What’s Your Problem?

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Every week on What’s Your Problem, entrepreneurs and engineers talk about the future they’re trying to build – and the problems they have to solve to get there.

How do you take a drone delivery service you’ve built in Rwanda and make it work in North Carolina? How do you convince people to buy a house on the Internet? How do you sell thousands of dog ramps to weiner dogs all across America when a pandemic breaks the global supply chain?

Hosted by former Planet Money host Jacob Goldstein, What’s Your Problem helps listeners understand the problems really smart people are trying to solve right now.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Email us: problem@pushkin.fm

Most Recent Episode

Using Computer Vision to See What Coaches Can’t

Jimmy Buffi is the CEO and co-founder of Reboot Motion, which uses biomechanics to help athletes in Major League Baseball and the NBA. Jimmy's problem is this: How do you…

Scanning Every Muscle to Help Olympians Get Stronger

On the next few episodes of What's Your Problem, Jacob Goldstein is talking with people working at the frontiers of technology to help elite athletes perform better.  Today’s guest is…

Making Blood Vessels in a Factory

Laura Niklason is the co-founder and CEO of Humacyte. Laura's problem is this: How can you use human cells to create blood vessels that surgeons can pull out of a…

Creating the Second Atomic Age

As demand for clean energy grows, engineers around the U.S. are working on a new generation of nuclear reactors. These designs reflect how nuclear energy could fit into the power…

Making Palm Oil Without Palm Trees

Palm oil is a cheap and remarkably versatile vegetable oil. It’s in a ton of products, from food to cosmetics, detergent, and chewing gum. But producing so much palm oil…

Fighting Cancer with CRISPR

Last year, the FDA approved a treatment for sickle cell disease using a revolutionary new gene editing technology called CRISPR. Rachel Haurwitz conducted pioneering research on CRISPR as a graduate…

How to Start 40 Companies (and Counting)

Robert Langer has co-founded dozens of companies, holds over a thousand patents, and is a pioneering figure in drug delivery and tissue engineering. Robert has solved a lot of problems,…

The Cutting Edge of Energy Storage: Rust

Mateo Jaramillo is the co-founder and CEO of Form Energy. Mateo’s problem is this: How do you build batteries that can provide affordable backup power to the grid for days…

The First Pig to Human Kidney Transplant

This March, doctors successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a person for the first time in history. Mike Curtis is the CEO of eGenesis, the company that raised the pig…

Designing a Drone That Delivers

Imagine picking up your phone and ordering something from Walmart. Fifteen minutes later, a drone hovers over your yard, lowers your order down to you, and zips away. Adam Woodworth…

How Do Psychedelics Work?

Psychedelics are going mainstream. The FDA has approved ketamine for certain patients with depression, and may soon approve MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But a fundamental question remains unclear:…

Building Boundary-Breaking Balloons

Kai Marshland is the co-founder and chief product officer at WindBorne Systems. Kai's problem is this: How do you build weather balloons that can stay in the air for months…

Building a Robot That Can Walk the Walk

Jonathan Hurst is a professor at Oregon State University, and co-founder and chief robot officer at Agility Robotics. Jonathan's problem is this: How do you design a robot that can…

Can Your Phone Tell When You’re Getting Sick?

What does sickness sound like? Sometimes it’s obvious, like a cough, sniffle, or stuffy nose. But some conditions cause subtle changes that only a trained ear – or AI –…

The High-Stakes Quest to Reinvent Cement

Cement is, almost literally, everywhere. It is extraordinarily useful, which is why humanity makes 4 billion metric tons of it every year. But cement is also extremely carbon intensive to…

How a Battery-Powered Stove Could Electrify America

Sam D'Amico is the founder and CEO of Impulse Labs, a company that makes induction stoves, with a clever twist. Sam’s problem is this: How do you build an electric…

3D Printing a Better Rocket

Tim Ellis is the co-founder and CEO of Relativity Space, a company with a unique approach to manufacturing rockets. Tim’s problem is this: How can you use 3D printing to…

