A Fistful of Dirt

Back in the day, the sale of land was consummated by a ceremonial act: the buyer gave to the seller a fistful of dirt from the property being sold. It was beauty in its simplicity. And, what could possibly go wrong? Either the buyer delivered the dirt or she didn’t. Well … the parties might have different understandings of the tract being sold. The supposed sale of the “back nine” of one man’s yard might spark a country-wide invasion. (OK, it’s a stretch. But it’s based on something we read in Wikipedia).

Today, we are more sophisticated. Buyers and sellers located continents apart may negotiate and close deals for land that they’ve never seen, much less, held the dirt of (yep, you caught us, a dangling preposition). All of this, through middlemen, like brokers, lawyers, and escrow agents. With such an august crew facilitating the transaction, what could possibly go wrong?

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they explore the wild world of title insurance with Ethan Powsner, Vice President of Market & Technology Development, for the Fidelity National Title Group. You’ll be thankful that there’s someone there to make right things that go wrong.

The Great Unhack (or, How to Avoid Another "Trappuccino")

Listeners more erudite than us — yes, grammarians, it could be “we” — are undoubtedly familiar with Carole Cadwalladr.  Her work was the subject of the recent Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” exploring the weaponization of social media.  

The Cadwalladr and Netflix work adds further fuel to an on-going debate:  would society be better off regulating Facebook, Twitter and the like as proposed by certain now-vacationing Washingtonians, or is Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” the answer?  

Economists might argue the latter:  that aggregate consumer self-interest, unhindered by governmental or capitalist influence, will always produce the best outcome.  But, if that’s so, how do you explain the 300,000,000,000 burgers sold by McDonald’s?  

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a discussion with Nadeem Mazen, co-founder of fabrk.io, a social network that is powered by cryptocurrency and consumer choice, and decide for yourself.

Success Breeds Success

Our guest walked in saying he had so many failures, he kept a notepad to remember them.  Even showed us the pad.  Our mistake was we didn’t look closely.  Surely, though, we should have known something was up when he said he had already listened to some of our episodes.  In retrospect, we had to wonder whether that was casual listening — or something more akin to Belichick and Brady watching Rams videos in the run-up to the Super Bowl.  This was clearly going to be Christopher Mirabile’s podcast.  Managing director of Launchpad Venture Group, chair emeritus of the Angel Capital Association.  You got it.   Join the team from Failure - the Podcast and Christopher Mirabile in a wandering story of consultancy, the auto business, entrepreneurship, investment, and you name it.  It’s a nail biter.

Make Education Great Again!

You’d think the team from Failure - the Podcast would learn. Screen, screen, screen.  We have to screen our guests before making the invite.  Certainly, we have to have a word or two with them before pressing the record button (assuming we remember to do that, at all).   We think Mic’s confusing his cold calls for Failure - the Podcast with those for our favorite angel investment group.  Instead of bringing in guests ready to pitch their stumbles, he’s getting ones that stumble through their pitches.  Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in an uproarious discussion with Bob Allard, co-founder and managing partner of Extension Engine, a consulting firm that’s trying to Make Education Great Again!  What will you learn from today’s episode?  Who knows?  What do you ever learn from this podcast?  

Another MIT Party!

Ever wondered what an MIT party is like? You won’t get that from today’s podcast. But, you will get an audio tour of one of Boston’s hottest springtime events: the annual MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge “Startup Spotlight.” Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they work their way through a crowd of 300+ entrepreneurial party-goers and 30+ startups competing for a chance to win big prizes. (Well…not really big. Not even small, as a matter of fact. Frankly, we weren’t even sure why they called them prizes….)

A Bamboo Bike Falls in the Forest …

We first met our guest, Randall Levere, in 2012.  He had just launched Erba Cycles and was geared up (get it?  geared up) to sell a new breed of bicycle — one that was not only environmentally friendly to ride, but also to produce.  And, it was downright fine looking.  Randall was a guest on our first podcast, The Tech Entrepreneur, and graced us with a discussion of turning a passion into a business.  Flash forward seven years and Randall’s the guest on Failure - the Podcast.  Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a retrospective look at Erba Cycles, one of the last great bamboo bike makers, and learn why.

The Storyteller

Before every good sale, there’s a story. For investors, it’s no different. You might think that all they want from the first meeting is the entrepreneur’s story. But, often, they have to tell stories of their own. After all, in some markets, willing investors are easy to come by. So whom to choose? The teller’s story may decide. Join the Team from Failure - the Podcast as venture capitalist Arjun Bhatnagar regales them in stories of goats, airplanes and startups gone bad.

