By All Means

By All Means

Innovation. Drive. Purpose. Conversations with the entrepreneurs and leaders behind some of Minnesota's most beloved and enterprising brands.... Show More

Episodes

July 15, 2020 55 min
Abilitech Medical is on the brink of launching the first-of-its-kind wearable assistive device that makes it possible for patients with upper-limb weakness or injury to use their arms for everyday activities. “This is my imprint on the world,” says founder Angie Conley. Even before the Abiliitech Assist device becomes widely available through hospitals and clinics, it has already won numerous awards including the Tekne Award for in...
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Tammy Lee launched a line of wearable cool therapy medical devices in February, 2020, and one month later, she had to shut down her new company due to Covid-19. It wasn’t the start she dreamed of for Xena Therapies. But then, Lee’s entire career is built on unexpected turns. Lee studied journalism and political science and landed a job as a Washington D.C. news correspondent. She crossed over to politics to become press secretary...
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Aneela Idnani Kumar started pulling out hair from her eyebrows and eyelashes when she was a girl. In her early 20s, she Googled her secret habit and discovered it had a name: trichotillomania. An estimated one in 20 Americans suffer from what Aneela calls “the most common disorder you’ve never heard of.” In 2013, she finally revealed her struggle to her husband Sameer Kumar and together, they set out to find a solution—something t...
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“We do not want to go back to being the way we were,” says Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO of Self Esteem Brands, the parent company to Anytime Fitness, Bar Method, Basecamp, and Waxing in the City. Anytime, the largest of the brands, has nearly 5,000 franchise locations on seven continents—all of which had to shut down over the course of about five weeks due to Covid-19. For a company based in Minnesota, Anytime Fitness was ear...
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Anticipating that face masks are going to be a necessary accessory for the foreseeable future, Love Your Melon is ramping up its collection and returning to the buy one, give one model that made the beanie brand famous: for every mask purchased, the company will donate one to someone in the medical community. “Seeing how people are being instructed now to wear them whenever they’re out in public, I don’t think there’s any chance t...
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April 21, 2020 30 min
In the course of three days in March, Punch Pizza went from record sales to shuttering its dozen Twin Cities restaurants and furloughing nearly 400 employees. “It took us by surprise how quickly it happened,” co-owner John Puckett said. With businesses like Punch upended by coronavirus, we're checking in on some of the entrepreneurs who have shared their founder’s stories on past episodes of the podcast to learn how they are ...
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April 15, 2020 47 min
Proozy just may be the biggest overstock deals website you’re not shopping—yet. But hundreds of thousands of people have discovered Proozy, which, like Nordstrom Rack or T.J. Maxx, offers discounts on brand apparel from Nike, Adidas and many others. Unlike its big box competitors, Proozy is strictly e-commerce—emphasizing daily flash deals and relying on analytics to determine its inventory. Based in Eagan, Minn., Proozy hit $40...
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April 8, 2020 55 min
Marco was a typewriter dealer when Jeff Gau landed a sales job with the St. Cloud, Minn. company in 1973, fresh out of college after serving in the U.S. Air Force. He steadily rose through the ranks and helped Marco evolve from selling printers and shredders to businesses into a full-fledged IT services provider with 60 offices throughout the U.S. and more than $400 million in annual revenue. Through the years, Marco has continue...
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His company makes lifestyle products out of wood, but when the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. in March, Woodchuck USA founder Benjamin VandenWymelenberg immediately started thinking about how he could help. His wood laser cutting machines proved ideal for making the face shields needed by health care professionals. By the end of March, Woodchuck had produced more than 200,000 PPE products. Last summer, Ben shared his founder'...
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On Monday March 16, in the face of a national emergency, John Puckett joined Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz at a press conference announcing that restaurants and bars must close to stop the spread of coronavirus. It's a death blow for many in the hospitality industry, but Puckett said "it's time to hunker down and protect our vital resources." How do you lead through crisis? This conversation from our first episode of By A...
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Behind every successful founder are the advisors, investors, mentors, and marketers who are integral to getting it right. Kent Pilakowski is one of those behind-the-scenes experts who helped to build Beyond Meat, Talenti, Good Karma and other hot food brands that have sold or gone public. Pilakowski shares his journey from General Mills to entrepreneurship and talks about the evolution of the food industry and what it takes for a n...
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Growing up on an Iowa farm taught Ryan Broshar about taking risks and working hard. And it made him realize at an early age that he’d rather sell the corn than harvest it. His first startup, a university-based publication business called University Guide, grew out of an entrepreneurship class assignment at the University of Minnesota. It became a profitable business that Broshar sold two years out of college. While pursuing an MBA...
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Atif Siddiqi knew he wanted to build a business. When considering problems to solve, he harkened back to his high school sales job at a t-shirt shop, where there was no automated system for employees to trade or pick up available shifts. Years later, he discovered, not much had changed. He launched Branch in 2014 as a scheduling tool for hourly employees. It has since evolved into a mobile-first platform on a mission to “make the l...
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From maker to manufacturer: Mercedes Austin started making ceramic tiles in her apartment 18 years ago, and today, her company, Mercury Mosaics, occupies a 15,000 square foot factory in Minneapolis that produces tile for Room & Board, lululemon, PF Chang, major hotel chains, and other large clients as well selling direct to consumer. In the next year, Mercury Mosaics will open a second manufacturing center in Wadena, Minn. and ...
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Erik Brust was still a teenager when he came up with the idea for an all-natural popsicle—a fruit smoothie on a stick. He and some friends started making them in their dorm at St. Olaf College and by the time they graduated, Jonny Pops was a brand on the rise in the frozen foods industry. Eight years later, St. Louis Park, Minn.-based Jonny Pops is sold nationwide at Target, Costco, Sam’s Club and many other chains. In 2018, Brust ...
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Throughout his career as a TV meteorologist, Paul Douglas has found ways to turn weather data into business. He's launched and sold more than one weather related startup and has several others up his sleeve. "i love the intellectual challenge of launching new businesses," Douglas says. But he also loves telling weather stories, and finding ways to innovate. During his time at NBC affiliate Kare 11 in the 1980s and e...
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John Butcher held 15 jobs in 20 years with Target Corp. and it taught him to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. So when an executive recruiter called about a leadership role at Caribou Coffee, the Minneapolis-based premium coffee chain with nearly 700 locations worldwide, Butcher said yes to the interview, even though he knew very little about coffee or the restaurant business. “Any business that can strike an emotional chor...
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Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen opened their first Anytime Fitness gym in 2002. Their concept was an alternative to big box gyms: A no-frills space with little supervision…just workout equipment that was available literally any time. Seventeen years later, Anytime Fitness is the world’s largest fitness franchise company with $2 billion in annual revenue and nearly 5,000 locations on all seven continents, thanks to a recent opening...
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Nineteen years after mortgaging their home to open a neighborhood ice cream shop in St. Paul, Minnesota, the founders of Izzy’s are poised to take their ice cream national. “Our vision is to compete directly with Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s,” says Jeff Sommers, who focuses on sales while his wife Lara Hammel is the mastermind behind popular flavors like Midnight Graham Crunch and Butter Caramel Salted Swirl. Sommers, a forme...
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Larissa Loden is a jewelry designer whose line is now sold in more than 800 stores nationwide including high profile names like Modcloth, WildFang and the Smithsonian Museum. And only four years ago, jewelry was a side hustle to her day job as an art teacher in the Minneapolis public schools. Loden grew up in retail—her parents own a gift store in upstate New York and she knew didn’t want to go into the business. Making jewelry w...
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