Channel Of Distribution

Channel Of Distribution

Morgan Gilliam

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

7/22/2020

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Channel Of Distribution

“Channel of distribution, do you have the competitive advantage to a channel of distribution, or a product company, or a software or a service? I think what people don't realize is you could create an amazing product and amazing software, but if you cant get it out to the masses and sell it, then the product will just fizzle out and people will never know about it. so if your going to go into business try to find a competitive advantage to a channel of distribution.”


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

channel of distribution do you have a competitive advantage to a channel distribution for a product company or software or a service right um what people don't i think what people don't realize it's like you could create an amazing product an amazing software but if you can't get it out to the masses and sell it then you kind of like that product could just fizzle out and never people may never know about it so so if you're going to go into business try to find a competitive advantage to a channel of distribution hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey um i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's also the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks um mil or the inventive journey we go through and uh tier the journeys of different startups and small businesses owners and founders and how they got to where they're at and how things are going and we have a great guest on today um his name is morgan and i'll do a quick introduction but let him uh was still too much of a thunder uh morgan uh he uh has a common connection i believe if i remember right he played by er play soccer at byu and i at least went to byu so well there you go have byu connections and then he went on to georgetown whereas i went on to uh to uh cleveland ohio and i think you probably got the better end of that location and now he works with uh works with software and doing some uh uh offs op software so i'll let him uh go through that and talk a little bit more and do a much better introduction than i could ever do so welcome on to the podcast morgan all right thanks devin um yeah so like you said i'm morgan i'm with fiddle inc we're a physical product op software uh we focus on helping people manage their physical products all their inventory their orders they're purchasing and some production so we're kind of that modern approach month to month no contracts uh cloud-based to kind of give brands and manufacturers a solution to move away from spreadsheets all right well that's a good a great summary so now now if i were to take because all our the podcast podcast is about the journey right so how you got up to where you're at today so maybe if we back up a few years or back up a little bit into the story kind of what led you up to this and what was the journey that led you up to where you guys are at today yeah okay so i mean i don't know how far back i need to go but my journey probably started far far away now not quite that far but uh yeah my journey probably started at byu in 2006. um you know i'm dating myself a bit here um but we were we were playing soccer there and we entered the byu business plan competition a couple guys and i on the team and we had a street soccer ball and some apparel that we had manufactured overseas um and had a brand called kaye and kai means street and soccer and so the whole idea was to get kids out playing street soccer and the ball was really cool lasted a long time and we actually went on to win the byu business competition and had some really cool designs and i the focus was that for soccer players that weren't on the pitch that went to school that were playing in the streets our apparel represented them as soccer right so you were nike adidas puma when you're playing and you're in a game and in practice but then when you want to go play pick up kai represented you and so i learned a ton about manufacturing inventory i can kind of maybe digress and say i created a ton of problems and uh and we fell on our face several times as a startup um but it was a great learning experience and so my path went on to sports and all kinds of different things that led me to fiddle um where we are now helping brands companies manufacturers suppliers uh dial in their inventory management their products so that they can uh scale and grow where we made several mistakes you know overseas several mistakes um not keeping really good track run out of product back ordered um ordered poor product you know wasted money and so our software is there for you know products uh companies and and i guess i have about 14 years of experience and working with all kinds of different brands and learning about kind of the supply chain okay no and i think that's helpful and i'm gonna make i'm gonna force you to go back in your journeys a little bit because uh we talked or we talked a little bit so i mean you went to byu or played soccer business competition and then i think you said you went to georgetown for a little while before coming back to utah and getting into the startup so what or what kind of you know so you won the business competition but then you took off to georgetown so how is that kind of the intermediate step yeah so so soccer i was a soccer die hard you know i was with uh kai for two years um a couple of the other guys were going to drop out of school i decided that i need i had a year left so i went back and finished byu and then kind of went on a different path and down the sports channel worked for real salt lake in utah worked for a sports agency and that took me to georgetown to kind of get my masters in sports management and then i started came back here worked for the state soccer association and events um and then started my own sports management group so all right starting a business is never that easy so i'm not going to let you get away with it just saying hey i just started to start so you're doing all of that but what what was the point that you're saying okay because you know you you're doing some other companies you know you can just list them off but when was the point saying okay we're going to jump into a startup life or we're going to get that going was it kind of a side hustle that evolved into what was now what's today or was it hey we're tired of what the other products out there there isn't anything that we think does the job we need and so we're just going to jump in and sell our house and put it or mortgage our house and put it all in how did that transition go because it's never that easy just one day i started i decided to do a startup and go from there so how did you make that transition sure so obviously i