Using AI to Help Doctors Save Lives

Every year in the U.S., tens of thousands of hospital patients die of preventable causes. For many of these patients, warning signs are subtle and easy for doctors to miss.…

Making Dam Good Hydropower

Gia Schneider is the co-founder and CEO of Natel Energy, a company that is trying to transform the way hydroelectric power works. Gia’s problem is this: how do you draw…

Using AI to Build Better Robots

Peter Chen is the co-founder and CEO of Covariant. Peter’s problem is this: How do you take the AI breakthroughs of the past decade or so, and make them work…

Teaching Computers to See

Fei-Fei Li is a Stanford computer scientist and the former chief scientist of artificial intelligence/machine learning at Google Cloud. When Li entered the field of AI in the 2000s, researchers…

Using Oil-Industry Tech to Create Clean Energy

Tim Latimer is the CEO and co-founder of Fervo Energy, a company that is using a new approach to produce carbon-free geothermal energy. Tim and his company are drawing on…

Understanding Obesity and Alzheimer’s via Epigenomics

Manolis Kellis is a professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He works in computational biology, taking giant datasets relating to genetics and health outcomes and tries…

Reinventing the Restaurant

After working as a chef for decades, Anthony Strong’s dream came true: He opened his own restaurant. His problem was a classic one: Restaurants are bad businesses. So he set…

The Giant Torch That May Help Save the World

Selling hydrogen to make fertilizer is a huge business. It also drives tons of carbon emissions. Rob Hanson, the co-founder and CEO of a company called Monolith is trying to…

Fixing Uber’s Broken Culture

Frances Frei and Anne Morriss are the co-founders of a training and consulting company called The Leadership Consortium. Together they specialize in helping leaders build trust within their companies. They…

Using AI for Creative Work

A few weeks ago, Jacob Goldstein sat down with a writer and a composer on a stage in Chicago to talk about artificial intelligence. The conversation, which was part of…

The Little-Known Office With $400 Billion to Fight Climate Change

Jigar Shah is the director of the Loan Programs Office at the U.S. Department of Energy. Last year, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress allocated hundreds of billions…

How AI Solved a Biological Mystery

Pushmeet Kohli is vice president of research at DeepMind, an AI research group that is part of Google. Every protein has a unique shape. And understanding a protein’s shape is…

Making Oxygen on Mars

Forrest Meyen is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Lunar Outpost, a company that builds machines that go to places like Mars and, if everything goes according to plan,…

The sold-out chips at the heart of AI

Brannin McBee is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at CoreWeave. A few years ago, he and a few friends started buying hardware to mine cryptocurrency. It turns out, the…

Getting Yeast to Make Medicine

Christina Smolke is the co-founder and CEO of Antheia. Antheia is a synthetic biology company -- they’re in the business of genetically engineering microorganisms to produce commercial products. Christina’s problem…

Could a Robot Make Your Salad?

Stephen Klein is the co-founder and CEO of Hyphen, a company that is developing an automated make line. Stephen's problem is this: How do you make restaurant food from fresh…

What the Industrial Revolution Teaches Us About the AI Revolution

Simon Johnson is an MIT economist and the co-author of a new book called “Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle over Technology and Prosperity”. Simon’s problem is this: How do…

Can AI Tutors Help Kids Learn? Khan Academy Thinks So

Sal Khan is the founder and CEO of Khan Academy. Sal’s problem is this: How do you design an AI that can give students the kind of benefits they’d get…

Going to the Doctor Sucks. Can AI Make it Better?

Allon Bloch is the co-founder and CEO of K Health. Allon’s problem is this: Can you use AI to make seeing a doctor easier and more helpful? Today, thousands of…

Spotting Wildfires with AI

Sonia Kastner is the founder and CEO of Pano. Sonia’s problem is this: How do you use data and machine learning to mitigate the damage caused by climate change? Pano…

Is the Era of Free Returns Over?

