Commitment And Perseverance
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Commitment And Perseverance
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.
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this ranger instructor looked down at me and he goes he goes are you committed and I looked at him and I mean my face is money I I got in my eye I'm trying to get out I'm hacking up stuff and I said what do you mean what do you mean sergeant and he goes look a chicken is dedicated because it gives an egg a pig is committed because he gives bacon he goes you understand the difference and I said yes I do and I've never and I've never forgot that and those are kind of words that I that I still did this day I love mine [Music] everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey I'm your host devon miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast kelly giffins if I if I can pronounce it right and just to introduce you a little bit to kelly so he was born in portland Oregon went and got an undergraduate degree in from Oregon state in business and also played a bit of basketball for a couple of schools while going through college then enlisted in the army rose to an officer level um and then was reassigned in 85 did some work in saudi arabia and then in the 90s I got into stocks into real estate wanted to become a millionaire and figure that was a way to do it um and then started out doing appraisals to learn the ropes um frust or got frustrated about the meltdowns of the market wrote a couple books on that and then was talking with someone else about the real estate markets and in far away markets and decided to take a look into how you start go about or go about evaluating the different properties and created a tool and that kind of leads him to where he's at today so if that much is an introduction welcome on the podcast kelly thank you devon so I gave kind of the quick 30 second run through of a much longer journey so maybe if we can go back in time a bit tell us a little bit about how your journey got started in business school and the basketball in the army and we'll go from there I was going to say you pretty much summed it up I think the interview is done isn't it well if that's if that's the total extent of your whole journey in your whole life then 30 seconds is a very long time so well why don't we dive in and we'll expand a little bit more on things you got it my background tried to try to encapsulate it I'm a portland Oregon boy um grew up grew up in portland high school undergrad degree was at Oregon state before that my journey was primarily I think my major was chasing girls with minors in basketball and a distant minor in business to that effect to try and get through school I kind of scratched around like everybody did everything from a commercial fisherman to tro truck driver to bartender spent a year in Australia working on a sheep and cattle station that didn't work out real well um and then finally that dawned on me I had an epiphany after the Australia venture and that was like I'm never gonna have a job worse than that and oh by the way I think I need my degree so finish that up was influenced by the people that that surrounded me and I looked at my peers and I decided to pad my resume I would become an officer in the army and had some super interesting jobs there and had a real crisis of faith at the at the nine year mark and that's basically where they take out part of your brain and give you oak leaf major clusters and yes a couple of the jobs that I had there that were just super interesting um I was a general's aide I got to um I got to command a rifle company which is basically leading 128 shooters and the last job I had was super interesting I worked at a computer center in Texas and unlike al gore I actually did get to work on the the backbone of the internet at that time it was called the defense data network sponsored by darpa and I was a telecommunications officer and system security officer um for the facility and then things led onto things and I wound up not really by choice but more by accident spending a couple of contracts in five years in saudi arabia came back and finished up my masters and at that time I was trying to figure out what to do with the next stage of my life and I read an article in the wall street journal about at that time was about the savings and loan crisis and they said they were having a hard time finding qualified appraisers and so I kind of kind of tied that together with being the best investor I could which was kind of a glaring flaw in my logic but now let me just ask one thing because so just there are a couple curiosities just with your journey sure when you went into the army to get you know kind of had the resume get additional leadership opportunities and get experience looking back on that was that did it provide kind of what you were looking for to provide that you know resume building experience and was it a worthwhile journey or was it something that you enjoyed in but it didn't work out the way you thought just kind of curious because you said that that was kind of the original original reason you went into it well the original reason I went into it was I took a look at my peers and I saw what they were doing you know kind of the mundane stuff entry level positions and things like that I took a look at my adopted dad and my foster dad both of them were career military guys and I just kind of came up to a snap decision that that that said yeah this would be a good good way to pad my resume and get some great experience I don't know if that answers your question or not I yeah for the most part now my follow-up to that would be is that was the original intent now after you got out of the military and continue on with getting the degree and going into you know the other past with your career was it a worthwhile in other words did it help to pad your resume was it a worthwhile endeavor or would you have done it differently well I think each individual's journey is unique and everybody has to travel their own path that being said I firmly believe that we're conditioned we're cond I firmly believe in operant conditioning and we're conditioned by our surrounding set of circumstances and the people that influence us so to me it was natural for somebody else it would have been a real struggle um I think to to to answer your question yeah for me it was the right choice and I got experiences and which is what I think a lot of life is about I got a lot of unique experiences that guys are never they couldn't imagine um and I in the end now that I look back retrospectively I just enjoyed the out of it hey well that's the that's one of the most important things if you