got the startup bug in 2006 when we won the business plan competition working with my friends and my you know soccer buddies um and always knew i wanted to own my own company right and so i had a master's in sports um really you know i knew the youth space and then after kind of working for a state association for a couple years just uh started a little side hustle like you said right and um and got a partner that uh we started training kids on the side we opened up our own facility to bring in kids and thought that you know um where i'm from i'm from dallas in texas sports are religion right in utah it's like religion then family work then sports right yeah um and so i really wanted to give back and teach kids um to take them to the next level of sports right and so we opened our own facility and within a couple months i realized that that's what i wanted to do um and during this path it was i was it was a company that i i ran for about five years um had a couple different partners my brother being one for a little bit um and and kind of just got a bit burnt out of dealing with youth sports and parents and um had three facilities at one point i was running leagues was doing training was doing camps was you know had really good contracts i met some great people um but just got worn out a bit of you know during the day i would do a lot of the business and at night i'd actually go and train and um had a family and kids of my own and it just wasn't really sustainable sorry trey you say at night you would trade like trade like stocks train like like trying to use athletes sorry i i some reason i heard trade and i'm like oh that's even a different story so all right so you wouldn't drink it right so and during this time like we had created products right like and so um i always had that little you know because i left kaye and i left this i always like gravitated to product companies to having your own physical product that you created that you designed and then started sharing an office when i was running my own company with my now current partner um and he had his own supplement line he had his own products and it was selling and doing really well because he was a programmer and he actually ranked all his sites built really cool websites to bring people to um and then he got approached by a manufacturer that was like hey the software in this industry is really hard to use it's really old school and he kept coming over to me and be like hey look there's an opportunity here like there is an opportunity the software and the space and manufacturing and inventory is old and outdated and server based um and so we went to some trade shows started visiting started looking into it and and again that little bug of like oh products you know i kind of gravitate to it and um and you know and helping other entrepreneurs like nail their process was pretty exciting so after i think six months of him kind of like look i've built a big chunk of this for this other company already they've paid me to build it i own the ip come be my partner you know come be like the guy that runs the business and i'll keep programming keep building so he so the origination almost of the idea so who was the one that so he came up with the idea and then he's saying hey i'm already getting paid for this why don't we now build it or build our own business around it and you know do something with it and so then he kind of bugged you to the er enough to the point they're saying fine i'll at least take a look at it it sounds like it took you a little while to finally decide to dive in and decide to go for more so what was kind of the the tipping point was it just kind of an aggregation and finally put enough pressure on to you said yes or was there kind of a tipping point to okay after i've done enough research i'm convinced kind of thing what was the decision that how did you make that decision yeah i don't think there was like one huge point um my brother was my partner in my sports management group and he kind of didn't want to grow it anymore he wanted to focus on his following stay in utah county and he's also the byu men's soccer coach and and so when i was kind of like oh we're not going to keep growing then maybe i can look at selling pieces of my software are sorry pieces of my business and that's what i did so i've sold off pieces of my business and just kept learning more about the software space learning about like where we could position ourselves as a company and had a you know we already had one good client that was growing like crazy that was using the software um and and that's that to me was like validation that there's a need here we just have to go out and see who all needs this um and so you know after a couple different things fell into place i pulled the trigger and then over probably like i was full time with fiddle but over you know i think the first year i still was running a couple things on the side for soccer and sports management um and it looks like i'm i had one last thing left this the beginning of the spring and now i'm completely out of sports and 100 into fiddle in the software so what was the motivation of kind of keeping the side hustles is that hey i'm not fully convinced this is going to work and so i'm going to kind of phase it in or phase it out or make sure that there's something here before i abandoned my income or you know or what was or was it just you know i had other obligations i wanted to finish up because that's where a lot of times you kind of get to right most of sometimes you'll have people that will jump all in and just go hey this is a great idea i'm going to quit my job i'm going to go do this full time a lot of times you're saying hey i don't i want to make sure i can take care of my wife and my kids and keep food on the table pay the mortgage and i don't know if the startup's going to work so it's which kind of you know was it more of just keeping the side hustles or you know additional obligations for making the you know having source of income or kind of what made that transition yeah um i think i mean i think you nailed it right like i have three kids a wife a mortgage you know um and i had a lot of good things in place in that business that so it ran a lot of it ran itself and so um and my my biggest passion is soccer right i've played my whole life um i have a master's in sports management so a piece of me was like i don't want to let it go right you know and so there was the whole idea of you know covering covering my expenses living off of it until fiddle was able to generate more money and we were able to take a salary we raised a little family and friends around right um and and grew it a little bit right you know um and so yeah i mean it's i'll say personally i actually don't believe in the jump 100 in i i like a lot of people say look you can't focus on multiple