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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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Now displaying: 2020
Sep 30, 2020

Who is Josh?

Josh Clemente is the founder of Levels. He’s a mechanical engineer, CrossFit L2 trainer + previously leads teams at Hyperloop + SpaceX where he developed life support systems for astronauts going into space.

In this conversation, we discuss the importance of optimizing your metabolic health, how software can drive behavior change + the future of health tech.

Full video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3B1RJvlff74


Topics We Discuss

  • what is metabolic health + why is it important?
  • stories from working with Elon Musk at SpaceX & Hyperloop
  • why you should monitor your glucose
  • the myth of the “balanced diet”
  • know who to trust when it comes to nutrition science
  • actionable advice on improving nutrition, exercise, sleep + stress
  • how software can help drive behavior change


Full Time Stamps (YouTube)

  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:01:21 Welcome
  • 00:02:26 What is Metabolic Health?
  • 00:03:54 SpaceX
  • 00:06:28 Hyperloop
  • 00:08:21 Inspiration for Levels
  • 00:17:17 The Myth of a Balanced Diet
  • 00:21:29 Why You Should Monitor Glucose
  • 00:25:07 Knowing Who To Trust On Nutrition?
  • 00:27:52 Using Levels
  • 00:36:50 Price Per User + Team
  • 00:44:55 Funding Levels
  • 00:47:04 The First 3-6 Months
  • 00:50:52 Branding + Finding An Audience
  • 00:54:03 Marketing Lifestyle Apps
  • 00:57:25 The Future of Health Tech – Integrating Health Data
  • 01:02:18 Collecting Health Data + Influencing the Health Care System
  • 01:06:56 4 Parts of Health: Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep + Stress
  • 01:15:08 Wrap-Up
Sep 23, 2020

Subscribe + watch on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/42U2VfWp2Go

Let me know what you think on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/bzaidi

Who is Jim?

Jim McKelvey is an entrepreneur, glass-blowing artist + philanthropist.

He’s most well known as the co-founder of Square, the financial payments company he started with Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter). Jim also co-founded the non-profit “Launch Code” and he’s an independent Director of the St. Louis Federal Reserve

Jim’s book, The Innovation Stack, is available for purchase. Or sign up to the email list at the bottom of this post to win 1 of 5 copies we’re giving away to listeners

Topics We Discuss:

  • the origin story of Square
  • Square's 14 part "innovation stack" that allowed them to win in this tough market
  • reducing the cost of a card reader from $1000 to $0.97
  • going up against Amazon + winning
  • examples of innovation stacks from other companies
  • the unbanked + underbanked
  • his thoughts on digital currencies
  • invention vs innovation
  • entrepreneurship vs owning a business
  • if "billionaires should exist" + his "billionaire moment"
  • why being a billionaire ≠ happiness

Book Giveaway
We’re giving away 5 copies of Jim’s book to email subscribers, details here:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/jim-mckelvey-square-co-founder/

Timestamps (YouTube)

https://youtu.be/42U2VfWp2Go

  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:00:49 Welcome
  • 00:01:50 Early Career as a Glassblower
  • 00:03:10 Meeting Jack Dorsey
  • 00:05:59 Beginning of Square
  • 00:10:59 Underserved Markets
  • 00:15:13 Studying a Market for Something That Doesn’t Exist
  • 00:19:03 The Unbanked + Underbanked
  • 00:24:49 Square’s Innovation Stack
  • 00:28:21 Invention vs Innovation
  • 00:30:21 Getting Square's First Users
  • 00:33:38 What Were The Large Existing Players Missing?
  • 00:42:22 The Delusion of Innovation
  • 00:45:26 How Square Went Up Against Amazon + Won
  • 00:50:43 Entrepreneur vs Business Owner
  • 00:52:32 His “Billionaire” Moment
  • 00:54:52 Being Treated Like a “Walking Wallet”
  • 00:56:33 Should Billionaires Exist?
  • 01:00:21 Industries That are Ripe for Innovation
  • 01:05:30 Digital Currency
  • 01:08:13 Advice on Investing
  • 01:10:30 "If you inherit wealth, you're not rich"
  • 01:12:24 Being Rich ≠ Being Happy
  • 01:13:44 Philanthropy
  • 01:16:39 Dealing with the hardest period of his life
  • 01:19:33 Wrap Up
Thank you to our partner
 
This week's episode is supported by InstaSleep Mint Melts, the drug-free, convenient sleep aid.
 