do and you love it then that definitely makes it worthwhile so so now you did so as you wrapped up as you mentioned you you know wrapped up the military decided you're coming out went up finished the master's degree and started to get into kind of looking to get into stocks and real estate and went into being an appraiser to learn the ropes so I guess the you kind of hit on it but maybe just diving in a bit more what kind of drew you to stocks and real estate was just simply the allure of money and you know make turning a quick buck did you think that was an interesting thing to chase down or kind of what took you from going be in the military to go into that path well I I'm pretty goal oriented and basically work off a punch list and things like that and so that it seemed like a like a natural thing to do to set a goal to be a millionaire um I made a lot of money in the tech bubble and I wound up giving it back because I thought I was the only only person that could read a business plan and didn't pay attention to chairman greenspan at the time what he said about irrational exuberance and so like I said made a lot of money like in excess of six million and then wound up giving most almost all of it back um to that effect just accurate giving it back to who in other words losing it or giving it to charity who did you give it to I gave it back I rode a couple of securities all the way up to all the way up to to the pinnacle of the evaluation and then thought I was the only one that could read a business plan and and believed believed when I shouldn't have believed and listened to my broker when I shouldn't have listened and um you know major major error in logic so now you see you kind of wrote it all the way up and then wrote it back all you know wrote it back most of the way down and so one point you were a millionaire you gave it back and then now you're kind of writing that back and forth you know where did you know and I also think you wrote a couple books in the meantime as well on kind of all of the ups and downs of the market but kind of as you're writing that back down and figuring out what to do next or where to where to head next kind of where did what how did you figure out you know after you been in the pinnacle and then down at the bottom what to do next well I think the only analogy I could give up that you know your listeners will probably get a kick out of I don't know if it applies to you or not but I don't know if you've ever been in a bar fight I I for better or worse I've never been in any at least there are no physical fights anyway um well it's like I don't know I think it was tyson that said well it could have been a military strategist but it's like once you've been punched everything changes and that the tech bubble thing was like yeah I got punched hard and then um I still had a portfolio in real estate and I turned into what is called a shoebox condominium developer I morphed tried to morph from an appraiser into an investor into a developer which is a natural sequence and then the tech bubble hit so I got punched again um so that being said I wrote those ebooks out of frustration and just like to use the basketball metaphor it's like I needed to see the ball go through the hoop so I did it and I got stuck in my chain of logic one of the books that I wrote was about how to value real estate in distant markets and I had an idea but I couldn't execute and I kind of copped out and I gave all kind of ambivalent answers and I just kind of threw the book on the shelf and I by the way I've never published or never even thought about it but a little while back less than a year ago I was involved with this real estate wholesaling program and this dude's concept was he could comp properties comp properties means find comparables for properties using third-party sources well a light went on and I went back to the e-book that I wrote and I said this is the final chapter to that book and you know I just had an aha moment and I said well wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute so I had a cigar and a glass of wine and a long think with myself and I came up with the idea of creating a tool a tool that where I could I could teach layman which is the hardest part of it how to simply punch in some identify properties from third-party sources and get a valuation estimate not only from a sales comparison approach but also since they've got things called rent-o-meter and rents from zillow I could create a rudimentary gross rent multiplier and an income approach and then from there it started to spin out of control in a good way and what I mean by that is I said man I think I'm onto something here so I flesh those out and I've created a tool where I can I can give a superficial I can help the layman create a superficial valuation from the income and the value and the sales comparison approach or I've given them grids where they can go and they can refine the valuation as deep as they want and what I've done after that is I've turned the tool into something that an investor can use which is primarily oriented where I've got pictures I've got budgets I've got all the financial metrics any lender could conceivably want in fact one of the modules is the lender slash underwriter met an underwriter model module where I've got every conceivable metric that I could think of and the people surrounding me could think of that they would want so in the end to present to a lender or a broker could use this a portfolio manager could use this anybody that wants to take the time to learn to learn this would have pictures of the of the subject and comparables they'd have all kinds of metrics they'd have the valuation I've created modules where you can throw stuff into a repository and keep all your tools your investment tools and um to summarize it I think it could be for me it's definitely going to be a game changer because I'm using it for two primary purposes the first the first and probably foremost is to approach accredited investors and say hey I know what I'm doing invest with me and look at what I've created um the second is and I'm more perplexed and I'm not really sure how to do it is turn this thing into a shark tank product and monetize it and that was going to be one of the the questions I had because I mean there's always a difference I think that you know there's an inventor side and a business and marketing you know kind of side of every business yeah you can create really cool products and tools that will definitely benefit people but then finding it monetizing it bringing it to market and otherwise seeing who will actually be willing to pay for it and use it and reaching those people is always kind of that different hurdle so