Don't Make Something Too Advanced
Where Are They Now?
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Don't Make Something Too Advanced
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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when you're inventing there's a concept i forget the name of the designer who came up with this concept is amazing guy from 1950s and it's called maya which is most advanced yet acceptable and uh and the struggle is that if you make something too advanced um you're gonna have a really difficult time getting people to adopt the product and so there needs to be effort put into making something um uh whether it's the interface or some aspect of it acceptable to the general public so they can understand it so [Music] 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 uh startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller i p law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents trademarks and everything else if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today we have a guest that i'm excited to have back on he is probably the earliest guest we've had as a second episode so i think you were six or six episode originally when you launched a podcast and we're now up i'd have to honestly double check i think we're at 160 episodes and so it's a it's a flash from the past that i'm excited to catch up so justin evans in case i didn't mention so justin um if you if you were to go back he's on episode six and uh he was talking a little bit he started out in the film industry got into lighting um and then covet hit and lighting was originally i think not putting words in your mouth was kind of with the film industry and making some great lighting products and that covert hitting a bit and you're saying hey this a lot of this lighting we can repurpose and use for sanitation we can use for to reduce you know the spread of things and to kill germs and other diseases and that and so made a bit of a pivot and an adjustment at least in part and then as also and we won't hit on it in this episode much although i'll just give a bit of a teaser that justin is going through with this company a bit of a merger and acquisition talks with other companies and looking at that because of confidentiality reasons we won't be able to disclose a little bit so we're already planning our third our third episode to give an update on that aspect but we're going to hold that as a teaser until you get through a lot a lot of that because those those dating attorneys will make it life miserable if you if you break confidentiality so in the meantime we're going to give a bit of an update to talk a little bit about where the technology's at where how it's evolved and we're even maybe going to touch a little bit on intellectual property and how that and kind of has played out in a few justin's experience a bit on on all of that front as well so with that much as an introduction welcome back on the podcast justin hey there it's good to see you sir so i i gave them a bit of the teaser but you know on the technology and we said we'll hold the other parts of the next episode but on the technology side you know tell us a little bit about first of all this taking back cause i think now let me i'm going to look it up real time our last episode was on or was on may 21st 2020 is when it aired and do you think about taking us back from that point in time it's actually it's been more like seven or eight months anyway you know i hope it was just coveted kind of hit you were into a couple months into it kind of had lockdowns people weren't really you know sure what to do and it also had a big effect on business and so take us a little bit back to you know kind of you have because i think at that point and again not trying to put what's your mouth you had some contracts and some prior to kova you had some contracts and agreements and kind of on the lighting aspect for movies and films and other you know those type of things that you are looking into and then covet kind of put a kibosh on under a screeching halt so take us back a little bit in time to how you were starting to adapt and adjust and where that's gone for you since then so um the anthem one platform and if anyone's gone to our website wants to see our products it's at anthemone.com um uh we marketed it originally as a light and and that was because when you're inventing there's a concept i forget the name of the designer who came up with this concept is amazing guy from 1950s and it's called maya which is most advanced yet acceptable and uh and the struggle is that if you make something too advanced um you're gonna have a really difficult time getting people to adopt the product and so there needs to be effort put into making something um uh whether it's the interface or some aspect of it acceptable to the general public so they can understand it so so um the way that we did this is we engaged and i i guess we would say is uh marketing simplification we said we'd invented this thing called a light and it's not a light it's actually an electromagnetic platform and um and so the the the first light cards that we created for these interchangeable led pucks that come in and out of the system we're all in the visible light spectrum and and we were going after the industry that i had spent most of my career in which was the film industry and um and so that meant you know prior to kovid uh we were just taken off like a rocket um we had the olympics we had the final four we had nissan we had a fashion show in new york um all of these were upcoming customers that were going to be placing significant orders or doing really large rentals in 2020 and we were looking where we were in in january of 2020 uh uh where our budget was and we had nine months of expenses in the bank like we we were we were we were already forecasting well what can we do in october what can we do in november uh based on how much capital uh we had just from from customers and then covet ruined everything coveted came along and and uh wiped out all those customers the the moment we found out the olympics was cancelled was the moment we went okay we're in serious