DiscoverFinding Founders
Finding Founders

Finding Founders

Author: Finding Founders

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A podcast about vulnerability and entrepreneurship — learn from the life stories of founders 🚀, activists ✊, and even drug lords 💊 Our aim is to inspire you and let's face it... you aren't inspired when you hear about success. Real inspiration comes from hearing someone's lowest moment, and rising with their success. Using music, sfx, and voiceover, we interview the founders of companies, movements, and even drug cartels to reveal vulnerability so you can learn from victory. I’m your host, Samuel Donner, and together with my team we aim to inspire and educate a global community of leaders.

255 Episodes
You just heard from Jimmy Edgerton about a crucial time in his entrepreneurship career, a moment when it seemed like his new startup was going down in roasted chickpea flames. Luckily, these hard times didn’t last forever, since today I’m presenting a special episode, a podcast swap with seasoned entrepreneurs and business consultants Jimmy Edgerton and Julie Meyer from AugMentors. Before they taught us to navigate the nuances of networking, Jimmy and Julie learned these lessons firsthand through running their own successful businesses. Julie found her start in writing her book Eat Well Shanghai and now works as the co-ceo of nutrition company Eat Well Global. Meanwhile, Jimmy worked in real estate until a fateful beer garden meeting launched his business career running Watusee Foods. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s hop in a time machine to the start of Julie’s story and see how these lives intersected
Some say circumstance is everything. Yeva Hyusyan would disagree with that statement. Born and raised in Soviet era Armenia, Yeva prioritized education and her interest in STEM. After paving her own way in the technology field working for big names like USAID and Microsoft, she decided it was time to start her own educational coding business with an associate. In 2014, SoloLearn was born and works to bridge the skills gap for students and professionals interested in or pursuing jobs that require coding fluency. Against all odds, Yeva Hyusyan has become a successful technology entrepreneur, creating the most popular, digestible technology education application across Apple and Google platforms that impacts not only the life and education of users, but also their financial futures.
Kobe Earthquake 1995. At 5:46 in the morning, the city was struck by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, leaving 6,000 casualties and 45,000 others homeless. Nobu Okada was only just out of college when he witnessed this scene of devastation and decided to turn his life towards a path of action and purpose. But what career would he turn to next? Now, we know Nobu as the founder of Astroscale, a company working towards a goal of long term spaceflight safety by targeting space debris in Earth’s orbit. His company has received multiple awards, earning the title of TIME100’s Most Influential Companies, Forbes JAPAN’s “Start-up of the Year” in 2019, and the Grand Prix (pree) for UNESCO’s 2020 Innovation Forum. Despite this incredible growth over the past decade, Nobu’s path did not always lay outside the stratosphere, as his career began in government finance, IT consulting, and business startups. Before we reach for the stars with today’s guest, let's trace his story back to where it began, the innocent days of science magazines and the promise of space camp…
Rick Sanchez found himself at the center of a hot crime story…and not in the way he’d like. After rising to the top of Miami’s news networks, he had suddenly lost his job, audience, and reputation overnight. This might have been the end of any other reporter’s career, but Rick was not about to give up— not after how much work it took to get here. Twenty years later, we know Rick Sanchez as the first Latino newscaster to be on a nationally broadcasted show and the founder of Agua Media, a podcast group dedicated to telling the many untold stories of Latinos in America. To get to this point, Rick had to make mistakes, as he learned to separate his public and private life and restructured his relationship to fame. Before we jump ahead, let’s go back to the beginning of Rick’s story, growing up in Cuba during the rise of Fidel Castro…
Stuck inside during the pandemic, Monica Mannion casually posted a tik tok. The posting isn’t very unique, hundreds of thousands of others posted videos, but Monica’s had something special. After making one tres leches cake and recording some VO, Monica unexpectedly found herself with thirty million views, thousands of followers, and a dedicated fanbase waiting for her next video. This might seem like an overnight success, but Monica honed her cooking skills over many years and many countries. From Argentina and South Africa to England and China, she has traveled all over the globe, starting culinary clubs and forming communities wherever she went. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Monica’s passion started long before she boarded her first flight, in a home dominated by the heavy scent of roasted chilis and warm broth.
In the span of a few weeks, Marina’s thriving study abroad program seemed to collapse alongside the Russian ruble. With the travel market disappearing overnight amidst the country’s political conflict, it seems like this might be the end of Linguatrip. But don’t tune out just yet. While this setback may have stopped another influencer, Marina Mogilko (Moh-gill-koh) is now a prominent entrepreneur and content creator with more than 9 million subscribers across her 3 YouTube channels. As founder of one of the first Russian-owned startups in Silicon Valley, Marina’s videos provide a unique perspective on business, investment opportunities, and her immigrant journey. But before she found success at home and abroad, Marina was just a kid who loved linguistics. Growing up in the isolation of post Soviet Russia, she knew that learning English was her key to a better future…
