Let’s be honest. The barrier of entry to host a podcast is as low as owning a microphone and having an hour to kill. But any host worth their salt knows it’s all about the guests. In 2018, I had the pleasure to welcome dozens of badass entrepreneurs from every industry you can imagine. In each episode, we explore the unabashed and uncensored realities necessary to build a successful business. We not only heard how these leaders have embraced the “owner” mentality, but how they’ve leveraged it to overcome the odds. The journey of the entrepreneur isn’t an easy one, but with their best entrepreneurial advice, hopefully your path can be just a little easier.
Some of them made a lot of money. Some disrupted their industries. And some of them even had everything fall apart before starting all over again. What they all have in common is this: raw, unrelenting drive.
With 2018 in our rearview, I want to thank you for listening to Driven & Co. and invite you to look back at a few of our favorite interviews from the year, as I highlight the very best entrepreneurial advice I heard.
Top Five for Best Entrepreneurial Advice
JT Marino, Co-founder and CEO of Tuft & Needle
You’re probably already familiar with a little company called Tuft & Needle. JT Marino helped bootstrap this Phoenix-based company that pioneered the disruption of the mattress industry. At T&N, JT leads the R&D, product development, architecture, design, and software development teams. He is a passionate storyteller, facilitator, and teacher, inspiring T&N’s most challenging and disruptive projects.
In this episode, JT filled us in on his background in software, the terrible mattress buying experience that led him to co-found Tuft & Needle and why Phoenix is an ideal place to build and grow a company. He also shares the pros and cons of the startup world in Silicon Valley. His very best entrepreneurial advice comes in how entrepreneurs can identify the root problems that are truly worth solving.
Anna-Mieke Anderson, Founder of MiaDonna
Talk about disrupting an industry! Anna-Mieke Anderson, a powerhouse entrepreneur, flipped the earth-mined diamond industry on its head when she founded MiaDonna, an eco-friendly jewelry company that pushes boundaries to create a socially responsible diamond industry. Appalled by the earth-mined diamond industry, Anna-Mieke dedicated her life to creating diamonds in a lab environment.
In this episode, Anna-Mieke shares her shock after realizing she’d likely purchased a conflict diamond and how activism fuels her entrepreneurial efforts. She also tackles overcoming negative industry pushback to make positive changes for people and the environment. But most impressively, she discusses starting a business with no previous experience as an entrepreneur. You’ve gotta hear her story.
Michael Dweck, Co-founder and CEO of Basic Outfitters
Michael Dweck moved into a tiny Manhattan apartment with his now-wife Laura only to find a problem. His tattered, long-time accumulated sock and underwear drawer could barely shut. When it came time to refresh and replenish his drawer, Michael found the shopping experience painful. He was faced with the choice of expensive designer products or cheap, generic options, neither of which sounded appealing.
Together, Michael and Laura recognized this opportunity and created Basic Outfitters, an e-commerce site that offers high quality and affordable men’s essentials via a convenient digital shopping experience that takes no more than two minutes to customize and complete.
A few years and an appearance on Shark Tank later (talk about validating your business idea), Basic Outfitters has been featured on Good Morning America, GQ, Vogue, Men’s Health and People, and has formed partnerships with Macy’s, T-Mobile and JetBlue.
Beatrice Fischel-Bock, CEO of Hutch
Beatrice is the co-founder and CEO of Hutch, the home decor tool that mixes 3D technology with online shopping to let you virtually decorate your space. During this podcast, Bea shared her experience starting a company while still in college. A lot of Beatrice’s best entrepreneurial advice involves funding. After appearing on Shark Tank, she raised funds (including from Tinder’s Sean Rad and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund). A major challenge she talks about is staying open to feedback from potential investors.
This episode is chock full of insights for entrepreneurs, including the skill set a CEO needs to orchestrate forward momentum within their company, how to find balance among multiple co-founders with different strengths, the importance of R&D, and focusing on the customer experience. Bea also laid out why finding A players for your team can make or break your startup from day one.
Allen Gannett, Founder of TrackMaven
In this episode, Allen shared why he was compelled to start TrackMaven and how the company acts as a “left brain” for creative marketers who have yet to master data sciences that their roles now require. Allen also shares insights from his book, The Creative Curve, which tackles the idea that “creativity is this magical, mystical thing that people either have or don’t have.” He shared highlights from interviews with living creative geniuses, and broke down the four things individuals can do to nurture their creativity.
Which was your favorite episode of Driven & Co.? Did any advice stand out or inspire you?
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Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.