In 2013, Tony Xu was brainstorming ideas for a business school project when he identified a problem he wanted to solve: food delivery. For most restaurants, it was too costly and inefficient, leaving most of the market to pizza and Chinese. Tony and his partners believed they could use technology to connect customers to drivers, who would deliver meals in every imaginable cuisine. That idea grew into DoorDash, a company that's now delivered over 100 million orders from over 200,000 restaurants across the country. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we hear from the winner of our 2018 HIBT Summit Pitch Competition: Ashlin Cook. She combined her love for dogs with an entrepreneurial itch to create Winnie Lou: a Colorado business that sells healthy dog treats in independent pet stores and from a food truck.
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," we check back with Alexander Harik, who turned his mom's recipe for fragrant Middle Eastern za'atar spread into Zesty Z: The Za'atar Company. (Original broadcast date: September 11, 2017.)
When Jon Stein realized he couldn't stand the sight of blood, he gave up the idea of becoming a doctor. Instead, he went into finance, but soon grew restless with "helping banks make more money." So he decided to build a business where he could help everyday investors make more money: an online service that would use a combination of algorithms and human advisers. Jon launched Betterment at a precarious time — shortly after the financial crash of 2008. But today, the company has roughly 13 billion dollars under management. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Gerry Stellenberg combined his knack for technology and his love for pinball to create the P3: a pinball machine that allows a real-life ball to interact with virtual objects.
At age 40, Bobby Trussell's promising career in horse racing hit a dead end. With bills to pay and a family to support, he stumbled across a curious product that turned into a lifeline: squishy-squashy memory foam. He jumped at the chance to distribute Swedish memory foam pillows and mattresses to Americans. Tempur-Pedic USA began by selling to chiropractors and specialty stores, providing one of the first alternatives to spring mattresses. Today, the company is one of the largest bedding providers in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Christopher Rannefors created BatBnB: a sleek wooden box that hangs on your house and provides a home for mosquito-eating bats.
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 a reported annual revenue of $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Monica Mizrachi and her son Solomon who built EzPacking, a business that sells sets of clear squishy plastic packing cubes. (Original broadcast date: August 7, 2017.)
In the late 1990s, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan took on the notion that "green doesn't clean" by setting out to make soap that could clean a bathtub without harming the environment. Adam started experimenting with baking soda, vinegar, and scented oils, while Eric worked on making sleek bottles that looked good on a kitchen counter. Just a few years later, Adam and Eric were selling Method cleaning products in stores throughout the country, after a bold gamble got them on the shelves of Target. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Loren and Lisa Poncia turned a 100 year-old family business into an organic beef supplier: Stemple Creek Ranch.
In the pre-Internet 1970's, Sandy Lerner was part of a loosely-knit group of programmers that was trying to get computers to talk to each other. Eventually, she and Len Bosack launched Cisco Systems, making the routing technology that helped forge the plumbing of the Internet. But when things turned sour at the company, she was forced to leave, giving her the chance to start something entirely new: an edgy line of cosmetics called Urban Decay. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Justin Li created a solution for staying cool and hydrated in the heat with IcePlate.
As a refugee growing up in Tel Aviv, Haim Saban remembers not having enough money to eat. As an adult, he hustled his way into the entertainment business, writing theme songs for classic cartoons like Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff. But producing the mega-hit Mighty Morphin Power Rangers put him on track to becoming a billionaire media titan. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Chris Waters who created Constructed Adventures, elaborate scavenger hunts for all occasions. (Original broadcast date: March 27, 2017.)
Bobbi Brown started out as a makeup artist in New York City, but hated the gaudy color palette of the 1980s. She eventually shook up the industry by introducing "nude makeup" with neutral colors and a natural tone. In 1995, Estée Lauder acquired Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Bobbi remained there for 22 years, until she realized the brand was no longer the one she had built. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Emma Cohen and Miles Pepper saw a problem with plastics and developed a collapsible, reusable drinking straw.
In 1991 newlyweds Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch took out a second mortgage on their home in Fort Collins, Colorado to start a craft brewery in their basement. Jeff had been inspired by the fruit and spice-infused beers he had tasted on a bike trip to Belgium, so they named their company New Belgium, and launched a beer with the whimsical name, Fat Tire. Today, New Belgium Brewing Company is one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., and Kim Jordan remains one of the few women founders in a male-dominated industry. Recorded live in Boulder, Colorado.
Live Episode! New Belgium Brewing Company: Kim Jordan
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. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Kristel Gordon who invented a solution for easily stuffing a duvet back into its cover – it's called Duvaid. (Original broadcast date: June 19, 2017.)
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," we check back with a husband-and-wife team who experimented with fruit, spices and vinegar and came up with a gourmet ketchup line called 'Chups. (Original broadcast date: June 26, 2017).
