January 24, 2022 Vincent Kitirattragarn grew up in a Thai-Chinese-American household, which meant eating congee and lemongrass chicken, while also ordering chicken McNuggets with his younger brothers. He dreamed of opening his own Thai restaurant, but an exhausting stint working at one convinced him that his entrepreneurial path would never be in the restaurant industry. Instead Vincent's Asian-inspired snack food brand, Dang Foods, was born in 2011 when a delicious home-cooking experiment led him to start importing coconut chips from Thailand. Vincent's brother Andrew joined a few years later to help grow the brand through a series of snack product successes—and some tasty but colossal flops. Today, the company sells their brightly-packaged coconut chips, rice crackers, and energy bars in over 10,000 stores across the country.
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December 13, 2021 In 2010, rocket scientists Robbie Schingler and Will Marshall set an ambitious goal for themselves: to launch an aerospace mission with the speed and agility of a Silicon Valley startup. They set up shop in their garage, left their NASA jobs, and began pursuing their vision of building small, relatively inexpensive satellites to take daily images of the earth. Today, their company Planet has a fleet of roughly 200 satellites that capture millions of pictures daily, tracking everything from forest fires and oil spills to the health of coral reefs and crops. The company now has hundreds of clients around the world, and just went public on the NYSE.
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November 8, 2021 In 2009, Berkeley seniors Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez started to geek out over something they'd heard in a lecture: you can grow a healthy crop of mushrooms on used coffee grounds. Intrigued by the business potential, the pair set aside jobs in finance and consulting and became urban farmers: salvaging leaky bags of coffee grounds, planting mushroom spawn in an Oakland warehouse, and selling their crop to local grocers. Over time, the partners realized they could help others grow food for themselves, so they stopped farming fungus and took the leap into selling tabletop grow kits, seeds, and potting soil. Since launch, Back to the Roots has become the fastest-growing organic gardening brand in the U.S., with its products sold in 10,000 stores across the country.
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October 4, 2021 While traveling abroad with her husband in 2016, Fawn Weaver became fixated on a New York Times article telling the little-known story of Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel—yes, that Jack Daniel—how to make Tennessee whiskey. After diving deeper into the story, Fawn ended up purchasing the 300-acre farm in Lynchburg, Tennessee where Nearest had taught Jack how to distill; and she began meeting the descendants of both men. She initially thought of honoring Nearest's story with a book or movie, but decided the best way to preserve his legacy was with a bottle of the best Tennessee whiskey she could make. With no background in distilling, she threw herself into the insular world of spirit-making, an industry mostly dominated by white men and a few major corporations. In the five years since Fawn first discovered his story, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has become one of the fastest-growing whiskey brands in the world, and one of the most awarded American whiskeys.
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September 6, 2021 After falling in love with the first Apple Mac computer in 1984, Lynda Weinman found a new career: using the new technology to teach web graphics. She published a best-selling book on the topic, and then—along with her husband Bruce Heavin—decided to host a web design workshop in the small town of Ojai, California. When the class sold out, the partners realized their straightforward approach to digital design was in high demand. Despite having no business background, Lynda and Bruce continued to expand their vision, eventually offering instructional videos on a range of topics through their streaming platform, Lynda.com. In 2015, the company sold to LinkedIn for 1.5 billion dollars.
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August 2, 2021 Growing up in New Jersey in the 1980's and 90's, Gary Vaynerchuk honed his business skills trading baseball cards and selling wine at his dad's liquor store. He discovered the potential of Youtube early on and launched Wine Library TV, an unfiltered, in-your-face wine review series that boosted the family business and branded Gary as an early social-media guru. From there, his marketing career exploded, and suddenly Gary Vee seemed to be everywhere: consulting, speaking, vlogging, tweeting, and publishing best-selling books, all while growing what is now a sprawling media company, VaynerX. His energy can be exhausting and his critics think he's full of it, but Gary shrugs them off; he credits much of his success to his immigrant upbringing and his parents' strong work ethic.
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July 12, 2021 In the late 1990s, Ben Chestnut was a struggling young designer interning at an appliance company, when somebody suggested that he try designing for the internet instead. A few years later, Ben and two co-founders launched a web design agency, only to discover that the service they'd included almost as an afterthought—email marketing—was taking off among their small-business clients. The founders named that service Mailchimp and pivoted to it full-time in 2007, choosing a winking monkey as their mascot, and stumbling onto the Freemium model before it became mainstream. But their most impeccable timing came in 2014, when they decided to sponsor a new podcast called Serial, a move that catapulted the winking monkey into popular culture. Over the years, despite management jitters and a public reckoning over office culture, Mailchimp has remained profitable and self-funded, with revenue of $800 million in 2020.
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June 24, 2021 Our first episode from the 2021 How I Built This Virtual Summit is from our leadership panel with Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, Chieh Huang, CEO and co-founder of Boxed, and Sadie Lincoln, CEO and co-founder of Barre3. In this conversation with Guy, the panel talks about the importance of showing vulnerability, and how leaders can build trust within their teams. We'll be releasing more episodes from the Summit, so keep checking your podcast feed.
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June 21, 2021 By her early thirties, Ava DuVernay was already a successful entrepreneur, having founded her own film publicity agency in Los Angeles. But after years of watching other people make films, she started to get an itch to tell her own stories onscreen. Ava's first films were rooted in deeply personal experiences: growing up with her sisters in Compton, performing Hip Hop at Open Mic Night at the Good Life Café in L.A. Her self-funded and self-distributed projects began to draw attention, and in 2012, Ava won the award for best directing at the Sundance Film Festival. She went on to direct powerful projects like Selma, 13th, and When They See Us; and through her production and distribution company ARRAY, she's created a movement that is helping change how movies are made—and who gets to make them.
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December 15, 2019 Nathan Pyle has amassed an Instagram following for his gently pastel-hued comics about aliens who narrate their everyday lives in a hilariously stilted manner. Now, the comics are out in book form.