Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Revealing conversations with the leading creators of our time. From proven entrepreneurs building the companies of the future, to non-profit founders creating change and the artists shaping our culture - we go beyond the surface to find the nuance in what it takes to turn your ideas, into action.
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Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders









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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 14, 2017
Edgardo embodies the word creator.  He’s a writer at Marvel Entertainment, Editor-in-Chief at Darryl Makes Comics working with the legendary hip-hop icon: DMC from RUN DMC, Art Director & founder at Somos Arte production studio, and the creator of La Borinqueña, an original comic book character that has grown into a cultural phenomenon and a nationally recognized symbol of Puerto Rican patriotism, social justice, and equality for all. His work has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.
Full show notes and time stamps:
Five things to listen out for:
  1. Growing up as a Puerto Rican in NYC – what life was like growing up poor in the Bronx, memories from being a young activist, poet, and creator.
  2.  Comic Books – how he got into creating comic books, writing for Marvel + creating his own publication: La Borinqueña.
  3.  Teaming up with DMC from RUN DMC – how they met, their creative process and how they split up responsibilities.
  4.  Direct-to-Consumer – publishing directly to people and spreading his creative work to fans.
  5.  Generating Buzz + Press – Edgardo has been featured on CNN, New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and more – how did he approach this and get his work out there?


  • 2:38 … who is Edgardo and what does he do?
  • 4:14 … Edgardo describing pictures Bilal shows from growing up
  • 9:50 … power of the arts, reflecting on what’s going on in society
  • 10:09 … challenge of being viewed as a second class citizen
  • 11:10 … hypocrisy within Latin American communities and media
  • 12:05 … “I’m not a race, I’m an ethnicity”
  • 13:31 … stories as a form of evolution
  • 15:00 … self-awareness from an early age + growing up
  • 17:03 … learning about Mandela + apartheid
  • 17:57 … college + local activism
  • 23:30 … comic book has become a  symbol for people + the women’s march reaching out to him
  • 27:19 … being proud of his heritage
  • 28:40 … distributing book directly to the people + direct to consumer trend
  • 30:37 … comic book world / who’s buying books
  • 35:36 … working alongside DMC from legendary hip-hop group: RUN DMC
  • 40:12 … our heritage and culture is the true superpower
  • 40:38 … approaching press and social media to promote his book
  • 42:13 … people want to know who you are and “why” you create … not “what” you create
  • 49:51 … an ask for the people who are listening
Nov 11, 2017

Julien Smith is the co-founder & CEO of Breather. They provide an on-demand network of private meeting rooms designed for work, meetings and focus. They’ve raised over $80m to date and are on a strong trajectory of growth. Before that, Julien was a best selling author, speaker & podcaster. In this conversation, Julien and Bilal discuss how he thinks about pattern detection, how he used these frameworks to develop the idea for Breather & how you can apply this to your own work.


Full show notes & timestamps:


Time Stamps:

  • 1:52 - Who are you/what do you do
  • 2:30 - Detecting patterns. Is that that what you’re good at?
  • 4:10 - Scale & growth of Breather, how did Julien get there
  • 6:43 - When Julien started Breather, how many units did he start with & how do they keep them secure?
  • 8:09 - What does Breather's customer base look like? What are their customer segments?
  • 8:58 - How big is this market? How do you estimate market size?
  • 9:50 - Thinking about security for a physical space - digital vs analog locks.
  • 11:30 - Growing up in Canada & what did Julien want to be when he grew up?
  • 13:20 - Learning what you’re good at and 360 reviews 
  • 17:10 - How Julien thinks about detecting patterns? Is this something we can learn to become better at?
  • 20:25 - Is detecting patterns a skill or luck?
  • 24:10 - Detecting patterns: is it a learned behavior? Discussing Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet. 
  • 28:30 - the value of the expert generalist
  • 30:00 - What sources of information do you follow? Books, podcasts, people, etc?
  • 33:30 - What can people do to accelerate the process of growing and connecting with people they can learn from?
  • 36:00 - Jeff Bezos story of the regret minimization framework
  • 39:30 - What were some of the macro trends he identified to help start Breather? Are there certain macro trends that he sees right now?
  • 42:20 - Cities + network effects + timing
  • 46:02 - Bilal discusses idea for supper clubs platform
  • 47:50 - Omnifocus app he uses for tasks
  • 48:10 - Developing healthy habits? Streaks app
  • 51:40 - What is Julien’s routine and a typical day? Morning pages. The creative habit. 
  • 55:05 - What is motivating Julien right now?
  • 56:30 - What does success mean to you? 
Sep 10, 2017


