123 episodes

As we hear The Startup Story of some of the most successful companies in the world our focus is singular…
To give you the belief and courage to Start Your Story.
Every successful startup began with a single decision. It’s not about the dream, it’s not about the vision, it’s about having the courage to take that very first step -- to start.
How did UBER grow to $50 billion? How did Spanx become massively successful without one dime of venture capital? The stories are out there. But The Startup Story goes even deeper. What exactly did they do to go from idea to launch? What was that first step and how did they decide to take it?
Each week, hear from the courageous founders behind some of the most successful brands in the world as they share their Startup Story. We’ll unpack the early beginnings, and uncover those first steps that ultimately led them to where they are today.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s in the thick of it and not making much progress, or feeling stuck in the fear of failure, not sure if you have what it takes, this podcast was created for you.

The Startup Story James McKinney

    • Entrepreneurship
    • 5.0 • 383 Ratings

As we hear The Startup Story of some of the most successful companies in the world our focus is singular…
To give you the belief and courage to Start Your Story.
Every successful startup began with a single decision. It’s not about the dream, it’s not about the vision, it’s about having the courage to take that very first step -- to start.
How did UBER grow to $50 billion? How did Spanx become massively successful without one dime of venture capital? The stories are out there. But The Startup Story goes even deeper. What exactly did they do to go from idea to launch? What was that first step and how did they decide to take it?
Each week, hear from the courageous founders behind some of the most successful brands in the world as they share their Startup Story. We’ll unpack the early beginnings, and uncover those first steps that ultimately led them to where they are today.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s in the thick of it and not making much progress, or feeling stuck in the fear of failure, not sure if you have what it takes, this podcast was created for you.

    Michael Sharon, co-founder of Taika

    Michael Sharon, co-founder of Taika

    About this episode

    This week's episode my guest this week is Michael Sharon, Co-founder of Taika. Taika is a stealth health brand that is looking to take CPG products that are consumed by millions of people every day and redesign them to be delicious and truly healthy for you. The brand has tremendous opportunities within many product categories but they're starting with coffee. They take 5 adaptogenic herbs that they bring to you in the coffee and it helps deliver focus and energy to your daily life.


    What stood out to me was their packaging, but Michael’s story is incredible!


    His story unpacks how he moved from South African and made his way to New York only to discover just how far behind our mobile technology was in 2002 especially as compared to the rest of the world.


    This prompted Michael to launch his first mobile start-up. Now you might be asking ‘how does a mobile technology expert get to a place with launching a coffee brand?’, and well that is a great question and one that finds its answers through the halls of Facebook's headquarters in Silicon Valley but much like every start-up Story we need to start at the very beginning and Michael’s beginning is not like any other story that we have ever unpacked before.


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How Michael was born in Israel then moved to South Africa as a child to a cult
    How by the age of 10, he opted out of the cult when he found his love for video games and computers. But kept the vegetarian lifestyle until he was 38.
    Michael shared how growing up he didn’t have a clear idea what his future would be, but he knew it would be related to computers.
    How Michael went to University in South Africa and originally studied Computer science, mathematics, English literature and Astronomy. But he lost interest in computer science as it wasn’t challenging enough and ultimately, switched his degree to a degree in psychology and law but kept English literature.
    While at University he was in a Band and after he graduated he started a production studio to create jingles to fund the production of his album.
    How he went to work at Trigger as a brand strategist, this is where he had his first opportunity to sit down with the CEO and tell them the potential of their company.
    Michael shares how he was let go from Trigger and used the opportunity to begin a graduate program.
    In April 2002 he received a scholarship to NYU, his friends tried to persuade him not to go but he saw an opportunity in New York and wanted to take it.
    While at University he was writing about mobile technology.
    Michael shares how South Africa was a lot further ahead with mobile and bank technology compared with America, this sparked his entrepreneurial flare.
    In 2005 he founded a Startup called Socialight, a location-based mobile social network. Another reason why he co-founded the company was that no one would hire him as he wasn’t an American citizen, so he hired himself.
    How Socialight was ahead of its time and didn’t accompany the mobile technology at the time.
    Michael shares how he joined Facebook as the Mobile Product Manager in 2008. He could take all of the ideas he had for Socialite and develop them on Facebook.
    After 8 years he took a step back and assessed what he wanted to do.
    Michael shares how he found the problem to Taika when at Facebook. Due to the high levels of stress, he was dealing with 5 to 6 cups of coffee a day, which wasn’t agreeing with him. So he went searching to understand how to create coffee that has the correct adaptative in it.
    How he launched Taika in 2019 and tested it by adding a phone number on the front of it and changing its packaging every two weeks.
    Michael explains the importance of creating a community through their CPG company