They’re easy to take without water & melt in your mouth like a mint. They’re designed to help you fall asleep faster & wake up without feeling groggy in the morning.
 
If you’ve had issues sleeping like I have, try them out - available at select Walgreens stores and their website: www.upgradeyoursleep.com
Sep 16, 2020
Subscribe + Watch on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/JcJIvhXdbt0

Let me know what you think on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/bzaidi

Who Is Kat Cole?
 
Kat is one of the most impressive business leaders in America. Fortune magazine named her on their 40 under 40 list & her story is often cited as an example of the “American Dream”.
 
She worked her way up from being a waitress at Hooters aged 17, to an exec at 26 and a president at 31.
 
Today, she’s the president of a parent company doing $4-5bil in sales in 60+ countries, across 6500+ locations.

Their 7 brands including Cinnabon, Carvel & Jamba Juice.
 
In this conversation you’ll learn how she thinks about growth, adapting products to emerging trends, using brand partnerships to grow & the factors that go into expanding internationally.
 
 
Five Things You’ll Learn
  • Lessons In Leadership – how to establish credibility, even as a young leader, to lead a team through any situation.

  • Emerging Trends + The Innovation Adoption Curve – how she thinks about adapting to emerging trends for brands like Cinnabon + Jamba Juice. Finding your place on the innovation adoption curve while holding onto where you came from.

  • Impact of Lockdown On Malls + Airports – how recent events have impacted their 6500+ locations in malls + airports, and where she sees opportunities

  • International Growth – the factors you should think through when expanding internationally, stories of mistakes made, and examples of situations she navigated in Argentina, Turkey + UAE

  • Brand Partnerships – controlling your brand when expanding with partners, and when to consider licensing vs franchising vs joint ventures
 
Time Stamps (YouTube)
  • 00:00:00 Preview
  • 00:02:04 Welcome
  • 00:05:01 From Waitress to Vice President of Hooters
  • 00:08:41 Invaluable Lessons In Leadership
  • 00:14:18 “I’m Friendly, But Not Your Friend”
  • 00:16:49 Blending Humility + Confidence
  • 00:20:57 Scale + Revenue of Focus Brands
  • 00:22:12 Case Study: Turning Around Cinnabon
  • 00:29:23 Opportunity = When Your Company Says “No”
  • 00:33:03 Approach To Testing New Products
  • 00:35:10 Adapting to Trends: Jamba + Cinnabon Example
  • 00:42:11 Jamba + The Innovation Adoption Curve
  • 00:48:54 Mall Traffic In 2020
  • 00:51:47 Prediction On Airport Traffic
  • 00:53:22 Increased Search Demand For “Near Me” + “Delivery”
  • 00:54:35 DTC vs Third-Party Delivery Services
  • 00:57:25 International Growth: Hooters in Argentina
  • 01:01:11 Importance of Cultural Context: Turkey Example
  • 01:04:47 International Context – Asking the Right Questions
  • 01:06:29 Factors To Consider When Expanding Internationally
  • 01:12:08 Growing Through Licensing, Franchising + Joint Ventures
  • 01:14:51 Brand Partnerships – Controlling Your Brand
  • 01:17:34 Wrap-Up
Thank you to our partner
 
This week's episode is supported by InstaSleep Mint Melts, the drug-free, convenient sleep aid.
 
They’re easy to take without water & melt in your mouth like a mint. They’re designed to help you fall asleep faster & wake up without feeling groggy in the morning.
 
If you’ve had issues sleeping like I have, try them out - available at select Walgreens stores and their website: www.upgradeyoursleep.com
Sep 8, 2020

Who Is Ryan?

Ryan Begelman co-founded Summit Series, described as “TED meets Burning Man” & “The Davos of Gen Y” by Forbes

They’ve become known for hosting incredible events with thousands of leading creators like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos & Jessica Alba. Summit acquired Powder Mountain, America’s largest ski resort after pre-selling the opportunity to their community.

Ryan also bought into Bisnow Media, became CEO & sold for a reported $50mil+, all without venture capital.