Just out of college, Gary grew his family wine business from a $4M to a $45M business in five years. Now, he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world’s hottest digital agencies with more than 800 employees and $100m in annual revenue. Along the way, Gary became a prolific investor. He’s investing in companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Venmo.

He’s a 4x NY Times best-selling author & recently starred in Apple’s original series: “Planet of the Apps”, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and 


(1) Childhood stories – before the lemonade stands, what Gary was like as a kid
(2) Luck – believing in luck, but wanting to eliminate excuses
(3) What matters most – if this was his last Thursday, how would he spend his last week?
(4) Depression – Gary discusses a recent suicide and why he thinks the culture of entrepreneurship being cool isn’t necessarily helping
(5) Legacy – how his view of legacy has changed over the last 10yrs
-Gary shares some childhood stories [1m36s]
-Before the lemonade stands [4m19s]
-Trading attention [5m27s]
-Thoughts on luck and eliminating excuses [6m9s]
-“I take no credit for my success” [8m46s]
-If this was his last week to live, what would Gary spend his time doing? [12m4s]
-A reoccurring nightmare as a child [15m52s]
-Entrepreneurial depression + suicide [17m27s]
-Navigating self-doubt vs self-awareness to know you’re not doing the right thing [20m54s]
-How Gary’s view of legacy has changed over the last 10 years [22m46s]
-Building a business that lives on without you [25m56s]


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May 14, 2017

Jos White is a serial entrepreneur and investor at Notion Capital. In this interview, he shares his life story from growing up in England, to getting expelled from school, starting businesses with his brother & how they managed to sell 3 different companies for more than $800 million. 

(1) Growing up in England – going to the same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school.
(2) Starting a business with his brother – early signs of entrepreneurship and what it was like setting up a company with his family.
(3) Multiple exits – most entrepreneurs dream of having a multi-million  dollar exit once. But Jos did this time and time again with 3 different companies. We go into what he built and how he sold the companies.
(4) Learning from his entrepreneurial journey – funding their businesses, finding a CTO, navigating the crash of 2000, knowing when it was the right time to sell, common mistakes people make when pitching for investment
(5) Legacy – what he cares most about, what makes people happy & how we wants to keep having an impact
  • [3m38s] What he was like as a kid
  • [5m35s] Going to same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school
  • [9m33s] Can you learn to be an entrepreneur and what he studied at school
  • [10m58s] Earliest exposure to business
  • [15m10s] Moving to Thailand
  • [17m29s] Genesis of RBR Networks
  • [20m25s] Making more than £1m a month and getting their first sale
  • [22m02s] Splitting up responsibility
  • [23m03s] Transitioning from marketing person to leader
  • [24m50s] Knowing his weaknesses
  • [27m17s] How they funded their business
  • [31m42s] Hiring good people
  • [34m06s] Selling the company for $50M
  • [35m47s] What they did the day they sold the company
  • [38m44s] Coming up with the idea for Message Labs
  • [42m05s] Finding a CTO
  • [47m03s] Navigating the crash of 2000
  • [48m21s] Knowing when to sell a company
  • [54m59s] Switching to an investor, what he looks for in an investment
  • [56m56s] Common mistakes people make when pitching for investment
  • [58m52s] What is keeping him motivated? Having a chip on your shoulder
  • [1hr] What success means to him
  • [1hr2m] Having financial success & social responsibility
  • [1hr5m] Legacy


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Mar 16, 2017

This is a new format where I bring experts from different fields to have a roundtable discussion on a particular topic. Today we speak about the state of transatlantic tech and what you should be thinking about if you’re looking to expand internationally. Note that this was recorded late Dec 2016 just before President Trump came into office.


