Guy Raz interviews the world’s best-known entrepreneurs to learn how they built their iconic brands. In each episode, founders reveal deep, intimate moments of doubt and failure, and share insights on their eventual success. How I Built This is a master-class on innovation, creativity, leadership and how to navigate challenges of all kinds.
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Zumiez: Tom Campion
Working as a manager for nine years at JCPenney, Tom Campion learned a critical lesson about how to succeed in retail: you have to keep close track of inventory. Tom’s experience navigating the ebb and flow of style, color, and size—all without the benefit of computers—gave him the confidence to launch his own retail business, aimed at teenagers. In 1978, he and his partner Gary Haakenson opened their first store, Above the Belt, in Seattle, and soon tapped into the hot new “action sports” category and the growing popularity of surf, skateboard, and snowboard culture. Tom placed his stores in shopping malls, and created spaces where teenagers would want to hang out, by leaning into “organized chaos” as a design principle. Today, with roughly 750 stores, Zumiez is the largest action sports retailer in the world.
HIBT Lab! Biobot Analytics: Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli
Biobot Analytics founders Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli first met in a poop lab. Yep, you read that correctly...
Their company has been working with government and corporate clients since 2017 to analyze disease levels and other biomarkers in our wastewater. Their insights have been used to predict spikes in Covid and other infections, help local officials address drug use in their communities, and much more.
This week on How I Built This Lab, Mariana and Newsha talk with Guy about the innovation that can happen at the intersection of disciplines — Mariana is a scientist from Mexico, Newsha an architect from Canada. The women also share their vision for a future where cities better leverage the ‘data centers’ of our sewers to address chronic health issues and prepare for future pandemics.
HIBT Lab! The Sioux Chef: Sean Sherman
Chef Sean Sherman is on a mission to revitalize and reimagine Native American cuisine.
Growing up on a reservation in South Dakota, Sean ate a lot of highly processed foods provided by the U.S. government. It wasn’t until he started working in restaurants as a teenager that he began to learn about fresh ingredients and how to prepare them. But as Sean climbed the kitchen ranks, learning the techniques and recipes of European-style fine dining, he began to wonder what happened to the culinary traditions of his Native American ancestors.
This week on How I Built This Lab, Sean talks with Guy about establishing a modern North American indigenous cuisine by cutting out non-native ingredients such as pork, chicken, beef, dairy, wheat and cane sugar. Instead, he cooks with heirloom varieties of corn, wild rice, foraged plants and native animals such as bison, salmon, duck and beaver. Under The Sioux Chef brand, Sean has hosted pop-up dinners, published a cookbook, operated a food truck, and in 2021, he opened Owamni, which won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.
Chomps: Pete Maldonado and Rashid Ali
When steaks don’t sell you shift to sticks; that’s how Chomps was born. After several failed ventures—one of which left him bankrupt—Pete Maldonado decided to take another chance on launching a business. He partnered with Rashid Ali to start a mail-order service similar to Omaha Steaks, but with grass-fed meat that was more suited to the Paleo diet. When the partners couldn’t get that off the ground, they shifted to individually-wrapped meat sticks; one of the first in a long line of ‘healthier for you’ protein snacks. For several years, each co-founder tried to manage the business as a side-hustle, but the sausage hit the fan in 2016 when a surprise order from Trader Joe’s left them scrambling to produce a million sticks. Today, Chomps is available in major chains across the country and pulls in more than $100 million a year.
HIBT Lab! Osmo Salt: Nick DiGiovanni
Do you know who holds the record for making the world’s largest chicken nugget? How about the world’s largest sushi roll?
If you know Nick DiGiovanni, then you know the answer to those questions. Each week, more than 15 million followers across YouTube and TikTok gawk and drool over Nick’s masterful and over-the-top culinary creations. Nick is at the helm of some analog business ventures too, including a DTC salt and seasoning company and his debut cookbook, Knife Drop, which publishes later this year.
This week on How I Built This Lab, Nick talks with Guy about overcoming shyness to become an on-camera personality, and his recent decision to forego Harvard Business School to continue on his path as a creator. Nick also opens up about his struggles to set strong work-life boundaries and speculates about his professional future.
Tarte Cosmetics: Maureen Kelly
Let’s say you had a passion but thought of it only as a hobby; certainly never the seed of a billion-dollar company. Plus, you are studying for a career in something unrelated to business. That’s Maureen Kelly’s story, CEO of Tarte Cosmetics. She was pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and already had TWO Master’s degrees when she realized she didn't want that to be her career. What she wanted was to launch a makeup company—despite having no significant start-up money, no experience, and no connections. How she did it is a story of pure moxie. She relentlessly knocked on the doors of chemists, manufacturers, retailers, and the fashion press. She maxed out her credit cards and enlisted the help of friends and family, turning Tarte into a wildly successful brand.
One of The Best!
Guy Raz is a fantastic host with a fantastic tone, cadence and inflection. The production quality is top notch and love the cold opens. Great work to everyone involved on the podcast!
Interesting story telling
Love the show but…
Love the show but I refuse to pay extra for access to a podcast