How I Built This with Guy Raz is one of the most popular podcasts in the business world. Over the years, the show has featured some of the most successful entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders from around the world.
I’ve listened to this show for many years, and I thought I’d share some of the best episodes of it with you.
Lululemon Athletica: Chip Wilson
Chip Wilson took a huge gamble in the late 1990s by launching an athletic apparel company targeting young professional women after observing a surge in the number of people signing up for yoga. Initially, it was a small pop-up store in Vancouver, but it has since grown into a multibillion-dollar brand known as Lululemon Athletica.
Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger
Instagram had a rocky beginning, with Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launching their photo-sharing app with a server that frequently crashed. Despite the initial chaos, Instagram went on to become one of the most widely used apps across the globe.
Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia in 1973 with the aim of creating climbing gear that he couldn’t find anywhere else. Since then, the company has grown significantly, and Chouinard has developed a distinctive philosophy around leadership, business, and profit that sets Patagonia apart from its competitors.
Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
Joe Gebbia was struggling to pay his rent when he came up with an idea that would change the hospitality industry forever. He decided to rent out a few air mattresses in his apartment to attendees of a design conference being held in San Francisco. This idea gave birth to Airbnb, a company that has now surpassed the world’s largest hotel chains in terms of the number of rooms it offers.
Rivian: RJ Scaringe
Starting a car company is a massive challenge due to formidable competition, startup costs in the billions, and low belief. RJ Scaringe launched Rivian, a truck and SUV company in 2009. He wanted to build fully electric vehicles and attract new drivers. Rivian’s journey has been full of pivots, sleepless nights, and multiple supply chain issues. But Rivian rolled its first trucks off the line in 2021 and is valued at $15 billion today.
Slutty Vegan: Pinky Cole
Since the inception of Slutty Vegan in 2017, Pinky has guided her plant-based enterprise through various transformations: starting as a ghost kitchen, evolving into a food truck, and ultimately establishing multiple brick-and-mortar outlets along the East Coast. With the brand now valued at $100 million and branching into additional industries, Pinky is just beginning her journey.
Chobani: Hamdi Ulukaya
Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant, stumbled upon an abandoned yogurt factory in upstate New York that cost $700K and bought it with the help of a local bank. He introduced thick, creamy yogurt to the U.S. market, which quickly gained popularity. Despite some bad business decisions that nearly pushed the company into bankruptcy, Chobani is now one of the most popular yogurt brands in the U.S.
Ben & Jerry’s: Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield
In the mid-1970s, childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened a quirky ice cream shop in Vermont. They sold unique flavours like Honey Coffee and Mint with Oreo Cookies. In 1981, Time magazine called it “the best ice cream in America,” and the brand spread nationwide. Today, Ben & Jerry’s is a top-selling ice cream brand globally, known for speaking out on social issues.
ClassPass: Payal Kadakia
In June 2020, when Payal Kadakia made her appearance on How I Built This, the future of ClassPass, a subscription service for in-person exercise classes, was in jeopardy due to the pandemic. Gyms and fitness studios were shut down globally, and ClassPass had to rely on virtual events and wellness offerings to keep the business going.
Tapping the heat beneath your feet with Kathy Hannun of Dandelion Energy
Growing up in New Hampshire, Kathy Hannun was well aware of the millions of American households that still rely on oil for heat, a decades-old and environmentally-taxing approach. However, during her time at Google’s innovation lab, X, she discovered a solution that could be found underground.
Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales started Wikipedia in 2001 during the dot com boom. It’s an online encyclopedia where community members can contribute, edit, and monitor content. It’s now the fifth most visited website globally. In our postscript, learn how Florence Wetterwald created eco-friendly knitted dolls in Peru called Blabla dolls.
Khan Academy: Sal Khan
Sal Khan left his high-paying job in 2009 to create a non-profit teaching platform. He got the idea after helping his cousins with math homework and posting free tutorials online, which soon attracted thousands of users. Today, Khan Academy has hundreds of free recorded tutorials in multiple languages and has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic, with 30 million monthly users.
Spanx: Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely was at a crossroads in her life at the age of 27, selling fax machines and looking for a way to pivot. That’s when she came up with the idea for Spanx, a line of hosiery that eliminates the visible panty lines, and started working towards building her business.
TOMS: Blake Mycoskie
Blake Mycoskie had already started and sold four businesses before turning 30. However, it was only in Argentina that he stumbled upon an idea that he wanted to pursue for the long term. After witnessing a shoe drive for children, he came up with the concept of TOMS – a shoe business that also engaged in philanthropy.
Shopify: Tobias Lütke
In 2004, Tobias Lütke, a German programmer living in Ottawa, wanted to launch an online snowboard shop but found available e-commerce software clunky and expensive. So he created his own e-commerce software and launched his online business called Snowdevil. Other online merchants were impressed and asked to license his software.