(1) Daniel Glazer – partner at Silicon Valley-headquartered law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he leads the New York office’s Technology Transactions practice. He also helps lead WSGR’s US Expansion practice, advising UK and other non-US technology companies on US expansion

(2) Pru Ashby – head of North America at London & Partners who are the official promotional company for London. She works on attracting and advising US companies to set up and grow in London

(3) Alliott Cole – director at Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest venture capital teams. Some of their investments include: Secret Escapes, yPlan, Zoopla, Swiftkey (sold for $250M to Microsoft) & Lovefilm (sold to Amazon for $200M)


(1) Similarities and differences between US and UK/European markets
(2) Startup ecosystem post-brexit
(3) Future outlook under a Trump presidency
(4) How do you structure an expansion into US or Europe
(5) What companies have done this well?


  • [3m21s] Intros
  • [6m16s] State of UK post brexit
  • [18m49s] Investment growth in London since 2010
  • [19m28s] It takes 10.2yrs for companies to IPO on average
  • [20m23s] Has the market overreacted to Brexit?
  • [23m9s] Mood post US election
  • [24m16s] How will entrepreneurs think about globalisation
  • [30m9s] Similarities and differences in business culture in US vs UK
  • [42m11s] Recommendations on hiring people in US when you’re a startup
  • [43m35s] How do you structure an expansion
  • [48m27s] Where do you start your first US office
  • [51m41s] When do you know it’s the right time to move
  • [58m36] Examples of companies that have done a good job of expanding
  • [1hr6m] What do companies struggle with when they move
  • [1hr14m] What should US companies think about when expanding to UK
  • [1hr18m] Looking forward 

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Feb 7, 2017
Daymond John is a rare force of nature. He’s a true serial entrepreneur involved with more than 80 businesses & investments. He founded FUBU, the lifestyle fashion brand that has brought in more than $6 billion in sales. He’s a regular on the Emmy award winning show “Shark Tank” and has published three books including the NY Times best seller: The Power of Broke.

He was named by President Obama as a “Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship” and travelled with him on his historic trips to Cuba & Kenya.

We discuss what he’s learned from all those years, how he thinks about new business ideas, applying the “power of broke” to test out customer needs, focusing on the best opportunities, his role as a leader in the current political climate & his latest venture, a co-working space in NYC called Blueprint + Co. 


(1) Ideas – how he thinks of business ideas & focusing on the most important opportunities
(2) Blueprint + Co – why he’s opening a co-working space and how he thinks about differentiating from WeWork and startup spaces
(3) Power of Broke – why it’s important and how he applies this mindset to all his businesses
(4) Role In Society – thoughts on the current political climate and how he sees his role as an entrepreneur & leader
(5) Fear – using knowledge to combat fear
  • Who is Daymond? [1m22s]
  • What is Blueprint + Co and similarities to FUBU: For Us By Us  [2m14s]
  • Where the idea came from & differentiating from WeWork / startup co-working spaces [3m41s]
  • Having a need yourself and turning it into a business [3m58s]
  • Members of blueprint + co include: Ashley Stewart & Leesa mattress [5m5s]
  • Focusing on best opportunities with 80 businesses & investments [7m37s]
  • Investing vs starting business himself [9m17s]
  • What he enjoys most: starting, investing or corporate? [10m31s]
  • What is the power of broke? [11m51s]
  • Problem for small businesses when they are overfunded [13m35s]
  • You cannot buy your customers & thoughts on customer acquisition [14m4s]
  • Selling one hat at a time, comparisons to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook [14m27s]
  • Applying power of broke to blueprint + co [14m36s]
  • Finding product market fit for blueprint + co and thoughts on adapting product over time [17m6s]
  • What matters to him most and what keeps him going? [18m41s]
  • Current political climate and what he thinks his role is as and entrepreneur and leader [20m39]
  • Dealing with fear [23m44s]
  • Knowledge + Fear [25m21s]

