Small Business War Stories

Small Business War Stories was a weekly show recorded in person with small business owners. The show released over 150 episodes spanning three years and over 15,000 miles. We discussed different topics and get the triumphs, struggles, and funny stories from our guests' everyday lives. Hosted by Pablo Fuentes, an entrepreneur and musician based in Austin, Texas.
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Nov 21, 2019

Michael Slotboom is doing things on his terms.

He was on track to run the machine shop at the University of Texas, but he discovered he really wanted to make custom guitar parts.

So he talked to his wife and they invested their savings into starting a specialized shop.

Fifteen years later, his parts are sought the world over, and you can see them on stage when you see many of your favorite artists.


Nov 15, 2019

Erin O'Keefe is the kind of woman that sees a vision and makes it happen.

She learned about what makes a great recording studio...and then built one!

What amazing artists is she recording these days? How do you even build a studio? What is the future of the music business?

All of this and more in today's show.

You can learn more about Firefly Austin Studio at <a href=""></a>

Nov 7, 2019

Grace Reyer and Big Henry's Vinyl and Gifts are at the epicenter of Austin music and culture.

How did Grace and up with her dream job?

What's the importance of self-care when managing a small business?

All of this and more in today's episode.

You can learn more about Big Henry's at <a href=""></a>

Oct 30, 2019

Bubba O'Keefe has the spirit of the Mississippi Delta running through his veins.

What stories does he have to tell about the Crossroads?

Why is Clarksdale a great place to visit and/or start a business? And what are the kinds of people who succeed here?

Bubba has seen it all...and he shares his stories on today's episode.

You can learn more about Bubba and the Clarksdale, Mississippi at <a href=""></a>



Oct 24, 2019

Clarksdale, Mississippi is home to the world-famous Crossroads...where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar chops.

Why did Robert and Lucy decide to start a hostel in Clarksdale after succeeding with their property in New Orleans?

What interesting stories live within the four walls of the Auberge?

All of this and more in today's episode.

You can learn more about Robert and the Auberge Hostel at <a href=""></a>

Oct 17, 2019

And...this week we wrap up the amazing story of Alligator Records.

There's even more music in this episode, courtesy of Bruce and Alligator.

We also cover the most harrowing and dramatic story we have heard on the podcast to date, involving a train derailment, tragedy, and redemption.


Oct 10, 2019

So many firsts in this episode!

First time we have had music in the podcast.

First time the conversation was so good and so long that we had to break it up into two episodes.

How did Bruce get started as a record executive?

Why did he give Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys a guitar? 

What does Bruce think about the future of the music business?

All of this in this week's episode.

Don't forget to tune in next week for Part 2 to hear about how Bruce helped save a band from dying in a derailed train.

You can learn more about Bruce and his label and buy all the music in this episode at

Oct 3, 2019

Todd Sanders always knew he wanted to be an artist.

He get into making neon signs, and he developed a clientele of businesses who sought him for commercial signs.

But Todd wanted more...he wanted to make fine art with neon. He was committed. So committed that at one point he slept in a trailer in a field with no electricity.

He gritted his way forward, to where today he has an iconic shop in South Austin and his art is displayed the world over.

Todd shares his story in today's episode...including the story of the largest piece he has ever sold, a set of three luchador masks with the colors of the Mexican flag.


You can find Todd's work at

Sep 25, 2019

Lance Herrington found himself in a tough place when Houston, in his words, collapsed in the 1980s, and he was out of a job.

He picked himself up by the bootstraps, and together with his wife Pam, they started a business restoring and selling Ford Thunderbirds out of his garage.

Fast forward to today, and the Herringtons have a successful classic car business in La Grange, Texas, on a prime piece of real estate on the highway that connects Austin and Houston. 

We cover Lance's amazing journey, classic cars in general, and hear about the time Lance flew to pick up a car with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

You can find Timeless Texas Classics at

Sep 19, 2019

Britton was unsure he wanted to continue his job in digital media. And then came his biggest blessing in disguise: he was laid off.

He started making cutting boards as a way to make money over the holidays, and that slowly evolved to him crafting beautiful custom wood furniture, cabinets, and more.

How was Britton's family crucial to his transition? How did he handle the fear and anxiety that came with making a leap into the unknown?

All of this and more in today's episode.

You can find Britton's work at

We also reference two past episodes where we spoke with Michael Dalle Molle and Jordan Gurren of GoodWood Nola, those episodes can be found here:





Sep 12, 2019

DaVon Walker wanted to see positive, sleek, motivational clothing designs, and no matter how hard he looked, he could not find what he had in mind.

So he did what entrepreneurs do...he made the clothes himself!

