Interviews with entrepreneurs

Personal lessons and insights from accomplished entrepreneurs are the basis of this interview series produced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Khan Academy.

Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, shares his story as a successful entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio.

Marc Ecko, Founder of Ecko Unlimited, discusses his origins as an entrepreneur and the entrepreneurial culture of Hip Hop. Describing graffiti as the extreme sport of art, Marc talks about how this form of artistic expression was his gateway to entrepreneurship and offers advice to young people.

Philip Rosedale, Founder of Coffee and Power, discusses his recent venture and how a student’s education today can lead to a career tomorrow.

Zach Kaplan, CEO of Inventables, discusses how the revolution of digital manufacturing and desktop publishing can impact a new generation of entrepreneurs.

T.A. McCann, Founder and CEO of Gist, talks about his entrepreneurial journey, including how he joined the America’s Cup sailing team. T.A. discusses how entrepreneurs need to show initiative and chart their own course, advising other founders to always ask questions and make progress.

Ben Milne, CEO of Dwolla, discusses his motivation in founding his company and the excitement of starting something new. Ben advocates for the idea that failure, which can happen in big and small ways, does not have to be your legacy.

Giles Shih, President and CEO of BioResource International, describes his company and explains how producing "big green chickens" will help feed the world.

Danny O’Neill, President of The Roasterie, describes the journey that led him to starting his own company as well as some of the key attributes of an entrepreneur.

Lara Morgan, Founder of Pacific Direct, shares her entrepreneurial story and describes her motivations in founding companies. Lara describes how understanding the mechanisms of money, along with a fearlessness of asking questionshelped her company grow.

When Dave Smith came to the harsh realization and he alone was in charge of his future, he took a resourceful route to become an expert in his field. Mixing the desire to make it with the imagination to fake it, he went to great lengths to connect with TekScape IT customers and make them believe that his tiny organization was big enough to solve their trickiest problems.

Jason Christiansen has heard all the familiar comparisons between running a business and being a team player, but as a former major league baseball player, he steps to the plate with a unique perspective. Christiansen talks about building Rigid Industries and how the company deals with imitation product lines and compares the pressure of standing on the mound to standing before his team of employees.

A passion for science education led Linda Jeschofnig from her life in accounting to a second act as an entrepreneur. She talks about the inspiration behind Hands-on Labs and overcoming the obstacles with a company created to send kits containing hydrochloric acid, cobalt nitrate and other hazardous elements to college chemistry students. Along the way, Jeschofnig has gained support and reached out to guide other women on the entrepreneurial path.

LaKeshia Grant founded Virtual Enterprise Architects as a place where she would have a voice and create an environment where others could be heard. She discusses her industry and encourages would-be entrepreneurs to incorporate their core values in their business. Grant’s mother may not know exactly what the information technology business does, but she instilled a strong work ethic and the spirit of entrepreneurship in her daughter.

The visionaries who founded Warby Parker were friends and classmates at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who challenged convention, disrupted an industry and created an organization that did something good in the world. Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, along with Andrew Hunt and Jeffrey Raider, set ambitious targets for themselves and committed to have fun along the way.

The day after Steve Jobs announced that Apple was opening its platform to third party developers Calvin Carter bought pencils and a pad of paper and began sketching applications. Today developers at Bottle Rocket Apps still use pencil and paper as they begin the process of producing custom, high-end mobil apps for some the world’s leading brands. Along the way they hold on to their passion and stay focused on their mission.

Beth Schmidt was a Teach for America Corps Member teaching 10th Grade English at Locke High School in South Central, Los Angeles, when she asked her class to write about their passion and an after-school and summer program they wanted to attend. Their essays prompted her to find a way to make these life-changing opportunities available to her students. She started Wishbone to send students to programs that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Toby Rush looks for hard problems to solve and ways to apply simple solutions for bringing products to market. He teamed with university scientist to develop EyeVerify Inc., which uses EyePrint ID, a highly accurate biometric technology that uses existing cameras on mobile devices to image and pattern match the blood vessels in the whites of the eye.