Disheartened by the 37 rejection letters in his back pocket, Daniel was shocked when a hasty bar-pitch landed him with a $40,000 publishing deal. After all, he was still relatively unknown…and his children’s story was odd to say the least. What kind of kid would want to read a faux (FOE) gothic novel about three orphans with a bloodthirsty relative out for their inheritance”? If this plot is sounding familiar…you may have heard of Daniel Handler before—or should we say…Lemony Snicket. Despite Daniel’s slow start in the publishing industry, he has since sold over 70 million copies of his books and become a household name. His literary work has also spawned countless film and tv spin offs, most recently the 2017 award-winning Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events” starring Neil Patrick Harris. But before Count Olaf ever entered the picture, before he spent months writing in a dusty college basement, Daniel started like many other writers do: with a book in his hand.
Now, we know Irvine Welsh for his enormously popular novels such as Trainspotting, The Acid House, Filth, Porn, Glue and Skagboys. His first work has since been adapted into the cult classic 1996 film Trainspotting, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 British films of all time and recently followed by its 2017 sequel T2 Trainspotting. Whether Irvine is switching between the punk and disco subcultures of 1980s London, releasing the most shoplifted novel in British publishing history, or learning the difference between Bay area and Appalachian meth, his writing journey has been anything but traditional. But before he transformed Scotland's literary scene, and before he got on and off heroin, Irvine was a little kid with a rebellious streak, moving from one tenement flat to another…
We all start somewhere…and for christian, that start was a best-selling, chart-topping, fart-themed ringtone. Now, with over 1.7 billion views on YouTube, 6 million subscribers, and 3 million monthly Spotify listeners, Christian-better known as TheFatRat- has outgrown this early legacy and made an extraordinary impact on the electronic music scene. But how did this German artist get his start? Before composing for Dota 2 and Rocket League and before producing the best selling CD in France, Christian surprisingly discovered music through classical piano training. To learn how his early interest in musical improv and Chopin turned into a love for glitch hop, let’s go back to his childhood…all the way to when he first earned his elementary school nickname…‘the rat’“ Also The Fat Rat has recently released his new single “Out Of The Rain.” The irresistibly hopeful new single features vocals from breakout alternative electronic singer-songwriter Shiah Maisel and culminates with an exciting brass-filled ending.
Only a year after joining social media, Joanne Molinaro would become a New York Times bestseller for “The Korean Vegan Cookbook”— but when she was crying in her car, stressed about her job, her divorce, and future, this eventual reality seemed like a fantasy. Now, Joanne is one of leading voices in the cooking world with 3 million followers on tiktok, nearly 1 million Youtube subscribers, and more than 600,000 instagram followers. Under her slogan ‘I veganize Korean Food. I koreanize everything else’, Joanne explains how to make vegan kimchi and un-fuck-up-able pho, all while sharing her intersectional identity as a Korean American woman and her family’s refugee experience. But let’s take this back… before she became a successful blogger, content creator, writer, and attorney.. Let’s start this story generations before in North Korea.
Seeing his and his friend’s faces plastered on billboards and newspapers around London, it seemed that Sorted had finally made it. If YouTube recognized their content’s worth, then surely hundreds of thousands of followers would be quick to follow—or so Ben Ebrell thought. Instead, what Ben has found through his many years of experience is that there is no making it on YouTube, no closing the fridge door for good and saying the hard part’s over. With over 2.6 million subscribers on YouTube, his cooking channel Sorted Food has grown massively since its start in 2010. But before reaching mainstream success in the UK, Ben  had to make his way through 1500 bottles of free beer, sell the 5000 college cookbooks in his garage, and create countless baked goods out of thin air. And before all of that, Ben was a little kid, picking fresh vegetables in the garden at eight years old and wondering how to bake his first fish pie.
You just heard from Kelsi Davies as she describes how her haunted doll Lola changed her TikTok career forever. If you haven’t heard this name before, Kelsi is a social media superstar with 5 million followers on tiktok and more than 800,000 YouTube subscribers. As a creator, psychic, and medium, Kelsi has brought us some of the most haunted content on the web, posting vlogs from enchanted forests and fields, cursed ocean liners, and the infamous Cecil Hotel. From first discovering her psychic ability in elementary school to juggling influencer politics and mental health, Kelsi’s story mixes her unique supernatural perspective alongside her relatable struggles with interpersonal relationships. Working as a professional medium can be isolating, and Kelsi realized a crucial fact early on in her life: psychics get scared too sometimes…
Adorian had dabbled in Youtube fame before, but it wasn’t until he checked his phone after school to 40,000 new followers that he realized the true potential and speed of the online world. I mean imagine…in 2009, twitter was only 3 years old and the hashtag was even younger. Amidst working on high school homework and filming SMOSH-inspired videos, Adorian had somehow stumbled on the opportunity of a lifetime— he’d be one of twitter’s first non-celebrity creators. Now at 3.5 million followers on TikTok and more than 90,000 YouTube subs, Adorian is a seasoned internet veteran and self-proclaimed ‘facts guy’. You may have seen his multi-million view videos on your feed before, as he teaches followers how to escape bee attacks and what came first: sharks or saturn’s rings? But it wasn’t all fun edits and trivia questions. In his journey through the early internet landscape, Adorian ran into swindlers, lawsuits, and even an early case of cancel culture. Growing up as one of the first ‘chronically online’ species, he started small, far away from the sophisticated algorithms of tiktok + instagram today, in the land of role-play edits…
