Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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.
Get New Episodes
Get 2 brand-new podcast episodes sent to you every week!
ai generated transcription
be a little bit more prepared in the beginning um understand true costs of what it will take um i like i had the fortunate of having a little bit of a savings plus retirement income but plan out your i can do this i i have six months to start making some revenue and what is my minimum revenue point [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents of trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast michael crandall and uh michael is a quick introduction so graduated uh from high school went to college no shocker there got a political science degree um was going to be a lawyer and then changed courses and has ended up signing up for the military um was i think in the military for a period of time every four years would uh re-up and re-enlist was there for about 20 years and retired from the military um got a job as as a with the business as a did a lot of big government contract works and then decided to start his own business from there and it's been expanding ever since so but that much is a introduction welcome on the podcast michael thank you devon thanks for having me absolutely so i just took a much longer journey and condensed it into 30 seconds so maybe we'll unpack that a bit so with that um tell us a little bit of how your journey got started in high school and college and we'll go from there yeah i um in high school always wanted to be a lawyer and uh went off to poli sci and after four years of college realized i was a burnout on schooling so decided hey i'm going to join the military and see the world do that for a few years and they offered me some education into the computers and i t and cyber before it was really called cyber and uh that peaked my interest and they sent me to europe so i was enjoying europe and every four years they teased me with another assignment in europe and more training so then 20 years later oops didn't make it the law school uh i've retired from the military i went to work for a large government contracting company now one question just because you're so you know had a best of intentions we're going to go in to be uh an attorney well maybe that was a good thing he didn't but uh who knows i'm i i like attorneys i know a lot of people like law school um but so you did that and you don't go into the army do that for a period of time now you could it wasn't the when you got done with the i think it was around 20 years or so was the intent of hey you know i don't want to do this anymore i'd like to step out and try something different was it you couldn't re-up anymore and that was you know you'd hit the limit as to what they would allow you to do or kind of what prompted that transition from doing the the military to do or to going and working on that in private or business yeah after 20 years and multiple deployments i was kind of broken down physically um so i'm a um certified disabled veteran um so yeah it was this time couldn't keep up with the pt and the physical standards so you know i made it to the 20 and decided to uh pull the golden handle call them parachute and get out and see what was new on the other side hey i don't blame you at all so um so now you say okay pull the you know the gold handle the parachute or whatever that is i'm going to retire you know or at least retire out of the military maybe not retire in the sense of no longer working and so you're coming out of the military and how did you decide kind of what was next it was just hey i had a buddy and i had a giant job lined up and or hey this is the area i wanted to go in and government contracts is greater this is the only thing that's going to pay me any money now so what was kind of that that transition or how did you figure out what you're going to do as you left the military yeah it basically boiled down to um i had 30 um 90 days of terminal leave that's like vacation time that i'd stored up so i had 90 days off after i retired and i took the first 30 and thought i'm just going to relax and do nothing and then everyone said you know coming out of the military with a clearance you get a job no worries well i get into my second 30 days and i'm putting out my applications and resume and thinking like well any minute now any minute uh into month three i started to get nervous uh about what would uh be next and then the job offers started to come in and it was government contracting you know people i had met or knew from when i was in the military looking in their commercial jobs who they were previous military so i kind of just stepped into it from there because it was what i knew and i think that makes sense a lot of times you're saying you know i'm gonna first of all i need to make an income need to make money and what uh what becomes available you know that's reasonable within what i'd like to do and what was that what i need to get paid you take that and so you're saying okay this is something i'm familiar with i'm comfortable with it's you know it's a good job and you go from there and you say how long did you stay with the you're doing the government contract work well i um initially thought i got the job and i was happy and you know being a military guy and doing 20 years with one company the military i thought well i'm gonna i found my company let me work my way up and i'll stay with them and i started as a technical writer and worked my way up the director of operations um during a five-year period uh but what also happened was we were bought three times so i was actually hired by three different companies even though i stayed in the same kind of you know position business structure uh the ownership changed and on the third purchase i had kind of promoted myself into a position that they duplicated and didn't want to bring me on to the new company they kept who they had i got paid a severance and my choice was go looking for a job again or branch out and you know put it out there and see what i could do on my own so now and so now as you kind of come and