Focus On Lessons Learned
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Focus On Lessons Learned
Focus on lessons learned. This is the biggest lesson I have learned. When you focus on learning, not only do you grow yourself you also grow your team and then that will eventually grow the business.
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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focus on let's listen to learn so this is the biggest lesson i learned the really uh when you focus on learning uh not only you grow yourself you also grow your team and then eventually that will grow the business [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 founded and started several startups that are now seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the uh the podcast his name is jay and i'm probably gonna massacre your last name is it shoe that's correct i say impressive all right you're my best so jay uh started out uh his their life in college in taiwan and uh i think he did it for he worked for a music company for a period of time and then he moved over um to the us to working for phillips for a period of time yeah you jumped over and worked back or went to japan and worked and yeah you're back working it uh and then you made a couple more jumps and then bringing up to where you're at today working with some of your uh your ai bots and whatnot so that kind of gives a very brief overview so welcome to the podcast and thanks for being on thanks for having me this is super exciting so i gave a very quick overview of your your journey and what you've done but maybe uh if you want to back up and fill in a few of the gaps in a bit more of the details yeah yeah sure happy to share that so uh first of all starting with what we are doing right now so roby is a software solution for a company to fully automate their help desk support for saving operational costs so my journey starting with something completely different from what i'm doing right now which is pretty interesting too so i'm born and raised in taiwan and i started my first business when i was college so that was the music studio in the local college town so during that time i was in 2009 2010 you know like the social media star merging that was my first taste of the startup world super exciting one really fully tangential question but so what part of taiwan were you in oh uh the city called tainan so it's a southern taiwan all right we're on opposite ends so i lived in the taipei area for a couple years in taiwan so this was curious oh that's my hometown actually okay yeah so i served uh for those that may i have don't know if i mentioned on a podcast before he served a religious mission for my for my church and so i was in uh taiwan and tai dong and uh guanchan and all over that area for a bit of time so this was just was curious uh if we here what areas that were anyway we won't digress too long so anyway back to your journey so you were in taiwan and uh and pick up from there yeah yeah so i started the first business that was a music studio in the local town uh in a college town so that was the first taste i really love it and three years later i do feel like i need to challenge myself so i sold my share and then moved to u.s study another engineering degree and that's how i get my first job in silicon valley that's philips the company is called nxp semiconductor is funded by philips so i was a hardware engineer during that time um there's a big corporation i joined um we had a really good team good boss and but the first six months i realized this is not the lifestyle i'm looking for you know so i start working on some side projects so in the next three years i will work like four side projects and start learning software development all by myself and then create several projects it didn't really took off you know it was one question then i know i don't mean to interrupt your journey all the time so you say that it's not the lifestyle is that hey i don't like you know is it the number of hours you're working you didn't like the big business you wanted to be in control there's a lot of when people say lifestyle is previous with kind of you know the lifestyle thing that you want yeah that's a good question so i the problem for me is i i feel like i delicate eight hours uh to nxp compared with the 8 hour i spent in my music studio i feel like my energy are completely different so i was super passionate every day was so excited when i do in the music industry in the same time i mean nsp is great company so i really enjoy the environment but i don't feel the same passion i had so i think that was my problem during that time okay no i just curious because people lifestyle means a lot of different things i'm just curious what it meant for you so anyway started your side projects as you was working for yeah it didn't work for the first three project and the fourth project that was during that time that was 2000 2014 so during that time like you know people are talking about machine learning stuff talking about that so i i i also dive into it and i create a machine learning platform and i create a small demo i back to music again so i create a music recommendation engine that using machine learning technology so basically you took a photo based on the photo i recommend you the music so if you are in a beach i can recommend you some chili music stuff like that and i took this ad you know and then presented in a meetup event in san francisco showing to people interesting enough there's a one japanese company saw it they are not interesting in the music park at all but they say hey this machine learning technology is pretty cool um so we're talking about utilizing that um machine learning technology in their business so we actually signed a contract so during that time i have a two job so i have a daytime job a nighttime job during that time um then i get a second project third project they're all in japan actually so that was the time i said you know what maybe it's a time to make a decision so i quit my job and i just moved to tokyo and yeah so interesting enough inside when i was there i realized the other part is i doing that business for two years and realized it turns out because of consulting services so it's really hard to scale up like my my dream is kind of have a product company right like you know every startup person like really want that too i mean yeah so it turns out to be a consulting services so i was looking for the chance to prioritize it the idea inspiration and then i met the big company here in seattle and they are doing the business in commercial building so that was my first time in that space and i realized wow this is super interesting because the infrastructure is so ready they have a great data collection stuff all this you know the infrastructure so during that time we proposed and first idea it's kind of like the initial of roby yeah one question so