You just heard from internet sensation Tati Bruening, as she recalls how a one-off joke set an entire viral instagram movement into motion. Known by her instagram handle ‘illumitati’ or her tiktok ‘illumitatiana’, you might have seen some of Tati’s distinctive photography or celebrity shoots on your for you page, as she has gained a following of 323,000 and 2.6 million followers in only the past few years. Through reinventing what could come up on your TikTok feed to reshaping the Instagram algorithm, her behind-the-scenes efforts have fundamentally changed the landscape of social media as we know it. Still, Tati did not always foresee herself in this career or entertainment itself. Along with the rest of her 6’ family, it always seemed she was headed for the land of D1 athletics…
You just heard Ali describing one of her breaking points, where a battle for a copyright claim over one of her creations caused her to file a lawsuit. Now, Ali Spagnola, musician, comedian, and artist, has proved herself to be a creator you can’t look away from. With her eccentric dedication to living “outrageous”, Ali has won over 1.4 million tiktok followers and more than 400k subscribers on YouTube with her bubbly enthusiasm and boundless creativity. From turning her car into a chia pet to fighting for the world’s right to party, Ali’s career has been anything but mundane. Yet before music parodies and unusual crafts became her way of life, Ali had already fallen in love with the piano, plunking out melodies on her family’s baby grand…
Watching as he racked up tens of thousands of new fans over the course of the day, Sean Sotaridona let out a sigh of relief he didn’t even know he was holding. This success, this new and unexpected online stage, was what he had been looking for all his life. It only took him 16 years to find it. Going by the username SeanDoesMagic, Sean’s masterful magic tricks have garnered more than 21 million followers on TikTok and 5.44 million followers on YouTube. From networking with meme accounts over Instagram dms to performing tricks for Addison Rae and Dixie D’amelio, Sean’s unparalleled tenacity and drive have taken him on a wild journey. However, before his trips to vidcon and tryouts for America’s Got Talent, before Sean was even born, his roots grew far away from the beaches of Los Angeles and Florida…across the Pacific in the Philippines…
Despite exploding in popularity on YouNow and finishing up his first national tour, Nathan Triska realized that the creator lifestyle was not always as glamorous as it seemed. His online presence didn’t do much for his high school reputation– in fact, it seemed to make things worse. Flash forward to the present and Nathan has found even more success through his role of Frankie on the breakout web series Chicken Girls and his social media work. With more than 950k followers on Instagram and over 10 million fans on TikTok, Nathan has carved out a niche for himself on the internet for nearly a decade, migrating from Younow to Vine to Still, though it might seem like Nathan was born for the influencer lifestyle, the 23 year old was once far removed from the world of livestreaming, likes, and ever changing algorithms. Praying for cell phone service in his farmhouse’s laundry room, Nathan still somehow knew that celebrity was within his reach.
You just heard Brenton Kelly describing the leadup to the murder of American conservationist Diane Fosse in Rwanda. Employing rigorous anti-poaching methods towards the end of her life, Fosse made more than a few enemies. But how do Fosse’s and Brenton’s stories connect? Well we’ll get to that later… let’s introduce Brenton first. He’s the treasurer and advocacy director of Quail Springs Permaculture, living far away from Africa in Socal’s Cuyama Valley. There, he helps to advocate for sustainable groundwater policies in the region’s wetlands and works to include earthen building materials in California’s outdated building code. To get an up close look at Brenton’s unusual lifestyle and find the answers to some of my burning questions, I traveled a few hours outside of Los Angeles to stay a couple days at Quail Springs. I arrived late at night, and found that, here, immersed in this remote farmland, stars were much brighter and the mornings were full of new experiences including squeezing goat’s milk right from the teat into a cup of coffee. After we got settled, Brenton, a couple dozen goats, & I traveled a few miles from the homestead to begin the interview surrounded by nature.
Struggling to find work in the entertainment industry and fearful of disappointing her parents, Inga’s filmmaking career could have ended her first year in LA. Maybe it was time to look at something practical, something safe. Flash forward, and we now know Inga Lam as an immensely talented video producer and food influencer at Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Bring Me, About to Eat, and her own personal channel. She’s appeared all over your feed in viral videos like ‘Mom Teaches Daughter How to Make Bao” and “I Made The Impossible Cotton Candy From Ancient China.” These videos have racked up tens of millions of views as she shares her cultural perspective with an eager audience. But the creative path wasn’t always that clear. Growing up in Hong Kong her parents urged her to play it safe, but Inga knew she wanted more…
Despite having two hit book series under her belt, it was at this moment that Kimberly caught a glimpse of the publishing industry’s true nature. The world of literature had a short term memory and she was only as good as her most recent book’s sales. No matter how proud she was of her stories or how many book tours she’d finished, it felt like maybe she would never get the chance to reach the same heights. Luckily, this burnout didn’t last forever and Kimberly Derting is here with us today as an established author in both Young Adult fiction and children’s books. She mixes the genres of horror, mystery, and romance to create the captivating narratives of the award winning Body Finder series as well as the Pledge and the Taking trilogies. But before she spun these unique worlds from scratch, Kimberly was an imaginative kid who spent her days reading at the library and checking out the new releases at the neighborhood bookmobile. Words provided an escape from the darkness of her surroundings, banishing her home life and rough and tumble neighborhood with the flip of a page.
Comments (15)