things you should never have a plan b i don't believe in that i think you should have several channels and i think you can have a side hustle a passion project and still crush it on a company right like a lot of great people great businesses they might have like a passion project that's like all service based and like giving back to community does that mean that they're not focusing on their business no right like and so if your side hustle is just something you're passionate about and you want to keep doing i don't see any issue with that no i agree and i think it was um jack dorsey i'm not going to get into twitter because i see yeah don't get into that right now you know he had he had almost his two businesses right he has twitter and he also has square and i think they're co-located or located right kind of almost or side to side so he kind of kept two different projects going and i think is a good example of someone that's been very successful love him hate him and i'm not jumping into the news at all but i think that's an example of someone that you know they've they've kept different side hustles keep things going and deciding you know making it work so i i tend to agree and i think that there's you know there's a practical nature you know you always hear and if i were to watch shark tank they would always tell you know hey you need to jump all in you need to be all in and yeah in a practical nature saying hey i also have responsibilities and while it'd be great if i was signal and i had unlimited funds or i didn't have to worry about life and reality in reality you know you have to you want to be able to make sure that you know you can keep things the lights on keep things going and meet obligations yeah you're still doing your passions and startups and businesses are like don't work the way i don't know we think they do right like the way that stories are out there oh man he came up with the idea six months later he raised 10 million dollars you know six months later now he's a multi-billionaire no way like i mean qualtrics is a great story right like he built and built and built year after year to and then after 17 years was a amazing successful like company right it's usually overnight overnight success 10 years in the making right so you always get to see the hey we're a huge success and it went great but it was really that 10 years in the making that really made the difference for the company that you know usually you don't get to hear the back story and you don't get to hear the ups and downs so with that i'm going to then ask you so you finally decided to make the jump you went all in you decided that hey i'm winding things down i'm going to i'm going to be all in with the fiddle and whatnot how is it gone or is it all just been straight up and no problems and no issues or how's the journey been since you've jumped all in oh um it's it's it's been a whirlwind um to be honest with you right ups and downs cover 19 you know was was a bit crazy um for us still is you know kind of we're trying to figure it out um and and to be honest with you when i first joined we were a manufacturing software like we were going after contract manufacturers in the food and beverage space right which is like a six none six to nine to 12 month sales cycle right but we would position ourselves as a month-to-month sas solution very affordable right so if a manufacturer like spun up a warehouse and was was living in spreadsheets then they could use us and automate their process but really soon we learned that there was just so many touch points and the money didn't make sense right like like if we're just charging 500 000 bucks a month and no huge onboarding fee then a year sales cycle just doesn't add up right and so we learned that after the first six months that look we we've talked to a couple brands that manufacture their own products they have the same issues that these contract manufacturers have so we could go after them and so now like you know we have 120 users and i would say half and half for manufacturers and the other half of their brands that that do some of their production right um and so it's been like this right and it's like me and a bunch of programmers right so we've kind of had some sales guys in like and some marketing guys in um and then we were ready to race ready to raise a seed round right like we approved some traction we had some mrr uh you know we we nailed like our positioning of messaging um and then covet hit we had pitched like i think 45 investors and we had three or four or five i don't know exactly that we're we're kind of getting to where we're going to try to create term sheets and talk to them and it's just everybody's like look we gotta see what happens we gotta take care of our portfolio companies and we gotta see how this plays out so contact us in three to six months right and and we'll see we're at um i actually have a call with an investor out of atlanta right after this right that fingers crossed i know right so um it's it's been it's been it's been up and down right and i think that's the life of a startup that's a life of of trying to find like found your like start your own company right like um there's it's it's competitive the software space is super competitive no matter where you're going and if you're not in silicon valley and you don't have all the logos and the connections it's even a bit tougher so with that so kind of ups and downs you know all in making it work making some pivots between right there restaurant industry to where you're at now where do you think the next six months or a year puts you yeah um well we're pretty optimistic you know uh january and february are best months of fiddles you know existence and then march hit uh and we took a a little hit and then april crushed us right like we had a couple companies close their doors unfortunately right um because they were non-essential they foreload all their employees and then they realized they couldn't recover and it's it's it's sad right like i mean i don't think we felt the economic impact of this um but to be honest with you june will probably be our biggest month ever like may has been okay um but we have tons of people on our pipeline we have several con you know sales contracts out um and what we're seeing though is you know people late have gotten laid off companies have downsized they can't afford the expensive erp or inventory management renewals they're not going to go through these big you know long onboarding because they don't know what what's going to happen over the next couple of months so fiddle is a great solution right no contracts small onboarding fee month to month um and so we're kind of getting in the door and finding a lot of success well that's exciting so sounds like the next uh six months to a year you're hopeful and optimistic and things are looking