you were in us working for phillips decided it wasn't your lifestyle right you wanted something different started a few startups have failed then you did land on one that the japanese company is interested in so you move to japan and then did that for a bit of time and what made you decide to jump you know so what made you decide to leave the japan company and come back to seattle yeah so we met uh we actually met the contact person so during that time i still have a lot of friends in u.s so that was a vacation time back to us just visiting my friends and i got introduced to a company in seattle so have a conversation with them and then i realized wow this is interesting space you know there's a chance i could you know productize what i do and yeah that's what you know and then in the end we propose the idea say why don't we use uh our technology to improve the occupant comfort because you know in a building you will be able to control like hvac lighting and all that and not really resonate the customer they say yeah this is a cool idea we really love it and then we signed a contract and then that was the chance i feel like okay this is a chance i can productize this so i decided to move back to us just for that how did you leave or quit or whatnot from the japanese company that you're working with the ai and that was so i think you said it was growing and it was it was doing reasonably well so how did you make that transition or let them know hey i'm going to go back to seattle have a good one type of thing or how did you make that transition i think that's uh it's gradually doing that it's not like one day say guys i'm quit but in the same time i think that's a good lesson learn for me in the end of the day the startup you need to make a tough choice to say okay this is what i want uh i know in the past this is a good time whatever it is but yeah so we gradually tell the customers say hey the company switched to the focus uh to be more trying to be productized and then so we kind of finished up the project but we didn't continue anymore just you know setting up say okay we've done this project but that's it we are not supporting anymore so gradually shifting so we closed about four or five projects in the end and then i moved to us okay no it makes sense so it wasn't just one day i said hey i'm gonna move to the u.s have a good one you you wound up you completed the projects and transitioned over so now you do that yeah okay i'm coming back to the us he made that connection and that's kind of i think where he said in that if i remember when we talked a little bit before you had what you called robie or pre-robie type of they even worked out a lot of the technology and you're kind of looking for what is a good application for this how do we scale it where does it fit and that's where this kind of opportunity came along is that about right that's right that's right and then because after that customer we interview about another 40 companies we try to understand what other challenges they have in terms of office operation and then we realize that oh wow this is a huge opportunity because everybody has a similar common problem and issues uh um you know and then that's where we say okay that's productized focus on this solving this problem yes that's how we create robin yeah so one thing that we talked a little bit before but you didn't bring up or mention and i asked you before is you know maybe dive in a little bit so you met i think you said you met the president of honeywell it was kind of an interesting meeting or you met him on a plane co-worker met him on a plane so maybe it provided a bit of how you made that connection with bro yeah you're going to how you pitched it but how you made the original connection yeah so the the that is the president of uh i should say general manager of the ellenton brand uh the honeywell brand called allerton so they are basically a building automation system they provide you know all these commercial building stuff um yeah so um our previous co-worker met the general manager on airplane and then they talked about the idea and all that and then uh eventually i fly over you know to to us and then i you know go to seattle and pitch to him about the idea so that's how that's how get started so that's kind of like coincidentally found this area it's very interesting yeah no i think that isn't but it's it's i think it's a good example of you always should be looking for opportunities always be pitching always be sharing because you never know when you're gonna make the connections and who's gonna who's going to find that interesting so i think as a startup or someone wants to do startup take advantage of every opportunity to share with people as opposed to you know never or as opposed to passing by those opportunities and never taking advantage of them that's right i think that's the huge list and then was like that as well and also like you know uh when we decided to do something kind of embrace that kind of scary moment say hey we gotta do the big change you know all the time be comfortable with that um eventually you benefit you know um to to us to the company um no i mean that that makes perfect sense so now you do that you you make the pitch you land the sale you get the company going so you how did how did that then transition go was it hey we made the pitch now we're fully funding we're making lots of money struggle whether it's still figuring out how to apply it are you still there or kind of how is that going for you it was a struggle actually uh it was a big lesson as well so we signed a contract with a big company but but also during that time we are not well funded yet so means like the cash flow is still low and one of the things like working with corporation is uh they're relatively slower than startup so that means your cash flow always the issues and yeah so that was like a big lesson learned because like original the mindset would be like this is it you know what i mean we we sign this contract and say we should be fine we should be safe but it's not really bad it actually takes more time than we thought um but we were lucky enough so um during that time we applied uh tech style program so we will be able to and then we actually get into the tech style program so that was the turning point of the company uh not just about the network but also because the attention we got so we will be able to get funded and not only that because ticks are also helping us quite a bit in terms of like iterating the strategy go to market how do you operate a startup so after that three months program yeah it's getting much smoother with solving a lot of issues on there awesome so now so you take that finally got the the funding you found the company you found the place for roby all that you figured out you know got that all in place so what do you think you take the next six to 12 months kind of what is the trajectory what's the