    Resources from this episode

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    • 1 hr 27 min
    Unpacking Product Market Fit

    Unpacking Product Market Fit

    About this episode

    This episode we are going to discuss the topic of product-market-fit. Using different examples and strategies to understand what would work for your startup.


    This is the 120th episode of The Startup Story and in almost every episode our featured founder has had one startup failure in their past and each failure can be attributed to numerous factors. Factors like team makeup, marketing challenges, financial limitations, and sometimes the failure is a result of technical challenges. With all the various reasons a company might fail, the most prevalent reason was their failure to find product-market-fit.
    Is product-market-fit so elusive? Is it something that can only be discovered by venture-backed firms? No, those aren’t true at all of product-market-fit.
    The greatest thing about product-market-fit is that most of the work in finding product-market-fit can happen cheaply and at a very early stage in the startup lifecycle. The challenge is that we begin to drink our hype kool-aid and don’t try to assess product-market-fit until we hit hurdles much later on, and after thousands…and sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent.
    Smart startup founders front-load the work to determine product-market-fit. It truly is foundational for any and all startup projects…especially if you want to succeed.
    Your sole purpose, when you are in the idea to MVP stage, is to validate your assumptions and to prove that people want what you are making. Everything…and I mean, everything else is secondary.


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How to find product market fit.
    How to validate your idea and prove that it will be successful.
    How to validate your assumptions and prove that your product will work - using platforms like Reddit and Medium.
    How to find a vast amount of customers that have a want or need for the product- that solves their problem
    How to keep up with the ever-changing market and keeping your product up to date by looking at the market from a high or low altitude.
    A basic process to find product fit - choose target market, find the problem in it, define your unique value (especially your unique MVP) and the test for product market fit.
    Shares the ideology that more people that are excited by the product reflects how successful the product will be.
    How to not waste money on mockup products.
    Shares different ways to test your product - using things like pre-sale and A/B testing


    Resources from this episode

    FREE 3-Day Livestream Event: https://live.grindology.com/


    Join Grindology: https://grindology.com/


    ExpressVPN: Get 3 Months Free → https://www.expressvpn.com/startupstory


    Get Emails: https://app.getemails.com/referrals/newaccount?ref=R18HWW5


    The Startup Story Inner Circle: https://www.thestartupstory.co/vip
    The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
    The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory


    BOOK- Eric Ries Lean startup - https://amzn.to/3sdC1yi
    Mockup Tool - https://moqups.grsm.io/tss


    Share the podcast

    The Startup Story community has been so incredible sharing our podcast with others, and we thank you! We do have more stories to tell and more people to reach. There are three ways you can help.


    First, the most powerful way you can support this podcast is by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.


    Second, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your favourite Startup Story episodes with your friends and on social media. Tag or mention @thestartupstory so we can give you a virtual high five and a thank you!


    Lastly, share the podcast on LinkedIn. The Startup Story podcast is for entrepreneurs. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing on LinkedIn so other entrepreneurs can d

    • 37 min
    Bill Glaser, co-founder of Outstanding Foods

    Bill Glaser, co-founder of Outstanding Foods

    About this episode

    This week’s episode my guest this week is Bill Glazer Co-founder of Outstanding Foods.


    Bill is a serial entrepreneur with numerous successful exits. And in this episode, we get to hear about some critical decisions he made in bringing outstanding foods to market. Tactics that if you're bringing a product to market in this category you might want to listen very intently on. The Startup Story continues to deliver the founder’s direct guidance and this week’s episode is no different.


    Yet, despite all of the massive successes that Bill has experienced his journey had to start somewhere, and oftentimes that origin Storey isn't too far off from our very own. Yet, it's the many subsequent decisions that make all the difference.