In 1995, Angie Hicks spent months going door-to-door in Columbus, Ohio, trying to get people to sign up for a new home services referral business. Today, Angie's List is a household name, referring millions of members to plumbers, painters, and more. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Joel Crites who created the app Micro Fantasy, where fans can make predictions about what will happen next in a baseball game. (Original broadcast date: November 28, 2016)
In 2013, Peter Rahal was obsessed with CrossFit, but noticed it didn't sell any snacks to align with its pro-paleo philosophy. So instead of joining his family's business, Rahal Foods, he recruited his friend Jared Smith to start making their own protein bar. They made the first RXBAR in a Cuisinart in Peter's parents' home in suburban Chicago. By 2016, RXBAR was doing over $36 million in sales, and in November 2017, the founders sold the company to Kellogg's for $600 million. Recorded live in Chicago.
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," we check back in with Aiden Emilio who, along with her husband Jesse, created RexSpecs — UV-protecting goggles for dogs.
In the early 2000s, Stewart Butterfield tried to build a weird, massively multiplayer online game, but the venture failed. Instead, he and his co-founders used the technology they developed to create the photo-sharing site Flickr. After Flickr was acquired by Yahoo in 2005, Butterfield went back to the online game idea, only to fail again. But the office messaging platform Slack rose from the ashes of that second failure — a company which, today, is valued at over $5 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how a peanut butter obsession turned teenager Abby Kircher into a CEO before she was old enough to drive.
A decade ago, full-time mom Alli Webb noticed a gap in the beauty market: there was no place that just focused on blow-drying hair. Now with more than 100 locations, Drybar is testament to Webb's motto: Focus on one thing and be the best at it. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Chris Healy, a long-haired Southern Californian who co-founded The Longhairs and created special hair ties for guys.
Steve Madden fell in love with the shoe business in the 1970's, when he sold platform shoes at a neighborhood store in Long Island, New York. That was in high school. About 15 years later, he struck out on his own, designing and selling shoes with a high-end look at affordable prices. As his business – and his ambitions — began to grow, he got involved in a securities fraud scheme and wound up serving two and-a-half years in prison. In 2005, he returned to Steve Madden, where he helped the company grow into a business valued at $3 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Chris Dimino turned a school design project into the Keyboard Waffle Iron, which makes waffles in the shape of a computer keyboard.
In 1972, Maureen and Tony Wheeler bought a beat-up car and drove from London "as far east as we could go." They wound up in Australia, by way of Afghanistan, India and Thailand. Their notes on how to travel on a shoestring became a book, which grew into Lonely Planet — the largest travel guide publisher in the world. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an update with Melanie Colón, a frustrated renter who created an easier way to communicate with noisy neighbors, called Apt App. (Original broadcast date: May 8, 2017)
For many of us, chicken salad is just another sandwich filling, but Stacy Brown turned it into a $75 million business. In 2007, she was a divorced mother of three looking for a way to make ends meet. So she started making chicken salad in her kitchen and selling it out of a basket, door-to-door. She eventually turned that home operation into Chicken Salad Chick, and took her recipes to cities across the U.S. Today, Chicken Salad Chick is one of the fastest growing companies in the country. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Dan Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz up-cycled beer grain into ReGrained nutrition bars.
In 2006, John Zimmer was a college student and ride-hailing wasn't yet "a thing." But a class on green cities got him thinking about the glut of underused cars on the road. Eventually, he co-founded Lyft, a company that has helped make ride-hailing a fixture of American urban living. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an update with Kyle Ewing, who almost set fire to his living room making Terraslate, a tough waterproof paper.
After noticing more and more people sign up for yoga in the late 1990s, Chip Wilson bet everything on an athletic apparel company aimed toward young professional women. What started as a small pop-up store in Vancouver eventually became the multibillion-dollar brand Lululemon Athletica, spawning a new fashion trend and forever changing what women wear at the gym. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Mike Sorentino developed the EyePatch Case, an iPhone case that cleans and protects the phone's built-in cameras.
In 1997, after going for a long run, Seth Goldman was frustrated with the sugar-filled drinks at the corner market. So he brewed up a beverage in his kitchen, and turned it into Honest Tea. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Jaya Iyer for an update on Svaha Inc., a unique apparel brand that focuses on STEM-themed clothing for babies, kids, and adults. (Original broadcast date: January 16, 2017)
We are incredibly saddened by the loss of the brilliant designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade. We are grateful she and her husband Andy Spade shared their story with us in 2017. The origins of the Kate Spade brand can be drawn back to a 1991 conversation at a Mexican restaurant, when Andy asked Kate, "What's missing in designer handbags?" Kate's answer was a simple modern-shaped handbag that launched the iconic fashion brand.