The Team Gets Schooled

You’d think that after 40+ episodes, the Team from Failure - the Podcast would know a thing or two about failure. We certainly thought we did, until we met today’s guest: futurist, speaker, author and leader Tom Koulopoulos. Turns out that Tom’s all about success through failure. Who knew? Perhaps we should have done some research on him, first. Anyway, we quickly learned that Tom travels the globe talking to the best and brightest about failure as a critical component of business innovation. Join the Team from Failure - the Podcast as Tom Koulopoulos schools us in failure. Perhaps, you’ll learn a thing or two. We did.

The Poetry of Failure

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they explore a writer’s world with Ken Briodagh, a story teller and adventurist in the Connecticotian mold of Mark Twain — but with a tech twist. Fear not, however, faithful listeners — all three of you!  This is not a tech podcast.  Using interviewing skills that would make NPR’s Terry Gross jealous, the team brings out Ken’s softer side and has him philosophizing on the art and craft of writing in a manner likely to make even Stephen King proud.

Custom Rugs, Online - That’s a New One!

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a discussion of the custom rug business.  If you’re like us, you’ll learn about an online business you might never have imagined.   But, on the other hand, who would have thought there was money to be made online in  shoes, pre-packaged meds, or you name it ….. 

What, No Sharks?

Navigating life is challenge enough.  Failure, it seems, is waiting at every turn.  Most would imagine that living with a disability would only add to the worries.  AccessSportAmerica has long recognized that resilience is the foil to the fear of failure.  The Boston-based charity’s mission is to inspire people with disabilities.  One of its key teaching aids: windsurfing! Join the Team from Failure - the Podcast and Ross Lilley, executive director of AccessSportAmerica, in a meandering discussion of failure, resilience and the challenges of running a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of the challenged and disabled.

Seven Co-Founders, Huh?

Seven is a big number when it comes to co-founders. You have to expect that most startups will go a few pivots before finding their niche. Try it with seven co-founders, and the number goes up exponentially.

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as the wind their way through the story of media and entertainment start-up ROTU with co-founder Jason Parks. He and the company are onto something, now. Is it just a siren song of another pivot, or have they hit on something truly big?

Don’t Count on Investors to Cover Your Backside

As listeners of a certain age will appreciate, when a man’s yearly physical goes beyond the “now, cough!” stage, things can become downright awkward.  What more need we say, here, about the prostate exam?  Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a discussion with Christopher LaFarge and learn that circles of torment are neither the exclusive realm of hell nor the health care system.  From an entrepreneur’s perspective, it can seem that the investment community has become pretty good with them, too. 

Doing Well by Doing Good

“Conversations” are a favorite topic of this podcast. This includes not only those attendant to new product introductions, but also those between entrepreneurs and investors. Today’s episode delves into both. Our guest, Brandale Randolph, is doing well by doing good. Join us in a digression-filled discussion with Brandale and learn how an entrepreneur’s vision, when shaped and fueled by conversations with customer and investor marketplaces, can drive potentially exponential business growth.

All is Well that Ends Well

Sebastien Mannai plans to bring oil wells into the 21st century. His company has not suffered any failures yet — or, at least, not any he would admit to — but Sebastien is hoping to prevent oil pump failures. His is a “happy news” story. It’s not one we like to hear too often at Failure - the Podcast, but on a day when it seems like the world is going to hell in a handbasket, maybe this is just what the doctor ordered.

Mass Challenge

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they fumble through a discussion of women’s bra’s with Athena Kasvikis, founder of Dreamweaver Intimates, as she readies to disrupt a highly profitable segment of the $1 billion women’s bra market.  (Ok, actually,  just Mic, Mark and Dave fumbled — Susan carried on per usual, though, with a smirk).  

A Broken Link in the Blockchain

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast in a discussion with Frank Gillett, of Forrester Research, as he takes us down the tortured road of an emerging technology.  Whether the supposedly unsinkable Titanic, a foolproof Iranian nuclear reactor, the Internet of Things or, yes, even the blockchain, we should simply assume that new technologies will fail — and, probably, in ways we would never predict.

Eat and Run

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as we attempt to discuss our eponym with Derek Canton, founder of paerpay.com, a dine-and-dash startup that hopes to make eating and running profitable for everyone. We failed.  He didn’t.   It could go either way for you.

Pet Peeves

Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they muddle through the life and times of Artur Sousa, whose many pivots may have resulted in one of the greatest businesses known to man and beast alike: adopets.com.


Failure in Health Care

Some would argue that “failure” is merely a label and that each of us is free to define the term as we wish.  A prior presidential administration declared ketchup was a vegetable.  Is the meaning of failure so fluid — and, if so, what does that say about attempts to define it for purposes of evaluating our health care system?  Join the team from Failure - the Podcast as they explore this issue with physician, entrepreneur, humorist and philosopher Andy Epstein.