55 – Dealing with bullies 19:38 – Early signs of entrepreneurship 23:02 – Listening to all types of music and wanting to fit in 26:32 – Becoming comfortable not fitting in 31:26 – What lead to 1OAK being formed? Finding an A-Team. 36:15 – Starting 1OAK with Richie Akiva & early investments 38:06 – “Pioneers of the pop-up” 41:40 – How to choose partnerships 44:24 – What is next for 1Oak? 47:40 – Attracting A-list celebrities 51:20 – New venture – Earos 55:10 – Developing hearing issues – tinnitus 58:52 – Idea and need for a new type of ear protection 60:50 – Going beyond looking like a hearing aid 66:48 – The process of developing a new product 69:45 – Sound vs. noise 71:35 – The process of reaching out to great people through Linkedin 75:58 – Working day vs. night 79:44 – Pitching the idea to investors 85:16 – When do you know you’re finished? 87:06 – 20 years into the future 91:10 – Closing remarks
Erika Alexander is an actress, writer & co-founder of Color Farm Media. She’s well known for her role as the iconic character Maxine Shaw, Attorney-at-Law in the 90s sitcom Living Single. She was a regular as Cousin Pam in The Cosby Show & appeared in the Oscar-winning film Get Out (2017). Full show notes & timestamps:    Here are five things to listen out for:   Childhood – her candid experience growing up as a child actor from the age of 14, her relationship with her parents & how this impacted her throughout her life.  Being the “other” – feeling like an outsider when she first had some success Importance of Diversity in Film & Media – how she’s approaching this challenge with Color Farm Media, why it’s important to hire the best people regardless, but find a balance to tell diverse stories Role of Therapy – how she dealt with depression, navigated lows and the importance of mental health The Future – hip-hop in Bollywood, collaborations of color, the projects she’s working on with Lionsgate & the importance of long-form conversations Time Stamps: 2:32 – Introduction of Erika 4:45 – Her role on Living Single 8:38 – Erika’s childhood 12:15 – Was Erika always outgoing? 15:36 – The “look at me” gene 18:26 – First time acting 23:12 – Erika’s mom’s influence 25:46 – Becoming famous and losing her family 27:31 – Religion and belief when growing up 30:40 – Early pain struggle & depression 32:40 – Being the “other” in the family 36:45 – Ways to cope with parent pain 41:05 – Therapy and mental health 50:41 – Race and misrepresentation in work 51:52 – Race is an illusion 54:13 – Color Farm Media & it’s mission 57:06 – Ben Arnon help & info 61:17 – Current work 66:25 – Black Lightning 71:53 – Making diversity authentic 77:02 – Importance of diverse writers 82:25 – How to change in industry 85:33 – “I’m a badass at acting” 93:00 – Collaborations of color 95:50 – Hire the best writer, but include all 98:14 – The impact of long-form conversation 101:56 – Looking to the future
    I visited Ben Van Leeuwen at his Brooklyn-based ice cream factory!  They have a truly remarkable story, starting from a single ice cream truck 10yrs ago, to building an epic brand with a cult following.     They’ve since grown to a $20mil business, going from 15 stores to 25 in the next few months after taking investment for the first time. They’ve also grown their wholesale business where they now sell their ice cream in over 1000 stores across 44 states.     We discuss their humble beginnings, meeting his co-founder, falling in love,  a focus on product excellence by sourcing the very best ingredients & you’ll hear what it took to build their business with zero investment after their modest friends and family round.  SHOW NOTES Here are five things to listen out for:   (1) Travel – Ben leaving college to travel and explore the world.   (2) Kaizen vs 10x Moonshot Thinking – continuous improvement in all aspects of their company vs a mindset of massive transformational change   (3) Starting a business with his wife & brother – navigating a breakup, working with family & how they’ve made Van Leeuwen a huge success   (4) Product & Customer Excellence – focusing on using only the very best ingredients & bringing joy to their customers   (5) Growth – stories from starting their first ice cream truck to growing to 25 stores & 44 states & why they decided to take major investment for the first time Times Stamps  3:02 – Who is Ben Van Leeuwen 3:58 – How did Ben get into ice cream 10:45 – Where Ben’s food awareness came from 13:23 – Ben’s parents and his upbringing 16:56 – How Ben developed his entrepreneurial spirit 18:00 – The “ice cream idea” 20:44 – Being healthy in an ice cream world 23:46 – Ben’s travel memories 26:38 – Ben’s craftsmanship in his work 29:35 – Company values 30:54 – Ben meeting his cofounder 33:10 – How the company began 36:21 – Writing initial business plan 42:09 – Logo, branding and naming 45:55 – Tactically building your team 48:34 – Beginnings of the business 50:25 – Putting the best ingredients into their first chocolate ice cream 55:47 – First real day of business 65:19 – What the business looks like today – 15-25 stores, selling in 1000 stores across 44 states 67:02 – Ben’s thoughts on expansion 70:38 – First year revenue numbers 71:33 – Focus moving forward 73:30 – Working with brother and wife 74:35 – Working with ex-wife 75:42 – Difficulties with raising money 79:18 – Dealing with rejection 80:58 – 20 years from now… 83:45 – Admirable trait: not taking shortcuts 84:54 – Other products for Ben to explore 86:29 – Final remarks and advice