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How his father wanted to be an entrepreneur and loved the freedom it.
    How Bill has always had an entrepreneurial flair and from the age of five would either sell products o sell his service like mowing the neighbour’s lorn to make his pocket money.
    After Bill graduated college he was offered a good job as an investment banker but turned it down the day before, because like his father wanted the freedom of being an entrepreneur.
    Bill started his first company at 23, due to finding a gap in the market of US flags made in America. In 3 weeks he generated a 1 million dollar’s worth of purchases orders but his product wasn’t up to standard and lost everything.
    Bill has had a plant-based diet for over 30 years and wanted to create a product that will allow customers to easily incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet.
    Bill explains that creating plant-based snacks allowed him to ‘reach the most amount of consumers and without having to change any of (their) habits.
    Bill explains how he attracted a wide range of celebrities and influencers like Snoop Dogg, Rob Dyrdek and Emily Deschanel to promote his company.
    He explains how companies are always going to have obstacles, challenges and opportunities and it's all about your outlook.


    Resources from this episode

    Join Grindology: https://grindology.com/


    ExpressVPN: Get 3 Months Free → https://www.expressvpn.com/startupstory


    Get Emails: https://app.getemails.com/referrals/newaccount?ref=R18HWW5


    The Startup Story Inner Circle: https://www.thestartupstory.co/vip
    The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
    The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story Live event: https://live.grindology.com/


    Outstanding Foods: https://outstandingfoods.com


    Book Think and Grow Rich: https://amzn.to/3wu2R8P


    Share the podcast

    The Startup Story community has been so incredible sharing our podcast with others, and we thank you! We do have more stories to tell and more people to reach. There are three ways you can help.


    First, the most powerful way you can support this podcast is by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.


    Second, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your favourite Startup Story episodes with your friends and on social media. Tag or mention @thestartupstory.co so we can give you a virtual high five and a thank you!


    Lastly, share the podcast on LinkedIn. The Startup Story podcast is for entrepreneurs. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing on LinkedIn so other entrepreneurs can discover us.


    With your support, we hope to further our reach in encouraging and inspiring the founders of today and tomorrow. Thank you!


    EPISODE CREDITS

    This episode was made possible due to the support of our sponsor Grindology. Visit https://grindology.com/ to obtain founder-direct tactics and strategies.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    CPG Industry Trends and Insights

    CPG Industry Trends and Insights

    About this episode

    My guest this week is Ryan Lewendon, partner at the Law Firm Giannuzzi Lewendon.


    We will be talking about all things CPG…and Ryan’s experience in this space is immense! He has worked on deals with Vitamin Water, Pirate’s Booty, Pretzel Crisps, Siggy’s Yogurt, Vita Coco, Essential Water, and even Schmidt’s Naturals which you might remember from our interview with Jaime Schmidt shortly after she sold her brand to Unilever.


    All that to say, Ryan knows a thing or two about the CPG space and that is the knowledge sharing that is going to take place today. This entire episode is all about the CPG…so let’s get started!


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How plant-based diets are changing from being something you do to survive to now thrive.
    Ryan shares how people are looking to unwind particularly in the pandemic, but wanting to avoid the after effect of alcohol.
    Ryan shares how he thinks the next big trend is going to be personalized wellness, as more people are looking for efficacy in multifactor products that will get them the most for their money.
    How using data and analysis to develop products that are narrowly tailored to the consumers.
    Ryan shares how the next generation of targeted ads are going to be more personal to the consumer through the amount of data that is collected online.
    Ryan explains the importance of launching your company from a strong foundation and the things you need and don’t need when starting a CPG company.
    How founders should build a team that compliments their weaknesses.
    How you should build contracts slowly to avoid a little mistake could cripple your business and reputation.
    Ryan shares how Founder burnout is real and maintaining a work life balance is important to avoid this.
    Ryan explains that founders should remind themselves of why they started their business when times are hard.
    How founding a company is a marathon not a sprint.
    Ryan explains why it is important to do a self diagnostic about the company before selling it, as you can fix problems to be more desirable to buyers.
    Understand why it is important to Identify the founder's involvement to help a smooth transition.
    How you can identify who you want to buy your company.
    Ryan explains what makes a brand a high target value for an acquisition.


