In 2008, it was nearly impossible to buy a fashionable, affordable pair of glasses online. That simple frustration inspired the idea behind Warby Parker – and disrupted the eyewear industry. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," an update on Bellyak, a kayak where you lie on your belly and paddle with your hands. (Original broadcast date: December 26, 2016)
Dyson: James Dyson
In 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a new vacuum cleaner — one that didn't use bags. It took him five years to perfect the design, building more than 5,000 prototypes in his backyard shed. He then tried to convince the big vacuum brands to license his invention, but most wouldn't even take his calls. Eventually, he started his own company. Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world, and James Dyson is a billionaire. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Theresa Stotesbury made a business out of fake blood — a synthetic material that helps create a realistic crime scene for police training.
Melissa & Doug: Melissa And Doug Bernstein
Melissa and Doug Bernstein's first success was a wooden 'fuzzy puzzle' of farm animals. Today, Melissa & Doug makes over 2,000 kinds of toys and serves as an antidote to the rise of digital toys. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," an update on The Cut Buddy, a stencil device that helps you cut your own hair. (Original broadcast date: December 19, 2016)
Dell Computers: Michael Dell
Before it became fashionable to start a tech company in your dorm room, Michael Dell did exactly that. In 1983, he began selling upgrade kits for PC's out of his dorm at UT Austin. A few months later he gave up his plan of being Pre-Med, and dropped out of school to focus on the PC business. At age of 27, he became the youngest CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. Today, Dell has sold more than 650 million computers. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Hannah England turned a common parenting problem into Wash. It. Later. — a water-tight bag for soaking soiled baby clothes before they stain.
Serial Entrepreneur: Marcia Kilgore
After high school, Marcia Kilgore moved to New York City with $300 in her pocket and no real plan. One step at a time, she became a successful serial entrepreneur. First, she used her high school bodybuilding experience to find work as a personal trainer. Then she taught herself to give facials, and eventually started her own spa and skincare line, Bliss. The spa became so popular that it was booked months in advance with a list of celebrity clientele. After selling her shares in Bliss, Marcia went on to start four new successful companies: Soap & Glory, FitFlop, Soaper Duper, and Beauty Pie. PLUS for our postscript "How You Built That," how Steve Kral has created a successful business fulfilling a very particular niche: selling TV remotes for outdated television sets.