The F Word podcast dives into a topic all entrepreneurs experience yet so rarely talk about: failure. Join us as we engage in vulnerable conversations with some of Tulsa’s top entrepreneurs about the trials, roadblocks, fears and insecurities they’ve overcome while building their businesses.
With a special ability to connect with fans and build a global community, Hanson put themselves on the map long-term through their popular music and, in recent years, their craft beer. But the band had many near misses while building their careers, like almost signing sketchy record deals and running out of beer at their first Hop Jam festival. Listen as Taylor Hanson talks about what he learned through years of posturing himself both as a musician and as an entrepreneur.
The F Word with Mike Noshay, Verinovum
Verinovum is changing the way healthcare providers serve their patients. By making healthcare data easier to access and share, The Tulsa-based technology startup is mitigating health risks and ensuring better patient care. But despite their well-known success, the story of Verinovum wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Listen as cofounder Mike Noshay talks about the creative ways he kept his business afloat in the early stages— and how the company has evolved because of the choices he made.
The F Word with Muriel Fahrion, Strawberry Shortcake and CareBears
It started with a sweet little drawing on a simple greeting card. Then Strawberry Shortcake exploded, becoming the star of everything from toys to clothing to bedding to lunchboxes. Based on the franchise's success, you would expect the artist behind Strawberry Shortcake to be living large. But Tulsa resident Muriel Fahrion actually hasn't made a dime off the character. Listen as Muriel (who also created the Care Bears) talks about the hard lessons she learned early in her career, and how those lessons led her on a path of entrepreneurship.
The F Word with Nehemiah Frank, Black Wall Street Times
Identifying a need in his community for better representation, teacher Nehemiah Frank founded The Black Wall Street Times. Despite lacking formal journalism training, he created a publication that is drawing national attention as it offers a new perspective on Tulsa's African American community. Listen as Nehemiah talks about how the failure he experienced in other entrepreneurial endeavors prepared him to create one of the state's most progressive news sources.
The F Word with Jim Langdon, Langdon Publishing
Where do you go to find all the information about the latest news and cool stuff happening in Tulsa? For many, it's Tulsa People Magazine. A product of Langdon Publishing, Tulsa People has found great success- proving resilient through multiple economic downturns and the shrinking of newsrooms. But not all Langdon Publishing publications have experienced the same luck. Listen as publisher Jim Langdon talks about building his company and learning when to let go of ideas that just didn't work.
The F Word with Stephanie Conduff, Leche Lounge
Driven by a deep passion for improving the lives of nursing mothers, Native American entrepreneur Stephanie Conduff founded Leche Lounge, one of Tulsa's most well-known startups. The company's portable lactation suites can be found around the country, including in the Nike (yes, that Nike) Headquarters. And while she's received wild support for the concept, Stephanie has also faced discrimination in investor meetings, leading her to fund the whole business herself. Listen as Stephanie talks about keeping up with demand, learning where to compromise and setting big goals.
The F Word with Elliot Nelson, McNellie’s Group
A young, college grad seeks to create a business that combines some of his favorite things- beer, food and travel- and ends up revitalizing a whole section of downtown Tulsa in the process. Starting with McNellie's Pub, Elliot Nelson has created a restaurant empire that includes nine unique concepts in three major cities. But the growth of the McNellie's Group almost ended prematurely, as the company faced financial hardship early on. Listen as Elliot talks about how he got out of trouble and set himself on a path for incredible success.
The F Word with Mike Bausch, Andolini's Pizzeria
Building a restaurant in an up-and-coming part of town is risky on multiple levels. Yet Mike Bausch, the founder of Andolini’s Pizzeria, continues to do it, opening up locations in areas that many would call “dead.” In our final episode of The F Word Season Two, listen as Mike explains the theory behind his expansion and how his life experiences (like a stint in the Marine Corps) prepared him for inevitable failures along the way.
The F Word with Adam Teague, Two Guys’ Bow Ties
If you make a deal on Shark Tank, the future of your company is all set, right…? Unfortunately not. Listen as Adam Teague, the founder of Two Guys Bow Tie, talks about the highs and lows of life after his big TV debut- and how his international success lead to an even more profitable company called Plank and Mill.
The F Word with Dr. Dayal Meshri, Advance Research Chemicals
A chemist fed up with the bureaucracy of a large corporation takes the leap to start his own company. Thanks to some grit, great people skills and a bit of luck, Dr. Dayal Meshri has become a global leader of chemical manufacturing with his company Advanced Research Chemicals. His clients include brands like General Motors, Panasonic and Intel, who all depend on him for the components to power their products. Listen as Dr. Meshri talks about overcoming fears and a difficult childhood to build his wildly successful company- and using his success to give back.
The F Word with Sarah Gould, KKT Architects
KKT Architects, one of Tulsa’s top architecture firms, is responsible for designing many of the city’s landmarks. Over time, the company has proven itself to be resilient through both internal and external trials and changes. Under the current leadership of Andy Kinslow and Sarah Gould, the firm continues to grow and take on some of Tulsa’s biggest projects. But what many don’t know, is that one of the co-owners almost didn’t become an architect at all. Listen as Sarah shares her story of overcoming personal failure and unexpected hurdles to land in her dream job.
The F Word with Blake Smith, Admiral Twin Drive-In
A landmark in Tulsa since 1952, the Admiral Twin Drive-In still draws crowds each summer seeking a fun, nostalgic night out. It’s alive and well today thanks to owner Blake Smith, who’s been immersed in the theater industry his entire life. And while the Admiral Twin continues to see success, Smith’s other local, indoor theaters have been dramatically impacted by the ever-evolving nature of the movie industry, forcing him to close multiple locations in the past few years. Listen as Blake talks about adapting to change and making hard choices in the midst of unexpected trials.
The F Word with Libby Billings, Elote
She just wanted to be her own boss and create some unique Mexican food. She had no idea her work would be the start of the revitalization of downtown Tulsa- especially since she had no formal business training. But despite flirting with failure multiple times, Libby Billings ended up founding some of Tulsa’s favorite restaurants and bringing new life into an area that many saw as dead. Listen as Libby talks about fighting for her dream, taking big risks to stay afloat and walking down the road less traveled.
The F Word with Jacob Johnson, Gitwit Creative
He built one of Tulsa’s top creative agencies. He led multiple tech startups and raised millions in seed funding. He’s the reason Tulsa has a new city flag. To the outside observer, Jacob Johnson’s journey has been one success story after another. But behind the curtain, he’s like all entrepreneurs. He’s experienced failures like dropping the ball on the creative process, missing the mark on communication and hiring the wrong people. Listen as Jacob talks about the key lessons he’s learned as he’s dealt with his mistakes and evolved as a leader over time.
Josh Juarez, Josh's Sno Shack
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.
Adrienne Kallweit, SeekingSitters
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.
Robin Siegfried, NORDAM
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.
Eric Marshall, Marshall Brewing Company
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.
Tim Smallwood, Tropical Smoothie Cafe
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.
Chip Gaberino, Topeca Coffee Roasters
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.)
Shannon Wilburn, Just Between Friends
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.
Zac Carman, ConsumerAffairs
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.
Announcing the F Word Podcast: Intro with Dustin Curzon, 36 Degrees North
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.