The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Or listen using the plugin below:
“Be courageous. It gets really scary. I think when you go out on your own as an entrepreneur kind of navigating the world on your own without the help of a huge corporation behind you, or a big team behind you. so what I would say is sometimes you start to question yourself like am i doing the right thing? Am I going to be able to sustain this business? When you get to the point in your mind I think it's important to remind yourself of why you’re doing it, why you're passionate about it, and to find a way to inspire yourself to keep going.”
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
ai generated transcription
uh be courageous um it gets really scary i think when you go out on your own as an entrepreneur um kind of navigating the world uh on your own without the you know help of a huge corporation behind you or a big team behind you and so uh what i would say is sometimes it's uh you start to question yourself like am i doing the right thing am i you know gonna be able to sustain this business um and when you get to that point in your mind i think it's important to remind yourself of why you're doing it you're passionate about why you're passionate about it and to find a way to inspire yourself to keep going [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i am your uh host evan miller i'm the serial entrepreneur uh that also uh founded miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks uh talk to another journey and fun journey of a great uh guest on the show champion i like the name champion or the at least the nick dave not sure um so champion is a the founder and ceo of lava lytics i think you've also been on forbes 30 under 30 with social entrepreneurship and i think right now you said you're right and you're in hawaii which is a fun place to be so uh welcome to the podcast yeah thanks for having me devin it's a pleasure to be here well great why don't we we uh we'll start with your journey and you can uh dive in a bit and tell us your journey and we'll uh go from there yeah sure um so my inventor's journey um sadly enough actually began with a heartache i should say i um well first of all i started off in the entertainment industry i had a company called participant media where i worked on films basically that had a social impact and tried to create change in the world my journey actually was in that creative space and i've tried to kind of um live in that creative space ever since then so i did some consulting for the world bank in digital strategy and communications but i really found my niche in the advertising industry and the creative side of the industry so i'm going to stop right there just be so you said it started with heartache are you going to get to the heartache or the harvard i'm going to get to the heartache for sure i wanted to make sure you kind of give that intro that i didn't hear i was keep waiting for the heartache of the heartbreak to happen i'll let you keep going but just wanted to make sure we get there yeah yeah no this is this is not the heartache part yet but definitely it's a valid lesson for all inventors um but yeah so i went into the creative industry i worked as a digital strategist um for uh really some really cool advertising agencies uh in new york city in los angeles um and really all over the place and then i kind of went off on my own and started developing my own tools and systems and stuff and that's where the heartache came in um basically about three or four years back i um designed a new technology platform uh which uh started off fantastic started off great i um did the the build for it developed it over the course of about a year with some developers and friends of mine and got approached by a vc firm and the vc firm basically stole the idea ran with it there was um there was uh uh no um uh communication about what they were gonna use it for and all that stuff but it seems like i got a guess come on in no problem looks like you got a full house yeah no worries um so yeah the vc firm basically ran with the idea themselves and there was nothing i could do about it uh tried litigating all that stuff you being a lawyer you know how that goes um completely inexpensive right exactly exactly i learned very quickly um the need to patent your ideas um because that's how you can protect them the best and you know it's really what our economy was built on is uh idea patenting and so uh that's when i jumped into the world of uh patenting so backing up there just a little bit so that gives us a very it without throwing butt out and not getting into the name of the vc that was the vc firm by the way they were they're not trying to figure out what's going on knocking down your door to get your next great idea right exactly yeah so we're gonna dive into that just a little bit so was that the first interaction you had with the it was back so did you pitch to a whole bunch of vc firms was it the first one had you gone through it was the first interaction or how did that go so were you kind of new to it and they took advantage of it or just trusted too much or how did that go you know what it was actually one of those things where they approached me and you know kind of offered uh to help develop the product and you know i i was experienced by that point i was on to my maybe second company uh but yeah i think uh the way that they made the approach i was perhaps overly trusting um and uh you know they kind of lied and just uh but as you know that happens all the time and so exactly immediately after that i decided you know in order to protect myself i got to get everything patented i got everything trademarked copywritten and all that which i had known before but you know sometimes you uh you get blindsided so fair enough so how did you or what made you how did you as you got into that process said okay i've at least learned lesson of hard knocks go through the heart break see the idea taken and say okay i'm going to pick myself back up you're going to get into the patents because i hope you know that obviously i'm a little bit biased in that direction