trouble um and uh but for us the this was both like we felt it was a call to action and it was an opportunity um and it's because since it was an electromagnetic platform were there light cards that we could create that could help with the pandemic and so the the first one and i've spent two and a half years trying to explain this concept to investors they they could not wrap their heads around it um and it's part of the overall problem that that i've seen which is the lack of scientific literacy in the investment community and so when you go in with something that is really bleeding edge science um applied science um uh there is a point where people like why would there be a market for that and and specifically this was me sitting down with a group of investors i can remember in 2017 and i said i think you know we've cracked the code and because we've we know when the device is done we'll have these interchangeable led cards this is this is a game changer because it's not just a movie like now now we're talking about being able to do medical grade sterilization and military grade illumination that's completely invisible to the human eye and agriculture and all this stuff and and i was trying to explain the value of uvc sterilization and all of them said the same thing why would we ever put money into that there's never going to be a market for it they've probably eaten their words a little bit now but no i but i i think that it was a fair at the time that it was probably hard to grasp or it was hard to think of what the return would be on that it was because because it's um now if anyone had been listening to bill gates they would have they would have known that that we were overdue for a pandemic that that there are elements to the way that our globalized culture um is is just begging for a pandemic so um uh but you're right i mean i it was certainly obvious that with the conventional wisdom there was no way i was going to convince anyone that there was value in this um my biggest investor ended up being twice because when the pandemic hit and all of our contracts disappeared and i as i said in the previous episode the fear that i was experiencing was palpable and she said if we're going to go bankrupt let's go bankrupt for the right reasons get that uvc card uh uh put onto a credit card immediately let's make it and so i dusted off this design that i scribbled on a scratch piece of paper and put all the expenses on an amex card praying that we'd be able to pay the bill in 30 days and also saying to myself well everyone else in the country is going bankrupt so so why not join the party let's at least go bankrupt for like my wife said a really good reason uh we will have invented a new piece of technology this is worth it and and to put this into context other uvc devices that you currently can buy for a hospital um these big giant glass tubes they're the size of a refrigerator they weigh 200 pounds they cost 120 000 and they put out the equivalent of maybe around 20 000 25 000 microwatts of uvc when we finished our light card which is the about this big it outputs nearly 3 million microwatts of uvc and so it's the difference between like a tablespoon of bleach and an ocean of bleach and um and so so now people were not immediately going to believe that we just completely changed how how quickly you can sterilize air volumes and that was the key here is that most uvc devices are underpowered and small and so because of that you'll see like little chinese products that are supposed to sterilize your keyboard and those don't work they'll never be able to work they just don't put out enough uvc they put out like the equivalent of 10 microwatts or 20 micro watts and and you'd have to have that device no matter what it says on their website point it at your keyboard for about 20 minutes before you would sterilize it so that's a really slow process with our system we were sterilizing the equivalent air volume of a 2 000 square foot home in 10 minutes and so you can move that much air volume through and it's completely and totally sterilized um so so uh my business partner partner scott hansberry um managed to get a vice president from bell helicopter on the phone and he was he was pushing our new uvc uh approach um and and there was a lot of naysayers there's a lot of people who were despite us being able to show had been tested by temple university and and tested by george mason university and their conclusion was you can deactivate covet 19 in about uh one third of one second um from from about three inches away uh for a large volume of space follows the inverse square line so the further away you go the slower it takes to deactivate but you're still also getting everything in front of which includes all the air it was difficult for people at first luck for for us the opportunity is that um bell helicopter was in a difficult position they had been using chemical cleaners and they had developed a complicated and robust contact tracing program within their factories in texas and they knew that they were having multiple outbreaks on a consistent basis of covet 19 they traced 65 cases of uh coven 19 outbreak so that's not just a single person but that means like a work cell and everybody contracting it very quickly um and the chemical cleaners were doing the job but one they were reactive they were only destroying the virus after people had gotten sick and two they were toxic because you needed to have this device that would open up and then explode and atomize chemicals into the air um it would kill everything in the air when it came into contact with the surface it would kill whatever was on the surface but humans couldn't be around it so they would have to evacuate that area for three to four hours they had to pay their staff during that time and their assembly line shut down so you are putting workers at risk because you can only approach the problem after people gotten sick you can't prevent a sick an illness this way um it's it's too too cost prohibitive to to use it as a prophylactic um the second problem of course is you know the enormous delay to to their manufacturing process and delaying uh