Amit Sharma is the founder and CEO of Narvar. Narvar works with companies such as Sephora, Lululemon and Home Depot to manage the post-purchase phase of online shopping — tracking, alerts…

Creative Technology at Pixar

Danielle Feinberg is a Visual Effects Supervisor at Pixar Animation Studios. Danielle’s problem is this: How do you optimize technology so that you can spend more time being creative? Danielle…

How To Make AI Safer & More Reliable

Yaron Singer is the founder and CEO of Robust Intelligence. Yaron’s problem is this: How do you reduce AI’s security and reliability risks? Yaron was a computer science professor at…

Quantum Computers Could Change Everything

Chris Monroe is the co-founder and chief scientist of IonQ. Chris’s problem is this: How do you build a quantum computer that will actually work? Quantum computing has the potential…

Predicting Human Health with AI

Charles Fisher is the co-founder and CEO of Unlearn AI. Charles’ problem is this: How do you build an AI model that can predict human health? Charles and his colleagues…

Breastfeeding, Black Market Baby Formula, and Bobbie

Laura Modi is the founder and CEO of Bobbie, a company that makes baby formula and sells it directly to parents. Laura’s problem is this: how do you launch a…

Making Immigration Cheaper & Easier

Xiao Wang is the founder of a company called Boundless. Xiao’s problem is this: How do you make it cheaper and easier for people to navigate the U.S. immigration system?…

The Wind Power Pioneer Still Pushing the Frontier

Henrik Stiesdal got his start in wind power back in the '70s. The price of oil had gone way up, and he wanted to help his parents figure out a…

The Mystery at the Heart of ChatGPT

One of the most amazing things about ChatGPT and other, similar AI models: Nobody really understands what they can do. Not even the people who build them. On today’s show,…

Scrubbing Carbon from the Air

Dan Friedmann is the CEO of Carbon Engineering. The company is at the frontier of a new industry, direct air capture. They just broke ground on a big plant in…

Building a Plane to Help Save the World

Does flying have to be bad for the environment? Val Miftakhov, the founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, doesn’t think so. His company built a plane that’s powered by hydrogen fuel,…

The AI that Might Take My Job (And Yours)

Andrew Mason is the founder and CEO of Descript. Descript's software has made editing audio and video much simpler. The company recently received a large investment from OpenAI, the company…

The Hottest Thing In Energy Storage

Andrew Ponec is co-founder and CEO of the energy storage company Antora Energy. Andrew's problem is this: How can you store renewable energy in a way that is cheap enough…

Using Bacteria to Dye Jeans

Tammy Hsu and Michelle Zhu are the cofounders of Huue. Their problem is this: how do you get bacteria to produce indigo dye? And how do you do it cheaply…

The Quest for the Factory-Built House

Today's show is about a problem people have been trying to solve for a hundred years: how can we mass produce houses, like we do cars? Listen for a house…

Building Houses Like Tesla Builds Cars

Alexis Rivas is the co-founder and CEO of Cover. His problem is: How do you build houses in a factory, the way you build cars? And how do you do…

Human Bones, Made In the Lab

Nina Tandon is the co-founder and CEO of a tissue engineering company called EpiBone. Her problem is this: How do you grow custom bone from patients' stem cells, at a price…

Tiny Chips, Giant Stakes

Microchips are the most important driver of technological progress in the modern world, and governments are fighting over who gets to make them. Right now, most cutting-edge chips are made…

Problems Solved: Drones, Bananas and Real Estate*

It's our first anniversary and—almost 50 episodes in—Jacob Goldstein checks in with three past guests. Drone delivery guy Keenan Wyrobek thinks he has solved a big problem holding back commercial…

Faster, Cheaper Drugs with AI

Alice Zhang is the co-founder and CEO of Verge Genomics. Alice's problem is this: How do you use artificial intelligence to drive down the price of developing new drugs? The…

Creating the Uncrashable Car

When Austin Russell was 17 years old, he founded Luminar Technologies to work on a remote sensing technology called Lidar. Today, Austin is one of the world's youngest self-made billionaires,…

The Electric Truck that Went Viral on TikTok

Chace Barber is the co-founder of Edison Motors. Chace's problem is this: How do you build electric logging trucks in rural Canada, with money you raised from people who follow…

Running in Recycled Shoes

Caspar Coppetti is the co-founder of On, a company that makes athletic shoes. Caspar's problem is this: How can you sell tens of millions of shoes a year -- and…