Sep 7th

John G. Maxwell

Thanks to this article I can learn more. Expand my knowledge and abilities.

Aug 8th

Jordan Schuman

Super interesting podcast!

Mar 25th

Natalie Young

this! interesting, new, real interactions.

Mar 25th

Stacey Book


Mar 25th

Jen Bergren

Love hearing founder stories, from all different industries and backgrounds

Mar 24th

Hafsah Ansar

Love how we get to hear the career and life trajectory of so many different people. Very inspiring!

Mar 24th

Gnilaeh Stowers


Mar 24th

Nevaeh Stowers

I liked episode #105 10/10

Mar 24th

nameeta shinghwani

Very inspiring podcast

Mar 24th

Felicia Enuha


Mar 23rd

Samuel Donner

Weve launched a new and improved newsletter! It will offer actionable advice from the lives of our founders alongside other exclusive content! Click here to subscribe —> Excited to see ya there 🙌🏻

Oct 4th

Samuel Donner

Hello hello! We just released a mini episode about how a life extension tech could only be in the hands of billionaires and what steps we might take to stop that future and make sure everyone has access. It kind of reminds me of that movie In Time with Justin Timberlake. Solid movie. Definitely check it out. Anyways the founder of thinks that a decentralized business can ensure life extension technology isn’t just for the super rich. Do you think that’s enough to democratize health?

Apr 5th

Samuel Donner

Hey! 👋 It’s Sam the host of Finding Founders! Welcome to all the new people coming in and super excited to have you. We have some exciting episodes coming up with our drug dealer series over the next few weeks and I can’t wait to hear what you think of them! If you have any questions or just like the podcast leave a comment! I’ll reply to every one and answer all your questions!

Mar 30th

Tim Connors

Kong’s episode was so amazing😍 thanks sam for making this stuff, i feel hella inspired 💪🏻

May 15th
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