come up with that or you're looking to say okay got those two choices how did you weigh those because you know up until this point in your career and nothing wrong with it by any means you've worked for someone else and you know you've had me work for the military and with the government then you work for a big business and now you're saying that you know what was it what was the tipping point of saying hey i'd rather go try something out on my own do something else versus trying to go find another job yeah i found that i um when i was working to me newly out of the military what i the civilian world you know this brand new civilian world i would go out to um dc their headquarters and i'd be the first one in at 7 30 and i'd be the last one out about seven o'clock at night um and i just looked around and realized people weren't putting in that level of effort and i thought well if i'm going to continue working the way i've kind of just been brought up to work um i might as well do that for myself uh and while in the beginning the um the pay won't be the same because i'm starting out without any um i knew that i had my military benefits to kind of fall back on and i think in america one of the biggest concerns people have is health care i had health care covered so with health care covered and enough to cover the mortgage i thought well if i'm gonna do it now's the time to do it and that's what i did i jumped out and no it's i mean and i think that that's a bit of a great place to be right in other words you have you're not you have some of the benefits you're able to do a level support yourself and then otherwise have a bit of that you know safety net in a good way and so you're saying okay now with that as a as an ability to go forth why not you know why not rather than simply going and working you know the extra hours and the you know the night you know the nights and weekends and those type of things why not uh put that time and effort into building you know doing it for for yourself and building something out so makes perfect sense at least to me now as you're doing that you know as you're starting out how did it go was it just a rocket ship to the top and just every but you know people are banging down your doors to to get to get business and to pay you money or was it hey it was a long ramp up and it took a while to figure out where you were gonna where the business was gonna be or kind of how was that to transition as you're doing your own thing we um we were lucky it wasn't a meteorological rise to the top um i would say it was a nice bump and steady climb we started out in federal contracts because that's kind of what i knew so i was chasing federal contracts and within six months we got a fairly large federal contract with four employees working overseas so that kept the lights on now we were an actual business had revenue you know could hang a shingle know what was going on um and then that grew into two contracts um and then we kind of pivoted and decided we wanted to started chasing um commercial work so we started chasing small to medium-sized business work and that's been slowly growing um so yeah over we've been doing this now for five years so i would say the federal contracts we got in the early days and then subsequently have helped us keep the lights on allow us to show a nice steady income and then our commercial work has been projects and other growth you know kind of incremental hey well that's that's a good thing to be able to keep the lights on that you have a paycheck and be able to give yourself or yourself you know give yourself and other employees a time to expand and grow the business is a great a great great direction to be and makes it uh you know doable on and making a sustainable business so now we kind of fast forward a bit to where you're at today and you know so you take you know and this is for the audience how long have you been doing the your own business now we started in november 2015. so we're coming up on six years so coming up on six years and you know now kind of saying okay we've got continue to build a business and you can grow it a bit get in there you know continue to sustain things now looking at a bit of the the next you know six to twelve months so projecting a little bit out into the future where do you see things headed is it kind of just a continual steady growth is it a pivot is an adjustment unknown or too hard to tell and where do you see the next six to 12 months going for you well we actually just open an office in london ontario um canadian government asks us to open a subsidiary so we're also digital beach in canada now and we've opened an office there and the goal is to grow in the life sciences and manufacturing up there they have a lot of manufacturing and life science kind of requirements for cyber and so that was kind of they asked us to come up to help fill that gap which we were fortunate enough to be asked so our our pivot focus is now north of the border and seeing what we can do for canadian expansion well that's awesome that's definitely exciting to be able to expand into additional countries expand the footprint and otherwise continue to grow and be successful so it sounds like a great direction to have well now as we've kind of caught up a bit to where your journey is today and even there where your journey's taking you today and even looking a bit to the future i always love to ask two questions at the end of each journey so we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it uh not being prepared for the finances at the startup we assumed looking online that a small business loan through you know the sba is something that you just go to the sba and say hi i'm starting a new business give me my money that would be an awesomeness hey i'm gonna do i got an idea for business i need 10 million dollars what do you think oh sure and we found out being a [Music] being a cyber company every bank told us and that's what we didn't realize is the sba loans are through banks not through the sba directly they just held back them so you have to have some sort of collateral and you can't put up your homes you can't um put up personal