How I Built This with Guy Raz Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.
How I built this with Guy Raz
NPR

How I Built This with Guy Raz

From NPR

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Most Recent Episodes

Phuong Nguyen for NPR

Away: Jen Rubio

In early 2015, Jen Rubio was racing through an airport to catch a flight when her suitcase broke, leaving a trail of clothing behind her. She tried to replace it with a stylish, durable, affordable suitcase — but she couldn't find one. So she decided to create her own. In less than a year, Jen and her co-founder Steph Korey raised $2.5 million to build their dream travel brand: a line of sleek, direct-to-consumer suitcases simply called Away. Jen's hunch that the brand would emotionally resonate with young, jet-setting customers paid off. Today, Away has become a cult luggage brand that has sold more than one million suitcases. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Jon Maroney made sledding easier for adults and more dynamic for kids with a pair of sleds that strap to your legs.

Away: Jen Rubio

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Phuong Nguyen for NPR

Logic: Logic & Chris Zarou

In 2010, Logic the rapper, born as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, released his first official mixtape titled "Young, Broke & Infamous." At 20 years old, Logic certainly was young and broke, and while crashing on a friend's couch, he poured himself into his music. Logic's career could have fizzled if it wasn't for Chris Zarou, a young college athlete-turned-manager who had no more experience in the music business than Logic. Undeterred, the two decided to work together, continuing to use free music and social media to build Logic's reputation as a talented, fast-flowing rapper with a hopeful message. In 2012, Logic signed to Def Jam Records and in 2014 dropped his debut album "Under Pressure," which shot to number 4 on the Billboard charts. His third album in 2017 went platinum and included the breakout single "1 800 273 8255." PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Cassy Burnvoth who built a skincare company using an unlikely ingredient – beef tallow.

Listen Logic & Zarou

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Connor Heckert for NPR

Squarespace: Anthony Casalena

Like many classic technology stories, Squarespace started in a college dorm room. In 2003, 21-year-old Anthony Casalena created a website-building tool for himself. But after hearing some positive feedback from friends, he decided to put the tool online and start a business. For years, Anthony ran Squarespace almost entirely on his own but the stress took a toll and he reached the limits of what he could accomplish by himself. The journey to hiring a staff and scaling the company had its own set of growing pains for Anthony, including difficulty letting go of control, and learning how to manage other people. Today, Squarespace has grown to more than 800 employees, and valued at $1.7 billion. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Kate Westervelt took an overwhelming experience and turned it into a gift box for new moms – filled with essential items women need to recover from childbirth.

Squarespace: Anthony Casalena

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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 in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Glenn Auerbach who invented nICE mug, a container made entirely from ice that keeps drinks cold.

Eileen Fisher: Eileen Fisher

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Phuong Nguyen for NPR

Burt's Bees: Roxanne Quimby

In the 1970s, Roxanne Quimby was trying to live a simpler life – one that rejected the pursuit of material comforts. She moved to Maine, built a cabin in the woods, and lived off the grid. By the mid-80s, she met a recluse beekeeper named Burt Shavitz and offered to help him tend to his bees. As partners, Roxanne and Burt soon began selling their "Pure Maine Honey" at local markets, which evolved into candles made out of beeswax, and eventually lip balm and skin care products. Today Burt's Bees can be found in nearly every grocery store and drugstore around the U.S. PLUS, in our postscript "How You Built That," Leigh Isaacson explains how her sister's break up inspired them to create a dating app – for dog owners.

Burt's Bees: Roxanne Quimby

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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 for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Dillon Hill, who built Gamers Gift to help bedbound and disabled patients enjoy a wide range of places and experiences through virtual reality.

TOMS: Blake Mycoskie

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Marcus Marritt for NPR

JetBlue Airways: David Neeleman

In the mid-90s, David Neeleman wanted to launch a new airline. He had already co-created a regional airline out of Salt Lake City that was acquired by Southwest. And despite his admiration of Southwest's business model, Neeleman felt there was a market for a different kind of budget airline. He envisioned flights to cities other budget airlines avoided and excellent customer service, with high-tech amenities. In 2000, he launched JetBlue and in its first year, the company flew over 1 million people, and cultivated a loyal customer following. Then came the 2007 Valentine's Day ice storm. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," how Lisa Dalton turned a relationship mishap into a game-changing braille label that solves a daily problem for blind consumers.

JetBlue Airways: David Neeleman

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Phuong Nguyen for NPR

Canva: Melanie Perkins

When she was just 19 years old, Melanie Perkins dreamt of transforming the graphic design and publishing industries. But she started small, launching a site to make yearbook design simpler and more collaborative. Her success with that first venture — and an unexpected meeting with a VC investor — eventually landed her the backing to pursue her original idea, and the chance to take on software industry titans like Adobe and Microsoft. Today, Melanie's online design platform Canva is valued at over $1 billion, joining the list of Australia's "unicorn" companies. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Tristan Corriveau collected used bars of soap from a hotel and recycled them into liquid soap with The One Gallon Soap Company.

Canva: Melanie Perkins

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Connor Heckert for NPR

Bonobos: Andy Dunn

When Andy Dunn was in business school, his housemate Brian Spaly created a new type of men's pants: stylish, tailored trousers that fit well in both the hips and thighs. Together, they started the men's clothing company Bonobos, which became an instant hit due to the pants' signature flair and innovative e-commerce experience. But within a few years, Andy hit challenging roadblocks, including a struggle with depression and a falling-out with his co-founder and friend. Despite many moments of crisis, Andy steered Bonobos to massive success, and in 2017, it was acquired by Walmart for a reported $310 million. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Amy and Brady King created an easy-to-assemble portable shelter meant to provide natural disaster relief and help house people experiencing homelessness.

Bonobos: Andy Dunn

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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 1,500 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," we check back in with Hannah England, who turned a common parenting problem into Wash. It. Later. — a water-tight bag for soaking soiled baby clothes before they stain. (Original broadcast date: June 5, 2017)

Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

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