The F Word dives into a realm every entrepreneur experiences and yet so few want to talk about: failure. Join us as we engage in vulnerable discussions with some of Tulsa’s top entrepreneurs about the trials, roadblocks, fears and insecurities they’ve overcome while building their businesses.
One could argue that ConsumerAffairs is the most “Google-esque” company in Tulsa. But before he built the international company, with a culture of beer taps, “Bacon Fridays” and free yoga, CEO Zac Carman was hustling in Silicon Valley working for tech companies and private equity firms. It was there that he first took stabs at entrepreneurship, building multiple startups that ended in failure. Listen as Zac talks about those experiences and how they prepared him to successfully navigate big changes at ConsumerAffairs.
A pastor’s wife, strapped for cash, holds a gently-used clothing sale in her living room. Fast forward 20 years, and the concept- now known as Just Between Friends- is an international franchise recognized by Forbes and almost every major media outlet. But the path to this point was filled with unknowns for cofounder and CEO Shannon Wilburn. She didn’t have a business background and knew nothing about royalty fees, disclosure documents or raising capital. Listen as Shannon discusses facing her insecurities and building something bigger than she ever imagined.
Before trendy, local coffee shops became the norm, Chip Gaberino had a vision to bring high-quality coffee to Tulsa. He believed he could deliver beans from his family’s coffee plantations in El Salvador directly to consumers in a style that reflected the growing, high-end coffee craze popping up on the West Coast. And despite many obstacles and failures, he did. Listen as Chip talks about how he made Topeca Coffee Roasters a household name, while sticking to his personal ethos of sustainability and empathy. (PLUS hear honest insight on his experience co-founding local hotspots like Hodges Bend and the short-lived restaurant Torero.)
Everyone told him it wouldn’t work. Another smoothie shop just wouldn’t succeed in Tulsa- especially on the north side. It would be a horrible business decision. But Tim Smallwood wasn’t convinced. Listen as the Tulsa firefighter talks about risking 300 thousand dollars on a side-hustle, convincing his wife to quit her job, wasting money on expensive advertisements, and going over two years without paying himself -all because he had a gut feeling that the Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise was going to be the next big thing.
What started as a small home-brewing project in a spare bedroom is now one of Tulsa’s favorite beer companies. But with obstacles like antiquated alcohol laws, skepticism about craft breweries, and manufacturing mishaps (i.e. bottles exploding on shelves), Marshall Brewing was far from an overnight success. Listen as founder Eric Marshall talks about connecting with the right people to fight negative stigmas and blaze the trail for microbrewers in Oklahoma.
How do you build a wildly successful aerospace-manufacturing company? One cold call at a time. At least, that’s how Robin Siegfried did it. He took Tulsa-based company NORDAM global by going to unfamiliar countries to knock on airplane hanger doors and strike up conversations with strangers. Listen as Robin explains how he overcame cultural faux pas and limited knowledge about aviation to build a multi-million dollar company.
A Tulsa mother looking for childcare finds out that her child’s preschool teacher has a shady past. The discovery sparks a realization: despite routine background checks, parents don’t really know who they’re entrusting their children to. Today that mother, Adrienne Kallweit, now leads the national franchise SeekingSitters, a service dedicated to connecting parents with safe, fully-vetted caretakers. Listen as Adrienne discusses establishing her company- without any startup capital- and learning how to stand out in a sea of competitors.
Nothing says summer in Tulsa like Josh’s Sno Shack. The wildly popular snow cone stands have multiplied over the years, and the brand is one Tulsans of all ages take pride in. But unbeknownst to many, the company wasn’t built buy an eager entrepreneur. It was built by a lovestruck teenager. Listen as founder Josh Juarez talks about opening his first shack, maintaining top-notch service, and handling unexpected growth.