but before i dive into that so picking yourself back up and saying okay i'm going to have to come up with a new idea try the litigation route tried to go you know get it back and didn't work out how did you pick yourself up or how did you decide okay i'm moving on and this is now what i'm gonna do yeah that's a great question i think uh first um you know you go through the the five phases of grief and you wonder how it's possible for those those types of things to happen in today's world but then you you kind of look at the marketplace and you say well i can keep going with my product let's do it my way and so that's what i did you know the company is still up and running the product itself still has its own legs um it's the space is just a little bit more crowded but you know that's the nature of competition um so but the way that i kind of focus on new innovations and things like that is always try to look at the market with a fresh eye and if something exists on the marketplace already then it's probably not worth kind of stepping into but be a first mover that's great if not um you know just uh find your niche i would say okay so you you pick yourself up you decide okay learn my lesson i'm gonna make sure to get these things patented which i always recommend you gotta brush it off yeah yeah and so then you do that you pick yourself up and say okay i've learned my lessons as far as the patents which i know i come from a biased bias position so but i always recommend uh patents and trademarks and so but with that you picked yourself up said i'm gonna do my next next great thing or i'm gonna build on it and i'm gonna keep going brush myself off so then kind of where did the journey take you from there yeah it actually took me to some pretty fantastic places um perhaps even better places than than when i started prior what i learned to do was kind of break my thoughts or ideas into three different categories essentially basically um future technology things that don't exist today that would be awesome to have in the marketplace that you don't see anywhere that are kind of very easily patented because they're quite clearly your idea because they just don't exist yet and then the second category or the second tier for me is um design uh human-centered designed approaches where you're inspired by a product or something that's that's uh been on the market for a long time but you want to design it in a better way and so i go after you design patent where i think i can maybe do a design that's creatively approached or different has a different approach than what's on the market and then the third tier for me is really products that are market ready that are unique and ready to go to market and those are i think the most fun because you get to not only develop the innovation or the product itself but also in the patent itself but also the brand and the company and that's really what i love to do okay so does that does that lead us to law of analytics is that we're kind of after you did all of that then you went to law of lytics is that is that the next that's correct yeah so analytics started doing uh software architecture basically with focus on um you know there was this uh experience that i had in the industry where there were um a ton of tools on the market but none of them really were user friendly and none of them really had longevity and so i looked at the marketplace for market intelligence and and analytics and i said to myself i think i can probably build a better product so that's what i set out to do and so lobolytics is a creative uh technology studio uh we take the studio approach where we don't just do one product or two products uh we look at what's missing from the marketplace um and then we try to use creative technology to build things around that empty space so to speak um so it's combining multiple different technologies multiple different coding languages design approaches to formulate a robust product um and so i've been working with lava lytics for the past few years now and one of the inventions that came out of that is what i call the diamond etl which is essentially a completely new way to do data transformation and big data analytics which is i think incredibly helpful because over 75 percent of big data projects currently fail mostly at the enterprise level because of how the software is designed and so being able to approach that problem and tackle it from a design perspective and then patent on top of it was super cool so so it sounds like a far to reflect back law of athletics kind of takes almost a multi-user or group think approach or at least collaborative approach and then you identify kind of maybe niches in the marketplace or things that are not either not done well or that aren't done at all and then you take that approach in order to uh select your innovation and to take it to the marketplace and take that kind of that collaborative approach is that a fair summary yeah i think um uh collaboration is a good word what i like to call it is open innovation um it's really it's about uh bringing disparate ideas together it could be an idea from a completely adjacent market uh that you're bringing into another market and then developing a new product around that it could be something that's completely disruptive to the industry itself and you know will kind of challenge the incumbents to do their business completely different uh something that i'm working on right now that i'm super excited about actually just launched yesterday is um uh it's called cannoli rolling papers and it's basically uh the 3m of rolling papers the new way to to uh to roll [Music] with whatever product you're using you can roll it with one hand it's uh adhesive so you sprinkle the product on it um basically that developed out of the idea i was watching my friend roll one day and he was just doing horribly um there's no way to to get everything to stay compact it was like it was just falling all over the place he was looting losing product and so i thought how would 3m uh the company approach this this market um and that's how cannoli rolling papers was born um and it's just a really simple