Category Archives: #HowIBuiltThis

Barbara Ann Corcoran: The Real Estate Mogul

Barbara Ann Corcoran’s story is the classic story of the American Dream. Growing up in Edgewater, New Jersey her father was a printing-press foreman and her mother was a house wife. After graduating high school with barely passing marks she enrolled in St. Thomas Aquinas College and graduated in 1971. Two years later she began the first female owned real estate firm in New York City with a 1000$ loan in 1973. Using her charisma and charm she dominated the real estate market and had many years of great success. She then sold the firm for 66 million dollars in 2006. Since then she has become a well-known T.V. personality. She has regularly appeared on many shows such as ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Today show.


  1. With barely passing marks how did she become such a massive success?
  2. Does getting good grades in school always lead to success in later life?
  3. How did she overcome the sexism that was built into the business culture at the time?
  4. How was she able to compete with already well-established companies with a small loan of 1000$?
  5. How did she transform herself from a retail mogul to a T.V personality so well and so quickly?

Joe Gebbia, Entreprenereal Mastermind #PBL

Joe Gebbia, 2017 VOICE, BoF’s Annual gathering

Joe Gebbia founder and CEO of AirBnB has shown great resilience throughout the entrepreneurial process, his seemingly “crazy” idea was presented to 100s of investors and turned down by all, yet today AirBnB is a common app and system we all use. Joe Gebbia has made an idea into a way of living thorough the world, it is no longer odd to pay to stay in someone’s bedroom in Key West Florida for a few nights. Joe Gebbia has built an entire lifestyle and company of the idea of staying at another person’s house.

A Few Questions….

  1. How and why do investors trust such a “crazy” idea such as AirBnB was?
  2. How do you go against the judgement of people who you know are smarter than you and more established in the world of business and marketing?
  3. How did you know when to succumb to failure and realize when an idea was not working?
  4. What type of strengths do you need to be an entrepreneur?
  5. How do you act out of being uncomfortable in a situation environment?

How Tyler Haney Used Innovative Thinking to Create Athleisure #OutdoorVoices #PBL

Tyler Haney was unsatisfied with the athletic-wear that was on the market when she tried to get into running. The only athletic-wear on the market were companies like Nike and Adidas who made clothes for intense athletes. She wanted to design a clothing line for mediocre athletes who aren’t intense or headed to the Olympics. Tyler was iterative as she tested out her clothes with her running buddies and used feedback to correct the seams in the clothing and functionality of it. This can relate to Jason as he constantly asks for feedback from the users of his software, Campfire Technology, and he tracks the usage on his website.


What made Tyler Haney be inspired to create her company, Outdoor Voices, and why was she unsatisfied with other apparel items, like Nike and Adidas? (first 10 minutes)

Why was the style and material of her newly designed clothing ideas different from her competition? Who was her audience that she targeted, what kind of athletes? (minute 16)

Who was the person that Tyler met at the tradeshow? What was his job? What did he see in Tyler, and why was he the only person that trusted her new pitch? Explain. (minute 20)

What was Tyler’s opinions on the very first prototype? How did she fund these startup issues? How did she begin her first product testing? (minute 28)

In what store did her apparel first launch? Did it do well? How did she put her business model together? How was Outdoor Voices expanded? (minute 48)

How Can Perry Chen’s Story Kickstart #PBL?

The host of How I Built This Podcast series, Guy Raz.

On Dec. 31st 2018, Guy Raz released an interview with Perry Chen, the co-founder of Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform for people to donate to projects that they like. Kickstarter became popular soon after the release. The interview with Perry Chen revealed the story behind the founding of Kickstarter.

NXNEi - Day 2 - Perry Chen,
Perry Chen, cofounder of Kickstarter.

Fifteen years ago, Perry Chen had no idea that he would start a technology company. He was a musician who liked to go to music festivals, and it was at such an event when the idea of Kickstarter came into his mind: “why can’t people get funded for their projects from people who support them?” While he hesitated to stick to this idea at first, he restarted his idea when he moved to New York and introduced this insight to people he met there. Sharing new iterations of his idea with different thinkers in New York helped him even further. While he had no network for funding or financial support, he began to think of ways to create and run the product. Finally, he found his two co-founders who kickstarted the innovation of Kickstarter. He was not afraid of the unknown, and he was willing to learn the required technology to build his service. He was a patient learner, and it took them three years for to develop the product. As Kickstarted gradually got popular, Perry Chen and his team continued to reflect and incorporate feedback into improved iterations. Perry Chen then shared his story about how he decided to strengthen the review process for some prototypes because he saw that companies were using the platform to sell their product instead of fundraising. 