Edgardo embodies the word creator.  He’s a writer at Marvel Entertainment, Editor-in-Chief at Darryl Makes Comics working with the legendary hip-hop icon: DMC from RUN DMC, Art Director & founder at Somos Arte production studio, and the creator of La Borinqueña, an original comic book character that has grown into a cultural phenomenon and a nationally recognized symbol of Puerto Rican patriotism, social justice, and equality for all. His work has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.     Full show notes and time stamps:       SHOW NOTES:     Five things to listen out for:     Growing up as a Puerto Rican in NYC – what life was like growing up poor in the Bronx, memories from being a young activist, poet, and creator.  Comic Books – how he got into creating comic books, writing for Marvel + creating his own publication: La Borinqueña.  Teaming up with DMC from RUN DMC – how they met, their creative process and how they split up responsibilities.  Direct-to-Consumer – publishing directly to people and spreading his creative work to fans.  Generating Buzz + Press – Edgardo has been featured on CNN, New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and more – how did he approach this and get his work out there? TIME STAMPS  2:38 … who is Edgardo and what does he do? 4:14 … Edgardo describing pictures Bilal shows from growing up 9:50 … power of the arts, reflecting on what’s going on in society 10:09 … challenge of being viewed as a second class citizen 11:10 … hypocrisy within Latin American communities and media 12:05 … “I’m not a race, I’m an ethnicity” 13:31 … stories as a form of evolution 15:00 … self-awareness from an early age + growing up 17:03 … learning about Mandela + apartheid 17:57 … college + local activism 23:30 … comic book has become a  symbol for people + the women’s march reaching out to him 27:19 … being proud of his heritage 28:40 … distributing book directly to the people + direct to consumer trend 30:37 … comic book world / who’s buying books 35:36 … working alongside DMC from legendary hip-hop group: RUN DMC 40:12 … our heritage and culture is the true superpower 40:38 … approaching press and social media to promote his book 42:13 … people want to know who you are and “why” you create … not “what” you create 49:51 … an ask for the people who are listening
Julien Smith is the co-founder & CEO of Breather. They provide an on-demand network of private meeting rooms designed for work, meetings and focus. They’ve raised over $80m to date and are on a strong trajectory of growth. Before that, Julien was a best selling author, speaker & podcaster. In this conversation, Julien and Bilal discuss how he thinks about pattern detection, how he used these frameworks to develop the idea for Breather & how you can apply this to your own work. Full show notes & timestamps: Time Stamps: 1:52 - Who are you/what do you do 2:30 - Detecting patterns. Is that that what you’re good at? 4:10 - Scale & growth of Breather, how did Julien get there 6:43 - When Julien started Breather, how many units did he start with & how do they keep them secure? 8:09 - What does Breather's customer base look like? What are their customer segments? 8:58 - How big is this market? How do you estimate market size? 9:50 - Thinking about security for a physical space - digital vs analog locks. 11:30 - Growing up in Canada & what did Julien want to be when he grew up? 13:20 - Learning what you’re good at and 360 reviews  17:10 - How Julien thinks about detecting patterns? Is this something we can learn to become better at? 20:25 - Is detecting patterns a skill or luck? 24:10 - Detecting patterns: is it a learned behavior? Discussing Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet.  28:30 - the value of the expert generalist 30:00 - What sources of information do you follow? Books, podcasts, people, etc? 33:30 - What can people do to accelerate the process of growing and connecting with people they can learn from? 36:00 - Jeff Bezos story of the regret minimization framework 39:30 - What were some of the macro trends he identified to help start Breather? Are there certain macro trends that he sees right now? 42:20 - Cities + network effects + timing 46:02 - Bilal discusses idea for supper clubs platform 47:50 - Omnifocus app he uses for tasks 48:10 - Developing healthy habits? Streaks app 51:40 - What is Julien’s routine and a typical day? Morning pages. The creative habit.  55:05 - What is motivating Julien right now? 56:30 - What does success mean to you? 