What You’ll Learn

Part 1: Business Frameworks + Backstory

  • Framework For Business Ideas – a technique to generate ideas: marketing, monetization + markets
  • Bootstrapping + Buying A Mountain – how they pre-sold an idea to their community to buy a mountain for $50mil + why you should consider bootstrapping too
  • Joint Venture Waterfalls – applying a concept from private equity to real estate + businesses
  • Dealflow – four ways to think about generating deal flow: hunting, trapping, farming, trading
  • Replacing Yourself – how to find, hire & train someone to replace you


Part 2: Holistic Entrepreneurship, Philosophy + Mental Fitness

  • Redefining Wealthy + Holistic Entrepreneurship – creating a well-rounded, fun & meaningful life through entrepreneurship
  • “Software For The Brain” – train your brain for mental fitness, developing awareness + neuroplasticity
  • Practical Philosophy – concepts from greek philosophy, Buddhism & stoicism to help you be less reactive + less annoyed
  • The Story of the Chinese Farmer – a parable about nature + grounding yourself in truth
  • Ego – is wanting to leave an indelible mark on humanity a form of ego or something to strive for?


Time Stamps (YouTube)

 

Thank you to our partner
 
This week's episode is supported by InstaSleep Mint Melts, the drug-free, convenient sleep aid.
 
They’re easy to take without water & melt in your mouth like a mint. They’re designed to help you fall asleep faster & wake up without feeling groggy in the morning.
 
If you’ve had issues sleeping like I have, try them out - available at select Walgreens stores and their website: www.upgradeyoursleep.com
Aug 21, 2020

SUMMARY:

In this episode, we discuss the world of micro private equity, buying existing companies with little money down & the philosophy of becoming an owner.

Ryan has a growing portfolio of 7 products, including fomo.com, a popular SaaS Shopify app. He’s doing 7-figures in revenue, all while living a nomadic life traveling the world, coding on-the-go & making music.

SHOW NOTES:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/ryan-kulp-fork-equity/

WATCH + SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE:
https://youtu.be/yEaKaxRgjlQ

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:

  • importance of ownership of your actions + becoming an owner in a business
  • building from scratch vs buying an existing company
  • thinking through career transitions + knowing when to leave your job
  • how to work with a romantic partner
  • partnering with investors to buy companies
  • his opinion on self-funding vs raising investment
  • why job security isn’t about the company you work for
  • breakdown of his first 6 figure acquisition
  • why someone would sell a business in the first place, and what to look out for
  • what is seller side financing + how can you use it to buy a company with little money down
  • SBA loans + how you can use one to acquire a company
  • dealing with people who have negative energy
  • scaling a team beyond yourself

 

TIME STAMPS FOR VIDEO:
https://youtu.be/yEaKaxRgjlQ

  • 00:00 welcome
  • 01:42 why ryan landed in korea
  • 04:46 learning languages
  • 05:57 not pitching
  • 08:43 ryan's background 09:31 learning to code + becoming an owner
  • 11:40 bootstrap vs venture capital
  • 15:07 pros + cons lists
  • 17:14 raise to make your vision bigger
  • 18:51 nuance + balance from extremes
  • 22:42 importance of becoming an owner
  • 25:33 54 side projects + 7 companies
  • 28:13 7 figure revenue, 70% margin
  • 28:49 running a business with a romantic partner
  • 34:27 knowing when to leave your job
  • 45:52 job security + your own skillset
  • 48:42 why buy vs build from scratch
  • 51:57 do I need money to buy?
  • 53:22 buying fomo.com with no money down
  • 59:23 how to value a small business
  • 1:03:23 what is seller side financing?
  • 1:04:33 what is a clawback provision?
  • 1:05:33 why would someone sell a business?
  • 1:07:43 "it's too good to be true"
  • 1:11:32 two types of people, which one are you?
  • 1:14:27 dealing with negative energy
  • 1:16:36 debt vs equity to buy companies
  • 1:18:01 using SBA loans to buy companies
  • 1:26:26 business returns vs real estate vs stocks
  • 1:27:31 be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful
  • 1:29:57 partnering with investors to buy a company
  • 1:32:59 scaling a team beyond yourself
  • 1:37:32 being conservative in tech
  • 1:39:47 types of luck
  • 1:43:28 what's stopping you?
Aug 7, 2020

Who Is Emily?

"Most Important Entrepreneur of The Decade" - Inc Magazine

Emily is a true branding expert.

She's helped to build brands like Allbirds, Casper & Boxed from the ground up & paved a new path for entrepreneurs building in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) space.

