The Inc. Founders Project brings you the stories of the entrepreneurs building our future. Hosted by Alexa von Tobel (Founder/CEO of LearnVest and now Founder + Managing Partner of Inspired Capital), listen to the tales of guts, inspiration, and drive behind the people and companies at the forefront of technology. Each weekly conversation digs into each founder's professional playbook — and starts to uncover what makes them tick as people.
How to Be Forward-Thinking with Greg Williams of Acrisure
What does it take to build the fastest-growing insurance brokerage in industry history? According to Greg Williams, it’s all about thinking three to four years ahead. When he cofounded Acrisure in 2005, he initially questioned the need for another insurance broker. Yet, by bringing his vision of the future into the day-to-day, Acrisure is now the sixth-largest insurance broker globally and the largest independent real estate services company in America. By providing customers with intelligence-driven financial services solutions, Acrisure combines the best of human capabilities with the best of technological capabilities, and is valued at more than $20B. Greg shares why highly successful people think differently, why he’s bullish on proprietary chatbots, and why he focuses heavily on vision and culture.
How to Adapt Beyond Your Vision with Grant LaFontaine of Whatnot
What does it take to start one of the fastest-growing consumer marketplaces? According to repeat founder Grant LaFontaine, it starts with an open mind. When he and his co-founder Logan Head launched Whatnot in 2019, they went into it know that their starting place and ending place would be completely different. The team opted to be customer-centric instead of vision-driven. Today, Whatnot is a live shopping marketplace that enables anyone to turn their passion into a business. Whatnot is like Twitch-meets-eBay and was most recently valued at $3.7B. Grant shares why they started building with a niche community (Funko Pop collectors), why creativity is vital for consumer startups, and why this generation of shoppers cares about authenticity.
How to Keep Moving Forward with Jim McCann of 1-800-Flowers.com
In 1976, Jim McCann had spent a decade working in a group home for boys and was bartending on the side. A customer at the bar gave him a tip that there was an opportunity to buy a flower shop for $10,000. Jim took the leap and turned that single flower shop on Manhattan's East Side into a billion-dollar omni-channel retailer. He grew store by store, turning on a franchise model, expanding into new gifting categories (from The Popcorn Factory to Harry & David). Through it all, Jim had a knack for adopting new technologies ahead of other retailers. Jim shares where the company's iconic name comes from, how he positioned the company to become the first merchant of any kind on AOL, and why the best way to solve a problem is with a pen and a pad of paper.
How to Follow Your Insatiable Curiosity with Nigel Morris of QED and Capital One
Capital One is such an iconic brand that it is hard to imagine a time before it. But when Nigel Morris co-founded the business in 1994, it was wildly innovative—from the products it introduced to the market (like secured credit cards) to a data-driven approach to customer segmentation to an emphasis on team culture. Today, Capital One is one of the largest retail banks in the United States, serving more than 100 million customers across a diverse set of businesses. Nigel's career didn't stop there: he went on to start QED Investors, a fintech venture capital platform that has invested in companies like Credit Karma, Nubank, and Klarna. Nigel shares why Capital One's early success came down to rapid execution, why restlessness is a positive trait for founders, and how one interesting use case of AI is powering one-to-one marketing.
Flashback: How to build a 100-year company with Harley Finkelstein
Harley Finkelstein first encountered Shopify as a user. Back in 2006, while in law school, he was one of the first merchants to use the platform. He joined the company in 2010 and now serves as President, helping to scale Shopify to millions of daily active users across 175 countries driving $444B in global economic activity. Today, Shopify is the all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow a business—and is second only to Amazon as the largest online retailer in the US. Harley shares why the future of e-commerce is just the future of commerce, why his favorite motto is "how you do anything is how you do everything," and how being a power extrovert has made him a stronger leader.
How to Have a Customer-First Mindset with Chen Amit of Tipalti
Approaching a new industry as an outsider and as a team of one would be daunting for most founders. But Chen Amit, Founder and CEO of Tipalti, was a repeat entrepreneur building in a new arena. In the past 13 years, he has scaled Tipalti— a finance automation suite focusing on global payments and accounts payable—into one of the most highly valued privately-held fintech companies in the globe. With a valuation of $8.3B, Tipalti processes over $43B in payments annually. Chen shares why signing his third customer was his biggest signal of product-market fit, what playing poker taught him about taking calculated risks, and why he relearns his job every eighteen months.
Such great insights
As an aspiring founder, I am so inspired by the great guests in thoughtful conversations. 10/10.
A Must-Listen Podcast
Alexa von Tobel does a great job of casually interviewing founders of highly relevant companies. Her own entrepreneurial experience allows her to gain great practical takeaways from these founders that can be applied to our daily lives. I would highly recommend this podcast to anyone interested in the entrepreneurship world or anyone who wants to be more informed!
Alexa, host of the Inc. Founders podcast, highlights all aspects of entrepreneurship and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!