How I Built This… with help from Private Equity Investment

National Public Radio’s (NPR) popular How I Built This podcast series highlights nearly a hundred entrepreneurs and business owners who have transformed an innovative idea into a successful business. Throughout this podcast series, many of the innovators and entrepreneurs talk with host Guy Raz about how private equity investment helped them grow their businesses, hire new employees, and get the management support they need in order to succeed. In fact, about a quarter of the companies featured on the show have partnered with private equity along their path to success.

In our new blog series, the AIC is now highlighting specific quotes from entrepreneurs who have turned to private equity investment to help build their business. Today, we start with how private equity helps drive growth. 

Panera Bread (34:47 – 36:10 mins)
Casual dining, headquartered in Sunset Hills, Missouri

NPR Host Guy Raz:

  • “So last year, Panera sold…Why did you sell?”

Ron Shaich, Founder and Executive Chairman of Panera Bread:

  • Real simple. Because what had allowed us to have this powerful success was this ability to make long term transformative, smart bets. The reality is in the public market places, I was deeply worried that we would not be able to continue to do that…The reality is as a CEO, as a leader, I’ve gotta figure out where the world is going, I gotta know how the world is unfolding, and I gotta make sure my company’s positioned as the world arrives there. You can’t do that so easily in a public company.” 

Aden + Anais (28:15 – 29:50 mins)
Baby essentials retailer, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York

NPR Host Guy Raz:

  •  “It was around 2010 where you took on some outside investment?”

Raegan Moya-Jones, Co-Founder and CEO of Aden + Anais:

  • “That’s correct, I took on my first private equity firm in 2010” 

NPR Host Guy Raz:

  •  “Why did you do that?”

Raegan Moya-Jones, Co-Founder and CEO of Aden + Anais:

  • Well, it enabled me to scale. So, it gave me some money to be able to hire some more people, buy more inventory We could never keep up with the demand. So, when the private equity firm came in it just allowed us to be able to get – look even today I can’t keep up with the demand – but it enabled us to get closer at least.”  

Melissa & Doug (31:28 – 31:54 mins)
Children’s toy manufacturer, headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut

NPR Host Guy Raz:

  •  “What did the outside investment allow you to do as a company?”

Doug Bernstein, Co-Founder of Melissa & Doug

  • “Well, I think two things. One is they have Rolodexes that are much larger than ours and introduce us to folks that can help with things. And then financially also, frankly, freedom to grow and expand more exponentially if we want to expand our footprint internationally – and so opened up those doors, too.”             

Carol’s Daughter (32:20 – 33:30 mins)
Hair, body, and skincare brand, founded in Brooklyn, New York

NPR Host Guy Raz:

  • “I know in 2014 you sold the company to L’Oréal. Was that difficult for you to sell this thing that you build out of your apartment in Brooklyn? Or did it feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders?”

Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter:

  • “It was not a difficult thing for me to do at all… Once you take on an equity partner your goal is to sell to a strategic partner and everyone exits happy, hopefully. So, having someone like L’Oréal acquire the brand was something that I knew would happen and I always had L’Oréal at the top of my list.”

There are over 4,700 private equity firms in the United States that are currently invested in more than 32,000 American companies. Here’s a list of some of the companies that have been featured on How I Built This and have received private equity investment.

  • Lululemon Athletica
  • Chicken Salad Chick
  • Drybar
  • Kendra Scott
  • Dell
  • Urban One
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • Power Rangers
  • Bumble
  • Vice Media
  • Honest Tea
  • TOMS Shoes
  • Chipotle

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