This Founder Reinvented the Barbershop Experience. Now He's Facing a New Challenge

Erik Anderson is the co-founder of Scissors & Scotch, a high-end men's barbershop that will open 20 new locations in the next 14 months. But attempting to scale his franchise business--and its culture--is no easy task.


The heroes of the Founders Project: the star entrepreneurs offering their hard-won wisdom to the next generation of founders they’re mentoring.

If you are a founder and would like to be considered as a mentee in our Founders Project, here’s how to apply.


Inc. Founders Project
with Alexa von Tobel

New Episodes Every Wednesday


Inc. Founders Project with Alexa von Tobel

New Episodes Every Wednesday


Episode 67

How to Maintain Extreme Focus, with Peter Colis of Ethos

The InsureTech founder also talks about staying calm in the face of adversity, and overcoming imposter syndrome.

Episode 54

Why Creators Matter, with Jack Conte of Patreon

Patreon started as a way to turn likes into dollars–to date it has helped creators earn more than $1 billion.

Episode 53

How to be Tenacious, with Blake Hall of

Blake Hall, founder of, talks about how his tour in Iraq taught him to be tenacious in business.

Episode 52

How to Know You're Ready to Launch, with Julie Bornstein of The Yes

Julie Bornstein thinks online shopping should be more like browsing Spotify.

Episode 51

How to Build a Company Remotely, with Wade Foster of Zapier

The workflow automation tool’s secret formula is a blend of data and intuition.

Episode 50

How to Pursue Audacious Goals, with Marcelo Claure of SoftBank

Marcelo Claure of SoftBank talks serial entrepreneurship, and why one of his goals is to become the oldest pro soccer player.

Episode 49

How to Be Your Customer's First Call, with Zach Reitano of Ro

The founder of Roman talks about the future of telemedicine.

Episode 48

How to Be a Present Parent and a CEO, with Jessica Rolph of Lovevery

The child development entrepreneur has a few tips.

Episode 47

How to Trust Your Gut, with Adam Nathan of Almanac

And how he became a founder because of an internship at Apple.

Episode 46

Why Execution is More Important Than Ideas, with Milind Mehere of YieldStreet

The CEO of one of America’s fastest-growing companies talks about the secret to gaining financial independence.

Episode 45

How to Build a Marketplace that Scales, with Steven Galanis of Cameo

CEO and co-founder Steven Galanis shares how Cameo came back from “the worst product launch of all time.”

Episode 44

How to Tap Into What Makes Your Business Special, with Bryan Murphy of Breather

Breather CEO believes the pandemic will accelerate innovation.

Episode 43

How to Integrate Work and Childcare, with Chriselle Lim of Bumo

Fashion empress Chriselle Lim founded Bumo to integrate the two.

Episode 42

How to Chase Your Passion, with Shane Curran of Evervault

Meet the 19-Year-Old Improving Online Privacy.

Episode 41

How to Turn Feedback into a Business Model, with Austen Allred of Lambda School

This Utah native co-founded an all-remote tech school after receiving some particularly useful customer feedback.

Episode 40

Why Failure is a Path to Progress, with Will Ahmed of WHOOP

The WHOOP CEO talks about failure, data, and listening to the right people.

Episode 39

How to Manage Risk, with Marla Beck of Bluemercury

The makeup maven shares why omnichannel customers are most valuable for retail businesses, and why she hires for “skill, will, and fit.”

Episode 38

How to Grow Your Business Organically, with Joel Flory of VSCO

Joel Flory, co-founder and CEO of VSCO talks about how to build a product people are willing to pay for.

Episode 37

Chris Urmson: How Building a Company is a Team Sport

Aurora co-founder Chris Urmson talks about building his self-driving vehicle startup and making the world’s roads safer for all.

Episode 36

Richie Serna: How to Take the Startup Leap

Finix co-founder and CEO Richie Serna talks about how his parents’ work ethics inspired him to build his own company.

Episode 35

Kevin Tan: How to Nail Your Value Proposition

When Kevin Tan was a student at Yale, he had a crush and wanted to gift her a smoothie from her favorite smoothie shop–while making sure her friends could see this grand gesture. And so Snackpass was born. It’s a social food app where you order takeout (not delivery–this is an important distinction) and earn loyalty points to redeem free food. And Kevin is on to something: Snackpass just won a $21 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Episode 34

Doug Hirsch: How to Solve the Unsolvable

Doug Hirsch was one of Yahoo’s earliest employees, back when the team was only 20-30 people. He says his love of connecting people to technology started from then on. He built GoodRx because of his “inherent cheapness” and his refusal to pay $500 for a prescription drug at a major chain pharmacy.