Turning Garbage Into Food

Matt Rogers is the co-founder of Mill. Matt's problem is this: How do you turn garbage into food? Before Mill, Matt co-founded Nest, a smart thermostat company. Now, he wants…

The Fake-Meat Frontier

Jacob Goldstein co-hosts today's show with Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful. Jacob and Dan eat their way through the history of fake meat -- from Gardenburger hockey pucks, to…

From Impossible Burgers to Fake Steak

Pat Brown is the founder of Impossible Foods. Pat's problem is this: How can you make meat without animals? Pat's goal isn't to make better burgers for vegetarians; he wants…

Small Pizza Shops Want a Bigger Slice

Ilir Sela is the co-founder and CEO of Slice. His problem: How do you bring the technological revolution to thousands of tiny mom and pop pizza shops? Most local pizza…

Turning Waves Into Electricity

You can see the power of the ocean in every wave, but the complex churm and swirl of the surf has made it difficult to translate that movement into something…

Flying on Battery Power

Anders Forslund is the co-founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace. Anders' problem is this: How do you build a commercial airplane that can fly on battery power -- and win…

Bringing Back the American Hoodie

Bayard Winthrop is the founder and CEO of American Giant. Bayard's problem is this: How do you make clothes in America — and compete in a global economy? Today's show…

How to Save the Most Lives

Farzad Mostashari is the co-founder and CEO of Aledade. Farzad's problem is this: How can we pay doctors to keep us healthy, rather than treating us after we get sick?…

The Investors Everybody Ignored

Sallie Krawcheck is the founder and CEO of Ellevest, an investment firm for women that has over $1 billion in assets under management. In her career in finance, Sallie was…

Sam Bankman-Fried Revisited

In May of this year, we interviewed Sam Bankman-Fried, the young billionaire philanthropist who started the crypto exchange FTX. Last week, in a matter of a few days, FTX collapsed…

Machiavelli’s Tips for Getting Ahead at Work

Stacey Vanek Smith is the author of Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace. Her problem is this: How do women get ahead in…

Google’s Journey to the Edge of Search

Cathy Edwards is vice president and GM of Search at Google. Cathy's problem is this: how do you teach computers to tell people what they want to know, even if…

Paying People to Turn Off the Fridge

Matt Duesterberg is co-founder and president of OhmConnect. Matt's problem: How do you build a business around getting people to save energy? Not all that much. And not all the…

Turning Writers into Publishers

Chris Best is co-founder and CEO of Substack. Chris's problem: How do you help writers make a living from a thousand true fans? Substack is a company that helps writers…

Shopify: The Business That Helps Build Businesses

Harley Finkelstein is the president of Shopify. He may love entrepreneurship more than anyone we've ever met. Harley’s problem: How do you aggregate the power of millions of small businesses…

Putting Carbon Back Into the Ground

Shaun Kinetic is co-founder and chief scientist of Charm Industrial. Shaun’s problem: How do you put billions of tons of carbon back into the ground? Charm Industrial is fighting climate…

Patching Together a Quilting Empire

Al Doan is the executive chairman of the Missouri Star Quilt company. Al's problem is this: How do you combine low tech and high tech to turn a niche hobby…

Revealing How Much Health Care Really Costs

Chris Severn is the co-founder and CEO of Turquoise Health. Chris's problem is this: How do you figure out the real price trip of a trip to the hospital --…

Saving the World with Poop

Mariana Matus is co-founder and CEO of Biobot Analytics. Her problem: How do you turn sewage into useful public health data? When she and her co-founder launched the company, wastewater…

Building an Empire on Free Code

Matt Mullenweg co-created WordPress, the open-source software that powers more than 40% of all the websites in the world. He's also the founder of a for-profit company called Automattic. Matt's…

Selling Billions of Crickets a Year

Mohammed Ashour is the co-founder and CEO of Aspire Food Group. The company just built the biggest cricket factory in the history of the world. His problem: How do you…

How the Nerds Conquered the NBA

Rajiv Maheswaran is the co-founder and president of Second Spectrum. Rajiv and his company figured out how to turn raw sports data into useful information for coaches. Today, the company…

The Trick to Flying Cheap

David Neeleman has founded five airlines, including JetBlue. He recently launched a new airline, called Breeze. His problem: How do you use technology to bring down the cost of airfares?…

Beer Without the Buzz

Bill Shufelt is the founder and CEO of Athletic Brewing Company. His problem: How do you turn non-alcoholic beer from a punchline into something people drink all the time?

