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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Alienware: Frank Azor and Nelson Gonzalez
With no formal training in business or computer design, Nelson Gonzalez and his cofounders decided to do what almost no other company was doing in the mid-1990’s: make personal computers specifically for gaming. They started as a tiny custom shop in Miami, and eventually began building PC’s for avid gamers, who were willing to pay top dollar for higher speed, better graphics, and a brightly-colored chassis that looked like the head of an Alien. Despite ongoing challenges with sourcing parts and getting loans, Alienware became one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. In 2006, it was purchased by Dell for an undisclosed amount, and remains one of the most popular gaming PC’s in the country.
HIBT Lab! Gro Intelligence: Sara Menker
Growing up in Ethiopia in the 1980s and ‘90s, Sara Menker saw the devastating effects of drought and famine firsthand. Later as a commodities trader on Wall Street, Sara realized that a major driver of food insecurity around the world was a lack of good data to predict weather events, crop yields, and food prices. That realization led Sara to found her company, Gro Intelligence, in 2014.
This week on How I Built This Lab, Sara shares how Gro Intelligence uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human expertise to help private companies, nonprofits, and governments better understand agricultural markets and address global food challenges. Plus, Sara talks about building the Gro team and the importance of founders understanding all of the different jobs within their companies.
HIBT Lab! mitú and SUMA Wealth: Beatriz Acevedo
It was a love for Ricky Martin that started it all...
Beatriz Acevedo thought that if she could only become a DJ, she could get his attention and marry him. While marriage to Ricky was not in the cards, an illustrious career in radio, TV, and eventually digital media was. Beatriz is now a serial entrepreneur: her first venture, mitú, is published content for a growing young Latino market. Soon after selling mitú in 2020, she launched Suma Wealth to help young Latinos build wealth and navigate the complex American financial system.
This week on How I Built This Lab, Beatriz takes Guy on a journey through her career in media production and her more recent pivot to financial services. She also discusses the importance of a culture-first approach to serving Latino customers, and the interactive and educational approach her new company is taking to close the Latino wealth gap.
Famous Dave's: Dave Anderson (2020)
Growing up in 1960's Chicago, Dave Anderson didn't eat much deep dish. Instead, his dad took the family to the South Side for barbecue, and those memories—and aromas—stayed with him.
For years, Dave tinkered with his own recipes for sauces and sides while working as a salesman and business advisor to Native American tribes. Finally in 1994, he opened his first barbecue shack in the last place you might expect to find one: the little town of Hayward, Wisconsin.
The chain grew quickly—too quickly—and Dave developed a love-hate relationship with the brand he'd created, but never lost his passion for smoked ribs and brisket. Today, Famous Dave's has over 100 restaurants across the U.S., making it one of the largest barbecue chains in the country.
ICYMI... HIBT Lab! Babish Culinary Universe: Andrew Rea
Growing up, Andrew Rea dreamed of becoming a Hollywood filmmaker. But the special effects production job he landed after college left him feeling…uninspired. After a series of creative defeats and mounting relationship troubles, his therapist suggested he find a new creative outlet. Andrew decided to make a short cooking video inspired by an episode of Parks and Recreation and uploaded it to YouTube...
This week on How I Built This Lab, Guy asks Andrew about his journey from TV and movie buff to YouTube cooking sensation. His channel, Babish Culinary Universe now has nearly 10 million subscribers. Plus, Andrew candidly shares how his struggles with mental health have shaped his career.
Guayakí Yerba Mate: David Karr and Chris Mann
In the mid-1990’s most Americans had probably never even heard of yerba mate, but when David Karr and Chris Mann were first introduced to the South American drink, they were hooked. Together with three other friends, they decided to launch a company that would bring mate to the American market. Based in San Luis Obispo, California, the co-founders of Guayakí Yerba Mate spent years living in a van and driving all over the country, brewing up free samples for consumers, and convincing natural food stores to sell their product. It would take almost 15 years of grinding away before the company turned a significant profit, but the founders were powered by a mission to do business in a way that supports communities and the environment. Today, Guayakí has annual revenue of over $100 million, and their canned and bottled beverages are available all across the U.S.
Awesome Storytelling and Inspiring!
Guy Raz has done such an amazing job to bring out the essence and challenge each companies have faced. The stories are easy to digest and the challenges each founders met seem to be an exciting adventure through Guy’s carefully crafted conversations.
Famous Dave’s More Like Famous Yawns
I have listened to and enjoyed quite a few of these shows but this episode made me sleepy.
Not entertaining in the slightest.
The Anthony Wood episode was insightful - I appreciated question about his wealth, I did not appreciate the answer.
When founders sign term sheets they more often than not wire inequity into their business models as well. When there is someone as brilliant as Anthony is, he has more power than most to set the operating terms for investors. But because we do not hold founders accountable for this aspect of contributing to the wealth divide, they do not take this great power with the great responsibility that it deserves. (Sorry for quoting Spider-man), hence they end up with more money than they can spend in several lifetimes. in addition they leave the decisions for how that wealth gets distributed to a wealthy few and the industry of philanthropy which perpetuates harm. If we hold these billionaires more accountable for the decisions they make before they become billionaires (at the startup stage) then we will start to see a society with more balanced equity.
Listen to my Podcast Spread Love FM for more on this. Episodes 10 & 12 with more on this coming.
Thanks for reading.