Win A Free Book

We're giving away 5 free copies of Emily's new book: Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love From Day One

Sign up here for details:
https://bit.ly/2Xxh58X

What You’ll Learn

The approach Emily and her team use to create brands that people love from day one.

Real-world examples from brands like: Apple, Nike, Warby Parker, TOMS, Allbirds, SoulCycle, Everlane, Thinx, and more.

You’ll learn:

  • 3 pillars of brand strategy: mindset, key problem, brand idea
  • what you can learn about brand storytelling from stand up comedy
  • getting to the consumer need & “the why test”
  • knowing when you’ve got to the “core brand idea”
  • the difference between functional vs emotional brand storytelling
  • the best way to get customer feedback
  • how consumer expectations are being redefined
  • why brand consistency is no longer the only approach to take in 2020
  • how subtle language can make a huge difference in the tone of your brand communication

Time Stamps:

00:00 intro
1:24 who is emily?
2:00 equity vs agency fee
3:09 branding book
4:15 what is the importance of brand?
5:05 defining brand
9:08 3 parts to brand strategy
14:40 customer interviews
20:33 beyond functional benefits
22:51 casper + core brand idea
25:30 airbnb + the why test
29:50 evaluating brand idea
30:30 boxed + comparing to competition
32:30 allbirds examples
37:40 nike + laddering up value
38:10 apple + green text
41:35 soulcycle brand juxtaposition
42:50 breaking the rule of consistency
44:30 thinx
47:40 non-profits + cause
50:50 toms shoe
53:10 warby parker
53:37 bombas
54:55 everlane
59:40 cancel culture + consumer expectations

Jan 14, 2020

Full show notes:

https://www.creatorlab.fm/hassan-yassine-gaia-interview/

Landing In Mexico City

There’s an energy that radiates through Mexico City that is unique to this part of the world. Colorful buildings paint the streets next to food carts full of locals trading stories from their day. Innovative design, delicious food & a rich culture is at the heart of this mega-city.

“Emerging Mexico” as I would learn, is alive and well. I could see why The New York Times named it the #1 place to visit in 2016.

But when I first visited in 2015 to hang out with my old friend Hassan, I knew little about what was bubbling under the surface. That was the halfway point of our now 10yr friendship, meeting as young, ambitious employees in Google’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin.

Bonding over Arsenal games, Fifa marathons & long chats in Slattery’s Pub, we talked about one day building companies that we would be proud of. And Hassan has stayed true to that vision ever since.

Finding Opportunities In Emerging Markets

Hassan co-founded GAIA, one of Mexico’s leading startups that is disrupting the furniture business. They’ve re-imagined what a vertically integrated player could look like: from designing & producing their own products, bringing technology to create new retail experiences & even having their own GAIA trucks to control the delivery experience for their customers – they’ve been a shining light of what the future of retail should look like.

In just over 5 years, they’ve grown to 18 stores, 350+ employees & built a multi-million dollar e-commerce business that has a healthy mix of online to offline revenue.

Hassan forged his own path. Leaving his safe job at Google in Europe, to move to Brazil to learn about startups in the region, before planting his own seed in Mexico.

It’s his ability to get up and run towards the action that I was most fascinated to dig into. In an age of endless debate around luck vs skill – Hassan shows what it looks like to take control of the decisions you have agency over.

But what I love most about this convo, is that we talk through some of the challenges that many of us face when trying to go down the entrepreneurial route.

Where do you start? What should you focus on? When is it safe to leave your job? What skills do you need to build & who are the people you need to look out for to turn your idea into a reality?

Five Things To Listen Out For:


(1) Emerging Markets – why he thinks there’s so much opportunity in emerging markets like Mexico

(2) Knowing When To Leave – how he thought through leaving his safe job, to move twice & settle into countries where he didn’t speak the language

(3) Preparing For Entrepreneurship – the skills you can develop in a job to become a better entrepreneur

(4) The evolution of the CMO role – how marketing is changing

(5) Growth Debt – and how to avoid making mistakes when growing so quickly

Subscribe and watch on:
YouTube.com/creatorlabfm

Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/hassan-yassine-gaia-interview/

Links:

https://www.gaiadesign.com.mx/

 

https://twitter.com/ompaloempa

Connect with Bilal on social:
Instagram @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm
Twitter @bzaidi @creatorlabfm

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