Most of us would be content to have one big hit in our lifetimes, and to milk it for all its worth. But Marcia Kilgore has had four resounding successes with four separate businesses — Bliss, a range of New York beauty spas, of which she sold a majority stake to LVMH for a reported $30million in 2004; Soap & Glory, a toiletries brand thar Boots bought acquired in 2014 and has hundreds of millions in annual revenues; FitFlop, the ingenious ergonomic footwear brand; and now Beauty Pie, a subscription cosmetics service which may well turn the beauty industry on its head. In a fascinating and highly enjoyable episode, we discussed the unique atmosphere of New York in the late 1980s; why bullshit is the enemy of success; and how the opposite of a good idea is almost always a great idea.
“Fundamentally, culture comes from our streets” — Inside the retail revolution, with Ross Bailey, Luca Faloni and Archie Hewlett
On a special episode of the podcast we talk to three figures from the world of retail about the quiet revolution taking place on our streets. Ross Bailey is the founder of Appear Here, the venue marketplace for shops, pop-ups, and just about anything else; Luca Faloni is the founder of the beautiful Italian outfitter that shares his name; and Archie Hewlett is the founder of London footwear label Duke + Dexter. It is a fascinating conversation with three entrepreneurs who live and breathe these issues every day — and they tell us how our high streets might look in the near future; why certain brands have ridden out the storm and others have sunk; the shopping gimmicks that they're tired of seeing; and why, in fact, we should cancel the word ‘retail’ altogether.
“For our meeting with Rupert Murdoch, I didn’t even have any shoes…” — Jack Rivlin, Founder of The Tab
Jack Rivlin is the founder and former CEO of the Tab — a network of student newspapers. Started while Jack was at Cambridge, the Tab hoped to bring energy, levity, and a tabloid edge to the dull and worthy university papers — and used volunteer student journalists to report on the things that actually mattered to them.
It soon grew to plenty of other universities in the UK, and in 2016 Jack raised a few million pounds of investment from none other than Rupert Murdoch himself, who Jack and his partner met the week after Glastonbury, with glitter still stuck to their faces. After expansion into the US, the Tab’s fortunes began gradually to wane; until Jack decided to sell up entirely at the start of 2020 — a process that became a fascinating ordeal in its own right.
In a wonderfully honest episode, Jack tell us just how hungover he was for that infamous meeting with Rupert Murdoch; give us the inside scoop on the Aziz Ansari story that broke the internet; tells us how one of the Tab’s early legal corrections is now used in Journalism textbooks; warns against the perils of the Facebook algorithm; and discusses why newsletters have become the media outlet of the moment.
Louis Theroux is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, broadcaster, national treasure, and latterly podcast host. Louis joined us on the podcast to talk about the release of his brilliant new documentary Shooting Joe Exotic, in which he revisits the star of last year's Tiger King documentary — but the conversation soon became about so much more: the state of America right now; the trouble with social media; the poignancy of shooting horses; the perils of podcast coziness — and the very art of interviewing itself.
Louis Theroux: Shooting Joe Exotic is now available on BBC iPlayer
Marco Pierre White is the legendary chef often described as the enfant terrible of English cuisine, and the youngest cook ever to receive three Michelin stars. Marco’s story has now passed into legend: the childhood on a council estate outside Leeds; the prodigious genius mentored by Albert Roux, Pierre Koffman and Raymond Blanc; the outrageous work ethic and infamous temper; the pre-Raphaelite curls and smouldering brow. But to hear him tell his own story is an unpredictable joy. You don’t so much interview Marco Pierre White as uncork a genie — and so this episode does away with our usual structured conversation format and becomes something else entirely: a rolling meditation on childhood, luck, pain, celebrity, greed, and good food.
We recorded this episode in one of the living rooms of Marco’s home — a Victorian gothic hotel he is converting near Bath. It kicks off with Marco explaining what walking into a Three Michelin Star restaurant should feel like — and it rolls like a juggernaut from there. Enjoy.