John Green Tests the Limits of YouTube

John Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars and six other novels. He also co-founded a company that makes educational videos that have been viewed billions of…

Taking Bets on the Future

Luana Lopes Lara is the co-founder of Kalshi, an exchange that lets ordinary people bet on everything from the path of inflation to what bills Congress will pass by the…

Building Bespoke Weather Forecasts

Shimon Elkabetz is the founder and CEO of Tomorrow.io. His problem: How do you build a weather forecasting company from scratch? The company already sells weather intelligence to companies like…

Squeezing the Entire Internet Into a Shoebox

Emily Leproust is the co-founder and CEO of Twist Bioscience. Her problem: How do you store data in DNA -- and make it cheap enough to work in the real…

Facing Fear in the Housing Market

Glenn Kelman is the CEO of the real estate company Redfin. His problem: With the housing market teetering, how do you sell houses online? Redfin has a website where you…

Going to Venus on the Cheap

Peter Beck is the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. His problem: How do you turn sending stuff into outer space into something that seems as boring and predictable as…

Sam Bankman-Fried Wants to Save the World

Sam Bankman-Fried is the founder and CEO of the crypto exchange FTX. His problem: How to spend billions of dollars to save humanity. Sam is one of the most interesting…

The Quest for the Perfect Avocado

Katherine Sizov is the founder and CEO of Strella Biotech. Her problem: Tons of food is wasted before it ever gets to the consumer. Katherine started working on this problem…

Making Electronics Better

Anna Katrina Shedletsky is co-founder and CEO of Instrumental. Her problem: How do you make electronics manufacturing more efficient and less wasteful? Anna started her career as a design engineer…

Turning Cells into Tiny Factories

Reshma Shetty is co-founder and chief operations officer of Ginkgo Bioworks. Her problem: How do you turn cutting-edge science into a sustainable business? Ginkgo is a synthetic biology company. The…

Seeing Data From Space

Will Marshall is the co-founder and CEO of Planet, a private company with a fleet of tiny satellites that takes photos of the entire Earth every day. Will’s problem: How…

Growing a Weed Business

Joy and Raft Hollingsworth run The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company. Their problem: How do you help more Black people get into the legal weed industry?They faced this problem from the very…

Building a Company that Builds Companies

Noubar Afeyan is the co-founder of Moderna and the founder of Flagship Pioneering. His problem: How do you turn the chaotic hero’s journey of entrepreneurship into a repeatable, systematic process?Noubar…

Delivering Everything Right Now

Rafael Ilishayev is the co-founder of the instant delivery company Gopuff. His problem: How do you deliver everything from bananas to hot coffee in around 30 minutes — and still…

Chatting with the Machine

Luis von Ahn is the founder and CEO of the language app Duolingo. His problem: How do you teach people to speak a language -- really speak it -- using…

Teaching Cars to Think Like People

Aicha Evans is the CEO of Zoox. Her problem: Designing a car that knows what to do when it pulls up to a 4-way stop.AI is transforming the way cars…

Launching Drone Delivery

Keenan Wyrobek is the co-founder of Zipline. His problem: How do you fill the skies with delivery drones and keep them from crashing into each other?Zipline’s drones already make hundreds…

Becoming a Dog Ramp Mogul

Ramon van Meer is the CEO of Alpha Paw. His problem: How do you grow a niche business (ramps for weiner dogs!) when a pandemic blows up your supply chain…

Introducing What’s Your Problem

Former Planet Money host Jacob Goldstein talks to entrepreneurs and engineers about how they’ll change the world -- once they solve a few problems. Coming March 17th.

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