you know getting a product to the customer um and and then there was always the the potential for exposure when so so we went in and did a demo and and showed them how quickly we could sterilize a work cell and it took us 87 seconds and so they then purchased 15 systems and rolled it out into one of their primary factories in texas and the same contact tracing program that had found 65 outbreaks prior to the use of aomi with uvc the medical side we now call a only for for a variety of reasons um uh after they began using aomi with uvc they have had zero outbreaks and this is a million plus square foot facility with dozens of bathrooms and you know a lunch lunch area and and all the complexity of the facility is astronomical and they've been able to get their their the spread of covet 19 down to zero within their facility and and so that's how we were able to pivot our technology and now we're trying to get the word out about that because we believe that while vaccines are here the vaccines are absolutely amazing uh there is an element to this that can make opening schools safer it can make public spaces safer and more importantly prevent the next pandemic because this is not the last pandemic and i think that's a good point i mean and once and covet is a whole different you know whole different topic we go to rabbit hole on just all of that but you know even just in general sanitization of systems and keeping everything more air more clean keeping the reduction of disease in general reduction of spread and a lot of those i think that generally it's a little bit out of sight out of mind in other words because of covet and the pandemic we it brought it to the forefront because we're all having to face it head-on and deal with that but it doesn't mean it's any less important i think whether or not coven was even cured there's still a lot of things that we could do to plan for the future and incorporate as you're doing things i think generally or that definitely fit in with what you're doing and yet i think that the interesting thing is what will be interesting and yet to be known as let's say the vaccine comes out and you know assuming it cures and i don't know if it you know fully will cure if we'll reach your immunity how all that will work and don't you know but the question will be is you know what what will that how that play into our lives and so kind of you know and i know not getting into you know our next episode on the merger and acquisitions but now as you're trying to pivot your technology we can hint about it and i'll explain what i mean because i'm actually i'm not under uh an nda any longer this it's it's about politeness and respect and no and i i definitely get that and i've been through enough of those that you know that you're always you don't wanna i don't wanna be the reason to wreck your deal because you're on the podcast as great as our podcast is i don't want anything to call but my question was maybe hinting at that or even before so you got this all this technology you find a new application which sounds like it does a great job with doing a lot of the uv light and being able to reduce a lot of the disease and you know reducing cases which is all great how did you kind of get into looking at or even pursuing you know merger and acquisitions and all that things what prompted your mind was somebody else that came to you or was it somebody else without necessarily getting into the details kind of how did that play out because it sounds like you guys found a great purpose for the technology you're showing a lot of efficacy and how did that kind of start to play out for you well it uh my business partner scott hansberry that's his his expertise um and uh and so he was pursuing a m a deal uh the entire so essentially if you want to say how we roughly break down the business um i'm focused on the day-to-day operations assembly supply chain managing our staff and invention all the r d and he's focused on sales mergers and acquisitions uh securing investment and and so the whole time that i was working on inventing the technology he was trying to find someone who could acquire the business and uh when the the early results came in from temple that's that's when we started receiving multiple uh parties that were that were seriously interested and we were in the rarified position where we sort of got to pick and choose and we want we you know we actually turned down a huge so this much i can talk about we were offered a huge deal um in june and uh and we turned it down and it was the the the so i'm not gonna say who the people were sure um but they were uh we thought it was a perfect relationship because they sell ppe to hospitals like this makes perfect sense we are essentially a form of ppe uh we're a high-tech form of it but you know if you're if you're worried about masks sterilization and keeping your space clean you might as well get masks from the company that's also selling you this cutting edge handheld uvc device um as we started to dig into it though we started to realize like a lot of people their ppe relationships were not as transparent as they should have been and there was a lot of funny business in china that that made us nervous and and we decided to walk away and um and you know that that it's it's when you're walking away from well it would have been a 140 million dollar deal and when you're walking away from that much money and cash we're not talking stock uh that's hard uh but scott scott and i both felt were like something about this just isn't right so uh and and that's why we're now in the middle of a uh the very little end stage of a second deal and uh this one seems to be with uh people who are much more honest much more straightforward um understand how to sell the product and um and so we're we're really happy with it i'll be able to tell you the details of that uh hopefully in just a couple weeks i'm i'm excited to have that follow on episodes i think that will be fun and it gets into a world that i you know i've jumped in and out of and i get to see a lot of other companies do it and it's always a fun world and yet one that a lot of people don't know about