plan what it what are you hoping to accomplish so this is the interesting part because uh pandemic happened so that means like a lot of enterprises especially in u.s pretty much close close down at this point so our enterprise sales in the u.s actually slowed down a lot but interesting enough because the international market is gradually open so we actually get a lot of direction in japan so i gotta back to japan again kind of sort of um so yeah so we the next milestone for us is like really proving that this is what i have seen so far because the post pandemic the company forced in looking for the new solution in the office that's kind of the opportunity we have now so means like i need to prove that uh we are repeating this process we will be able to close the first big deal in japan last month but now we need to prove that that's repeatable business so you know in the next like you know six to 12 months i pretty much prove the investor or you know uh people around us say this is a skillable business okay no i think that means that's a lot of times there's a difference you know you start out with proof of concept then you get a prototype you try it out once and you know it's always easier to land a second class customer after you land the first one right i think that's always the hardest thing is to land that first customer but you also have to make sure that knowledge now as you land use that first customer to repeat it with other customers that you actually prove it out right so you actually so hey that we've delivered on what we promised for the first customer now you should buy our product so to speak that's right and then like with limited uh customization as well because a lot of enterprise customers will require that but how do you really find like the common problem space that minimize your customization i think that's another really interesting part for us no i agree and that's one that can be hard especially on the enterprise a lot of times everybody wants it just for them and you have to either decide i'm not going to customize it and they're just going to have to accept what's out of the box or you have to figure out what is that pricing model how can you not lose your shirt so to speak or not lose money by customizing it every time so it's a fine balance sometimes customization you can make a good profit on other times if you don't quote it right you think it's going to be easier or quicker or simpler yeah a lot of money so i think that's a good lesson as well yeah yeah so so and then why don't we know that we'll jump to the i always have two questions i asked towards the end of the podcast so we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is so what what was your worst business decision you ever made so yeah i listed your podcast this is actually my favorite part so i'm the first time i found it so basically means i i don't have much experience that means like in every area possible i made a lot of mistake and then so i'm talking about business focus go to market strategy product iteration even manage the company how to create the uh company culture all of that and make a huge mistake so it's hard to say which one is the worst however summarize all this i think the biggest mistake i made is i did not create the environment i can learn fast so which means like for example for for me as a first time founder first time i get funded you got advisor you got investor they always you know they try to help out they give you a lot of advice but i didn't have the knowledge to know like how to filter it out and how do i communicate with them if i disagree with them right so we so i try to kind of try to please everybody and turns out your solution is always in the middle ground always the middle ground idea is always not the best one usually so overall speaking that kind of uh is a summarize like i think the biggest must say i i made no and i think that's a good point i mean some things you're saying hey this really doesn't matter it's inconsequential we'll just make a concession because it keeps investors or keeps a client happy but to your point on other things if you're always compromising then you slowly you know you always find slowly your product is changing or out of control or is going in a different direction than what you envisioned or what what is best and it's because you're always you know making those little tweaks and changes in this kind of death by a thousand cuts um so i think that's a good lesson as to sometimes you agree sometimes you can see me need to know when to stand up when to not not concede and when when you say no this is a bad idea and we need to stick with what we're doing so i think that's a good mistake learn but a good lesson learned so yeah okay now we'll go to the second question which is so now you're talking to someone that's just getting into startups or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them focus on let's listen to learn so this is the biggest lesson i learned really uh when you focus on learning uh not only you grow yourself you also grow your team and then eventually that will grow the business that will the one piece of advice i would give it you know i think that i think that you even having that culture of hey everybody needs to be learning and improving and and becoming better is something that is a much better company culture if you just get stagnant people think hey we already know everything we're not going to do anything new or we just we don't need to worry about it that's when you oftentimes get eclipsed by people that are learning new things different so i think that's a great uh great lesson well as we start as we wrap up people want to reach out to you they want to connect up whether it's learn more about your company they're in enterprise want to be a customer they want to be an investor or just want to learn more about you what's the best way to connect up with you just email me uh so my email is jay at taylor b t e t-e-l-l-r-o-b-y.com yeah okay well that's easy enough so if certainly if people are or want to reach out make connections or learn more uh email jay at uh jay tell roby.com and i'm sure he'll be happy to to talk with you about about anything thank you for coming on the podcast it's been a pleasure now for those of you that are listeners that have your own journey to tell if you'd like to apply to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com and apply to beyond if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you get notifications of the this podcast and all the new ones as they air and lastly if you ever need help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law and we're always here to help well jay thank you again for coming on it's been a pleasure wish the next leg of your journey even better than the la or the last thank you so much i'm really happy to be here you English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded