Tom's Of Maine: Tom Chappell
Connor Heckert for NPR

Tom's Of Maine: Tom Chappell

In 1970, Tom Chappell took out a $5000 loan to launch a natural products company called Tom's of Maine. Working out of a warehouse in Kennebunk, Maine, he created soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste free from added chemicals, and sustainable for the environment. When he sold the company three decades later, Tom's of Maine had become one of the largest natural products brands in the world. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That", we check back with Paul Kaster, who two years ago started a company that makes wooden bowties, and is now starting Carbon Cravat — which makes bowties out of carbon fiber.

Tom's Of Maine: Tom Chappell

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Zumba: Beto Perez & Alberto Perlman

The worldwide dance craze Zumba was built with sweat, sneakers and sweatpants. Andrew Holder hide caption

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Andrew Holder

Zumba: Beto Perez & Alberto Perlman

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live show, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Zumba. Zumba began as a mistake: aerobics teacher Beto Perez brought the wrong music to class, then improvised a dance routine to go with it. For his students, it was more fun than work — and it eventually grew into one of the biggest fitness brands in the world. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Alex McKenzie is hoping to upgrade the menu of your neighborhood ice cream truck by offering exotic flavors, high fat content, plus low-guilt options for the health-conscious.

Zumba: Beto Perez & Alberto Perlman

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Framebridge: Susan Tynan

Susan Tynan, founder of Framebridge Marcus Maritt for NPR hide caption

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Marcus Maritt for NPR

Framebridge: Susan Tynan

Susan Tynan's experience in the ephemeral e-market of LivingSocial made her want to start a business that she could touch and feel. She got her idea after experiencing sticker shock at her local framing store: she was charged $1600 to frame four cheap posters and figured there had to be a better way. So she created a mail-order framing company that offers fewer designs at much lower prices. Framebridge is now three years old and still feeling growing pains, but is slowly reshaping the rules of a rigid industry. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Alexander Van Dewark created a portable mat that helps people mix cement without a wheelbarrow or a paddle.

Framebridge: Susan Tynan

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Ben & Jerry's: Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield
Angie Wang for NPR

Ben & Jerry's: Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield

In the mid-1970s two childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. Their quirky little shop packaged and sold unusual flavors like Honey Coffee, Mocha Walnut, and Mint with Oreo Cookies. In 1981, the regional brand spread across the country after Time magazine called it the "best ice cream in America." Today, Ben & Jerry's is one of the top selling ice cream brands in the world. And, like the original founders, the company doesn't shy away from speaking out on social issues. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That", how David Stover and his team at Bureo turn fishing nets into skateboards.

Ben & Jerry's: Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield

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Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger

"This is it, we've built this great thing and we've totally messed it up." — Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, about the night the company launched Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

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Andrew Holder for NPR

Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live shows, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Instagram. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched their photo-sharing app with a server that crashed every other hour. Despite a chaotic start, it became one of the most popular apps in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Dave Weiner of Priority Bicycles, a low-maintenance bicycle brand.

Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger

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Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher, founder of Eileen Fisher. Marcus Marritt for NPR hide caption

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Marcus Marritt for NPR

Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher

In 1983, Eileen Fisher signed up for a fashion trade show with no experience, no garments, no patterns or sketches – nothing but a few ideas for a women's clothing line focused on simplicity. Within three weeks, she came up with 12 pieces, a logo, and a name: Eileen Fisher. Today, the Eileen Fisher brand is still known for its elegant and minimalist designs, but it has grown to more than 60 locations and makes over $300 million in annual revenue. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Louisiana butcher Charlie Munford is helping popularize wild boar meat.

Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher

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Chipotle: Steve Ells

Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle. Connor Heckert for NPR hide caption

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Connor Heckert for NPR

Chipotle: Steve Ells

In 1992, Steve Ells was a classically trained chef working in a high-end restaurant in San Francisco. But after eating a burrito at a local taqueria, he got an idea: to sell burritos and earn enough money to open his own gourmet restaurant. The first Chipotle opened in Denver the following year. Bringing his culinary training to taqueria-style service, Steve Ells helped transform the way we eat fast food. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Alexander Harik turned his mom's recipe for za'atar spread—a fragrant Middle Eastern condiment—into Zesty Z: The Za'atar Company.

Chipotle: Steve Ells

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Burton Snowboards: Jake Carpenter

Jake Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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Angie Wang for NPR

Burton Snowboards: Jake Carpenter

In 1977, 23-year-old Jake Carpenter set out to design a better version of the Snurfer, a stand-up sled he loved to ride as a teenager. Working by himself in a barn in Londonderry, Vermont, he sanded and whittled stacks of wood, trying to create the perfect ride. He eventually helped launch an entirely new sport, while building the largest snowboard brand in the world. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Jane Och solved the problem of guacamole turning brown, with a container that removes air pockets, the Guac-Lock.

Burton Snowboards: Jake Carpenter

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Bumble: Whitney Wolfe

Whitney Wolfe, founder of Bumble. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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Angie Wang for NPR

Bumble: Whitney Wolfe

At age 22, Whitney Wolfe helped launch Tinder, one of the world's most popular dating apps. But a few years later, she left Tinder and filed a lawsuit against the company alleging sexual harassment. The ensuing attention from the media – and cyberbullying from strangers – prompted her to launch Bumble, a new kind of dating app where women make the first move. Today, the Bumble app has been downloaded more than 20 million times. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Michelle Innis invented De-Fishing soap to freshen up her fisherman husband, and how it wound up in WalMart.

Bumble: Whitney Wolfe

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Teach For America: Wendy Kopp

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America Connor Heckert for NPR hide caption

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Connor Heckert for NPR

Teach For America: Wendy Kopp

In 1989, college senior Wendy Kopp was trying to figure out how to improve American public schools. For her senior thesis, she proposed creating a national teaching corps that would recruit recent college grads to teach in underserved schools. One year later, she launched the nonprofit, Teach for America. Today, TFA has 50,000 alumni, a budget of nearly $300 million, and continues to place thousands of teachers across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how a game of Secret Santa led Chris Waters to create Constructed Adventures, elaborate scavenger hunts for all occasions.

Teach For America: Wendy Kopp

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Stonyfield Yogurt: Gary Hirshberg

Host Guy Raz speaks with Gary Hirshberg, founder of yogurt maker Stonyfield. Suharu Ogawa for NPR hide caption

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Stonyfield Yogurt: Gary Hirshberg

In 1983, two hippie farmers decided to sell homemade organic yogurt to help raise money for their educational farm in New Hampshire. As the enterprise grew into a business, it faced one near-death experience after another, but it never quite died. In fact it grew — into one of the most popular yogurt brands in the US. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Indiana Jones inspired Steve Humble to sell secret passageways for a living.

Stonyfield Yogurt: Gary Hirshberg

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Live Episode! Starbucks: Howard Schultz

Host Guy Raz speaks with Starbucks' Howard Shultz in a special live episode recorded in Seattle. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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Angie Wang for NPR

Live Episode! Starbucks: Howard Schultz

During his first visit to Seattle in 1981, Howard Schultz walked into a little coffee bean shop called Starbucks and fell in love with it. A few years later, he bought the six-store chain for almost 4 million dollars, and began to transform it into a ubiquitous landmark, a "third place" between home and work. Today Starbucks is the third largest restaurant chain in the world, serving about 100 million people a week. Recorded live in Seattle.

Live Episode! Starbucks: Howard Schultz

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Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher
Andrew Holder for NPR

Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher

We're hard at work planning more live shows, so we bring you one of our favorites from last year: Southwest Airlines. In 1968, competitors sued to keep Herb Kelleher's new airline grounded. After a 3-year court fight, the first plane took off from Dallas. Today Southwest Airlines operates nearly 4,000 flights a day. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Monica Mizrachi and her son Solomon built EzPacking, a family business selling packing cubes.

Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher

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The Chipmunks: Ross Bagdasarian Jr. & Janice Karman

From 1958 to today, many generations of children have come to know the different iterations of the three lovable rodents known as The Chipmunks. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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The Chipmunks: Ross Bagdasarian Jr. & Janice Karman

Years after his father created a hit singing group of anthropomorphic rodents called The Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. made it his mission to revive his dad's beloved characters. Over the last 40 years, Ross Jr. and his wife Janice have built The Chipmunks into a billion dollar media franchise – run out of their home in Santa Barbara, California. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Daniel Clark-Webster and his three friends came up with RompHim – a company specializing in male rompers.