kind of give you know maybe the audience just a bit our you know where along that process are you having built a tool if you launch it are you having you know people use it are you looking for people to use it or kind of where you add along that spectrum well the first thing I'd like to address is and I've had plenty of time to think about it is what is my market you know kind of doing a swot analysis um and and the answer comes back um anybody who wants to know the value of a house and they want to do it whether it's a one-time or a consistent basis that's that's my market and that is huge because I mean I'm an appraiser and they people they pay me to go out for a single job they'll pay me you know for a house for 500 and I'm saying I can my big challenge now is to convert what I have up here and pass through the eye of a needle like christ said about a rich man going to heaven and how difficult it is it's like passing through the eye of an eye of a needle and it's like my challenge now is to communicate succinctly so I don't bury my audience alive at minutia and give them tools that they that they can use and they can learn easily and they can use easily or if they don't want to they can turn it over to an assistant who can learn it and by virtue of that I think I think it's I think it can be a solid winter and if you take it a step further I'm working with over a lot of overseas people and I query them as to whether they have the same type of mechanics that we do with respect to third-party sources like zillow redfin trulia and realtor.com and I'm thinking wow if this methodology works why couldn't I take it globally um I know I've glossed over the first part of the question do you want me to address those again yeah I mean I think that you hit on a lot of it I think the the main you know kind of this point of interest which is mainly on you know because I or how far you know so you sounds like you've developed the products you have you know you've done a pretty good analysis you understand who the market is or who who the potential customers are and what that benefit would be to them and now it sounds like fair to maybe put words in your mouth so to speak is it looks like you're now looking to launch and see how to monetize it and actually get it out there to people so they start using it is that about right sort of it's like if you had a flow chart you'd have two arrows going in different directions the first I believe that we are overdue for a correction in the real estate market and I want to position myself with deep pocket investors to take advantage of this that's the first part the other area goes it's like a question mark right now um and I'm right at I'm right at the point where based on your advice I am finishing up the review of the provisional patent we've got um an overseas lawyer looking at three separate trademarks um and I've just commissioned a coder to take it from an excel based product into actual software so I've got those three things are you know to me they're going very slowly but in real in the reality like I told my co-conspirator in canada it's like we're really going at warp speed no I think that that definitely gives some some insight on on everything so well as we've now kind of brought to you a bit where you're you know what your journeys in or been and where you're at today always a good place to transition to the two questions always why did I know that was coming go figure um so with that you know the first question I was asked is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it well I've got three of them and one is kind of ambiguous as trust because I trusted somebody when I I actually resigned my commission based on trust and going into a vocation that was really lucrative and I put my trust in somebody and that didn't work out real well so I had to dance on my feet hence the two contracts in saudi arabia the second was not listening to my inner voice and then the third one goes back to the mistake that I made during the tech bubble in in thinking that the hubris of thinking that I was the only one that could interpret a business plan so you got you got a three for no I think that they and and the more the merrier so I appreciate that definitely plenty of things to learn from so now we jump to the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business what be the one piece of advice you'd give them um gave that one a lot of thought and it goes along with the story too um a combination I I take I took a look at most all of your interviews and the conclusion that I came to is the people that you're dealing with they have more than a monika of intelligence so we're not talking about raw native intelligence what we're talking about that separates the smart people from the the really successful people I think is a combination of um commitment and perseverance and to that effect it's like one of the life-changing stories in my life was I was in ranger school blah blah blah blah in the in the swamps down in Florida and I had to we we had to pick somebody to climb up this this embankment and we're we're we're all hunked up we're all messed up I mean this is like most of the way through it and we're just we're just physically and mentally a wreck and they pointed to me and said go and it wasn't my turn for a leadership position so I started climbing this this embankment and I must have slipped four or five times and you know it's like 20 25 feet tall and just slippery as and it was that had to and I finally got up there and this ri this ranger instructor looked down at me and he goes he goes are you committed and I looked at him and I mean my face is money I I got in my eye I'm trying to get out I'm hacking up stuff and I said what do you mean what do you mean sergeant and he goes look a chicken is dedicated because it gives an egg a pig is committed because he gives bacon he goes you understand the difference and I said yes I do and I've never and I've never forgot that and those are kind of words that I that I still did this day I live by I like that I think that a lot of the difference between success you know successful businesses successful entrepreneurs and startups and those aren't as the level of commitment because it is going to be you know climbing that hill is going to be difficult it's not going to be always fun and there's a lot of things that you're going to have to navigate but if you're committed and you're going there to making work I think that that is often the turning point towards success I love that as a feedback well as we wrap up just as a reminder to the audience we are going to after the normal episode chat a little bit about the intellectual property which is always my favorite topic