Inc. Uncensored is a lively weekly podcast exploring the fast-moving world of startups, entrepreneurship, technology, and high-growth businesses—all through the eyes of the veteran business journalists of Inc. and Inc.com. We’ll keep you up to date on industry trends, best practices, and cool companies. With host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Inc.’s senior writer, along with frequent appearances from staff writers Kevin Ryan, Emily Canal, executive editor Kimberly Weisul and more.
Fighting for Every Customer, With Stuart Landesberg, co-founder and CEO of Grove Collaborative
Since he was a grade-schooler, Stu Landesberg dreamed–as odd as it sounds–of starting a sustainable home-products company. When he founded it, in 2012, he called it ePantry, and it didn’t exactly soar. Investors were lukewarm–and customers hard to come by. But with a rebrand and reshaped strategy in 2016, Grove Collaborative started finding lots of eco-minded consumers online and over social media. This year, as the San Francisco-based company turned 10 years old, it was valued at $1.5 billion. In June, it went public with help from a Richard Branson-backed SPAC. Host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin speaks with Landesberg about his journey, from struggling to keep the lights on to running a public company with hundreds of employees–and his promise to the future to be entirely plastic-free by 2025.
Amy Errett of Madison Reed: How to See Around Corners
Amy Errett might be a natural leader, and an expert team-builder–but she wasn’t always a founder. She spent her early career in banking and investment companies, before turning to venture capital. But once she was at the table with startup founders, making decisions on who deserved funding infusions…she realized she wanted to be not in her seat…but rather, the CEO’s seat. She founded Madison Reed in 2013 out of San Francisco as a hair-color subscription brand. She’s grown it–even as the pandemic shut down 12 beauty bars she’d opened across the country–to a company that has raised more than $220 million, in part from Jay-Z’s Marcy Ventures. Now, she has her sights set on opening 20 more stores in 2022, and hiring up to 800 people. Amy spoke to host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin about her rich career and her thoughts on leading growing organizations through big changes–including navigating the unknown, seeing around corners, and helping large teams make dramatic shifts.
Michael Horvath of Strava: Take Care of Your People
When Michael Horvath, the co-founder and CEO of Strava, meets with employees, he doesn’t just start saying what he’s thinking. Instead, the first thing out of his mouth is: “what’s on your mind?” His company, Strava, is an app that serves 100 million athletes, to help motivate their movement, connect them with a community, and improve their safety. And these days, it’s a company of more than 400 people–which has both informed, and necessitated, Michael’s leadership style–which is a lot about listening, and letting employees grow into their passions and skills.
Ben Lamm of Colossal: Value Your Critics
By the time he teamed up with Harvard geneticist George Church to found Colossal Biosciences, Ben Lamm had founded, built, and sold five companies. This one would be the most audacious yet: Its goal is to create disruptive conservation technologies, including, to de-extinct the woolly mammoth. Yes, it is actively working to edit elephant genes to create a cold-hearty herbivore to help decelerate melting of the arctic permafrost, and, thus, prevent release of 600 tons of carbon a year. It’s also working with existing species-conservation efforts globally–and hopes to apply its technology to save animal populations from going extinct. But with the audacious mission comes a lot of questions–and many critics. Lamm told host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin that he learns more from his detractors than from his supporters–and he welcomes both hearing from them, and, in a couple cases, he’s actually hired them to work with him.
Tal Chitayat of Full Circle: People Want to Be Part of Something Bigger
He and his co-founder dreamed up their company over an unconventional Thanksgiving dinner in Shanghai. In 2009, they launched Full Circle, a line of sustainable household goods–and set out to change consumer perception about “eco” products. Today, they run three brands, including Full Circle, For Good, a line of household disposables, like compostable bags, and Soma, a line of filtration, pitchers, and bottles. He spoke with host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin about building a sustainable supply chain, bootstrapping his business from the start, and why his companies’ giving-back pledges of profits are so meaningful to their teams.
What I Know Best: Toni Ko Does a Tiny Thing to Overhaul Her Outlook
If there was a super-simple way to tweak the whole way you think about an experience…would you do it? Serial entrepreneur Toni Ko, the woman behind NYX Cosmetics, Perverse Sunglasses, and, most recently, Bespoke Beauty Brands, explains to host Christine Lagorio-Chafkin how she changes her wording to change her perspective.