The Chipmunks: Ross Bagdasarian Jr. & Janice Karman

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Barre3: Sadie Lincoln

Sadie Lincoln, co-founder of Barre3 Angie Wang hide caption

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Angie Wang

Barre3: Sadie Lincoln

Sadie Lincoln and her husband, Chris, had what seemed like the perfect life – well-paying jobs, a house in the Bay Area, two kids. But one day they decided to sell everything and start a new business called Barre3: a studio exercise program that blends ballet with pilates and yoga. Today, Barre3 has more than 100 studios across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how a husband-and-wife team experimented with fruit, spices and vinegar and came up with a gourmet ketchup line called 'Chups.

Barre3: Sadie Lincoln

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VICE: Suroosh Alvi

How recovering heroin addict Suroosh Alvi used "punk rock capitalism" to build a multi-billion dollar media company. Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

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VICE: Suroosh Alvi

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live show, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: VICE. Suroosh Alvi was a recovering addict when he started a scrappy underground magazine in Montreal. It grew into a multi-billion dollar company that has shaken up the world of journalism. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Kent Sheridan of Voila Coffee, a company aiming to make instant coffee with the quality of a four-dollar pour over.

VICE: Suroosh Alvi

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Live Episode! Reddit: Alexis Ohanian & Steve Huffman

Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman started Reddit with $12,000 and a mascot named Snoo. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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Angie Wang for NPR

Live Episode! Reddit: Alexis Ohanian & Steve Huffman

With $12,000 and a mascot named Snoo, two former college roommates designed a web site they hoped would become "the front page of the Internet." Today, despite growing pains, personal issues and persistent trolls, Reddit has over 300 million monthly users and is valued at 1.8 billion dollars. Recorded live in San Francisco.

Live Episode! Reddit: Alexis Ohanian & Steve Huffman

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Airbnb: Joe Gebbia

Five years ago, the thought of renting a room from a complete stranger was ... a little creepy. But because of Airbnb, it's become norma Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

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Andrew Holder for NPR

Airbnb: Joe Gebbia

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live show, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Airbnb. A chance encounter with a stranger gave Joe Gebbia an idea to help pay his rent. That idea grew into a company that now has more rooms than the biggest hotel chain in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Michael Vennitti of TP Foam, a company that came up with a way to squelch the smell of trash.

Airbnb: Joe Gebbia

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Edible Arrangements: Tariq Farid
Angie Wang for NPR

Edible Arrangements: Tariq Farid

When Tariq Farid was 12, he emigrated from Pakistan to the U.S. – and quickly found a job at a local flower shop. Eventually he opened his own shop, which eventually led to the crazy idea to make flower bouquets out of fruit. Edible Arrangements has now bloomed into a franchise of nearly 1300 locations with an annual revenue of $600 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how the Seattle-based clothing company, Five12, is making athletic wear out of used coffee grounds.

Edible Arrangements: Tariq Farid

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Radio One: Cathy Hughes

Radio One founder Cathy Hughes. She is the second richest African-American woman in the country. Andrew Holder for NPR hide caption

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Andrew Holder for NPR

Radio One: Cathy Hughes

We're hard at work planning our upcoming live show, so we bring you this favorite from the last year: Radio One. As a kid, Cathy Hughes practiced her DJ routine while her siblings banged on the bathroom door. As an adult, she founded Radio One—now Urban One—the country's largest African-American owned broadcasting company. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Mike Butera, whose digital Instrument One raised a million dollars on Kickstarter.

Radio One: Cathy Hughes

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Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman
Angie Wang for NPR

Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman

Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has an annual revenue of $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Dustin Hogard and his business partner designed a survival belt that's full of tiny gadgets and thin enough to wear every day.

Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman

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Kickstarter: Perry Chen

In the early 2000s, Perry Chen was trying to put on a concert in New Orleans when he thought, what if fans could fund this in advance? His idea didn't work at the time, but he and his co-founders spent the next eight years refining the concept of crowd-funding creative projects. Today Kickstarter has funded over 125,000 projects worldwide. Angie Wang for NPR hide caption

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Angie Wang for NPR

Kickstarter: Perry Chen

In the early 2000s, Perry Chen was trying to put on a concert in New Orleans when he thought, what if fans could fund this in advance? His idea didn't work at the time, but he and his co-founders spent the next eight years refining the concept of crowd-funding creative projects. Today Kickstarter has funded over 125,000 projects worldwide. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Kristel Gordon invented a solution for easily stuffing a duvet into its cover – it's called Duvaid.

Kickstarter: Perry Chen

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Live Episode! BuzzFeed: Jonah Peretti

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

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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

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Samuel Adams: Jim Koch

"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

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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

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