Folk Stories

Stories from Awesome People

Hosted by: Kevin S Lin

10: Getting Off the Couch with Mike Grabham

December 3rd, 2018 (69 minutes)

Mike Grabham is a serial entrepreneur who has founded six companies over the past twenty five years. He currently consults would be founders who are interested in launching either software or hardware based products and services. Mike is also the founder of "Package Guard", a company based around a patented product that protects items left out after delivery.

In addition to all this, Mike also runs a non-profit with his wife called "Survive the Streets" which helps the homeless in Seattle. Every year, they organize an annual event on thanksgiving where they give away duffel bags filled with coats, fleece jackets and other equipment to help people stay save and warm over the winter months.

When not engaged in the aforementioned activities, Mike is an active member of Seattle's start up community. He currently serves as chapter director for Startup Grind, the world's largest independent community for founders, in both Seattle and Bellevue.

In today's episode, we talk about Mike's history and the lessons and challenges absorbed from founding six startups, Mike's most common advice to founders and Mike's philosophy of getting off the couch and why that can make all the difference.


  • brief history of Mike's career
  • Mike's start to entrepreneurship
  • mistakes and lessons learned
  • consulting and decision to do it
  • most common advice for startups
  • how to reach customers and what questions to ask
  • figuring out the price for something that's never been sold
  • characteristics of good startup founders
  • startup grind and what has changed
  • doing a startup in Seattle vs the bay area
  • survive the streets and helping the homeless
  • comments on having a public email address
  • setting goals

Closing Questions

  • inspiration:
    • homeless lady that came up and told the story of how an organization like "Survive the Streets" helped them get off the street and thanked Mike for his service
  • surprising fact
    • despite drawing energy from crowds, Mike likes spending time by himself and will sometimes put on headphones to avoid conversation
  • principles:
    • helping others
  • closing notes:
    • story of package guard, Mike's current for profit company, came about because someone stole bag of coats delivered to his house which was meant for his non-profit

Contact and Details

9: Telling Stories with Paul Currington

November 19th, 2018 (93 minutes)

Paul Currington runs the Fresh Ground Stories(FGS) meetup in Seattle. If you're not familiar with FGS, its a meetup that comes together ones a month to share personal stories (based off "The Moth"). Every month, there's a theme and people tell stories based on that theme. Anyone can go up on stage and tell a story, provided that they are true, personal and under 8 minutes.

8: Not Living on Automatic with HB Siegel

November 12th, 2018 (73 minutes)

H.B. Siegel is Prime Minister of Ideas at Amazon and also one of a very select group of people who have been at Amazon now for almost two decades. In that time, H.B. has been the Director of Media Technologies, the CTO of IMDB (an Amazon subsidiary), and helped launch the "search inside the book" feature for Kindle.

7: Running the Distance with Evan Williams

November 5th, 2018 (83 minutes)

Evan Williams is a man of many miles and talents. He has degrees in both physics and biomechanical engineering and for his day job, Evan works as a design engineer at MSR (Mounstain Safety Research), a firm which designs and manufactures high performance gear for the outdoors.

6: Hands on Learning with Sarah Smith

October 15th, 2018 (70 minutes)

Sometimes I have days when I wake up and think of everything wrong with the world (this is fun - I encourage you to try it sometime). Sometimes, this can feel overwhelming with all the problems going on - climate change, nuclear weapon proliferation, extreme social inequality, etc. Sometimes, it's hard to know where to start. And as a consequence, I do nothing about any of it.

5: Love, Math and Design with Janet Galore

October 8th, 2018 (78 minutes)

My guest today is Janet Galore, Creative Director of Amazon's Retail Experience Concept Lab. The Concept Lab is a department that looks 3-5 years ahead and explores potential retail experiences that could be possible in that time.

4: Celebrating the Century with Hallie Kupperman

October 1st, 2018 (73 minutes)

Before introducing today's guest, I like to setup a bit of context. Within the last two years, I wanted to get out of my regular circles and do something that didn't involve technology (for people unfamiliar, my day job is a software engineer at Amazon). I ended up picking up salsa dancing - little did I know that this decision would lead to some of the most significant relationships that I have today.

3: Taking No Shortcuts with Colm MacCárthaigh

September 24th, 2018 (67 minutes)

Colm MacCárthaigh is a Principal Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides on demand cloud computing services to individuals, companies and governments around the world.

2: Just Playing with Jay Hitt

September 17th, 2018 (69 minutes)

Jay Hitt is a cast member and Managing Director of the Unexpected Productions (UP) Theater. UP is Seattle's longest running Improv Theater and Jay has been there for two of the plus three decades that its been around.

1: Directing the Narrative with Johan Liedgren

September 10th, 2018 (76 minutes)

Johan Liedgren is an award winning film director, consultant and investor/advisor/CEO of over 15 ventures. His clients include major brands like Amazon, Nike and Warner Brothers.