WHO IS GARY? Just out of college, Gary grew his family wine business from a $4M to a $45M business in five years. Now, he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world’s hottest digital agencies with more than 800 employees and $100m in annual revenue. Along the way, Gary became a prolific investor. He’s investing in companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Venmo. He’s a 4x NY Times best-selling author & recently starred in Apple’s original series: “Planet of the Apps”, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and  FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR: (1) Childhood stories – before the lemonade stands, what Gary was like as a kid   (2) Luck – believing in luck, but wanting to eliminate excuses   (3) What matters most – if this was his last Thursday, how would he spend his last week?   (4) Depression – Gary discusses a recent suicide and why he thinks the culture of entrepreneurship being cool isn’t necessarily helping   (5) Legacy – how his view of legacy has changed over the last 10yrs      TIME STAMPS: -Gary shares some childhood stories [1m36s] -Before the lemonade stands [4m19s] -Trading attention [5m27s] -Thoughts on luck and eliminating excuses [6m9s] -“I take no credit for my success” [8m46s] -If this was his last week to live, what would Gary spend his time doing? [12m4s] -A reoccurring nightmare as a child [15m52s] -Entrepreneurial depression + suicide [17m27s] -Navigating self-doubt vs self-awareness to know you’re not doing the right thing [20m54s] -How Gary’s view of legacy has changed over the last 10 years [22m46s] -Building a business that lives on without you [25m56s]   Connect on social:   Connect with Bilal:    
  Jos White is a serial entrepreneur and investor at Notion Capital. In this interview, he shares his life story from growing up in England, to getting expelled from school, starting businesses with his brother & how they managed to sell 3 different companies for more than $800 million.  5 THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:   (1) Growing up in England – going to the same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school.   (2) Starting a business with his brother – early signs of entrepreneurship and what it was like setting up a company with his family.   (3) Multiple exits – most entrepreneurs dream of having a multi-million  dollar exit once. But Jos did this time and time again with 3 different companies. We go into what he built and how he sold the companies.   (4) Learning from his entrepreneurial journey – funding their businesses, finding a CTO, navigating the crash of 2000, knowing when it was the right time to sell, common mistakes people make when pitching for investment   (5) Legacy – what he cares most about, what makes people happy & how we wants to keep having an impact     TIME STAMPS  [3m38s] What he was like as a kid [5m35s] Going to same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school [9m33s] Can you learn to be an entrepreneur and what he studied at school [10m58s] Earliest exposure to business [15m10s] Moving to Thailand [17m29s] Genesis of RBR Networks [20m25s] Making more than £1m a month and getting their first sale [22m02s] Splitting up responsibility [23m03s] Transitioning from marketing person to leader [24m50s] Knowing his weaknesses [27m17s] How they funded their business [31m42s] Hiring good people [34m06s] Selling the company for $50M [35m47s] What they did the day they sold the company [38m44s] Coming up with the idea for Message Labs [42m05s] Finding a CTO [47m03s] Navigating the crash of 2000 [48m21s] Knowing when to sell a company [54m59s] Switching to an investor, what he looks for in an investment [56m56s] Common mistakes people make when pitching for investment [58m52s] What is keeping him motivated? Having a chip on your shoulder [1hr] What success means to him [1hr2m] Having financial success & social responsibility [1hr5m] Legacy   Sign up for exclusive content, giveaways and my email updates: Connect on social:   Connect with Bilal:
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store