collateral and our business cons consisted of a phone and a laptop at that time there was you know we have they literally said if we were a construction company you know we would have had assets that they would have loaned us money that they knew they would have gotten back loaning us money on a we're going to get customers one day it just didn't fly and so what we learned was there are organizations out there that understand the federal government business and can give you loans against contracts so that they knew but we ended up funding ourselves we found this out down the line you know and there are agencies that will say you have a federal contract it's worth this much we'll front three months salary for your employees because that's what you need to cover so we you know if we've done a little bit more like business research other than okay we have a name let's go sell it [Music] hey it could have been a whole different store but on the other end you know maybe the the inexperiencer not on unknowing that was a benefit in the sense now you had to figure out how to bootstrap it how to do these things and you weren't able to simply go and you know rely on the the government so the speaker you know the sba not necessarily the government but getting a loan but rather you had to figure it out now you can maintain that it forces you to figure out the ways to make it uh profitable and possible without relying on you know debt so i think that it sounds like it was overall it was a great uh great experience even if if you've done a little bit more research on the front end it might have helped to accelerate or otherwise taking in a different direction failure is always an opportunity so when any failed to get the money up front we we found other opportunity and that drove us absolutely so now second question i'll ask is you talk to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business would be the one piece of advice you give them uh be a little bit more prepared in the beginning um understand true costs of what it will take like i had the fortunate of having a little bit of a savings plus retirement income but plan out your i can do this i i have six months to start making some revenue and what is my minimum revenue point you know there's always what i call the crap or get off the point to where if you're doing a current job and you're trying to build a new organization one is taking too much of your time but the new organization probably isn't paying you what you've been making or what you're used to at some point you got to know when to pull the trigger and just trust your gut and go for it no i think that that and i think you know it's interesting the the trusting your gut and you know sometimes you say i'm like that's always wrong but you know a lot of times if you were able to if you were to do that you almost what you said do that little bit of homework and taking you know some of those takeaways and do a little bit of research making or be able to have an educated gut and then they're simply pulling the trigger because you can also get the analysis paralysis where you know you're always trying to get more research you're always trying to get more information you're always trying to do it you go to such an extreme that you don't you want to do risk as such so you never have to trust your gut because you know all the answers you're never going to get started so i think that there is that takeaway of kind of finding that balance and we say that in cyber security there is no cyber security there's only risk management and it's the same with a business you're never going to be 100 because you never know what's around the corner i mean we just had coded right no one knows what's going to happen so you do your risk management and say where where can we accept risk and what risk am i willing to uh mitigate et cetera and then you just have to go no and i think that that's uh definitely a great takeaway because you know it's a lot of the same thing that we as an attorney everybody wants to say well you know is there any way that i can make sure guarantee i don't get sued and it's like well you can do things to reduce that likelihood and best prepare for it but anybody can file a lawsuit and it doesn't matter if it's legitimate or not you get to still deal with it and that's part of the legal system and so it's more about that risk mitigation how do i anticipate what are my biggest risks what are my their like best likelihoods and how do i avoid or adjust to or reduce those risks as best i can and otherwise prepare for it and then you just have to go under we don't have perfect knowledge and we're not going to be able to perfectly be able to address those and we're going to do the best we can so as an attorney you don't give guaranteed wins if i could give guaranteed and i could actually meet the guarantee i would be uh one in a million attorneys uh there may be some attorneys that guarantee wins and those are the ones you want to run from because they can't guarantee it they're just lying to you to try and get your money yep so once we now wrap up the podcast and uh people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you find out more uh you can reach out to us at uh our website digitalbeachhead.com or on email info digitalbeachhead.com awesome well i definitely encourage everybody to reach out connect and uh otherwise uh make a new best friend if nothing else now with that um you know for all or thank you again for coming on the podcast michael now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell me like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have or have you i'm just go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show a couple more things make sure to like subscribe and otherwise leave us a review because we want to make sure that everybody finds out about all these awesome episodes and last but not least you need to have a patent trademarks or anything else in your business just go to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help thank you again michael for coming on the podcast and i wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you [Music]