The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Develop GritEvery entrepreneur needs to develop grit and practice gratitude. What I mean by that is with developing grit there is no easy business. If it was easy everybody would be doing it and nobody would be willing to pay you for it. You are doing something hard and so you are going to have days that are awful. You are going to have days where your partner is depressed and you are depressed and you don't feel like you can go forward. That's where I feel like you really have to take a step back and say ok I need to have the same Passion and excitement that I had on day one for this project right now in this moment. Because that is the only way we are going to get through this.
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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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every entrepreneur you need to develop grit and i think you need to practice gratitude and what i mean by that so developing grit there is no easy business if it was easy everybody would be doing it and nobody would be willing to pay you for it and so you're doing something hard you're going to have days that are awful you're going to have days that your partner's depressed you're depressed you don't feel like you can go forward and you don't know what to do and that's where i feel like you really have to take a step back and say okay i need to have the same passion and excitement that i had on day one for this project right now in this moment because that's the only way that we're going to get through this [Music] hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that has built several startups into seven and eight-figure companies as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help yourself feel free to go to strategymeeting.com and now uh we have another great uh guest on the episode name is man here manti gleeson and uh manti just as a way of a quick introduction started his business i think in around 2015 and it started as i think or out of the senior project at byu so go cougars so my alma mater as well so it's always fun to talk to a fellow byu grad um it was doing that uh and uh as it was started i think as drones and was looking at some battery technology as to how to make batteries work better charge faster be you know basically more efficient and better batteries and out of that you know needing it for drones kind of evolved into what you guys do today which i think still includes drones but kind of as air is continuing to expand your services and how the batteries are what features they have and all of that good stuff so with that much of an introduction welcome on to the podcast manti great thanks so much devon great to be on with you so i did kind of uh a very quick or quick and brief summary or overview of how you kind of got into where you're at today but now take us back in time a little bit let's hear you kind of were doing your work doing your senior projects at byu and how did you get into what you're doing yeah so i've always wanted to be an entrepreneur all of the people that i've looked up to throughout my life all my mentors they've all been entrepreneurs and influenced me a lot i've started a few different little businesses just as i was growing up i i've always kind of been self-employed just doing little odd things here and there um whether it was selling hay or teaching horse lessons i landscaping stuff i've done a bunch of different things there jumping in i know i just interrupted but selling hay is an interesting one so did you haul hey or did you guys live on a farm or just go randomly buy hay and resell it so i actually i we have horses and so i got into it just out of necessity we were buying a lot of hay for our horses and i realized this is kind of a pain for a lot of people in the salt lake valley who don't live in a rural area to get access to hay for their animals and so just well i i just barely got my driver's license and so i recruited my two younger brothers and said hey i'll buy a hamburger if you come up to cache valley with me we'll buy a trailer load of hay take it down we'll store it in our barn until winter time and then we'll jack up the price and we'll sell it for four times as much as we paid for it and we should make a good good amount of money and started out just like that and it ended up growing into a lot more and that's that's actually how i kind of built my savings early on for for some of my other projects so it was a fun little side hustle i i i enjoyed it i i don't miss bucking all the hay though it was a lot i grew up kindred spirit i didn't get paid i just got to go and help out the family at hall hay so my grandpa was a farmer and he had cows and everything so when the season came around we would get the hay cut we'd all throw it up on the trailer and and we'd all pitch in so certainly understand that's the cool hence why it caught my attention so always grew up and it's fun to always hear you know i always have the aspirations i hope my kids and i always loved you know start small businesses but my kids grow up looking for opportunities to work and to you know expand skills and figure that out and always do that so i think that's cool that you grew up in that kind of uh you know environment as well so now back to so you did you know always an entrepreneur growing up always had that been knowing you know did the different companies are doing it now you're the senior project and kind of having that same thing so how did that how did your senior project kind of or take that same evolution yeah so while i was at byu i knew i wanted to study business and i was really interested in entrepreneurship just because of a lot of the classes byu had a great program i think they were ranked number two in the country at the time while i was there so they offered amazing curriculum really awesome professors i had some great mentors down there and while i was there early on they kind of push you towards picking developing a business and so i started working with my friends on a few different side projects um some of those took off from my friends some didn't and then as we started going into this drone started becoming more and more popular this was uh like i said early