Straight from the Founders
Editor in Chief Allison Kaplan interviews Atif Siddiqi, founder and CEO of Branch, on By All Means.

Straight from the Founders

Takeaways from TCB's By All Means podcast

We’re coming up on the 100th episode of By All Means, a Twin Cities Business podcast focused on the stories behind companies born in Minnesota and the entrepreneurs who nurtured them. This magazine, StartMN, actually grew out of the overwhelmingly positive response to By All Means from listeners near and far. Some even remember when John Puckett and his wife opened the very first Caribou Coffee (Episode 1) in Linden Hills and know the idea for College Nannies, Sitters + Tutors (Episode 16) came from University of St. Thomas hockey player Joe Keeley’s summer nannying job; others are tickled to learn what inspired local startups that have become national brands. 

There’s something powerful about building this podcast archive, which now serves as a testament to the expertise, determination, and invention that come out of our state. Here are 10 business lessons, insights, and “mic drop” moments from
By All Means: 

1.  Just start. “Just stop doing what you’re currently doing and start. Because the idea is never going to be right; the first direction is definitely not going to be right. But you can’t get to the right idea if you don’t get moving.” —Justin Kaufenberg, founder, SportsEngine (Episode 75)

2. Go big. “It takes as much effort to build something small as something big, and the value is compounded greatly.” —Yu Sunny Han, founder/CEO, Fulcrum (Episode 59)

3. Embrace curiosity. “My biggest realization was that I don’t have to know all the answers, but I have to ask a lot of questions.” 
—Amy Langer, co-founder/co-owner, Salo (Episode 80)

4. Do the work. “Get your feet on the ground and figure things out. Know what’s going on in the marketplace, but be true to yourself.”  —Julie Allinson, founder, Eyebobs (Episode 90)

5. Learn from failure. “Failure is just part of the process. We’re not even running the business we originally ideated on.” —Dori Graff, co-founder/CEO, Kidizen (Episode 83)

6. Go against the grain. “I go after things that people say can’t be done. That’s one of the greatest pleasures in life. Just go the opposite direction.” —Manny Villafana, founder, Medical 21 (Episode 89)

7. Continue learning. “I think a lot of the innovation happens after you launch. That’s when it takes true grit.” —Sally Mueller, co-founder/CEO, Womaness (Episode 77)

8. Find the deeper meaning. “This is so much more than a delicious bag of cookies; it’s a bag of hope.” —Junita Flowers, founder, Junita’s Jar (Episode 88)

9. Don’t get hung up on being original. “Pick something you love to do and trust you’ll do it better. A lot of folks think when they start a business they have to come up with the big idea, something new. Starting a furniture business is not a new idea.” —John Christakos, co-founder/CEO, Blu Dot (Episode 28)

10. Lead with empathy. “Whenever we took a step toward the community, good things happened.” —Chris Montana, founder/CEO, Du Nord Craft Spirits (Episode 74)

Cheers to the trailblazers. There’s much more to come. 

Read more from the Fall 2022 issue of StartMN for more startup inspiration.

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By All Means is available on most podcast platforms and at

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