way to roll and things like that so um yeah that's an example of a product that's market ready uh it's got a great brand behind it and uh the idea is to actually improve uh the experience for consumers that's really what i put first with all my product development is how can this improve the consumer experience first and foremost essentially or customer experience first and foremost all right no that's insightful and makes sense so i'm going to slightly change topics why not too much so i did have a kind of a tangential question that i thought i would ask if there's a good spot for it so if i uh forge 30 under 30 is there i've always i've never checked into it enough other than i've wondered but i've never looked at it is there only 30 that are under the 30 or is it different categories or how does forbes 30 under 30 works and how did you get into that or how did you get selected for that yeah sure um yeah i i think they they select 30 for each category if i'm not mistaken um i i ended up in uh the year that i made the list was 2014 so it was a few years back now um but the it was a new category at the time social entrepreneurship uh the focus is completely different from uh the rest of the categories it's really a focus on social impact um social change um and how can you make the world a better place but better place through business and innovation um so i was super honored to to be on that list the way that i made the list was i was nominated by two people who were judges um and then my my mentor jeff skull the founder of one of the founders of ebay and now the founder of participant media actually nominated me because we worked together and he was really proud of the work that i was doing in the social impact space in terms of um improving the lives of young people of color and and helping them in the policy making space and so he recommended me for the list and i got voted in so i made it and it was great it's one of the most incredible experiences actually you go to these conferences you've got you know maybe 500 people who have made the list that year for different categories music entertainment uh social impact whatever it is and you guys just kind of hang out and you get to kind of uh exchange ideas and keep people in your network and you build an incredible network after you make the list and after you attend one of those conferences your production and your speed of um work goes tenfold basically things just start moving and you know you're making deals left and right you're communicating with people about different products left and right and it's all about deal flow it's all about you know how can we build something incredible and so i i really appreciate it for that reason i got to see peter thiel talk a little bit about his book zero to one which is um something that i think is fantastic his approach to uh how to start a company how to launch a product uh is incredibly um incredibly helpful i think for all entrepreneurs and after i read it it was actually i after the conference i went to peru for vacation i was reading his book and i just had all these ideas for new companies that i wanted to do new products i wanted to do so it's an incredibly inspiring process and i highly recommend it for everybody all right well i'm already over 30 so i i can't i i already just fall by myself but maybe i'll get the uh 40 under 40 or something of that yeah you can still make it under 40 50 and 16. i think they they make a new list every year so it's actually quite fun to keep up with them never too late um so okay so going back from that one so now i'll drag it back i dragged you off topic it'll drag you back on the top or back on topic so you started lava linux i think around 2016. um he's that's going for i guess now what about three and a half years or so um so how has the how has that gone as far as you started that and that's kind of been your main focus and your passion i know you've done a few other things with guest lecturing and whatnot but if you go to law politics how has that journey been hasn't been all straight up hill have been perfect has it been bumpy up and downs how have you you know decided on your product launched them major millions everything's crashed and burned or how did it all work out well i think as you know as an entrepreneur it's never a straightforward road no matter how hard you try no matter how many times you've you've successfully launched a company or a product it gets harder and harder i think as you go especially because um your expectations of yourself get higher and higher um but with lava lytics i'm happy to say it's been pretty smooth going i would say um for the most part uh because we are because of our structure as a creative design creative technology studio we get to focus on a number of products and at the same time consulting for various companies so it's it's a product development studio and a consulting studio all in one so when i get tired of working on a product that i'm developing i get to you know jump over to my clients and help them with their businesses help them improve their markets for instance right now i'm doing some consulting in hawaii for the hemp industry and a bunch of hemp growers out here and it's just such a cool market right now there's so many there's so much potential for growth in the market in the industry um from a product standpoint the products are designed with customers in mind with making their improving their health improving their fitness and so everything is in alignment with what i set out to do with um with my own products and so that's been a lot of fun and i can tell you that that market that industry is only going uphill from here as more and more states pass new legislation legalizing and improving the um the regulations for for uh for growers and stuff so that's super cool i get to put my farmer's hat on a little bit as you can see it's almost as good as the miller ip law baseball cap almost but not almost as good not quite there yes that would i set a pretty high bar so i don't know that anybody gets over that bar all right exactly so we're gonna take um uh the next six months to a year for you you