so if you want to hear a little bit more on that make sure to stay tuned after the podcast to hear us a bit of a discussion on that but otherwise as we wrap up if people want to reach out to you they want to find out more they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out contact you or find out more my website is kdgland.com kdg land dot com um best email is kelly at western equities another email is kelly gith gmail.com and I think I think that pretty much covers it all right well I definitely encourage everybody to reach out connect up find out more and if you're if you can use a tool it'll be beneficial definitely use that as well so with that thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com buy to be on the show two more things as a listener um one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast please you know what all of our awesome episodes come out and to leave us a review so other people can find out about all the awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else their business just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help so now with that so now we've done talked through your journey got some of your advice and it's always kind of fun to switch gears just a bit and talk a little bit about a topic that's always near and dear to my heart so with that I'll turn it over to you to ask you your top intellectual property question yeah I think this is ubiquitous and it travels along a lot of different levels is like what is your best advice for somebody like me that that has a really really good idea that's two reallys maybe three really is really really really good idea but they're working on a shoestring budget and I realize I I've done my homework take a look at your website and you have your snap products in place so I'll shut up and listen to what you have to say now yeah I mean there is a range range of differences between startups you know but the I'd say the commonality within all startups and small businesses there's always more money this there are more things to spend money on than money to spend and so with that you're always kind of balancing the where do you spend the money where do you get the best return on investment what makes sense and then you know when that kind of setting up your question the question is let's say you're at the end of the spectrum where you're you know very you know on a shoestring budget your self or financing or otherwise doing it you don't have a lot of funds to do it you know you always have one is that you say hey this is work I would I would back up just a bit and say first of all why are we going after doing the or what is the purpose of going after the intellectual property why do we need it is it because we want to protect against others we want to be patent pending is that we want to do um could use it to leverage to get a better valuation for investors or money because you're going to have a bit of a different flavor as to what is the the motivation as to you know how aggressive you want to be as an example if you're going to go after investors best answer is is save up the money and have an attorney because they're going to go through they're going to evaluate your intellectual property your patents on that and they can either them or their attorneys can pretty easily see when it's self-drafted or whether it's self-done and it has a limited value to them because they're generally going to want to see an attorney do it now if on the other hand you're saying hey I just want to get protection I want to get patent pending I want to just be able to have that demarcation in the sand so that if anybody comes along after me I can show that I was the first inventor those type of things then you can a lot of times start out with a provisional patent application again I still recommend an attorney but if you're looking and saying okay I still can't afford and afford an attorney or at least not at this point it is always better to have something you know something rather than nothing or something in place so if you actually have zero dollars I would just write it yourself you know fire you can it could be a bit difficult or not as straightforward but you can figure out how to file yourself get an account set up with the patent and trademark office and go from there so I always kind of you know look at it as that is the bare minimum you can do now you mentioned and on the some of the snap legal stuff that we offer is we're trying to kind of bridge that gap because I always kind of look at it as there's kind of three tiers if I were to kind of go to the real estate analogy you know you can get it go out and you can pitch a tent technically that's a home that's a dwelling you could live in it may not be comfortable may not be big but that's kind of when you when you file it yourself you know if you prepare and follow yourself it's better than being out in the cola and having no protection nothing over your head but it is of a limited value we kind of then you know on the other side you've got a nice house you have the builder that you know goes and does it for you that they have the experience they know how to make a nice house it will be weatherproof they'll be heated and their condition have all the amenities and that's a lot of times what you're doing with the with an attorney in the middle is kind of where we're we're positioning with a lot of the snap legal stuff is okay you want something better than a tent you can't afford the the nice house with the experience builder so why don't we kind of give you that something in the middle to where you can have a re you know maybe a small house a bit more of a shack but something that gives you a bit more of protection that gives you a bit more of um comfort and it gives you somewhere to be long term and that's where snap legal comes in so that that's where it kind of gauges to what are you looking for what are you going after and then match up your budget with whichever one that you're looking for does that make sense well I kind of walked right into that one didn't I that was a great pitch [Laughter] yeah no you you really answered it well so well awesome well definitely if you or any of the audience have any other questions we only get a few minutes to talk about intellectual property I could go on for for days on that topic but if you if you or the audience have any questions if you ever want to chat feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time we can chat one on one and dive into any questions that anybody has in a bit more detail but thank you again kelly for coming on the podcast it's been fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you very much I I appreciate being here absolutely