How I Built This

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Date Title & Description Contributors

  Bob's Red Mill: Bob Moore

In the 1960s, Bob Moore read a book about an old grain mill and was inspired to start his own. Using giant quartz stones from the 19th century, he made dozens of different cereals and flours, positioning his company at the forefront of the health food ...
  NPR author

  Real Estate Mogul: Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family in Jersey โ€“ with nine brothers and sisters. But she used her charisma to conquer the streets of Manhattan and build the real estate company, The Corcoran Group. She then reinvented herse...
  NPR author

  Stripe: Patrick and John Collison

Brothers Patrick and John Collison founded and sold their first company before they turned 20. They created software to help eBay users manage inventory online, which set them on a path to help make e-commerce frictionless. Today, John and Patrick are ...
  NPR author

  Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich

In the early 1980s, Ron Schaich bought a small, struggling Boston bakery chain called Au Bon Pain, and built it out to 250 locations nationwide. Ron then saw an opportunity to build something even bigger: Panera Bread. It was the start of "fast casual"...
  NPR author

  Dermalogica: Jane Wurwand

Jane Wurwand moved to Los Angeles with a suitcase and a beauty school diploma. She started what would become Dermalogica, an international beauty empire that set the standard for skin care. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back wit...
  NPR author

  Wayfair: Niraj Shah & Steve Conine

After selling their first small business and shuttering their second, former college roommates Niraj Shah and Steve Conine thought about getting "normal" jobs. But in the early 2000s, they stumbled across an unexpected trend: people were buying furnitu...
  NPR author

  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 r...
  NPR author

  Stitch Fix: Katrina Lake

In 2010, Katrina Lake recruited 20 friends for an experiment: she wanted to see if she could choose clothes for them that accurately matched their style and personality. That idea sparked Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service that aims to tak...
  NPR author

  Atari & Chuck E. Cheese's: Nolan Bushnell

Before he turned 40, Nolan Bushnell founded two brands that permanently shaped the way Americans amuse themselves: the iconic video game system Atari, and the frenetic family restaurant Chuck E. Cheese's. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," an...
  NPR author

  LARABAR: 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: LaraBar. After just two yea...
  NPR author