know kind of what's in store for law analytics and for champion yourself and kind of what where do you see the trajectory and where are you going to build things to and what are the goals yeah that's a great question well i'm really excited um i'm in the in the process of actually um uh looking at uh a perhaps building a partnership with a really great design firm that i respect uh really highly in industry ideo uh we're having conversations about perhaps partnering around different products that i'm developing uh they're looking to step into the cannabis industry and so the timing couldn't be perfect i actually just jumped off a conversation with them and were like all right we're going to talk about this product on friday so i'm really excited about that i've got a new product rollout that is ready to go it's called quench and it's the world's first liquid releasing mouth guard that's 3d printed for the sports industry for the cannabis industry and for the health and wellness industry so okay why do i need a mouth guard for cannabis is it a dangerous like dangerous to consume or what what's the mouth guard for is related to cannabis that's a great question i'm so glad you asked um you know a lot of people want i don't know what much about cannabis so i'm putting that on front of it it's the industry i don't know nearly enough about so well now you've been uh you've been blessed into the cannabis industry now so yeah it should be fun um a lot of people are concerned about micro dosing and getting the right dosage right now and in my experience the best way to do that is um with this mouth guard it gives you the opportunity to dose throughout the day to do your doses in the right amounts specific to your body size your weight size your activity routines and different things like that it gives you the opportunity from a sports angle to do in-game hydration so you can hydrate while you're in the game there's no need for a water bottle or anything like that instead of taking a break you can just bite down on the mouth guard you get a release of hydration of liquid which is which is really cool it's got it's got flavors it's got the ability to hold food and beverages and obviously uh cannabis products which is super exciting i think so i'm still gonna ask so can no i get the i get the sports angle makes complete sense cannabis so do you walk around with the mouth guard throughout the day and just get a little spurt of cannabis or do you you know so do you get do you envision a whole bunch of people walking around with mouth guards just to do that or how is that going to work i get the sports industry and i think that one's cool i impressed you on the canvas because that one still is i just try to envision if you have a whole bunch of people that are using cannabis so they're walking out with mouth guards yeah well i think right now um the tincture market is probably the fastest growing one of the fastest growing segments within the cannabis space but you can't walk around with a bottle a tincture bottle i mean you can but it's not really convenient so a step up from that if you want to go hands-free while you're driving while you're you know walking whatever you're doing whatever your activity routine is you just fill your mouth guard you know with one of our capsules um uh or you kind of squirt your tincture into the mouth guard you put it in your mouth and you you've got access to that all day without having to think about it really um it's it's a bit of a step for for some people but i think once you use the product especially if you're an athlete or if you're an enthusiast you really start to see its benefits um and you uh you don't even know that it's there most of the time which is really cool okay so this this isn't the full sports mouth guard that i'm used to like when i was in football literally football that like covered bolts or the bottom and the top side of your teeth and you couldn't even talk with something a little different than that it's a little different than that the great thing is that it's 3d printed so it's precisely designed to fit your mouth so that you can continue to speak you continue to do everything you do and then when you're ready when you want that dose that little kick of energy or boost of whatever you just bite down and you've got it right there all right so that's that was my disconnect so that makes more sense i always think about the mouth guard like you know the little league where it covers your whole mouth and you can't even talk if you have to take it out to talk i think that's probably not quite as practical so makes a little more sense and that uh alleviates my concerns that this is dead on arrival so otherwise well the great thing is uh for me there's a great social impact play behind it as well we're talking about partnering with the world health organization and unicef to provide these mouth guards filled with protein to refugees around the world who are not getting their nutrition on a regular basis so through this mouth guard once you feel it they're pre-filled if we can deliver them on the ground at refugee camps they can then have these this way to access food and nutrition 24 7 without having to um you know go through the standard processes so there's a potential to have a huge global impact on on hunger and starvation as well and for all those that love coffee and just want that extra little kick you can just put in caffeine in there exactly exactly right i'm drinking coffee so i don't know much about it but i hear that it gives you a good pick me up so all right so that i think those are some fun areas you're going so we're kind of reaching towards the end of the podcast and always get towards the end and there's much more to talk about than time to talk about it so we'll have to hit up some of the other topics on another date but with that i always ask two questions at the end of the podcast so i'll go ahead and blast those to you now so the first one is what was the worst business decision you ever made oh gosh that's a good one um i would have to say um i made a decision to attend an incubator a few years ago um and it didn't go well and