At the height of the first dot-com boom, Selina Tobaccowala and college friend Al Lieb were determined to start a tech company. After a few false starts, they landed on the idea for Evite—an on-line invitation business that within its first year, attracted a million followers and $37 million in investment. When the tech bubble burst, Selina and Al were forced to lay off dozens of employees before selling Evite in 2001. But the company has survived to this day, and Selina remains a role model for women in tech. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," Jamia Ramsey describes how her frustration with pink ballerina tights led her to create Blendz, apparel for dancers that matches darker skin tones.
Live Episode! Luke's Lobster: Luke Holden and Ben Conniff
Luke Holden grew up in Maine, working on lobster boats and in his father's lobster processing plant. But his parents pushed him to find a more stable career, so after college, he moved to New York and got a job in finance. One of the things he missed most about home was lobster rolls, so he decided to open his own lobster shack as a side project. Luke posted an ad on Craigslist looking for help, and linked up with Ben Conniff, a history major with a passion for food but no restaurant experience. Ben and Luke opened a 200-square-foot take-out restaurant in the East Village in 2009. Ten years later, Luke's Lobster has over 500 employees, and more than 40 locations in the U.S. and in Asia. This show was recorded live at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston.
FUBU: Daymond John
Daymond John grew up during the 1980s in the heart of hip hop culture: Hollis, Queens. In his early 20s, he was working at Red Lobster and trying to figure out how to start a business. Eventually, he stumbled on the idea of making clothes for fans of rap music. In 1992, he started FUBU (For Us By Us) and began selling hats outside of a local mall. Three years later, FUBU was bringing in $350 million in sales. Today, he's a judge on Shark Tank, and a motivational speaker and author. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Loren and Lisa Poncia who turned a 100 year-old family business into an organic beef supplier: Stemple Creek Ranch.
LÄRABAR: Lara Merriken
In 2000, Lara Merriken was 32, recently divorced, and without a job when she decided to make energy bars by mixing cherries, dates, and almonds in her Cuisinart. Eventually, she perfected the recipe and launched her company: LÄRABAR. After just two years, the company was bringing in millions in revenue. In 2008, she sold to General Mills, but stayed on to help grow LÄRABAR into one of the biggest energy bar brands in the U.S. PLUS in our post-script "How You Built That," we check back with Gerry Stellenberg who combined his knack for technology with his love of pinball to create a company for modern pinball enthusiasts called Multimorphic.
Gimlet Media: Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber
Alex Blumberg made his early career by helping build two of the most successful shows in radio and podcasting: Planet Money and This American Life. In 2014, convinced that podcasts could make money, he walked away from the safe umbrella of public media to start a new media company with co-founder Matt Lieber. Every doubt, triumph and humiliation of building the business was documented on the podcast Startup, which included the back-and-forth over how the company got its name: Gimlet. Many more successful podcasts followed, and five years after launch, Gimlet sold to Spotify for roughly $200 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," after years of researching how women's shoes wreak havoc on the joints, Casey Kerrigan quit her job in medicine to start 3D printing more comfortable designs: Oesh Shoes.