Four goals for Project based learning.
  1. How did Perry Chen started to come up with the idea of Kickstarter? Did Perry Chen immediately put his idea into action? What made him hesitated to start his idea? What does he think he is lacking before he moved to New York? (7:00)
  2. When did the idea come back to him? What is the major reason that Perry cannot pursue his idea in New Orleans? What did it show that is important in starting a new idea that a person do not know a lot about? 
  3. Why did the three cofounders persistently work for three years? Why did they like the idea and continued to collaborate on working on the project for so long? Does it show the collaborative value of the group? (16:50)
  4. Why decision did Perry makes towards some companies that make gadgets and prototypes of their new product and use the platform as a selling platform. How do you think it shows the iterative process in this decision? (29:00)
  5. Overall, did the interview of Perry Chen show the four goals of Project-based learning? Give some examples and explain how it helps you in Project-Based Learning?

The definition of an innovative thinker (James Dyson, PBL)

An innovative person does not need to be wealthy; instead, an innovative person is someone who thinks and behave differently from other people. Many innovative people’s projects start with limited or no support from the people around them, but eventually, they will surprise everyone with what they have accomplished. James Dyson, the founder of Dyson, is one of the innovative people. Two of the critical values from his podcast is about resistance and mistakes. When James Dyson starts to create the first generation of the Dyson Vacuum, people think he is crazy because big companies already dominate the market. However, James Dyson does not give up on his project even he has to borrow money to sustain his life. The second value that shows James Dyson is an innovative thinker is how he reflects himself after he makes a mistake. He says that making mistakes is not the end of world; instead it is a great chance to learn from the mistake and improve. Being able to reflect and revise on the mistakes will bring the project into a higher level.

Questions about the podcast

(Time 8:00-9:00)

It is mentioned that after finishing the design, James’s boss also asks James Dyson to do the selling process, a new field for James Dyson. Why is this important for his future startup of his own brand

(Time 18:00-19:00)

As people around him thinks he is stupid to compete with those giant vacuum cleaner companies, what opportunity does James sees that insists him to develop his own vacuum cleaner?

(Time 19:00-20:00)

Why James thinks that being kicked out from his own company is a great thing? And what is the biggest problem he is facing after being kicked out form his own company.

(Time 21:00)

At the start of James’s company, he has to borrow money to support his project. However, these cannot stop him from working on his vacuum cleaner. What is an important characteristic of a good entrepreneur that can be found on his? And how this characteristic will help you in your project base learning?

(Time 37:00-38:00)

When he talks about mistakes, why dose he mention that mistakes are great?

(Time 38:00-40:00)

James Dyson has grown from someone who owns nothing into a billionaire. What separates him from the people around him?

How Important is Optimism in Innovative Work?

I think that this podcast demonstrates great innovative thinking because it uses one of the ingredient of the four instructional goals, and that is collaborative. This podcast uses that because it is the story of how two brothers found their way together to make a business. While they had challenge growing up and had different aspirations in life, in the end they worked together to create a positive company. The brothers optimism is the backbone to their company.

  1. (time: 6;00) What big change made the brothers look at life differently? 
  2. (time; 9:30) Had the brothers thought about getting into business prior? Which brother was into what areas of work?
  3. (time; 11:40) What made them think about starting their business? Any type of influence?
  4. (time; 33:00) How did they come up with some of their pictures? What inspired it?
  5. (time; 37:00) What conditions were they willing to put up with in order to spend less money?

Joe Gebbia’s Airbnb: How he made it work despite all the doubts

Joe Gebbia, co-founder and chief product officer of Airbnb

Every startup faces a fair amount of obstacles and disapproval. However, few can compare to Joe Gebbia’s Airbnb. Called off by one of the biggest names in the fields such as Bill Gates to “not work”, Gebbia turns the disapproval of others to the company’s fuel to make it better. In this podcast, Gebbia also explains the habits which he considers useful to his company, whether entrepreneurship is an inherent trait, and some common advice – all within 17 minutes.


  • (Podcast Time: 5:10) One of the founders mentioned the disapproval of others to be his “fuel” to do something. How has his mindset and attitude affected the creation and development of his company? How does this show the iterative culture of #PennPBL?
  • (Podcast Time 7:00) Here the founder discusses his habit of collecting old proof books from the junkyard, turning them into valuable products, and selling them online. How do you think his habit has contributed to the advances of his company?
  • (Podcast Time 9:10) The founder here gives an advice he has heard during his time doing a startup: “In a startup, don’t die.” Relate this to the events that happened which was mentioned in the podcast. To what extent do you think this statement is true?
  • (Podcast Time 11:00) The founder states that being an entrepreneur is not an “inherent trait,” and it can be learned. Explain your thinking about this statement. Also, he states an experience of his own which shows this quality. How important do you think that quality is in being an entrepreneur?
  • What is the most important, useful, or interesting insight you have gained from this episode of the podcast?