Small Business

EPISODE 0111 - FEB 23, 2021

The Humble Fungus

with Jesse Noller

A career climbing the ladder in tech and software left Jesse Noller feeling disillusioned and isolated. He found connection, community, and purpose in a different kind of complex distributed system—mushrooms. Today he’s the proprietor of a spore-to-table business called The Humble Fungus. (Content...

Small Business
EPISODE 0101 - OCT 20, 2020

Babies at Work

with Leah Silber and Emily Hall Warren

We talk to two very different small businesses about their Babies at Work programs, where new parents can have their infants with them at the office. With COVID sending so many office workers home—and pushing women out of the workforce altogether—acknowledging employees’ whole selves is more...

Small Business
EPISODE 0096 - SEPT 15, 2020

Farewell, West Loop

with Jim Graziano and Jeremy Jones

Basecamp has closed its physical office after a 10-year run in Chicago’s West Loop area. In this episode, we say good-bye to the neighborhood and two of its businesses. J.P. Graziano and un-cooked are small, family-owned restaurants on either side of the longevity spectrum: Jim Graziano is the...

Small Business
EPISODE 0085 - jun 2, 2020

The Bookshop Around the Corner

with Andy Hunter

Andy Hunter launched in January as a platform to help independent bookstores take and fulfill online orders. Shortly afterward, the pandemic forced small businesses to close their physical doors and found itself trying to manage three years of growth in three months. Andy...

Big Tech, Small Business
EPISODE 0082 - MAY 12, 2020

Bubble Wrap & Prayers

with Selene Idell, Annie Scholl, and Megan George Cain

The government may not consider comic book shops, indoor plant stores, and small boutiques “essential,” but these businesses are vital to the unique fabric of their neighborhoods and downtowns. Without foot traffic, they’re finding new ways to connect with customers and stay afloat, all while...

Small Business
EPISODE 0081 - MAY 5, 2020

Kids Incorporated

with Nancy Mork, Shannon Merenstein, and Omowalle Casselle

Endless Zoom meetings, being cut off from friends, the widespread cancellation of summer fun, ricocheting between boredom and anxiety—kids have it pretty rough! And it’s no picnic for their parents, either. In this episode, businesses built on offering in-person enrichment for children talk about...

Small Business
EPISODE 0079 - APR 21, 2020

The Soul of an Entrepreneur

with David Sax

David Sax is the author of the new book The Soul of an Entrepreneur: Work and Life Beyond the Startup Myth. He comes on the show to debunk the Silicon Valley narrative that only a rarefied subset of people can succeed as founders, and shares examples from his book of business owners whose complex...

Small Business
EPISODE 0078 - APR 14, 2020

Work Out From Home

with Aya Cook, Deborah Hirsch, and Chris Patton

Fitness studios, like many other businesses, had to scramble to change over from in-person to virtual operations almost overnight. In this episode, three business owners in the fitness and wellness industry share their stories of how they’ve pivoted and how they’re continuing to look after their...

Small Business
EPISODE 0074 - MAR 3, 2020

Rug Life

with Irin Carmon and Jarred Lustgarten

Jarred Lustgarten left a Wall Street career to start a rug-cleaning business with $600 in borrowed money and a stack of flyers. A decade later, J.L. Carpet & Upholstery is profitable and Jarred has a very visible reminder on his hands of his commitment to his vocation.

Small Business
EPISODE 0064 - DEC 10, 2019

Lab Week

with Mohammad A. Mahdi, Mohammad M. Mahdi, Anthony Duncan, and Natalie Nagele

Get out your Bunsen burner! It’s time to do some experiments. In this episode, we talk to two businesses that aren’t afraid to try new things. First, the three founders of The Mad Optimist, a soap company in Indiana, talk about letting customers choose what they pay for their products. Then Natalie...

