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. Order the How I Built This book at https://www.guyraz.com/
Title Nine: Missy Park
As an avid athlete and college basketball player, Missy Park was lucky to grow up during the early era of Title IX, the 1972 law that created new opportunities for young women to play sports. But in the years before Lululemon and Athleta, activewear for women was either ill-fitting or non-existent. So in 1989—with little experience in apparel or retail—Missy decided to launch a female version of Nike. She sent out a mail order catalog of running shorts, tights, and (at the last minute) sports bras; naming her company for the law that had opened doors for her to compete: Title Nine. Over the years, the company kept "hitting singles," eventually growing into a $100 million dollar business without ever taking outside investment. Today, Missy remains the sole owner.
Moderna and Flagship Pioneering: Noubar Afeyan
In the field of bio-tech, it can take 10 years and millions of dollars to see if an experimental idea might turn into a life-saving treatment—if it ever does. Noubar Afeyan fully understood those risks when he co-founded Moderna in 2010. He and his colleagues were looking for a way to deploy the Messenger RNA molecule to tackle life-threatening diseases. In January of 2020, an urgent opportunity presented itself in the form of a deadly virus that was spreading across the globe. At a breathtaking pace, Moderna produced a prototype for a COVID-19 vaccine, partnered with the NIH to test it, and produced millions of doses, becoming part of the most rapid vaccine roll-out in human history. While Moderna is the best known of Noubar's companies, he has launched many others in the bio-tech space as part of Flagship Pioneering, his multi-billion dollar venture studio.
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey: Fawn Weaver
While traveling abroad with her husband in 2016, Fawn Weaver became fixated on a New York Times article telling the little-known story of Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel—yes, that Jack Daniel—how to make Tennessee whiskey. After diving deeper into the story, Fawn ended up purchasing the 300-acre farm in Lynchburg, Tennessee where Nearest had taught Jack how to distill; and she began meeting the descendants of both men. She initially thought of honoring Nearest's story with a book or movie, but decided the best way to preserve his legacy was with a bottle of the best Tennessee whiskey she could make. With no background in distilling, she threw herself into the insular world of spirit-making, an industry mostly dominated by white men and a few major corporations. In the five years since Fawn first discovered his story, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has become one of the fastest-growing whiskey brands in the world, and one of the most awarded American whiskeys.
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KAYAK: Paul English
Paul English is a perpetual founder. Since high school, he's started 3 philanthropies and 8 companies—ranging from e-commerce, to gaming, to GetHuman, a site that helps users access human customer support. His best-known venture is probably KAYAK, a travel website launched in 2004 over two gin-and-tonics with co-founder Steve Hafner. Using a simple interface, KAYAK specialized in search; and it made partners out of potential rivals like Orbitz and Expedia by charging them a fee to send users to their sites. Eventually KAYAK became one of the most-searched "K" words on Google, and in 2012, it sold to Priceline for $1.8 billion. A few years later, Paul started yet another company, Lola.com—and says he plans to launch many more.
Dude Perfect: Cory Cotton and Tyler Toney
As Texas A&M students in the mid 2000's, Cory Cotton, Tyler Toney and their housemates spent countless hours playing hockey in the living room and attempting trick shots in the backyard. A spontaneous bet over a sandwich led the guys to make a video montage of outrageous basketball shots, which they titled Dude Perfect and posted on a new site called YouTube. After that first video wound up on Good Morning America, the five Dudes challenged themselves to even more outrageous stunts: an impossible shot from the third tier of a stadium, a here-goes-nothing lob from the door of a flying plane. But despite their growing popularity, the group spent five grueling years trying to build ad revenue and brand deals while juggling day jobs and commuting weekly across Texas. In 2014, they finally committed fulltime to building Dude Perfect into a robust entertainment platform, which today includes books, TV, live events, and a YouTube channel that has more subscribers than the NBA, NFL, and NHL combined.
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