up and while everything is uh never for certain and you have the ups and downs and pivots and whatnot that sounds like gaining traction which is awesome so yeah and so we you know our goal is just to to kind of make enough mrr to cover our nut and and try to get to the end of the year and then kind of go back and see if we want to raise a bigger round so and and so with that and i always tell my two questions about us one more so you know you always get the conan and i don't know conundrum but the cash 22 is what you know do we sell fun do we make air make it ourselves do we go get a bigger round we have someone invest but then if you invest you have to give up equity sometimes that's absolutely the right decision because you'll never make it if you don't have the money or you don't have the investment and other times you don't look back and wish oh i wish i'd get more of the equity or haven't given up so how do you decide what is the how do you decide whether or not to do another round or when that or what or how do you go through that the thought process yeah so my partner and i have both owned businesses previously we've bootstrapped or taken loans out you know refined refinance to my my house you know like we've done things to make it work um my our boat our belief is that you funding the purpose of funding is to pour gas on the fire right if you have nailed your process you you have a good demographic you're going after you can get in front of people you can close deals and it's just a matter of like i need more money to do more marketing to hire sales and go and increase that speed then that's that's like why we were raising right like we think that we are in a great spot and we want to hire a sale a bigger sales team and put tons of money behind marketing and go um but you know with covet hitting and slowing things down and then we're gonna we're gonna kind of try to nail and get to the next level on our own right and if we can get on to that next level on our own increase the mrr hire some people on our own and then we nail it the process again in kind of a new environment right with the way the world's working and the way people are looking at things then we would maybe raise um around a just skip seed you know go around a and raise a bit more um you know and we'll see you know because i think partnerships in being in marketplaces and connecting to shopify quickbooks ship station and um nailing that like tech stack is going to be like key for for our company no makes sense okay well we're reaching towards the end of the podcast and i always have plenty more things i want to talk about but i try to keep it to a reasonable amount of time so everybody can maintain attention and focus so with that i always have the two questions i ask at the end of the podcast i'll ask you now so the one question is is what was the worst business decision you ever made not in this like in any business any business this worst business decision um at a company am i going to say what company i uh called out the ceo and president of the company um and through email and included the vp of operations and ppe of sales and that still haunts me today i was a sales guy and it was a poor young stupid decision um and i didn't think through it before sending the email and so i lost a ton of money actually because of that email and so yeah my advice is you know if you feel heated or upset about something sleep on it that's great and i usually i most of the time usually take my advice there's always a one there you know the exception of the rule but i think that's a good thing usually if there's a some even if i no matter how torqued off i am or how angry i am or how upset i am or frustrated or whatever the case might be i usually figure if you give it a day you're a lot longer and if you're still in that way then you're probably you know it's a better better place for you or at least you're the same spot than you're saying okay it's worthwhile to you you have a reason but a lot of times if you sleep on overnight you do at least what the better you let your you know you think about it through and yeah you approach it better so exactly yeah okay so now i hit the second question which is you know if um if somebody was just getting into startups or small businesses or they wanted to get into it what would be the number one piece of advice you'd give them channel of distribution do you have competitive advantage to a channel distribution for a product company or software or a service right what people don't i think what people don't realize is like you could create an amazing product an amazing software but if you can't get it out to the masses and sell it then you kind of like that product could just fizzle out and never people may never know about it so so if you're going to go into business try to find a competitive advantage to a channel of distribution so and if i were to receive that almost no no where know where you're gonna sell it before you know where you're gonna sell it or where that channel is before you actually create the product because otherwise again almost your point you make you can make a great product if you don't know where to sell it or where it's going then it doesn't do any good and nobody is ever gonna buy it yeah and in our case right we work with tons of brands right you can spin up a shopify make it look beautiful artistic graphics everything but then what right right like then you just buy facebook ads right that's what i always see online all you do is make a shopify and facebook ads and your life is set not quite that way cool well um if people want to reach out to you if they want to connect up use your product invest uh just reach out or any make any connections what's the best way to connect up with you yeah just email me at morganfiddle.io and would be happy to chat and you know that's probably the best way or link them morgan gillam on linkedin all right well great well certainly if people are interested and want to reach out i'll certainly direct them your way and uh in the meantime we hope you uh have a good rest of your uh future part of your journey also goes as well as the past one has hey for those of you that are looking to come on the podcast we'd love to have you as a guest if you'd like to apply you can just go to inventivejourney.com and apply to be on the show and for those of you that are looking to need help with patents or trademarks we're always here for startups and small businesses so you can reach out at milleriple.com and look at miller ip law and we're here to help thank you again for coming on the podcast morgan it's been a fun time to hear your journey and all the things that you've learned and been through and wish your your next your continued journey uh success thank you yeah have a good one take care 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