Episode 33

Brian Halligan: How to Grow from Founder to CEO

Named a Top-Rated CEO on Glassdoor four times, HubSpot’s Brian Halligan talks honestly about his journey leading HubSpot “two steps forward, one step back,” and says he’s still waiting for his A-HA moment, even with the Boston startup’s success. He shares how HubSpot had to switch gears from a sales- and marketing-driven company to a product company if it was to seriously compete with other tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Episode 32

Samantha Fishbein: How to Speak to a Niche Audience

While at Cornell University, Samantha Fishbein and her 2 friends created an anonymous WordPress blog “Betches Love This” to describe and make fun of sorority girl culture. They were approached by an agent to turn the blog into a book and were able to grow that opportunity into a full-fledged digital media empire. Fishbein shares the strategy behind speaking to a niche audience.

Episode 31

Ivan Zhao: How to Craft a Viral Product

Ivan Zhao knows a thing or two about creating a viral product. His productivity startup, Notion, has a cult following of over one million users. He leads a team of less than 30 employees, but the company has already achieved a sky-high valuation of $800 million.

Episode 30

Alli Webb and Michael Landau: How to Be the Best at One Thing

Alli Webb and Michael Landau’s parents were entrepreneurs, and Michael recalls sweeping the floors of their family’s clothing stores in South Florida when they were children. They both agree that watching their parents was invaluable to learning the ins and outs of great customer service. It’s just one of the things that differentiates Drybar from their copycat competitors, and Alli and Michael share other secrets to success they’ve learned along the way.

Episode 29

Toby Sun: How to Scale Rapidly

Lime only launched in 2017, but has grown rapidly and has already achieved profitability in key markets under co-founder Toby Sun. Sun’s vision for micromobility was inspired in part by his upbringing in Shenzhen, a city in China with over 12 million people. Sun believes future cities will be built around people–not cars.

Episode 28

Ben Horowitz: How to Build an Effective Company Culture

Legendary VC Ben Horowitz, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and author of the new book, “What You Do Is Who You Are” gives insight into what he specifically looks for in founders before backing them, and explains why building and maintaining a company culture is actually very difficult.

Episode 27

Dr. Joe DeSimone: How to Foster Collaboration

Dr. Joe DeSimone says 3D printing–the type of printing that spits out little plastic figurines that we know of today–is a misnomer. It’s actually 2D printing over and over again. He knows a thing or two about real 3D tech, since he founded 3D printing unicorn Carbon. He shares the advancements his team has made in the world of 3D tech (they build things out of light) and and how being a professor led him to become an entrepreneur. 

Episode 26

Everett Cook: How to Build for the Future

Business banking is needlessly challenging for many entrepreneurs. Rho grew out of a need to fix these challenges for small businesses and early stage startups. Co-founders Everett Cook and Alex Wheldon were driving from San Francisco to LA after meeting with tons of investors when they realized that technology was the solution to so many of these banking woes.

Episode 25

Danielle Snyder and Jodie Snyder-Morel: How to Be Authentic Storytellers

Sisters Danielle Snyder and Jodie Snyder-Morel didn’t go into business with a formal plan outlined. They got fired from their jobs, courageously cold-called Bergdorf Goodman, and landed their first account in 2008 during the recession. Fashion-jewelry brand Dannijo was born, and the co-founders share how they put their sisterhood aside to pursue a strong business partnership.

Episode 24

Jason Brown: Why Emotions Are Not a Liability

The average American household is more than $5,000 in debt. Jason Brown, co-founder of Tally, built the first automated debt manager to help Americans claw their way to financial freedom. He shares how growing up in a household filled with financial anxiety and watching his mother unable to reach her financial goals pushed him to create a solution for people drowning in debt.

Episode 23

Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan: How to Create Change

There was a need for some type of community for C-suite women, especially because it gets lonelier at the top, so co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan built Chief. They’re here to overthrow the “Old Boys Club,” yes, but their biggest vision is to drive more women into C-level positions, particularly into CEO roles.

Episode 22

Henry Ward: Why Equity Matters

Carta’s founder Henry Ward is well on his way to creating a stock market for private companies. Carta manages over $575 billion in equity for over 11,000 companies. He shares how his previous startup’s failure led to the success of the now unicorn company.

Episode 21

Max Levchin: How to Build a Transparent Business

After graduating college, Max Levchin cofounded PayPal with Peter Thiel and others. Levchin went on to launch fintech company Affirm, providing consumers a new way to buy with instant point-of-sale loans.

Episode 20

Eric Senn: How to Be Scrappy

Cousins Eric Senn and Jason Senn created an online peer-to-peer marketplace where literally anyone can open a store from a phone in three clicks. They’re hoping to decentralize the $3 trillion global retail market, and with backers like Alex Rodriguez and the former CEO of Neiman Marcus, they’re on to something big.