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Jan 5, 2017
Sushi Nakazawa stunned the restaurant world when they were awarded a notoriously difficult 4 star review in The New York Times by legendary food critic Pete Wells.
But what really goes into creating such a world class restaurant? 
We get to hear directly from Alessandro (Alex) Borgognone, co-founder of Sushi Nakazawa, famous for its all star chef, Daisuke Nakazawa, who was the protege of Jiro One, the renowned chef from the award winning documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."
This is a remarkable story like no other. 
From tracking down Nakazawa on Facebook, to using Google Translate to communicate & convincing him to start a restaurant in NYC - Alessandro personifies the entrepreneurial spirit that’s needed to make a fine establishment like this a reality. 
Here are five things to listen out for:
(1) Early Years - starting in the family business aged 13 & what growing up in Brooklyn as an Italian American taught him.
(2) Genesis of Sushi Nakazawa - how the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi inspired Alex to find Chef Nakazawa on Facebook, communicate via Google translate to turn his vision into one of the best restaurants in NYC. 
(3) The Restaurant Business - with 10 restaurants under his belt including Chumley’s and Sushi Nakazawa - how does Alex think about building a restaurant concept from scratch? Finding a chef, location, naming, costing, crating a menu, launching, promoting and getting people through the door. 
(4) Personal - what he thinks about success, what motivates him, his daily routine and why legacy matters. 
(5) Fun Questions - his favorite NYC restaurant, pizza places & how his worst job ever involves getting a car stolen!
  • What is Sushi Nakazawa and intro to Alex [1m51s]
  • His 10 restaurants, including Chumleys and Nakazawa [2m24s]
  • Starting in the restaurant business at 13 yrs old [3m19s]
  • What he loved about the food business [3m44s]
  • Growing up as an Italian American in Brooklyn [4m13s]
  • Working in the family business [5m33s]
  • Bringing back ideas from summer trips to Italy [6m30s]
  • What he wanted to be when he grew up [7m26s]
  • What he learned from the family businesses that he applies to his business today [8m58]
  • Genesis of sushi nakazawa - watching jiro dreams of sushi, using google translate to send a message on facebook to Nakazawa [9m50]
  • Who is and what is the significant of Jiro Dreams of Sushi [11m9s]
  • Who is chef nakazawa from jiro dreams of sushi [12m6s]
  • Navigating Japanese vs Italian culture [12m33s]
  • Using google translate to communicate on a daily basis [14m45s]
  • What does it take to start a restaurant in New York & why sushi is different [16m24s]
  • Deciding on a location [17m54s]
  • His thought process & attention to detail with Nakazawa [18m15s]
  • What it takes to create a menu and what they did differently [20m26s]
  • Importance of sequencing [21m22s]
  • Comparing business partnership with marriage [21m57s]
  • Launch - 3500 requests on open day [22m24s]
  • What they did to build up buzz [23m27s]
  • Hiring good people for a restaurant [25m35s]
  • Getting a 4* review from Pete Wells of The New York Times [26m54s]
  • Marketing & how to stay relevant [30m12]
  • How much does it cost to start a restaurant in Manhattan? $500k-$750k benchmark [34m31s]
  • Why is it harder to start a restaurant business now than in the past [36m25s]
  • What are some hidden costs of starting a restaurant [37m33s]
  • What numbers (KPIs) are they looking at to work out success [38m32s]
  • What is the role of technology in restaurant business [39m47s]
  • How do they think about and manage reviews on yelp, foursquare etc [41m19s]
  • What is driving him and keeps him going, how to be content [44m33s]
  • Daily routine [46m42s]
  • Restaurants he likes in NYC & talking about David Chang [51m11s]
  • “Do you like chick filet or fuku better” [52m27s]
  • Franchise vs creating your own brand - making a statement [52m48s]
  • What is motivating him, leaving a legacy, making a statement [54m01s]
  • What does success mean to him & who are others he thinks are successful? [55m03s]
  • Common traits amongst successful people [56m33s]
  • Best advice he's ever received - cameo from his best friend Tom & partner at Chumley’s [56m58s]
  • Word association game, fav restaurant, best slice of pizza, best food publication, worst job & favorite chef [58m32s]

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