probably yeah 2013 2014 2015 that whole time period so dji drones the little phantoms they were taking off and we my dad and i my dad is a software developer and does a lot of i.t stuff as well and so he he and i were talking and we thought it would be super cool if we wrote some software for one of these little drones to follow my little brother while he was on the football field so we didn't have to film his football games we could just have the drone follow him and so we started working on that and i figured hey maybe this could turn into my senior project we'll do the software spin it out it could be a really cool thing then we realized we couldn't keep the drones in the air and you had to buy a bunch of batteries to keep them in the air a bunch of chargers they were really slow it was hard to manage all the batteries and so we started looking for different options for for doing that and then slowly as as we started reading up and doing a bunch of research we just started pulling this idea here this idea here and putting it together until eventually we had a pretty cool system that did everything that your your manual would tell you to do as far as taking care of the batteries and and what you can do to charge the fastest and then we started doing research on top of that we reached out to a couple different engineering firms and started working with them um just building out a multi-port battery charger for drones that could keep up with what we were trying to do and it started out really rocky really slow um made a lot of mistakes along the way but we built out a pretty cool platform for these drones that allowed us to be able to keep the same drone up that was taking 12 batteries we could do the same job with four batteries and we were able to keep those batteries healthy and lasting longer than our batteries with our traditional chargers just because we were optimizing everything we could to keep those batteries healthy and so at first our our idea was hey we're going to sell these boxes we started talking to and working with some different drone distributors that we had connections to and it was looking like a great opportunity and it one thing led to another and and we kind of got sucked into feature creep which i'll talk about a little bit more later but we got sucked into that and that held us back from from really selling the product at the time and but but it also helped us expand our vision a little bit more beyond just a charging box and we realized that there was really an opportunity here not just for battery charging but for battery care as a whole where we could kind of look at it and say okay these batteries right now this may not be a big deal for a hobbyist that's flying a drone or for somebody who just has a drill that they're trying to put a few screws in while they're doing a building project but but we could really see that this battery revolution was on the verge of taking off and and that's kind of where we're at today where we're seeing this battery revolution where drones and delivery robots and warehouse robotics even i mean i was at the store the other day and now you can buy a snow blower that's battery powered and there's all these electric vehicles and so we started seeing this as we were getting into this project developing this first multi-port charger and we realized there was more to it that if we gathered all the data from these batteries it would be really helpful for managing fleets of batteries it would be really helpful for optimizing charge profiles so that it wasn't just a simple algorithm that we put in once but we could actually learn from that data and and we could also push out further advancements for charging and battery care so that these batteries last longer they're safer and you're able to operate with less battery equipment so that's that's kind of where we we've evolved into now where we have more of a battery care platform versus just battery charging so we do the charging the maintenance and the management with the opportunity of implementing new technology as it comes out so now diving into that just a little bit because i think that's an interesting because it sounds i don't know if it quite sounds like a pivot but an expansion but was it you know simply that simple hey we've got a platform now let's do it was it hey we want to expect you know and you talked a little about feature creep and we dive into that minute but you know how did you decide hey we're going to go from a drone you know first of all from a a bit a bit of a hobby or so to speak to be able to do your you know brother on the football game to hey we can actually do this as a project then you said let's do this as an actual company to hey this is more than drones was you know that leap from hey this is drones and we're going to start that as a business to more of a battery care was that kind of an intentional you know development of the company was it a falling into it was it a pivot or how did you kind of end up at that place yeah great question so it was definitely something where we developed that multi-port charger and when we realized hey we could keep this drone in the air with a third of the batteries that it requires otherwise which a little drone that may not matter but we're not talking double a batteries if you start looking at some of these batteries that are a thousand dollars a piece and the drone needs two or four or six batteries it starts to add up and so when we realized hey we can do this and and we started looking at what we were doing to be able to keep those drones in the air we were collecting a lot of data from the batteries we're optimizing the temperature during the charge process um we're optimizing the flow of the current so rather than just pushing a flat amount we were matching it for certain times during the charge making these adjustments and we realized that data could be just as valuable as a hole rather than just in the charging situation and so that it kind of we were kind of pushed that direction naturally just as we started looking at the assets that we were gathering through this process for our first little multi-port charger that we developed no that's i think that's awesome and you know it makes it i think you know batteries sometimes fail to be maybe you know with the exception of a tesla or someone that just had you know adds their cars but a lot of times the battery is almost an afterthought right oh we go find a standard battery off the shelf we'll you know do that you know in my world you know i would do it from a different but one of the businesses i you know i'm involved with is on the wearable side and that you know much you know different context with the same thing as you're trying to cram as much power as you can into a very small and confined space and any way you can optimize that is you know well worth the time and effort and so i kind of you know it's interesting to see how you guys tackled it for one area and you know how everybody is kind of dealing with this power issue and how if you know if you don't if you treat it as an afterthought it can make a sub-optimal product and vice versa it can create a much more a better competitive advantage so now as you guys you're growing you know you kind of figured out you got the initially the drone system you're now kind of looking to expand into other areas where do you see kind of the the next six months to a year kind of where did this continue to evolve for you guys yeah so it's it's definitely had its bumps in the road as with anybody else with covid it's kind of thrown like our supply chain for example that's been just so much fun trying to go back and forth with with different suppliers now amitskovid but but it's also opened up some opportunities just to look at different areas that we can we can approach like there's there's definitely a lot of opportunities um in academia and within um military opportunities that we're pursuing right now we've we've made some great partnerships we're actually we just partnered with utah state recently and we're helping them with one of their big drone systems that they have just be able to build a battery care system so that they can keep track of their batteries more effectively and keep those drones in the air and and they can use their equipment for what they're really good at so they're designing some amazing um cameras and and software and different things for um drone agriculture type stuff and and so for us to kind of be able to come in and complement what they're doing to help them do what they do best by us coming in and doing what we do best with the battery care that's been an area that we're really excited about and we hope to do the same with with other areas kovitz kind of put drone delivery and and robotic delivery on on the forefront of everybody's mind it's kind of accelerated things which we're excited about we feel like there's some real opportunities there long term we'll see how long that that term is but um we feel like if if we could help cut down the the number of batteries needed by 60 that could be pretty significant for these drone fleets or for these robotic fleets and it may not be that extreme in all cases but we feel like we have a pretty good value proposition for these companies so that's kind of the the area the vision that we have going forward is tapping in first with these these academia and and government areas where they're doing the research for this drone delivery and and things like that and then transitioning more into the commercial side as as the regulation permits that um so no and i think that makes complete sense you know so it almost sounds like you're saying hey this kind of we started out in almost i'd say high-level hobbyist drones right or in the sense of it was hey it's the ones that you take the video you can fly them around and now you're looking at what are the applications that really you know not just nice to have kind of a thing but a really a critical of the battery power is such that you know for the military for delivery services for other areas that they are going to be bigger distances or have that spec or particular need even more so reinforced that's kind of the areas of opportunity that you guys are headed so i think that that sounds cool well now we are starting to reach and i left a little bit more time just because it's a and also a topic that i think is interesting on your biggest mistake and we talked just a little bit before but i'll ask you the question then we'll dive into the topic just a bit more but before before we dive in so first question i always ask as we get towards the end of the podcast is what was your worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it so i like i said i kind of hinted at this earlier but feature creep and this is something i know all of my mentors and friends and the engineers we've worked with and different partners and employees that they're going to cringe because i told you so and it's something that i knew that we all knew but it really is a trap that even though i knew it it's it's so easy to get sucked into it especially as an entrepreneur when you're getting ready to to launch a product and you feel like hey we have one shot at this and we've got to make sure that the product we launch is the biggest baddest best solution out there so that we don't get trampled by the competition and that that fear of getting crushed by the competition it forces you into this cycle of well if we just did this we would be that much better if we just did this we would be that much better and and we totally got sucked into that and that killed us that i mean here we are five years later and our product is amazing i feel like we've developed it out a lot more than from just the little multi-port charging box that we had but we missed out on a lot of revenue a lot of opportunity that we could have been taking advantage of that would have helped us to grow our team faster that would have helped us get in front of more people and it it was just a big mistake that we should have avoided um and looking back that's that's a big regret and a big warning that i would give to any entrepreneurs out there is just don't let fear paralyze you to the point that you don't launch when you have that that minimum viable product and so looking back i think the way to avoid that is having a scope for your project which we did but really sticking to that scope and saying okay this is the scope for this product for the first launch and then we'll set a scope for the next one that's going to have these additional features so that that's something that going forward we've definitely implemented that into our business model no and i think and where i've ran into it and kind of almost you know i think it happens across a lot of different industries um you know i i get harped on it by the software guys that i work with and they're kind of the same thing they're like oh yeah here's a i'm like oh this should be a simple feature right we can just add this and it won't take you well that will only take us a month and you know and this is why in blah blah and you're like oh yeah that probably does award a month's worth of work and we'd rather do other things but it is so easy because you have especially if you're the inventor you're you know the idea guy you come up with that you can see so many pass and so many things to add and some of them first of all are just bad ideas if you were to stand back and say nobody else other than me that thinks that's really cool nobody else will pay for it or even if they're good ideas you to your point you start to you start to hold off your product too long and you miss your markets and you you know you miss a window or two i like your point of you know it's almost you worry so much that you only have one shot if you introduce in the marketplace and it is not the perfect product right out of the chute at least perfect in your mind that you're going to you know it's going to fail and you're never going to be able to recover which is seldom the case and hey you launch it in there and you get feedback from the marketplace the feedback is valuable help should even make it better helps you to know where they're what the pain points are what they're going to pay for what they're not and kind of i hate the term minimally viable product but and i'll give you my short reason why so minimally viable product in my mind always sounds like you're putting out the crappiest product you can as quick as you can i'm like well i don't want to put out a crappy product but i think you know more i would say maximally viable product but more of look at your constraints look at how much time what your budget is when you need to do it what the scope and the specification are and then give their product best product you can within that spec or within that scope but make sure it doesn't hold it up yeah exactly and and that's something that we were just so excited we figured hey we're going to have the first battery charger that has an app that's built into it so you can see the individual cells while they're charging and but our early customers wouldn't have cared about that it wasn't necessary for for a product that they would be happy with so you're right it's not a minimum viable product it's not like we were gonna push out a crappy product but our customers would have been totally happy with with what we had we were just trying to put even more frosting on it so that we would look good compared to the competition and it wasn't needed yeah and i think there i think i like that point as well because i mean and the reason i harp on it and left a little bit more time because i think that it's one that it happens to almost everybody i like to your point it's like you know we you hear about it and everybody's like i'm gonna be different i'm not gonna fall into the same traps and most of the time you fall into the same traps you have to learn the lessons sometimes the hard way because i think if if i remember now diving into the details i think where you guys said you made the mistake was is that you had one battery that was built for the original battery system they phased it out wasn't that part of it as well another kind of issue that you ran into is as you put all this time and effort to do that and now they change the system on you and all that time and extra effort first of all that people weren't paying for but second of all you can't even recoup it anyway yeah exactly we we had focused all this time and energy on this this drone we had done all this market research and these were the drones like these two drones were the ones that were dominating and then right as we're getting ready to roll out our product that we were so proud of the drone manufacturer rolls out their next model and it totally sets us back and so it really forced us to take a step back and it was a painful step but it also helped us to look at our system and say okay how can we avoid this going forward so that our product doesn't get phased out every year when this drone manufacturer or that drone manufacturer pushes something out how can we make it a little more dynamic and a little bit more of a product that that really fills a need so that these manufacturers want our technology to work with their technology no i i think that there's a lot of wisdom in that in the sense you know what's always the hardest is anytime your product is dependent on somebody and everybody's to some degree is but some certainly more so than others you always have that kind of interdependency and the more robust you can make it that you're not either emboldened to just one individual or one provider and or that you can much more flexibly adapt your product i think gives you the the strength that you're talking about so i always even look at you know sometimes when you do like apps with that you know and going almost back to the phone apps on the phone and then apple or android or anybody comes out makes the updates and now your app is no longer relevant you have to put in all that time money and effort again to update it or to revise it or to do a new one it can be that kind of that never-ending cycle so i think you know certainly like the wisdom of sharing that you know make it see take the pivot introspectively look at and say how can we make this so we don't get in that same trap again yeah with that now we'll jump to the second question i always ask is um so now if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them yeah so i would and and maybe this is just the season that we're in but the thing that keeps coming to my mind as i've been thinking about this question is every entrepreneur you need to develop grit and i think you need to practice gratitude and what i mean by that so developing grit there is no easy business if it was easy everybody would be doing it and nobody would be willing to pay you for it and so you're doing something hard you're going to have days that are awful you're going to have days that your partner is depressed you're depressed you don't feel like you can go forward and you don't know what to do and that's where i feel like you really have to take a step back and say okay i need to have the same passion and excitement that i had on day one for this project right now in this moment because that's the only way that we're going to get through this and i think it's important too that your family your partners your spouse they need to have that grit too because an entrepreneurial experience is going to be on all hands on deck for everybody it doesn't matter what phase you're at it's it's taxing on your family on your partners on your employees on you and so making sure that everybody that you work with has that understanding has that grit with them will will definitely help carry you through those down days and then the practicing or the practicing gratitude side of things the reason i bring that up i feel like it does a lot of things for you as an entrepreneur practicing gratitude it will help you make and save so many relationships because you're going to strain a lot of relationships when you're going out and you're you're starting a business and you're you're doing this early on you're asking for free advice or you're you're working on a project and it fails or or you're bootstrapping and maybe it doesn't work out just right and you don't pay your investors back as quickly as you wanted to everything that you can do to show the people that you're working with that hey i'm in this i am so grateful for your help it'll help you a lot and it'll also keep you in a positive mindset where you can take a step back and you can be teachable because if you're not teachable if you're always defensive and well this is why i did this and you're wrong for this reason you can't you can't learn from your mistakes and you can't go forward but i feel like if you have that if you practice gratitude and even when somebody's ripping you apart or has some feedback if you practice that gratitude and you you look at it a little differently and say hey yeah maybe they just ripped my pitch apart or they just ripped my whole technology apart you can learn from it and you can say okay they ripped it apart because of this what if we change this and now all of the sudden our product is much more robust we have something that can really make a difference in the world and it it just started with that principle of gratitude where you have that open mindset you're willing to thank somebody for ripping you apart so that you can learn from that and i i feel like if you can develop those two things you're gonna make it no and i like both of those i i agree grid is one that i think sets you up and it is you know however cliche it is or however overuse it it really does come down to everybody thinks that there are a lot of people think that you know the dream is to run your own business or to do your own thing and a lot of people get into and they find out hey this isn't for me it's not as fun it's not it's not the e it doesn't look it always looks a lot easier when somebody else is doing it right in the sense that whenever you see the tv shows or the movies or the you know whatever it is or you talk with somebody oh their business is just so easy for you to know almost every business requires a lot of grit and to your point there are days you know your business my business that you just have crappy days it's just not fun and you're saying you know whether it's how to make payroll it's how to deal with employees it's how to do with product development it's how to deal with clients it's how to deal with investors not all of that goes right all the time and so if you don't have that grit you're just not gonna have it i like the gratitude you know one of the things that i think even if being grateful or showing great gratitude even if you disagree with someone is something that i think is worthwhile and you know that when i and the ip firm we work with a lot of clients and you know some clients are awesome to work with and others are less than fun to work with i'm not going to name which one it is but you know some of them are just they take a lot of work and so you know and sometimes you just get frustrated with them or they and they and then they come and yell you even though you've written off time you've done a whole bunch of work because they're expectations but just showing that extra level of gratitude putting your the client first saying hey i'm grateful for your business this is what we're doing and those type i think it goes to your point a long way for those that are along with you supporting you whether it's a client whether it's investor whether it's employees or anybody else to show that gratitude as opposed to taking the defense so i like both of those i think they're great both great points to hit on was we wrap up if people want to find out more about your business they want to reach out to you 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 to you yeah so they can reach out to us on our website we have a contact page architectcharge.com or they can reach us directly my email is manti architectcharge.com i'd love to answer any questions or talk to anybody that that needs needs an ear all right well i appreciate uh appreciate coming on i certainly encourage everybody to check out the website reach out to manti if you ever have any anything that he can help you out with um now if you're a listener make sure if you uh if you have your own journey to tell we'd love to have you on so go to inventivejourneyguest.com apply to be on the podcast we'd love to share your journey if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you hear uh get notifications as all our new awesome episodes come out and last but not least if you ever need any help with patents or trademarks we're always here to help just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time and we're always happy to chat with you well thank you again manti fun to have you on been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than last thank you you too have a great one devin you