so and one more teasers i i'm looking forward to doing that now one of the other things maybe shifting gears just a little bit that we chatted just a few minutes before the podcast was also on the topic that's near and dear to my heart so to speak which is intellectual property right which is what i do on a day-to-day basis now for the the viewers just as a quick quick intro is usually with intellectual property most attorneys and i would say 95 percent of them you kind of have to dear a split into how what kind of intellectual property you are you either call what's called prosecution or you call litigation prosecution is basically getting the patents getting the trademarks going through the whole process with the us patent and trademark office uspto to shepherd it through that's what prosecution is litigation is more of the enforcement actually going out following the lawsuits and enforcing it you know bringing it making other people pay and those type of things and they're really a different enough skill set they almost tend to specialize in one or the other so myself i tend to be more on the prosecution side i've done a little bit of litigation and then there's also the litigation which we have an awesome litigator at the firm so as we talked a little bit about intellectual property give it just as that is one that i find in it interesting and enjoyable um but this is kind of a just figured it was an interesting intro to do that so with that tell us a little bit kind of about a little bit about your experience with intellectual property and patents and kind of how things have gone on that front for you guys sure um well um you know we we've got a number of patents for the technology that i've invented but um we are also partners with people at various factories throughout southeast asia and um i i speak some mandarin and i've got a lot of friends in taiwan and china um and uh we're doing more and more of our business in taiwan and it's this long-winded way of getting to the fact that i met this amazing guy in taiwan uh we call him dr joe and dr joe is in his 70s phenomenal inventor uh brilliant minds teaches electrical engineering at the university level and has a small uh high-tech company uh of his own um and he has patents in the united states but he was struggling to fully exploit them and defend them so we are using uh in particular he he's invented this unique type of led and uh we call it an lc led uh it's our trademark on it so the lcl led is a light card led um and what what he managed to do was invent a process that eliminates the gold wire that bonds traditional leds and this was the failure point and by doing that you can over drive them 50 uh the gold wire self shadows the led so you immediately get around eighteen percent more light it's easier to assemble the robots that are necessary the automated workstations i mean uh you can get lower end ones and the assembly process is faster there's all these advantages that come out of his invention so we entered into a north american exclusive agreement and we now have the exclusive right to manufacture and sell his leds in the united states and and part of this is because there's multiple infringers most people think that the conventional wisdom is that if you've got a patent and you need to defend it you've got no choice but to play whack-a-mole you got to go after every single offender one by one in civil court it cost millions of dollars per offender you have to prove that they are infringing upon your patent and and a lot of people will say the the value of patent is is only as big as your war chest to defend that patent um and um and i would argue and i'm not an attorney but this is my strategy um i would argue that there is a second way and it's an extremely effective way particularly if you know that the offender is making their products outside the united states and it's known as a section 337 action um so section 337 of uh the uh i'm gonna get the code run well it's i know it's usc code and it's part of uh the itc which is the international trade commission um essentially it flips the argument it says hey if you legitimately have a patent or the license to a patent or a trademark or a copyright and you believe that there are a wide variety of companies single or or a thousand that are offending you can name all of them in an itc action um that is now their duty to show up to a unique type of court this is not civil court um and prove that they are not offending and if they can prove they're not offending they can continue to import their product into the united states if they can't prove that they are not offending now their their products will be exempt and they and they can no longer uh import in the united states and and one of the advantages of this is in particular in dealing with the problem of china uh because as as a culture china doesn't understand column law they don't value common law and they don't really value intellectual property and so the tendency is they tend not to show up to itc actions and so because that you end up getting a default judgment and the next time that company or a dozen companies has their products sitting on a dock in long beach california ready to get on a truck it's seized by the us government and that completely disrupts their supply chain now the downside to someone like me is i'm not going to recoup any money from this but the upside to me is someone who was infringing on my right to to monetize my creativity now i can say you don't get access to the united states and we are the largest market in the world um and and in my opinion will continue to be regardless of some of the data coming out from china uh for a considerable amount of time so so the only point of this is obviously no one should go do this on their own this is a conversation that they need to have with their attorney and they need to ask their attorney is there a way for us to do a section 337 complaint or action and will it be less expensive and is it a faster easier way for us to go after a whole bunch of offenders all at the same time and save ourselves a whole bunch of money in the process my personal belief is is it's