At age 15 James found himself without a home, but never without hope.
From the moment his birth-mother kicked him out of the house to fend for himself, James knew that the next set of decisions he needed to make would have a massive impact on the rest of his life. James had to decide (as he walked to a local 7-11 to use a payphone because there were no cell phones back then) if he was going to play the role of the victim, the opportunist, or the warrior. He chose the warrior.
That decision, at age 15, set him on a course that surrounded him with people that gave him hope and an unwavering belief in himself. He started to learn the real power of community and brotherhood. The people that surrounded him early on gave him so much more than just shelter or food. They gave him a vision for what his life could be like as long as he decided to put in the work.
While circumstances were certainly working against him, James refused to believe he had to give up on his goals and dreams; dreams like going to college. With tenacity and resilience, James knew there was one way he could make that dream come true, through enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. Did he chose the Marine Corps because of his warrior mindset? James would like to think so, but he also knew his distracted mind needed structure and accountability. It also didn’t hurt that as James would authentically share, “the dress blues would get the ladies.”
James describes his time in the Marine Corps as life-altering. His service allowed him to see just how much he is truly capable of. He saw in others how much a human can endure if they have a “no quit” perspective. He saw just how powerful it can be to have someone fully committed to your personal success, so much so that they would be willing to die for you. The unselfish service of thousands in the Marine Corps shaped how James sees his service to everyone he meets.
James achieved his goal of a college degree but knew he wanted more than a “job”. His dad was an entrepreneur and that “gene” was deeply rooted in James. In fact, James had been starting various ventures as early as 7th grade when he would buy a 5-piece Bubble Yum pack for $0.50 and sell each piece for $0.50. Or in 8th grade, during the Persian Gulf War, when his Dad and he designed Patriotic flyers and sold them for $1 each. Then in High School when he started a direct-to-consumer music CD business.
James’s entrepreneurial journey has failures and successes. His story has moments of absolute joy and crushing defeats. His journey includes moments where the rewards were abundant and moments where he lost everything. Everything except his belief in himself.
The Startup Story isn’t about James’s entrepreneurial journey, it’s about every Entrepreneur's journey. This podcast is for the active Entrepreneur that finds themself grinding alone and not making much progress. It’s for the Entrepreneur-in-waiting that has unaddressed uncertainty and fear and is reluctant to move forward. It’s for the defeated Entrepreneur that has failed numerous times and is unsure if they have what it takes to do anything.
As we hear The Startup Story of some of the most successful companies in the world our focus is singular…
To give you the belief and courage to Start Your Story
November 12th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 3 mins
This week I’d like you to meet Andy Mackensen, co-founder of SnackNation. SnackNation is a healthy snack delivery service for businesses. In 2018, SnackNation was recognized at #24 on the INC 5000 list of fastest growing companies. They were founded in 2014, and after just four full years they hit $24 million in revenue. Andy and his business partner Sean Kelly are killing it!
November 5th, 2019 | Season 1 | 45 mins 46 secs
This week’s featured founder is Jim Hogan, co-founder of a program called Socks for Heroes. Jim and his wife Carla started Socks for Heroes after their son, Donald, heroically gave his life in service to his country while deployed to Afghanistan.
October 29th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 4 mins
Meet John Wilson, co-founder of STANCE. STANCE has turned socks into one of the world's most exciting accessories in less than five years.
If you think about denim you instantly think of the brand Levi’s. If I were to ask you to think of an iconic brand for sunglasses you would probably say Oakley. And, if I were to ask you to name a major brand of socks, you would probably be stumped. Until today, that it is. That is the significance of STANCE. The global market for socks is $20 billion and STANCE entered the game a few years ago.
October 22nd, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 11 mins
This week I’d like to introduce you to Chris Brownridge, co-founder and CEO of GawkBox. GawkBox was a third party platform that allowed people to tip their favorite live streamers without having to pay anything. They did this through various incentivized actions like installing an app, for example. Unlike some of our past founders, Chris’s startup, GawkBox, is no longer around. He had to shutter his business in July 2019. Chris and his team raised $4.4 million during their three-year run and just could not solve some key challenges.
October 15th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 2 mins
This week’s featured founder is Scott Paul, founder of Wooly. Wooly allows brands to see who their fans are, what their social reach is, and then reach out to them directly as potential brand ambassadors. It is a startup created to bring authenticity to the influencer marketspace; created by the guy who helped build the influencer marketspace to the heights that it has become today.
