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
May 28th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 10 mins
This week I welcome Zack Swire, founder and CEO of Good Grains, to the show. Good Grains delivers better cereal, better coffee, and better gear for a happier and healthier day. As you’ve heard in this podcast from numerous founders, there are some aspects of their journey that are similar. And yet, there are others unique to their story. For Zack, his entrepreneurial mindset started at a young age. In fact, by the time he was 16, he already had his second business. Zack’s story is one underlined by familial motivations and aspirations.
May 21st, 2019 | Season 1 | 47 mins 56 secs
This week I would like to introduce you to the co-founder and CEO of Energetek, Eva Gerrits. Energetek is an energy brokerage and consultant company that is also focused on renewable alternatives. If you are unaware of the commercial and industrial industry space then know that Eva is paving a way for other female entrepreneurs and leadership as this industry is heavily dominated by males.
May 14th, 2019 | Season 1 | 51 mins 48 secs
This week’s featured founder is Ladan Davia of Beeya. Beeya is a company that is changing the way recruiters and job searchers are connecting. Improving the job search process has been attempted numerous times, it’s true. But so has online dating and that never stopped innovation. Beeya is the real deal and so is its founder, Ladan Davia.
May 7th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 11 mins
Our guest this week is Mia Plecic. Mia is 27 years old and has started 6 companies all leading her towards her current startup, Her Organics Australia. Her Organics is a subscription service through which women can sign up to have tampons delivered automatically each month. The company, Her Organics, is Mia’s 6th startup and her 5th e-commerce startup. In fact, when she was just 22 years old she launched her first e-commerce product and reached $30,000 in daily revenue within 6 months! However, that success did not come without some very serious challenges, which we discussed in this fascinating episode.
April 30th, 2019 | Season 1 | 51 mins 31 secs
Jon Verlee is the founder of Breeze Church Management Software. I was given Jon’s name from a friend who was emphatic about Jon’s story being told. Part of her enthusiasm for Jon’s story is that it is one that so many people can look to as a potential template for their journey.
April 23rd, 2019 | Season 1 | 52 mins 36 secs
This week’s featured founder is Emma Rose Cohen, CEO and co-founder of FinalStraw. FinalStraw is a collapsible and reusable straw for a sucking alternative that will help reduce plastic waste across the globe. The inspirational and educational side of her story includes a Kickstarter experience that many hope for when they launch their Kickstarter campaign. In fact, FinalStraw raised $1.89 million during their campaign.
April 16th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 3 mins
This week’s featured founder has a remarkable story and provides powerful inspiration for other entrepreneurs. Today I welcome Darbie Angell, creator/designer/founder of “Darbie Angell,” a brand icon and maker of bold and fashionable dinnerware.
Darbie started her company without a single contact in the industry. While she was working at one of the largest law firms in the country she went into labor with her daughter when she was five months pregnant. It was then that Darbie was put on bed rest for four months, and while on bed rest, she decided that she wanted to start a company by combining her passion to impact the world with her knowledge in design. The real startup story of Darbie Angell is that Darbie wanted to show her soon-to-be daughter how to dare to dream big!
April 9th, 2019 | Season 1 | 54 mins 7 secs
Our guest this week is an overachiever in all areas of life. Goli Kalkhoran is the founder of USIE Booth and Creator and Host of the Lessons From A Quitter Podcast. Goli attended Law School at California Berkley and became a successful attorney, earning a high six-figure salary. But she was absolutely miserable. During her time on maternity leave, she explored what her life could be if she could design it to be fully aligned with how she was wired. In doing so, she became a quitter!
April 2nd, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 56 secs
This week’s guest is an absolute fireball of a human being. I’d like to introduce you to Neely Powell, the founder of The Charleston Shoe Co. Her story runs at 100 mph from the minute her journey gets rolling. She started her business as a side hustle in college. Since then, the growth that The Charleston Shoe Company is experiencing is remarkable. At the time of this recording, Neely has opened 20 stores and is in the midst of opening another 6 stores nationwide within the next 6 weeks!
March 26th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 5 mins
In January, I posted a call for Female Founders on our LinkedIn company page with hopes of being introduced to more female founders to feature on The Startup Story. Today’s guest was mentioned more times than any other person. After spending some time with her, I am fairly confident I know why she was thought of by so many other people…because she is someone that is always looking to help others.
This week I am joined by Ilana Zivkovich, the founder of WERQ; a strategic leadership advisory firm. WERQ helps teams look at their strategy, process, and people to ensure all of these pillars will best support their business.
March 19th, 2019 | Season 1 | 56 mins 2 secs
When I started The Startup Story I would have never expected to be interviewing a founder
of a homeschool group, but here we are. This week, Tiffany Sorya, founder of Novel Education Group, shares the many unconventional pieces that have comprised her entrepreneurial journey to this point. It makes sense that her story would be unconventional since her goal is to meet the educational needs of those whose lives are unconventional. Her first two clients were Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and she continued working with other high-profile children such as those of Fortune 100 executives.
March 12th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 36 mins
This week’s episode was a special one for me to create. Why? Well it was not due to the celebrity status of our featured founder nor was it due to his gift for handcrafted woodworking (although I am fascinated by woodworking). This episode was special because of how incredibly similar my entrepreneurial story was to this week’s guest, Clint Harp.
March 5th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 5 mins
This week’s featured founder is Barry Stiles, Founder and CEO of TRUEGRID Pavers. Yes, a paving company. My hope in exploring stories like Barry’s is that you will process his challenges and triumphs to see the commonality within your own journey, too. And yes, when most people think of a startup they immediately think of technology. But every single business you interact with was a startup at some point. That is why I love exploring the startup stories of a diverse collective of founders, like Barry and TRUEGRID Pavers.
February 26th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 7 mins
As you may already know, The Startup Story is a new podcast. And if you are an avid podcast listener, then you know that the production quality of many new podcasts can be...well, less than stellar. But what you probably have noticed is that the production quality of this podcast is really good. And that’s not because of pure luck. The reason the production quality is so good is due to our incredible sponsor MovoCash and its founder, Eric Solis. Because of their sponsorship, we are able to enlist the aid of top notch podcast producers. But I am not here to talk to you today about podcast production, instead I am thrilled to introduce you to Eric Solis, founder of MovoCash. Today, you will get to hear his startup journey.
February 19th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 5 mins
I'm huge fan of incredibly creative individuals, especially those involved in woodworking. And my guest this week, Brandon "Monk" Muñoz, is a handcrafted furniture designer and artist. He is the founder of Monkwood Studio where he designs unique furniture and interiors that change the atmosphere of work, living spaces and retail establishments. His work includes some of the most beautiful studio desks and tables you will ever see.
February 12th, 2019 | Season 1 | 57 mins 26 secs
Today, you will hear the startup story of Bryan Elliott, founder of The Goodbrain Digital Studios and creator of Behind the Brand Show. I’ve been following Byran’s work for few years now with intrigue. He has helped to build audiences and engagement for some of the biggest movies. He has also produced original video content (for movies on DVD), managed brand partnerships and movie titles with advertising budgets of over $30M. As you’ll hear in today’s episode, there are many patterns that set us up for what is to come in the future, like the ability to adapt in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Bryan’s story is one enveloped in resiliency.