Small Business
EPISODE 0055 - OCT 8, 2019

Nevermore, Amazon

with Danny Caine

In the spring of 2019, Danny Caine, the owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, overheard a customer saying she could buy a new hardcover online for $15. Danny took to Twitter to explain the economics of independent bookstores and the thread went viral, putting the 32-year-old small...

Big Tech, Small Business
EPISODE 0052 - SEPT 17, 2019

Slow Fashion

with David Hieatt

“Dreams shouldn’t be sensible.” In 2011, David and Clare Hieatt launched Hiut Denim in a small Welsh town that had been home to a jeans factory for 40 years. The Hieatts saw an opportunity to restore those lost jobs—and to do it in a way that fit with their ideas about building a sustainable...

Small Business
EPISODE 0049 - AUG 6, 2019

No Half Measures

with Pam Daniels

Pam Daniels had an idea to make an everyday household item more useful and fun. When her first plan to get her product into the world fell through, she found a different path.

Small Business
EPISODE 0040 - APR 23, 2019

Unplugged from the Matrix

with Kenneth Coats

In 2007, Kenneth Coats started a business helping Chicagoans expunge their arrest records so they could improve their job prospects. After a challenge from the Illinois Attorney General shut down that venture, Kenneth reinvented his business with an assist from a local clinic that provides free...

Small Business
EPISODE 0028 - OCT 23, 2018

The Myth of the Overnight Sensation

with Bobby Edwards

Before the viral unicorn poop video, before the appearances on Shark Tank and Dr. Oz and Howard Stern—Bobby Edwards was showing his invention at conventions and sending it to alternative health bloggers in hopes of getting coverage. The invention? Squatty Potty, a plastic stool that puts you in a...

Small Business
EPISODE 0025 - SEPT 11, 2018

The Bean Machine

with Erika Hildner

*taps mic* Is this thing on? We’re back from sabbatical! In our first post-hiatus episode, Shaun heads to Denver to visit his sister, who left a catering job at a big restaurant chain to run a coffee shop out of a Volkswagen Bus that she bought on impulse off Craigslist. Erika Hildner shares what...

Small Business
EPISODE 0022 - JUN 26, 2018

Go Behind the Scenes

with Jason Fried, Shannon McCann, Amy Emberling, and Frank Carollo

A famous guy once said, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” But he was a grifter. In fact, going behind the scenes—whether it’s a factory tour or cooking show—can be a valuable experience for both visitors and guides. In this episode, we crash a middle school field trip to the Method...

Small Business
EPISODE 0021 - JUN 12, 2018

You Need Less Than You Think

with Athina Wang, Florence Shin, Luke Saunders, and Adam Huber

Who needs a fancy office when you can work out of a dingy food court? Who needs fancy equipment when you can buy what you need at Walmart? Who needs to hire an SEO specialist? What does an SEO specialist do, anyway? (A question for another episode, or maybe another podcast altogether.) On this...

Small Business
EPISODE 0017 - APR 3, 2018

Life After Shark Tank

with Melissa Butler, Joe Moore, and Chris Ruder

The ABC show Shark Tank is irresistible reality programming: Entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to a panel of famous investors and have the potential to make a life-changing deal. But as with any reality show, there’s much more to the Shark Tank experience than what gets shown on TV. We talk to...

Small Business
EPISODE 0011 - JAN 9, 2018

Start Making Something

with Grant Rodiek, Chel Cortes, and Fred Perotta

New year, new you! If you started 2018 with an idea for a product, business, or creative pursuit, now is the time to start making something. In this episode: A tabletop game designer finds that sometimes, all you need to get going is a pack of index cards and a marker; a skincare blogger tries her...

Small Business
EPISODE 0008 - NOV 21, 2017

Can You Sell Water? Part 2

with Tim Krepp, Beth Kregor, Maria Mendez, and Abraham Celio

Some of the tech industry’s most vaunted companies revel in their origins as mavericks or rule-breakers, having flouted regulations in the name of disruption. That kind of risk-taking is celebrated in Silicon Valley but punished in other places, most notably minority communities. In this episode: A...

Small Business

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