113 episodes

Innovation. Drive. Purpose. Conversations with the enterprising entrepreneurs and leaders behind beloved and up and coming brands.

By All Means Twin Cities Business

    • Business
    • 4.9 • 68 Ratings

Innovation. Drive. Purpose. Conversations with the enterprising entrepreneurs and leaders behind beloved and up and coming brands.

    108. Gear Junkie Founder Stephen Regenold

    108. Gear Junkie Founder Stephen Regenold

    "If you're someone who can express yourself, be an expert, gain the trust and be an authentic with an audience, there are unlimited outlets. Media in some ways is more interesting than ever. In other ways, it's harder than ever."

    Straight out of journalism school, Stephen Regenold turned his passion for outdoor adventure into a newspaper column called GearJunkie. A few years later, in 2006, he launched gearjunkie.com, which built up a large and devoted audience for its expert product reviews, and became an authority on all things travel and adventure for both experts and novices.

    In 2020, he sold the brand to Lola Digital Media, now AllGear Digital, and became vice president of strategy. Now he identifies other niche websites to acquire and grow.

    Regenold talks about what audiences and advertisers are looking for, and how to build an engaging content hub today.

    Following our conversation, we go back to the classroom with the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business where Alec Johnson teaches entrepreneurship. He says Regenold's story speaks to the importance of being focused, disciplined, and networking. "Always focus on content and audience, and work really really hard to understand who that audience is."

    • 52 min
    107. Great North Ventures Co-Founders Rob + Ryan Weber

    107. Great North Ventures Co-Founders Rob + Ryan Weber

    Twin brothers Rob and Ryan Weber famously started their first company, Freeze.com, out of a St. Cloud State dorm room. They had their first exit before graduating, and a decade later, sold tech startup NativeX to mobile ad platform mobVista for $25 million. All told, the Webers have been involved in more than 50 startups. Today, they're focused on funding them through their venture capital firm, Great North Ventures. They are fierce champions of entrepreneurship—particularly in greater Minnesota, and small towns that don't have all the resources. They share advice on being scrappy and determined; not raising too much and not selling too early; and the billion dollar idea they're still searching for.
    After our conversation, we go Back to the Classroom with the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. Professor Jay Ebben teaches entrepreneurship from the investor side. "We teach students to think like investors," he says. "What stands out most about Rob and Ryan is the authenticity with which they operate. That's under appreciated in the VC world, and it's a big part of their story."

    • 1 hr 12 min
    106. Softies President Tim Murphy

    106. Softies President Tim Murphy

    It took nearly a decade for Tim Murphy and his father Dennis to build Softies into a modestly profitable women’s loungewear brand, and just one mention by Oprah to catapult it into a whole new stratosphere.

    A career manufacturer’s rep specializing in women’s apparel, Dennis Murphy decided to start his own company in 2006. Inspired by his wife Peggy who was battling leukemia, Dennis Murphy created a line of super soft, moisture wicking sleepwear. His son Tim Murphy joined the business, based out of their Edina garage, in 2008 and together, they built a decent following. "It was enough to live on, but we were at the point where it was stagnant," Tim Murphy says.

    Six years ago, at a Dallas trade show, the Softies Snuggle Lounger caught the eye of Oprah’s longtime creative director Adam Glassman. Softies debuted on Oprah’s Favorite Things list is 2017 and has managed to stay on the list every year since.

    How does a small company prepare for an Oprah-sized spotlight and not buckle under the pressure? Tim Murphy, who has served as president since his father retired, talks about how Softies has leveraged the attention to keep growing—from hiring a CEO to expanding the product assortment. He shares advice on leadership, perseverance, and product development.

    "You have to make a quality product, you have to sell a product you believe in. If you don’t believe what you’re selling, no one else is going to believe you.”

    Following our conversation with Murphy, we go Back to the Classroom with the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. Marketing professor Mike Porter points out that Softies didn’t just get lucky in making the Oprah list; the company positioned itself to get recognized and was ready to make the most of the opportunity. “That’s just good business,” Porter says.

    • 57 min
    105. Sigma Beauty Co-Founder/CEO Dr. Simone Xavier

    105. Sigma Beauty Co-Founder/CEO Dr. Simone Xavier

    She may be the only beauty industry executive who is also a veterinarian with a Ph.D. in molecular biology. In 2009, Dr. Simone Xavier founded Sigma Beauty with her husband Renee Filho, while working as an assistant clinical professor within the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine. By day, she led a lab that developed vaccines and diagnostic tests. By night, she studied beauty influencers on YouTube to learn what products they liked and where holes in the market existed.

    Sigma Beauty started with makeup brushes, which Xavier sent to beauty YouTubers for feedback. They responded by sharing the discovery of the new indie line making high quality brushes at prices lower than the leading brands of the day, and Sigma Beauty caught fire. Today, the company brand based in Mendota Heights, Minn. produces around 300 products including makeup, brushes and cleaning items. Sigma is sold in 70 countries around the world and in major department stores across the U.S.

