The 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.
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um do it do that thing you need to do i mean you have that idea go chase it down go go learn what you need to learn to get it done and get it done hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups and seven and eight-figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller i p law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks 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 and is gabrielle uh cavazo is that right all right and i was worried i was gonna mess it up but then i'm like i asked you before the podcast i overthought it but uh just a quick introduction to gabriel um is so he joined the army at 17 and uh at uh 17 because his parents wouldn't let him join the combat unit and went into more intelligence analytics then went off to texas state university was kind of a bit more of a party school only made it through a bit of a semester went back to the military did that again um and i think worked with i think financial fraud dealings if i remember right but i'll let you fill that in and also got a bit into onto the coding side so started to do a bit of programming um and got so good that he kind of ended up working himself out of a job or replacing himself um and then went and worked into in iraq for a period of time or a person he worked with went to iraq and then you follow along here followed along with there worked on i think it was tracking equipment for a period of time came back and or during that time had a friend that died from a motorcycle accident and part and you'll get into that a bit more but out of that kind of had the idea of why don't they have something similar to onstar but for motorcycles and so after you came back um and doing there after uh serving in iraq for a period of time continuing to learn coding build up that also went to work for a bit of a t t and then as a t as we got hit with copen or whatnot decided to uh focus full time on onstar for motorcycles so with that much his introduction welcome on the podcast gabriel uh thanks for having me so i gave kind of the the brief high-level quick or quick walk-through of your journey which never does it justice i don't want to say grief is that what you call it as brief as i can make it you have a lot in there it's a lot to unpack but it sounds like you wrote down everything from the initial energy it just repeated it for beijing that's right i i hey if nothing else i i have my i have my introduction and i want to make sure that i stick to the the facts so i don't make anything up so but maybe with that let's go back to you know 17 joining the army and kind of how your journey started from there yeah so i grew up in a small town in rural west texas um it's a 3 000 person town uh for the longest time we had the smallest walmart in the nation uh it closed at nine and a couple years ago they just got uh refrigerators in there so now they sell the coldest beer in town that's their claim to be um but yeah i i was going to high school there is there was really not a lot of options i saw a lot of kids that were older than me joining the military just just as a chance to go do something and see something other than cotton fields um and so i did the same thing um i was 17 my like you said i i wanted to join a combat mos and my parents wouldn't let me because when you're 17 that they have to sign off on it i was going to ask so i didn't know if you even could serve in a combat unit at 17 but if you have your parents sign up for permission yes if your mom writes you a permission slip then yes you can serve you can serve in a combat mls but your mom wouldn't write you wouldn't write your permission slip so then you decided to go into intelligence is that right and analytics yeah i was an intelligence analyst for um almost a decade oh cool so now you did intelligence analytics for a period of time and you know and sounds like it would have been a fun or exciting and then you i think you said and it would correct me where i'm wrong and always correct me where i'm wrong but then you at some point you went to texas state university and did that for at least a semester and then kind of came back to the military yeah so i was in the i was in the texas national guard and um at that time i was planning just to like just do my weekend uh by one weekend a month my two weeks a year just go to college um and while i was in college i went to one of the biggest party schools in texas um and i only made it a semester but for her i was on academic probation and i was like you know what um the army's got some really good jobs out there let me see what they're doing and so from then on i just uh i spent most of my time on um like active duty reserve so i would just uh do my normal job just as a active duty soldier or the national voter cool so so now you you know tried universe or tried school said okay parties partying is too much of a temptation i'll go back to the military that's a great place i enjoyed it and it was a good opportunity now when you went back you got into i think it was financial fraud or their issues dealing with their financial fraud and unit type of thing is that right yeah i worked for the texas military counter drug division and my job there was financial crimes i was a financial crimes analyst um looking for money laundering and embezzlement um those kinds of things and and this was kind of my first foray into really just sitting down and having a mountain of data in front of me um and when i say a mountain i mean literal stacks of paper that i scanned into the computer and then from there uh went and analyzed those bank accounts uh biking uh it was a very time intensive process so now i think because of the time intensive process what you mentioned before is you got into a bit of coding in order to make it more efficient and then in the end it ended up making it so efficient you worked yourself out of a job yes that's exactly what happened yeah i wanted to not do as much scanning but turns out that was part of the job that was just absolute necessity uh that was the one part that did take a long time but once it was there i didn't have to go through each file and find the uh find you know all the statement numbers move them over and put them into an excel sheet i eventually used a um ocular character recognition software to pull all that out and then um used a vba program um which is like the backbone of like um excel and access and those kind of microsoft products and was able to automate that entire process and then apply an obscure mathematical formula i had heard about in a stats class one time called binver's law which is the idea that in a random data set the number