i think that was probably the worst business decision i ever made uh had i just kept working on the product on my own for another month or two i would have gotten to market a lot faster had i uh got had i not gone to the incubator all right i get impression so he said it didn't go well that's a nice glossing over it but for all those that are what are in the incubators or want to go to incubators or thinking about them because there are some and i think there's some good ones and some bad ones but what was the what was the thing that didn't go well or why wouldn't you use an incubator what would you tell people to watch out for you know honestly um and you know this is not there are there are some really great accelerators and incubators out there so this is kind of a general statement but i think for the most part uh and this is true of vc firms accelerators incubators they really have become an apparatus for that side of the market to make money rather than to focus on the entrepreneurship and to focus on the startup founders themselves which is i think quite unfortunate so in my experience um their focus was just in the wrong place and they ended up slowing me down uh more than than helping basically um that's not always the case i mean i've had a lot of friends who've gone through accelerators and you know they speak really highly of them but it's not for everybody and so that experience is was really not for me and um yeah i think if you're an entrepreneur and um you're thinking about attending an accelerator incubator the best thing that you can do is talk to somebody who attended prior and get a sense from them about whether or not it's legit whether or not they're actually going to have the right focus and help you in the right way that your company needs it at the time i know that's very insightful and good a good lesson to learn you have to watch out you know or oxymoron in the sense that an incubator or an accelerator that slows you down is kind of you know the the opposite of what you're looking for but i think you don't want that for sure so be careful of the accelerators that go slow so all right second question i always ask is so somebody that was wanting to get into startup wanting to get into a small business or just made the leap and was just getting going what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them whoa another good question um i would say uh be courageous um it gets really scary i think when you go out on your own as an entrepreneur um kind of navigating the world uh on your own without the you know help of a huge corporation behind you or a big team behind you and so uh what i would say is sometimes it's uh you start to question yourself like am i doing the right thing am i you know going to be able to sustain this business and when you get to that point in your mind i think it's important to remind yourself of why you're doing it um you're passionate about why you're passionate about it and to find a way to inspire yourself to keep going because no matter what as an entrepreneur and this is even more so as a social entrepreneur where you're trying to change societal constructs and things you have to never give up really never give up on your dream on what you're building and just keep going and uh even if you have to put your project aside for a few years or for a month or two you know don't give up on it because you you set out to do it for a reason and you should keep going with it at all times and just find a way to stay inspired listening to good music is usually a really good way to help all right listen to good music no that's not not the only not the only piece right no i think that's good advice so make sure to be tenacious to keep after it to have faith in yourself and to realize that it can be a journey and then it's going to take some time and some hard work and effort so okay so for those of you as we reach the end of the podcast want to give a chance for you to plug how do people to get connected with you whether they want to get engaged with lava lytics or the mouth guard or the um the what was it the cannoli paper i was trying to remember the right word for it or whichever one what's the best way to reach out with you get involved um anything you know connect up with you sure yeah well the cannolis rolling papers website will be up and running uh in a few days uh but if people want to connect with me they can connect with me on linkedin is the fastest way to do that i've got all my contact information up on there and i highly recommend i love when people reach out for any reason you know that's that's what it's all about i give them my email and we communicate and do all sorts of stuff secondly i would say i'm on gum uh all of my products i'm adding to gumroad basically which is uh kind of like a a checkout page where if you want to purchase a product invest in a product get consulting services whatever it is that you want you can download some of my writing it's all on my gumroad page under my name champion moodlet and i have a project on indiegogo right now which you can find under my name and other than that yeah i would say linkedin is probably the best way all right well then we'll direct everybody to linkedin to be able to keep an eye on you or support your products or otherwise get involved so um thank you for coming on the podcast it's been fun to have you on um it's always a pleasure to hear your journey so it's been an interesting one for sure um for everybody else it's uh if you want to be a guest on the the inventive journey feel free to apply to be on the podcast at inventivejourney.com and love to hear everybody's journeys and for those of you that are looking for help with the patents or trademarks or have any questions certainly feel free to reach us out to us at miller ip law and we'll make sure they get you taken care of thanks again for coming on champion it's been a fun time and appreciate you coming on and sharing your journey and thanks for having me continues to go for you awesome thank you so much devin it's a pleasure thanks for having me and have a great day all right thank you [Music] you English (auto-generated)