How I Built This logo
NPR

How I Built This

From NPR

How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. If you've ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about it — check out How I Built This hosted by Guy Raz @guyraz. Follow the show @HowIBuiltThis.More from How I Built This »

Most Recent Episodes

How an anti-corporate prank went viral and inspired Jonah Peretti to start Huffington Post and later BuzzFeed. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Angie Wang for NPR

Live Episode! BuzzFeed: Jonah Peretti

In 2001, when most of us had no idea what it meant to "go viral," Jonah Peretti shared an email prank among his friends — and saw it spread to millions. That began his fascination with how information spreads, and set him on the path to launch two of the most powerful media organizations of the Internet age: The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. Recorded live in New York City.

Live Episode! BuzzFeed: Jonah Peretti

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/539523369/539527091" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

"I would put cold beer in my briefcase every morning ... and I went from bar to bar cold calling, just walking in." — Jim Koch on building Samuel Adam Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Holder for NPR

Samuel Adams: Jim Koch

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live shows, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Samuel Adams. In 1984, Jim Koch felt suffocated by his cushy but boring corporate job. So he left, dusted off an old family beer recipe, started Sam Adams, and helped kickstart the craft beer movement in America. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Kaitlin Mogental who is making packaged snacks out of the leftover fruit and veggie pulp from LA juice bars.

Samuel Adams: Jim Koch

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/538347944/538376000" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

How Raegan Moya-Jones's search for the right baby blanket inspired her business, Aden + Anais. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Angie Wang for NPR

Aden + Anais: Raegan Moya-Jones

Cotton muslin baby blankets are commonplace in Australia, where Raegan Moya-Jones grew up. But when she started a new life and family in NYC, she couldn't find them anywhere. She was sure Americans would love muslin blankets as much as Australians. So in 2006, she started the baby blanket company Aden + Anais, which now makes more than $100 million in annual revenue. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Sam Boyd created Guided Imports, a middleman business to help entrepreneurs find manufacturing and production solutions ... in China.

Aden + Anais: Raegan Moya-Jones

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/537262046/537264169" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

After being involved in Berkeley's Free Speech Movement, Jann Wenner wanted to start a publication to capture the exploding counterculture scene of the 1960s. The result was Rolling Stone, a gritty music magazine that – for 50 years — has left an indelible mark on rock music and journalism. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Angie Wang for NPR

Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner

After being involved in Berkeley's Free Speech Movement, Jann Wenner wanted to start a publication to capture the exploding counterculture scene of the 1960s. The result was Rolling Stone, a gritty music magazine that – for 50 years — has left an indelible mark on rock music and journalism. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Cleveland resident Joel Crites created the app Micro Fantasy, a game where fans can make mini-predictions about what will happen next during a baseball game.

Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/534921096/535990465" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

"I've never sewn, I've never taken a business class in my life. I didn't ... know anybody that worked in fashion or retail." — Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Holder for NPR

Spanx: Sara Blakely

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live shows, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Spanx. At 27, Sara Blakely was selling fax machines and desperate to reinvent her life. So she came up with Spanx — hosiery that eliminates panty lines — and set to work building her business. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Chandra Arthur of the friend-matching app Friendish, and how it was recently featured on the show, Planet of the Apps.

Spanx: Sara Blakely

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/534771839/534886184" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

In 1997, Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick was deployed in Southeast Asia, where he was stationed in a remote warehouse for weeks with no way to exercise. So he grabbed an old jujitsu belt, threw it over a door, and started doing pull-ups. Today, TRX exercise straps dangle from the ceiling in gyms across the country and are standard workout gear for professional athletes. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Angie Wang for NPR

TRX: Randy Hetrick

In 1997, Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick was deployed in Southeast Asia, where he was stationed in a remote warehouse for weeks with no way to exercise. So he grabbed an old jujitsu belt, threw it over a door, and started doing pull-ups. Today, TRX exercise straps dangle from the ceiling in gyms across the country and are standard workout gear for professional athletes. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Whitney Sokol created SproutFit — adjustable onesies and leggings that grow with your baby.

TRX: Randy Hetrick

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/533980744/534132874" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

In 2007, architect Miguel McKelvey convinced his friend Adam Neumann to share an office space in Brooklyn. That was the beginning of WeWork: a shared workspace for startups and freelancers looking for an inspiring environment to do their work. Today, WeWork has created a "community of creators" valued at nearly $16 billion. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Angie Wang for NPR

WeWork: Miguel McKelvey

In 2007, architect Miguel McKelvey convinced his friend Adam Neumann to share an office space in Brooklyn. That was the beginning of WeWork: a shared workspace for startups and freelancers looking for an inspiring environment to do their work. Today, WeWork has created a "community of creators" valued at nearly $16 billion.

WeWork: Miguel McKelvey

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/533236425/533247254" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lisa Price worked in television but had a passion for beauty products. At her mother's suggestion, she began selling her homemade moisturizer at a church flea market. Twenty years later, Carol's Daughter is one of the leading beauty brands catering to African-American women. Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Holder for NPR

Carol's Daughter: Lisa Price

Lisa Price worked in television but had a passion for beauty products. At her mother's suggestion, she began selling her homemade moisturizer at a church flea market. Twenty years later, Carol's Daughter is one of the leading beauty brands catering to African-American women. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how professional trumpet player Dan Gosling created a special lip balm for musicians called ChopSaver.

Carol's Daughter: Lisa Price

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/532244414/532276588" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jerry Murrell's mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,400 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America. Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Holder for NPR

Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

Jerry Murrell's mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,400 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Aiden Emilio and her husband created RexSpecs — UV-protecting goggles for dogs.

Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/531097687/531249469" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Blake Mycoskie started and sold four businesses before age 30. But only in Argentina did he discover the idea he'd want to pursue long term. After seeing a shoe drive for children, he came up with TOMS — part shoe business, part philanthropy. Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Holder for NPR

TOMS: Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie started and sold four businesses before age 30. But only in Argentina did he discover the idea he'd want to pursue long term. After seeing a shoe drive for children, he came up with TOMS — part shoe business, part philanthropy. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how a long-haired Southern Californian, Chris Healy, co-founded The Longhairs and created special hair ties for guys.

TOMS: Blake Mycoskie

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530069705/530095037" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top