    Xavier and her husband bootstrapped the company and have no interest in selling. “We have a vision, a plan, a lot of growth coming up,” Xavier says. That includes a partnership with Disney, a new skincare line, and a move toward clean cosmetics.
    Xavier talks about the evolution of influencer marketing, product development, and building a consumer brand.
    “The biggest misconception is that you need millions,” she says. “Stop. Just relax. Come up with your product, fine tune it the way you feel is best, show your passion online, and you will connect with the audience.”
    As for her nontraditional background in veterinary medicine and science? Xavier says she wouldn’t change a thing. “My training was critical. You learn so much of critical thinking, trend analysis, research. All of that, I use today on this business and could have used on any business.”
    Following our conversation with Xavier we go back to the classroom with University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business marketing professor Gino Giovanelli who offers advice on how businesses can leverage social media. Don’t go for the influencer with the biggest audience, he says; you’re better off partnering with someone authentic who has smaller numbers. And beyond amplifying your brand, leverage social media for brand feedback that can inform product development.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    104. Hennepin Made Co-founder/Director Jackson Schwartz

    104. Hennepin Made Co-founder/Director Jackson Schwartz

    “Art is about exploration, process, potential.”

    A glassblower by training, Jackson Schwartz is an entrepreneur by instinct. A graduate of the Australian National University, renowned for its glass program, Schwartz returned to the Midwest to teach, and co-founded the Hennepin Made glass lighting studio in 2012 with the goal of creating jobs for his students, and himself. Today, Hennepin Made manufactures lighting for Room & Board and sells direct to consumer while also growing its business clients in commercial architecture and luxury residential design.

    You’d think that would be enough to keep the artist-turned-business owner occupied, but Schwartz set his sights on broader goals. He purchased a 30,000-square-foot industrial building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis to give the business plenty of room to scale, and also, to transform an underutilized pocket of the urban core, which he helped to name the Root District. “I want to see artistic production in the city,” Schwartz says. “We have the opportunity to weave it into the fabric of the neighborhood and what happens to downtown. We can show the business community what art does.”

    With passion comes a tendency to “go both feet in really fast.” Schwartz talks about opening a café and event space at Hennepin Made’s headquarters, and realizing he was in over his head. “I’ve learned that there’s only so much you can provide for altruistic reasons; you’ve got to really understand the implications for the existing business.” The café closed and the events business has been recalibrated so that Schwartz can find balance—professionally, and personally. That means getting back to the thing that inspired it all: a love of blowing glass.

    To further examine the relationship of art and business, we go Back to the Classroom with John McVea, a professor at the University of St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. “The separation we tend to make between art and business is not very healthy and will be even less important in the future,” McVea says. “Businesses that are closer to the arts are probably the future for employment in an economy like ours. Arts are the things that mean the most to us and are hardest to replicate by machines.”

    • 1 hr 12 min
    103. Beehive Strategic Communication CEO Lisa Hannum

    103. Beehive Strategic Communication CEO Lisa Hannum

    The decision Lisa Hannum made back in 1998 to leave the world of large communications agencies and start her own, to find balance as both a mother and professional, proved prescient as she scaled through the years. It made her agency especially adaptable when the pandemic hit. Beehive Strategic Communication had always been a hybrid workplace, where employees knew they could get a haircut in the middle of the day without being judged. But flexible and responsive does not mean fully remote. Beehive opened a new office in late 2022 that prioritizes gathering space, wellness, and technology. Hannum expected employees to come in one or two times per week, but they’re showing up even more than that, and clients want to meet at “The Hive” as well. Hannum walks us through the process of designing the office of the future, and creating a culture that makes employees feel trusted. “If you talk to your employees about flexibility and then don’t deliver, they will leave,” Hannum says. “Our team is so invested in the space because they designed it. When we trust in our people, it is repaid in immeasurable ways.”

    There’s no going back to the way work used to be, Hannum says. “We’re wired for change. What we need to understand as leaders, regardless of if your company is micro sized or global, it’s always about the people.”

    Following our conversation with Hannum, we go Back to the Classroom with Mike Porter, marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, who discusses the importance of culture. “To the degree you have an established culture, you can take forward what’s working,” Porter says. “If you don’t have an established culture, be intentional about it.” Culture is your magnet, Porter says, and don’t get hung up on catering to everyone. “You don’t want everybody. You want the ones who want to play with the kinds of clients, work, environment you have. It’s just a new variable in the way we do that.

    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
68 Ratings

68 Ratings

Silicon Minnesotan ,

Positive and actionable. Love this podcast.

Think “How I Built This” crossed with a great advice podcast plus a dynamic, interesting interviewer.

paperslipper ,

Puris Podcast

This was a delightful conversations between Midwesterners. A narrative fitting for the type of creativity, courage, and resolve needed to make an impact in what will be the most exciting decade in human history. Big Trusss.

Pdizzle3 ,

A different view

I really enjoy at the end when another perspective is brought in. Enjoy your show!

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