nine shouldn't appear should appear the least and if you the thing about financial crimes is uh anywhere over uh money coming into your bank account anywhere over ten thousand dollars needs to be reported um but you can get around that by putting 99999 9772 um and that's called structuring and it's also elite and so uh this uh this law you know when applied to that data set uh worked to find uh hey is this is there money in here is there structuring here um and uh it didn't always work sometimes i had done all the work for nothing and sometimes it did work um i mean something i mean sometimes there was money lingering sometimes it wasn't it did always work um but within that so so you got the you did the you know figured it out so it sounds like once you figured out that formula my guess is is you're now looking whether or not you know there's enough nines whether or not there's irregularities where hey every other deposit i make is 99999 or 998 or whatever it is and you're able to start to detect your uh determine patterns but in the process because you can now train the saw or have the software look for a lot what you were doing manually it started to flag those out and there wasn't as much need to do it manually is that about right yeah well um like i said this is my first foray into tech so i didn't milk it like i should have i should have just let them think that i was working just as hard as i should have just said look at how awesome i am at my job i can do all this and i'm i'm awesome at it and then you don't then they never know yeah i i should have just let them think i was still buried under that mountain paperworks and like watch netflix in the back like that's that's what i should have done what i did do was say hey look at this cool thing i made and they were like awesome this is really cool it turns out we don't need you anymore thank you that's great now we can save money and guess how we're going to save money we're going to let you go yeah so so now that occurs and you say okay i did i did so great of a job i no longer have a job so now what it so how did you where did you transition from there uh from there um the commander of the unit that i was in uh was going to iraq she got pulled for the assignment and i got tapped on the shoulder to go with her and it was going to be my first deployment so i took it that was 2017. um by the time we got direct with all the train up and everything was about a year and a half in the process and so i get to iraq and now i have these skills you know what i mean i know i can i can code i can i can do a little bit i know hey you know everything i knew i i learned from google and so i'm like anything that i need to know in the future i'll probably just google it um which is uh something nobody told ever told me about tech like hey you ever heard of github like the yeah so i get to iraq and there's a lot of processes that can be automated and i hit the ground um we saw what the other guys were doing um and a lot of it was going to be the same kind of work that i had already done previously um using ocular character recognition to strip everything out and build a data set and then move that data set into a visualization so now so you were you were continuing to basically you know you almost self-taught coding because you out of almost a desire to make it better on the previous position you had you go over to iraq and you kind of take that same mentality of hey there's a lot of process that i can improve things that can be done better and they can often that be done via software now or help me remember in the mix of all that you know you had your friend that had a motorcycle accident was that why you're in iraq or is that when you got back or kind of how did that overlay and play into everything yeah that was while i was in iraq one of my soldiers passed away um in a motorcycle accident and um i didn't uh it didn't really click in my mind i just knew that this was something that had happened and i knew it was something that frequently happened to soldiers and uh upon returning i found out about the circumstances of his death and you know i was like uh there's there's got to be something right there's got to be something out there that stops this from happening there's got to be something out there that calls um you know that calls ems when there's a crash like like monster like onstar for motorcycles and i just i started rolling and um i you know i start doing my research and i'm like why is there why is there nothing out here and it seems so simple and whenever i talk about what i do now um most people are like wait that didn't exist and i'm like that's what i said yeah exactly you know it's one of those that makes logical sense you're like okay you know you have them for cars if you get an accident you have an issue you know you can they'll detect the accident and they'll automatically call 9-1-1 and let them know over your um year's location and kind of you know that something's occurred and that they should respond but it also makes sense you know motorcycles is one where you don't have necessarily the you know it's it would be different in the sense you'd have to do different sensors or figure out a different way to detect it because you're not going to have the same you know front impact sensors you might have and how that would go so in one sense it definitely makes sense why you would want it and yet also why they may not have put that together so you kind of had that uh you know that idea that epiphany now did you start to work on it did you put it or you know hold it off for a period of time or kind of as your as that came up and you had your friend that had that experience how did you start to do or blend that in with what everything else you had going on well when i came back in in 2018 um i i had this idea um and i had ordered some parts i had ordered um a microcontroller and uh some drone sensors um like a gps chip and those kinds of things i was like i think these are kind of the things that i'm going to need to build this i don't know how they work yet but i guess i'll figure it out and just as a hobby i started i started tinkering with this until i had um built my proof of concept um you know and was able to attach it to a motorcycle battery and it runs itself and it and it works uh and it spits out the data that i needed and i was like okay what do i do now and i i kind of put it on hold because at the same time that i'm doing all of this i started doing stand-up comedy that's that's a fun er a different direction so you're doing one one hand you're working on a um onstar for motorcycles and then you're also getting a stand-up comedy career going and what what made you decide that you know what made you decide to