Episode 19

Daniel Schreiber: How to Make Customers Happy

The average age of an insurance company is 125 years old–that’s older than antibiotics, the internet and mobile phones. So Daniel Schreiber and his co-founder built Lemonade, a millennial-friendly insurance startup that’s now a certified FinTech unicorn.

Episode 18

Brian Chen: How to Turn a Pain Point into a Business

Brian Chen used to take phone calls from his fiancé in his company’s stairwell. He got sick of dealing with the major drawback of open-office floorplans–a lack of privacy–and built a soundproof privacy pod that top companies like Google and Apple use in their offices today.

Episode 17

Bobbi Brown: How to Be Yourself at Work

Bobbi Brown didn’t set out to build a billion dollar makeup business, but after creating a line of lipsticks she quickly got acquired by Estée Lauder. Bobbi talks about why being able to wear jeans to work matters and how she adapted to being an employee post acquisition.

Episode 16

Box’s Aaron Levie: How to Get Through the Tough Stuff

Aaron Levie got Mark Cuban to become his first investor after a cold email, dropped out of college, and took Box to IPO glory. But the journey wasn’t without hardship.

Episode 15

Hinge’s Justin McLeod: How to Be Vulnerable

Justin McLeod’s offline romance helped build his vision for Hinge, one of the world’s most popular dating apps today. He shares how is company got acquired, and why social media is the new smoking.

Episode 14

Misha Nonoo: How to Know Your Customer

Founder of eponymous Misha Nonoo shares her evolving business model and how she found success designing for sustainability, not for what’s trending.

Episode 13

Sweetgreen’s Jonathan Neman: How to Build Community

Jonathan Neman and his two co-founders met when they were freshmen at Georgetown. He shares why their inexperience helped them innovate and expand quickly.

Episode 12

Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine: How to Achieve Your Goals

Leandra Medine started fashion website Man Repeller when she was just a junior in college. She shares the triumphs and hardship of building a successful media company during the height of social media.

Episode 11

Framebridge’s Susan Tynan: How to Maximize Every Minute

Susan Tynan started Framebridge out of a personal need: she couldn’t find a framing shop that wasn’t confusing or expensive. Framebridge now has $82 million in funding, and Tynan shares how she got there.

Episode 10

GOAT’s Eddy Lu: How to Built Trust With Customers

Co-founder Eddy Lu went through years of leading failed startups and business projects to finally launching the world’s largest digital sneaker marketplace, GOAT.

Episode 9

Zola’s Shan-Lyn Ma: How to Achieve Product Market Fit

Co-founder Shan-Lyn Ma was Gilt’s first product person. She went on to transform the competitive wedding planning industry through her fast-growing startup, Zola.

Episode 5

Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group

Chances are, you’ve experienced Danny Meyer’s brilliance. He’s the founder behind Union Square Hospitality Group, which holds a remarkable 28 James Beard awards and is responsible for Shake Shack, which now has over 250 locations worldwide. Meyer opens up about what he looks for in new hires, how he took the leap into the food world, and shares his scariest moment to date (spoiler: getting punched in the face by a diner).

Episode 4

Brynn Putnam, MIRROR

Brynn Putnam is no stranger to building businesses. In 2010, she started Refine Method, the award-winning boutique fitness studio. Now, she’s the Founder & CEO of MIRROR,  tapping into the $14 billion dollar home fitness market with a connected fitness system that streams classes to users in-home, all via (you guessed it) a mirror. Putnam shares how she came up with the idea and built her first prototype, the surprising range of users who love the platform, and how her professional dancing career makes her a stronger CEO.

Episode 3

Howie Liu, Airtable

Editor’s note: Airtable is a sponsor of the Founders Project with Alexa Von Tobel podcast and of

Howie Liu built his first company at age 20 and sold it to Salesforce just a year later. The second time around, he built Airtable. It’s already valued at over a billion dollars, which puts in the rarified group of unicorn tech companies. Liu shares how he’s found success via a slow and steady approach, his aspirations to become the next great tech company, and why he prefers farming metaphors to the wartime ones so often used by entrepreneurs.

Episode 2

Jimmy Chen, Propel

Founder of Propel, Jimmy Chen, is working to build anti-poverty software. With their first product Fresh EBT, Propel is using technology to transform the experience of using food stamps for millions of Americans. Chen explains how he’s building Propel at the intersection of social good and profit, his above-and-beyond approach to gathering user feedback, and how he plans to expand his team.

Episode 1

Jenny Fleiss, Jetblack

Co-Founder of Rent the Runway, Jenny Fleiss shares when she had her “aha moment” for her new venture Jetblack, what it’s like to start a company under the umbrella of Walmart, and why shopping via text is so sticky for consumers. Plus, learn what motivates her for the week ahead.