like a ten to one ratio if you would have spent a million dollars defending yourself in civil court now you're gonna be spending a hundred thousand dollars and uh or if you're spending a hundred thousand it'll be ten thousand no and i like that and because what i think in a little bit of the core it hits on is it gives people need to be strategic and how they're enforcing the intellectual property in general sometimes the best course is to just go bite the bullet spend the million plus dollars to do it in patent suit because you want to set a precedence you want to show that you have the staying power you want to show that you are in the right and then if people mess with you you're going you know they're going you're going to get it back and other times you're saying hey what we really just want is our competitors they're importing things that are shouldn't be coming into the country and selling them to stop that and we can stop it at the border and so i think that that's you know the point and i think that you know if you do that you need to look at what are you strategically doing and wanting to accomplish and you know sometimes people always want to jump to the lawsuit as as quick as you can and go through courts and prove that i'm right and i feel that i'm wrong and yet it doesn't always make business sense and as you mentioned as you guys were finding out there are other options and there's a similar one with the uh with trademarks so you can do with the border and custom or customs and border um agency is that you can register your trademark and same thing if they are coming other things are coming into the country that are using or knocking off a trademark or otherwise doing it you can go register your trademark and you don't have to go through all of it you can stop a lot of things at the border so you're not having to go through the lengthy uh you know litigation and lawsuits and sometimes it's even more hard because they're not even located in the u.s and even get them in the u.s and have jurisdiction right makes it all the more difficult so i love that bringing up an option of hey you guys are looking at it found another way to do that the one other thing and i'm gonna we'll put a pause on here in just a minute because we're hitting up on the 30 minutes but but we have our upcoming episodes so we can talk a little bit more is you know the other one that to think about is looking for whatever we get into now this is on the ip side is looking for opportunities or way other ways to enforce your intellectual property and then the other one i always like to bring up which is kind of another alternative is you know everybody always has a big competitor problem with you get into is lawsuits is they're always expensive patent suits you're almost always if you go all the way through the end you're always over a million dollars just is a patent suit you know now that a lot of times they settle well beforehand and people figure it out but if you go all the way through you're well north or north of a million dollars but what you can a lot of times also do is go to everybody has every company has a competitor apple has samsung coca-cola has pepsi nike has a adidas and everything else and so a lot of times another one that i love is you say hey we don't have the funds or ability to go out this company but hey they're ripping us off we can show that this is a great feature and they value it why don't we go to their biggest competitor so if apple is copying you go to samsung and say hey we got this valuable ip will really increase the value and now you can they can take over and fight that fight for you and you know it creates you an opportunity with your business to rather than dump in a whole bunch of money you've now found an ally and maybe somebody that will acquire you so this is kind of another teaser on that thought as well sure we're wrapping up towards a half an hour and i try and keep it so that people don't our listeners can keep on with their day and we don't interrupt too much but i hopefully they i think they found a ton of value in what you guys are doing and kind of it's always interesting to see how things pivot and how things adjust so i always have my last question at the end of this podcast but i'm going to hold that to our third episode and then we'll wrap that up as we do our one more follow-up to this so with that um we're gonna put a pause on it we'll or bring it back on we're gonna don't know the exact time frame and wait till the deal kind of closes and justin will let me know and we'll get things there's scheduled up on that time frame so for those listeners kind of stay tuned because i'm excited to have the first and third up or first person to do a second follow-up which is justin gets that award and it'll be fun to hear kind of how all things play out so with that appreciate you coming back on the podcast justin it's been fun it's pretty tough love to hear where you guys are at and it was one of the first episodes and now it's fun to hear where you're at today and i'm excited to hear kind of where how things all wrap up and play out on wrapping up the next leg of your journey with that if um for all of you now that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell or you have you know an expertise to share any other reason to be on the podcast we're always looking to share your journeys and your expertise um so feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be a guest on the podcast two if you also if you're a listener one make sure to uh click subscribe in your podcast players so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so other people can find us and i'll find out about the podcast last but not least if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law just go to strategymeeting.com thank you again justin i'm excited it's been fun to have you on again i agree it's good to see you again sir so now everybody stay tuned we know we're putting a pause on the i'll call it part one of two episodes of where you at now and then we'll be talking again soon and uh in the meantime good luck with the next leg of your journey thank you have a good day