go into stand-up comedy is just always something that sounded fun or something that you're passionate about or what how did you kind of get into that i think that i had um uh i had something to say you know i felt like i had i thought i thought it was a pretty funny guy uh and i felt like i could um provide some really interesting insights about uh specifically about the military that was what most of my jokes were about um uh but i also uh through that i kind of saw some some issues in the comedy world and i set out on solving those and i started a comedy company and that was kind of my focus after i had already built uh the first rex device um and i just i ran with comedy for a year um well over a year until um coveted and then that's when i i picked it back up and uh i was like well this is this cool thing that i built and i've got nothing but time since i've been laid off um and uh you know why not why not chase this down um and at the same time that that i'm chasing rex down um an opportunity presents itself in comedy and you know a couple months later i'm a comedy club voter as well so you you actually as a as covent hitting that you decided you would acquire comedy club and have that as an opportunity assuming things open back up and then during the meantime while cove would kind of shut that down or in person things you would focus on the onstar am i reading that right yeah that's exactly that's exactly what happened while everything was shut down it kind of uh it was rex's the sole focus and i was able to make all the progress that i could um you know i hired i hired the right individuals to take my my stop my hardware prototype and start making that a real commercially viable thing um and you know hired the right software team to start fleshing out my idea into something that can actually be usable and uh you know interact with it with an app like um and uh at the same time you know everything's everything's still shut down um and then one of my old comedian friends uh says hey i'm gonna start doing shows again as things start to trickle open um and he wanted to use my company's name and uh i was like yeah yeah sure you know i've just got a bunch of followers sitting out there um waiting for comedy as far as i'm concerned you know the comedy seemed grown so quickly here uh it was already awesome and then you know there's this huge influx as more and more uh comedians moved here and so we just kind of wrote that out um and he started growing our our shows you know all of these were local bar shows you know um bars and venues would bring us in to provide comedy on wednesday and tuesday nights um and and that was it and then all of a sudden um in november the uh creek in the cave in new york which was very beloved uh by the scene club uh shuts down because they couldn't handle covet um and uh my the guy that i had one of the comedy company his name is marty clark he reaches out to her and says hey you want to move to austin and so we raise we raise money i mean basically overnight we raised 400 000 in two weeks and we're able to make this comedy club happen so now so you've now got on the one hand you've got the comedy club and on the other hand you've got onstar for motorcycles so kinda now bringing it up to uh to today are you continuing to pursue both you know is both of us a passion you know is comedy open back up as comedy clubs open back up or if you still have a good degree of free time such you can pursue onstar kind of what is the mix or kind of where things out for you today um the mix is very much uh [Music] currently we just had our opening weekend uh last weekend uh it went great um and as you know everything's running smoothly i i barely have anything to do there i'm mostly standing in the way uh um and so it's uh it's been a huge relief to not have to worry about that anymore now that we're open um and you know going forward everything that i do i usually spend my days you know wake up really early um you know go go fix something at the club um and then sit at the club and uh on my laptop just sending emails and which is most of what running a business is sending emails and you know getting quotes back and working on uh our testing plans and our product development line and our manufacturing uh how all how all the pieces are going to play together um so rex has definitely been a huge focus for me um and then comedy is just it's just so much fun man it's so much fun to be around how could you stay away um so so now that kind of so it sounds like to to a degree you know you're still part of the comedy club you're still doing that um but it allows you to also focus on and go or you know continue to develop the onstar for motorcycles so now kind of looking towards the future you know now you're saying okay this is where i'm at today this is where i'm headed kind of you look at the next six to 12 months where do you see things headed is it more of the focus on the onstar you'll get that out in the marketplace going is it already out in the marketplace and same thing in the comedy club kind of where do you see that balance or where do you see things headed uh you know i don't uh concern myself too much with what's going on in the club um you know it's i'm just there because i'm the guy that knows how to use a drill the best i know how to i know how to i know how to use a drill and an assault i can fix things i'm a pretty handy guy so i that's what i get used for in the mornings um and then we just have we also grate my eyes just to be around and be able to really focus on what's going on rex so in the next uh six to 12 months we'll definitely be we are knocking it out in our development process right now um we're going to be going into crash testing in the next couple months uh just waiting to clear legal and uh and we're ready to go we'll have our uh testing prototypes on bikes and get our betas out uh before august and um we'll see how that goes and get all that testing done and then november december you know try to get a product out right in time for the uh the christmas season and that's i mean that's just for our direct to consumer side uh we also secured a small business innovation research grant from the air force uh and so we'll also be contracting um building this out for them all right sounds like plenty of things to keep you busy and keep you motivated so that's awesome sounds like a lot of fun things ahead well as we um you know kind of catch up kind of see where you're at today and also where you're headed i always you know transition to two questions i always ask at the end of the podcast so go ahead and jump to those now so the first question i'd ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it the worst business decision you made um man