October 8th, 2019 | Season 1 | 58 mins 7 secs
This week I’d like to introduce you to Nick Justicz, Founder of Gazpacho. No, not the cold soup, a mobile app that “serves up the best of the internet based on your tastes.” The app is what happens if you merge Pandora and Tinder together - swiping action while building up a database of your likes and dislikes, all based on memes. It’s a unique app and incredibly entertaining.
October 1st, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 8 mins
I’d like to introduce you to Marika Meeks, founder of IncredibullStella, a nonprofit whose mission is to help rescue dogs (with an affinity towards Pit Bulls) and place them in their forever homes. With a name like IncredibullStella, you may be wondering who Stella is, right? Well, Stella is a Pit Bull that came into Marika’s life when she was recovering from Stage 3 Breast Cancer.
September 24th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 48 secs
This week’s featured founder is Nick Alexander, co-founder of Yoshi. Yoshi is disrupting an industry that I am sure NONE of you ever thought about disrupting: gas stations and auto maintenance. Did you ever say to yourself, “You know, gas distribution really needs to be revamped?” Well, Nick and his co-founders did and are making significant waves in eight major markets.
September 17th, 2019 | Season 1 | 47 mins 50 secs
I’d like you to meet Alina Vandenberghe, co-founder of Chili Piper and Gipsybot. You read that correctly, she has co-founded TWO startups at the same time. Chili Piper is an incredibly powerful sales tool for enterprises. Her second startup, Gipsybot, is a productivity tool to help you prioritize what is important to you, not what others delegate to you.
September 10th, 2019 | Season 1 | 59 mins 9 secs
This week I would like you to meet featured founder, Anna Victoria. She is the founder of Fit Body App. The health and fitness app launched in January 2018; then in 2019, Apple featured it in their “Apps We Love” section. Since then it has become one of 2019’s best fitness apps. Just because numbers are impressive…when Apple featured the Fit Body App in the “Apps We Love” section it generated over 1 million impressions within 24 hours!
September 3rd, 2019 | Season 1 | 52 mins 8 secs
I’d like you to meet John Paul Taylor, founder of Real Life Poets. Real Life Poets is a nonprofit that leverages the creative process of poetry and spoken word as a means to empower youth, that otherwise might find themselves in prison or on the streets. John Paul started Real Life Poets because writing saved him and he wanted to do the same for youth in situations similar to his.
August 27th, 2019 | Season 1 | 54 mins 2 secs
This episode marks our 35th episode since we launched in January 2019. When The Startup Story launched we had no audience. Yet, even with not having an audience, Larry Namer, founder of E! Entertainment Television, was gracious enough to share his Startup Story for our launch.
There is a high chance that you have not heard our first few episodes. For that reason, we are going to bring our first two episodes off the shelf to ensure they make your podcast queue. This week is the first of those two episodes. I hope you enjoy this episode as it originally aired on our launch date of January 15, 2019.
August 20th, 2019 | Season 1 | 49 mins 54 secs
This episode marks our 34th episode since we launched in January 2019. When The Startup Story launched we had no audience. Yet, even with not having an audience, Jason McCann, the Founder and CEO of VARIDESK, was gracious enough to share his Startup Story for our launch.
There is a high chance that you have not heard our first few episodes. For that reason, we are going to bring our first two episodes off the shelf to ensure they make your podcast queue. This week is the first of those two episodes. I hope you enjoy this episode as it originally aired on our launch date of January 15, 2019. Today’s startup story comes from Jason McCann, founder and CEO of Varidesk. While Varidesk is a global company today, Jason's story is not one where you assume everything he has ever done has been a success. Today he shares his early beginnings from selling beach chairs all the way to the burst of the dot.com bubble and later, how Varidesk came to be.
August 13th, 2019 | Season 1 | 13 mins 2 secs
This week instead of featuring a founder’s story, we are going to focus on part of a story that many founders go through — founder depression. Yes, founders can get depressed, very much so, and yet not too many talk openly about it.
August 6th, 2019 | Season 1 | 49 mins 48 secs
Brian Burke is the founder of SellYourMac.com, a website that helps you to sell your Apple products in a way that ensures you receive top dollar. Brian recently received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nomination. Ernst & Young is one of the largest firms in the world and since Brian’s firm was nominated, I definitely wanted to invite him to unpack his story on this podcast.
July 30th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 3 mins
Meet Michael Littig, Co-founder of the Zuckerberg Institute. And yes, the Institute is kind of associated with the infamous “Facebook Zuckerberg,” it’s actually co-founded by Mark’s sister, Randi. Their mission is to establish a community of entrepreneurs that encourage and inspire other entrepreneurs as they build their business or start their next venture. Sound familiar? It should because that's what I am hoping to build with this podcast, too.