    Resources from this episode

    Join Grindology: https://grindology.com/


    ExpressVPN: Get 3 Months Free → https://www.expressvpn.com/startupstory


    Get Emails: https://app.getemails.com/referrals/newaccount?ref=R18HWW5


    The Startup Story Inner Circle: https://www.thestartupstory.co/vip
    The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
    The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory


    Giannuzzi Lewendon: https://gllaw.us


    Share the podcast

    The Startup Story community has been so incredible sharing our podcast with others, and we thank you! We do have more stories to tell and more people to reach. There are three ways you can help.


    First, the most powerful way you can support this podcast is by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.


    Second, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your favorite Startup Story episodes with your friends and on social media. Tag or mention @thestartupstory.co so we can give you a virtual high five and a thank you!


    Lastly, share the podcast on LinkedIn. The Startup Story podcast is for entrepreneurs. Don’t underestimate the power of sharing on LinkedIn so other entrepreneurs can discover us.


    With your support, we hope to further our reach in encouraging and inspiring the founders of today and tomorrow. Thank you!


    EPISODE CREDITS

    This episode was made possible due to the support of our sponsor Grindology. Vi

    • 37 min
    Elizabeth Grojean, founder of Baloo Living

    Elizabeth Grojean, founder of Baloo Living

    About this episode

    My guest this week is Elizabeth Grojean, founder of Baloo Living. Baloo living is an ecommerce brand that launched with a singular product…a weighted blanket. Within a few months of her launch the Baloo blanket was on every single Holiday Shopping Guide as “the blanket of the holidays”. Her story is remarkable for a few reasons and I’m super pumped to bring it to you.


    First, her business launch didn’t start from a product or service…it started from a channel. Elizabeth knew that she wanted to build an ecommerce brand…she just needed to figure out what category.


    Secondly, in this episode she shares with us the tactics she used to discover what category to enter based on her Amazon data analysis. You are going to want to make sure to listen to this full episode with pen and paper in hand because she unpacks each step just for you!


    But before we get to the success story…we need to make sure we understand the full journey because every single chapter of our journey contributes to where we are today…ESPECIALLY Elizabeth’s entrepreneurial journey.


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How Elizabeth grew up in Houston with her dad who was entreperial. She moved to Texas when she was young as her Dad opened a RV Park.
    When leaving high school she felt very confused about her future, so thought that doing a marketing degree would open multiple doors for her.
    After graduating she still didn’t have an understanding of what she wanted to do, so went and worked for her dad at an Architecture engineer firm. This was a good experience but yearned to move to New York.
    She shares how she felt like a failure in her mid twenties because she hadn’t found what she wanted to do in her life.
    She shares how she seeked help to understand what was holding her back mentally.
    Elizabeth shares how she wanted to work in a startup and ended up working at Casa Dragones as the executive assistant for Bertha Gonzalez Nieves. This experience taught her many valuable lessons that she took forward when running her own business.
    How she used her savings and went to Bali to clear her head, this allowed herself to be vulnerable and not hide behind a label of a job title.
    Returning from Bali to New York she wanted to find a job that fitted around her new lifestyle.
    Elizabeth explains how becoming an entrepreneur she found her passion but now was searching for a product to sell.
    How she used E-commerce to find a product to sell, the power in Keyword Volume analytics, brought her to find her weighted blankets.
    Elizabeth explains that using a weighted blanket for the first time was a religious experience and she built her brand around expressing that feeling.
    She explains that her Dad offered to fund the company, at first she turned down the offer but then accepted it as she knew he believed in her and the product.
    How she went back to Bail and launched the company from there.
    How using a PR company opened doors for the company and in her first launch she sold out.


    Resources from this episode

    Join Grindology: https://grindology.com/


    ExpressVPN: Get 3 Months Free → https://www.expressvpn.com/startupstory


    Get Emails: https://app.getemails.com/referrals/newaccount?ref=R18HWW5


    The Startup Story Inner Circle: https://www.thestartupstory.co/vip
    The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
    The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory


    Baloo Website: https://balooliving.com/
    Jungle Scout: https://www.junglescout.com


    Share the podcast

    The Startup Story community has been so incredible sharing our podcast with others, and we thank you! We do have more stories to tell and more people to reach. There are three ways you can help.