We meet DaVon two years into his journey. We talk about his inspiration, his designs, and how he gets it all done.

Sep 5, 2019

Michael and Kathy Dumont made a big bet by moving from New England to Tennessee.

They bet that they could buy and revitalize a historic hotel in a small Tennessee town.

What happened after The Commodore Hotel opened? How many businesses now surround it? What are the rewards and challenges of revitalizing a historic property?

All of this and more in today's episode.

Aug 29, 2019

Walter Carter and his wife Christie spent decades working in the vintage guitar business...and they had a vision.

It was a vision of a guitar store where kids and internationally-renowned musicians alike could feel comfortable playing and appreciating collectible stringed instruments.

The business has grown rapidly, and in a short seven years, Carter Vintage Guitars has become a destination for musicians and fans of vintage instruments worldwide.

We dug into Walter's philosophy, the pros and cons of a physical store in a digital world, Carter's social media and video strategy, and more!

Aug 21, 2019

Amy Dee got to Nashville and could not find what she wanted: A no-frills spot with a vintage vibe to listen to great country and blues music. 

So she used all of her experience working in bars in New York City and all over the land to create Dee's Country Cocktail Lounge.

She currently works with Daniel Walker, a great musician who is in charge of booking great acts for the venue, and what was a dream is now a reality.

Dee's Lounge has an amazing vibe that is hard to pout into words...although we try our hardest in today's episode.

Aug 15, 2019

Lindsey Hein is the awesome host of "I'll Have Another with Lindsey Hein, a successful podcast about running.

We talk about what it takes to make it as a podcaster, but her lessons are applicable to all creators, small businesses, and fans of good stories in general.

Aug 8, 2019

David Miller has decades of experience coaching small businesses, and he has seen a LOT.

Today's episode is like sitting down with will get decades of experience in under an hour....and you'll want to have a notepad!

How do you make something the market wants? What exactly is luck? How can you maximize your chances of getting lucky?

If you are serious about learning about how to run a small won't want to miss this episode.


Jul 31, 2019

What, exactly, is an HBIC? I didn't know until I met Stacy Ward Lattin, THE HBIC at Hopping Gnome.

What are Stacy and her husband doing right in the increasingly exciting Wichita scene?

What is Stacy's podcast about, and what else is she doing to inspire women entrepreneurs?

All of this and more in today's show.

Jul 24, 2019

How did a small cafe in a strip mall in Nashville become a mecca for songwriters?

What happened that changed the fortunes of the Bluebird from barely surviving to thriving? (hint: it was a major TV show).

Which major celebrities let their hair down and come hang out and trade songs here?

All of this and more in today's episode!


Jul 17, 2019

Julia Miller is a badass woman. Together with her partner Elbio, Julia is carrying forward the legacy of Delmark Records, an iconic Chicago label.

What are the challenges of being a record label in the 21st century?

What are Julia's plans to build upon the success of Delmark?

All of this and more in today's episode.

Jul 10, 2019

What inspired Peter to start a fitness equipment business?

What are the books that Peter reads and the actions that Peter takes to help him discover his own blind spots?

How did Peter overcome a painful change in his business involving a family member?

All of this and more in today's show.

Jul 3, 2019

What was Brian's journey to become a successful artist?

How did he end up selling his pieces at Willie Nelson's ranch?

How does Brian make sure he has something to offer to people with any level of budget?

All of this and more in today's episode!

Jun 26, 2019

What makes Silas Pollitt want to uproot everything and move every few years?

What are the differences between working at high-end restaurants and starting your own pizza restaurant in a town of 5,000 people in Northern Vermont?

What is it about the restaurant industry that attracts "misfits, pirates, and marauders" who tend to struggle with mental health issues?

All of this, jiu-jitsu, mushroom foraging, and more in today's episode.

Jun 19, 2019

Chicago Music Exchange has become an institution and a destination for guitar fans visiting The Windy City.

How did CME get here? How is the store surviving and thriving in an era where more and more people are buying instruments online?

What happens when an expensive guitar breaks?

Who are the celebrities who frequent CME?

Does CME really have a guitar in the store that is priced at over $250,000?

Great stories and plenty of laughs in today's episode!

Jun 13, 2019

Wow! We recorded an episode in the same room where Etta James recorded At Last...a new high for the show!

What is Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation?

Why did the Rolling Stones record their iconic record 12 x 5 in this room?

What kind of ghosts are in the building that housed Chess Records?

All of this and more in today's episode!

Jun 6, 2019

I finally got to interview a food truck owner!

And what a show it much gold in this one.

Why leave your well-paying job to start a food truck?

What makes is worthwhile? What are pitfalls to watch for?

This and more in today's episode.

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