Andy Coulson is a strategic advisor, former Downing Street director of comms, former editor of the News of the World — and onetime resident of HMP Belmarsh. Across the nineties, Andy worked his way up from a local newspaper to take on one of the biggest jobs in the UK media, before jumping over the fence to join the Cameron campaign as DC ascended to Number 10. Then, following the News of the World’s phone hacking scandal, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison — a part of his life that inspired his new podcast: Crisis, What Crisis, in which he talks to a wide array of people who have, as he puts it, been up and down the hill a few times.
In a fascinating episode, Andy tells us how he dealt with what we might call David Cameron’s Toff Problem; discusses the entrepreneurial lessons he learned in prison; and describes the dangerous symptoms of a condition he calls 'Editoritis'. Enjoy.
You can find a link to Andy's podcast, Crisis, What Crisis?, here.
Gerald Ratner is the former CEO of the Ratners jewellery empire, and a professional corporate speaker. As a young man, Ratner worked his way up the ladder of his family company, eventually turning it into the biggest jewellery chain in the world. And then, at the height of his powers, a single speech changed his fortune forever, and sent his life and his business into a downwards spiral that took some years to recover from.
His story — and that infamous moment — is now the subject of business degrees the world over, and his name still trends on Twitter several times a year at moments of corporate blunder. This is one of the most interesting episodes we’ve had in a while — a true rollercoaster of a story, with a born entrepreneur whose colourful career has come to be defined by just a few words. With his famously deadpan sense of humour, Ratner talks us through the meteoric rise of the Ratners Group, the morning leading up to that speech, and why, if you want to get something done, it sometimes pays to impersonate a police officer.
In a special episode of the podcast, we're joined by Tommy Stadlen and Jonnie Goodwin — two prominent members of the UK’s investment community. Tommy is the co-founder of Giant Ventures, and has had a remarkably varied career — working as an advisor to both Barack Obama and David Miliband, setting up a photography app that was then sold to Microsoft, and even finding time as a teenager to release an ambient music album.
Jonnie, meanwhile, is the head of Alvarium Merchant Banking. He’s enjoyed a rich and colourful career in television and radio, advising on over 100 very high-profile media deals in his time. He is best known now, perhaps, for setting up Founders Forum — a network for entrepreneurs — with Brent Hoberman.
This episode is all about tech investing in 2021, and the current climate and outlook for the wider venture capital community. In it, Tommy and Jonnie discuss how purpose is now front and centre in most investment decision; the rise of the Special Acquisition Company; how they stay on top of the sea of noise and nonsense in startup land; and the sort of entrepreneurs that they do and don’t like to invest in. Enjoy.
Will Ahmed is the founder of Whoop — the man behind an ingenious wearable strap that tracks your sleep, your recovery, your strain, and all sorts of other clever metrics. Its early fans included LeBron James and Michael Phelps — and its newest fans include most of the VC universe, who have just pushed Whoop to a $ 1.2 billion valuation. (Will, by the way, is still only 30 years old.)
In this episode, Will tells us where the Whoop name originally came from; how the band became an accidental diagnosis tool for Covid; and the secret that nobody knows to gaining access to the world’s most influential figures.
My guest on today’s show is Jamie Siminoff, the founder of Ring. Jamie is the start up world’s tinkerer-in-chief — a true inventor who first stumbled upon the idea for a smart, video-enabled doorbell because he wanted to communicate with delivery drivers while he was down in his garage. The journey from that moment — to a famous $1 billion acquisition by Amazon — is fascinating: full of ups and downs, near death experiences, luck and graft and even an appearance on Shark Tank.
In this episode, Jamie tells us about the moment a random glitch very nearly destroyed everything he’d worked for, why celebrating is not always that helpful, and why you shouldn’t listen to any of his advice (or anyone else’s).