    First, the most powerful way you can suppor

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Keith Eshelman, co-founder of Parks Project

    Keith Eshelman, co-founder of Parks Project

    About this episode

    My guest this week is Keith Eshelman, co-founder and CEO of the Parks Project. The Parks Project is a social commerce company in that they have created some of the most comfortable clothing you will ever wear AND they have donated over 50% of their profits to over 50 partners such as Yosemite Conservancy, Sierra Club, the National Park Foundation, and many more.


    After a weekend volunteering in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2014, Keith and his co-founder, both TOMS employees at the time, were struck by the challenges facing America’s underfunded and underappreciated National Parks. They set out to harness consumer power to help support the enormous backlog of underfunded projects within the national parks system ​by creating collections of apparel and accessories that would further connect consumers with the parks they love.


    Within this episode you will hear quite a bit about the influence that Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, had on Keith’s journey. And that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship…it’s not a solo journey.


    It’s also not an overnight journey, and more times than not…it’s decades in the making.


    In this episode, you'll hear:


    How Keith was born in northern California and grew up around career professionals. He had a conventional path pursing education that would lead him to a successful job.

    He shares as a child he wanted to be a doctor and went to UC San Diego Medical School but left after sophomore year as he couldn’t consume the detailed information required for med school. He graduated with a management science degree, minor in Spanish that allowed him to travel.

    He shares his love for Brands, but not only for their products but the whole company, and how he wanted to help companies that were making a difference.

    Before he joined Toms, we worked in London with Puma and OMD, usually in product marketing.

    When working at TOMS he experiences how a purchases can not only for fill the customer but help people and charities in need. Like Toms theory of purchasing a pair of shoes can give another child a pair for shoes.

    Keith shares how TOMS allowed him to have his first taste of entrepreneurship by being allowed to run popup shops.

    Keith explains his passion for recycling plastic in clothing like board shorts and wanted the product to have its own story.

    He shares how he found his problem and why he pursued founding Parks Project, and what he is doing to fix it.

    How he started his company from his garage and has been growing his team ever since.

    How Parks Project is empowering the next generation, and their mission is to leave it, as you found it.

    Keith shares how his company is here to build and innovate the product with useful recycling.



    Resources from this episode

    Join Grindology: https://grindology.com/


    ExpressVPN: Get 3 Months Free → https://www.expressvpn.com/startupstory


    Get Emails: https://app.getemails.com/referrals/newaccount?ref=R18HWW5


    The Startup Story Inner Circle: https://www.thestartupstory.co/vip
    The Startup Story on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/thestartupstory
    The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
    The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory


    Park Project https://www.parksproject.us


    Hint Water Give Away https://mailchi.mp/thestartupstory/hint


    Share the podcast

    The Startup Story community has been so incredible sharing our podcast with others, and we thank you! We do have more stories to tell and more people to reach. There are three ways you can help.


    First, the most powerful way you can support this podcast is by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.


    Second, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to share your favorite Startup Story episodes with your friends and on social media. Tag o

    • 1 hr 2 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
383 Ratings

383 Ratings

Doc_FN ,

Asks the Questions That are Useful

I never write podcast reviews. Ever.

After listening to the interview with Dylan Jacob I was immensely impressed at the quality and direction of the questions.

I am in the middle of founding my first company and I am re-listening to your interviews taking notes because they are so chock full of great information.

Subscribed for life!

Such Inso ,

Your past guest, Ashley Borden

I was very honored to be a guest on The Start Up Story podcast. I continue to be a listener and love how I am constantly learning with every episode. You provide such valuable content!

johngraham2 ,

Great podcast!!!

The first episode I listened to was with Jeff Biggars, and it truly was inspiring. It gives hope to some of us who are hesitant about getting started, and it pushed me to get into entrepreneurship myself. I now own Woodland Watch Company, and although it’s a slow start and I only have one style, I’m eager to push it forward and see what I can do. Thanks!

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