uh [Music] you know i knew this was going to be on the quiz i didn't study um the worst business decision i made was um initially i think what took me so long uh getting getting my focus back into rex um was trying to work with friends and trying to you know my friends that knew how to code better than i did and um trying to be like hey can we sit down and you can look at this bit of code that i wrote and see if i've got any problems here like because i can't figure it out um eventually i realized like my friends are going to stop wanting to hang out with me so i stopped pushing them and uh just really focused on on teaching myself and uh realized that you know in the first couple months it was it was just me i had a co-founder um but he had other obligations and it couldn't be as present as he would have liked to um and through that you know i ended up doing everything i but now because of that initially it was this huge headache trying to scramble to learn everything that i needed to do hardware wise and uh how do i get a manufacturing quote and how do i do all these things and how how do i get a patent like um you know i ended up turning to fiverr for a lot of things that i couldn't i couldn't do myself i certainly wasn't going to spend it was all about balance of do i spend my time learning something and doing it or do i pay somebody to do it because my time is better spent doing something else and because of that because i spent all that time learning because it was all me and that in the beginning of this i know this business in and out you know i did all the market research i did all the i can spout the numbers at you uh like the back of my hand you know i know it so well um so this thing that i thought was initially was a huge headache turned out to be um a great uh a great decision no that's always interesting you know especially when you're getting to a startup small business you know at some point as you bring people on as you as it grows and expands you know you have to do that but it's always great as you start out you have to have that kind of foundational knowledge of hey this is or is impossible and you have you know able to understand hey this should take x amount of time or i anticipated doing that and if not you know you can kind of get a gauge for as you bring people on as you hire it out and do other things you can get that found you'll have that foundation to work from and if you kind of try and jump past that foundation it's hard to really run or effectively run the business so i think that definitely makes sense uh what you mentioned so now for the the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business what'd be the one piece of advice you'd give them uh i did think about this question and the answer is um do it do that thing you need to do i mean you have that idea go chase it down go uh go learn what you need to learn to get it done and get it done and i i love that you know it's funny as and i and i say it almost every time that i hear the answer because as many different people to talk to with this much different journeys i would say that you know a variation of that answer is going to be the most common answer and i think that's because everybody that does do a startup does do a small business they always find out once they get started once they just dive in they do it how exciting or fun and enjoyable and rewarding it is and if they didn't always wish you know hey i wish i got started earlier wish i'd been doing this because it's just so you know i enjoy it so much type of a thing and that doesn't mean that it's not hard and difficult doesn't take a lot of blood sweat and tears and nights and weekends and evenings and worrying and juggling lots of hats but on the other hand if you you know you get into it you can much or much more quickly find that you love it you enjoy it or you're not cut out to it and you don't want to do it but i think that that that's a great uh great takeaway so yeah i'm excited to see oh sorry i'm really excited to see the uh the businesses that are coming out of kovit right now that started in code um because i feel like you know a lot of people were like me on unemployment and you know maybe had an idea rolling around and then started chasing it down because of that free time and i think that there's going to be some really cool stuff coming out of the next few years um you know as as terrible as kovit has been for everyone um there's uh got to be somebody out there that's going to make something great out of this situation no and i absolutely agree and i think it'll be interesting because i think covet is one giving people more time to think ponder look review and then all you know more time on their hands because they are have been stuck inside but also gives you an opportunity to say hey you know i can do this or i'm going to pursue this or i have the time now to do it once i've always kind of made excuses or put on the back burner and a lot of those ski excuses have been removed so i think it will be an exciting time to see how it all evolves and how how many startups and different startups come out of all of it so yeah it's really i think it's going to be a really great time to be an ip lawyer well i'll i'll definitely always uh take that because uh that's uh that's my love of my passion so well as we wrap up if you if people want to reach out they want to find out more about you your business they want to be a they want they ride motorcycles they want to be a customer client they're a upcoming comedian want to be your uh be do a show at your club they want to be an investor they want to be a partner 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 find out more and connect with you uh you can find us on all social medias at get rex w-r-e-x-x uh you can find us at getrex.com um you can find the comedy club at creek um come by and see us all right well i definitely encourage everybody to check any and all the above out and i think that both you know both the comedy club sounds like a blast and the onstar for motorcycles definitely sounds like um a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit so thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey and tell and you want to come on the podcast and be a guest feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe and your podcast players so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so new people can find us last but not least if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else reach out to us at millerip law and we're always here to help just go to strategymeeting.com thank you again gabriel it's been fun it's been a pleasure to have you on and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you very much devin it's good