Honor Your Investors

Honor Your Investors

Where Are They Now?

Anita Gardyne

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

1/20/2021

Honor Your Investors

I hadn't gotten any attention from VCs. So these who invested in me, some of them as many as seven or eight times, I have to honor those folks, I have to give them a great deal. They have been with me since 2014. Hearing out the idea of what we wanted to go after as a market was easy. Building the tech was harder. We founded in 2014 so we are looking at year seven and just now looking at monetization and talking about exit plans. So I have to honor those folks. I have to make sure they are rewarded for sticking with me. And if there is a nine or ten-figure exit, they absolutely deserve to be apart of that ride along with us.

 


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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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it out insane i hadn't gotten any attention from vcs so these who've invested in me some of them as many as seven eight times i got one of those folks i've got to give them a great deal they've been with me since 2014 you know figuring out the idea what we wanted to go after as a market was easy building the tech was harder you know we found it in 2014 so we're starting to we're looking at year seven and just now looking at a monetization and talking exit plans so i gotta honor those folks i gotta make sure that they're rewarded for sticking with me and and that if there is a nine figure ten figure exit they are absolutely a deserved to be a part of that ride [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that has grown several uh startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here for you now today we have a fun episode and it's one of our where are you at now episodes and so if you remember if you were to go back about six or seven months um anita and i'm gonna probably mess up the last name garden is that right am i remembering garter but we had anita on and uh she was talking about her business we did her journey that kind of led to where she was at at that point and then to now bring it back and say kind of where is where are you at now how's the last six months going and how are things gone we're having your back on and i think it'll be for a fun conversation he's done a whole bunch in the last six months grown pivoted had things changed renegotiated she's grown her team she's entered new states she's done a whole bunch of things and so how excited to have her back on talk a little bit about how the last six months are going how things evolved and changed so with that much as an introduction welcome back on to the podcast awesome thank you so much devon for allowing me to join you i am excited the the work that i and the team and all of our stakeholders have done in the last six months and you captured it really well we certainly have grown we've learned with covet and even in the middle of a lockdown we're excited that we've been able to continue to sign contracts with customers enterprise customers who want to be on our platform and receive our care services and we've also got additional insurance companies who want to distribute our products so while we're absolutely still focused here and growing in california we are in discussion with partners about serving them in five additional states as well as other states with additional partners so in the middle of a pandemic we are blessed to be one of those companies who's been able to grow and to bring care into the world so thank you so much for allowing me to come back and reconnect with you and your audience oh absolutely i'm excited to have you back on so with that let's for the audience and for this is a reminder to them let's take six months back kind of where was the business you know if you're to give the one or two minute the 30-second elevator pitch if you're to go by the old business terms of what your company was doing or where you were at kind of take us back six months not all the way back to the start of your journey but just six months tell us where you're at and then let's chat a little bit about how that the last six months has gone absolutely um with us uh six months ago we had just taken our technology platform oneiva 2.0 and entered the market in in february and beginning of march so imagine launching our enterprise grade technology platform in which we bring care into the homes of employees like microsoft san mateo credit union or dishcraft robotics bringing that technology into the market to create all this great awesome care job opportunities and these care interactions and then covet came so like many companies first thing we did is we adapted for zoom using microsoft teams and other technologies as a way to remain connected to all of our customers and we have three customers that would be the enterprise customer the employee customer as well as the caregiver so we immediately shifted over you can imagine when we talk about customers i'm sorry caregivers and availability in the market three months ago we had massive unemployment numbers so we saw huge numbers of interest in the technology and the platform from the caregiver customer as well as from the enterprise customer so we've grown in both areas significantly and you know fast forward we've changed our workflows we've changed our processes in six months um we're servicing the needs of those customers who enterprise customers have joined the platform and uh as you mentioned we also have some changes with our investors along the way and our investors can appreciate it with me so one question before you one question before we dive into investors and i absolutely want to get into this it sounds like an interesting one to hit on but you know so as you're dealing with you know covid you're you're launching you're getting things going and i can see it going one of two ways one is that hey we're in the caregiver and now more than ever people need our services or the opposite of we were planning on going into people's homes and now with coved people don't want you to be in their homes because they're worried about the spread and so how did you manage to do that or how did you deal with you know being a caregiver in in that industry and be able to adjust or adapt to that as needed in that moment absolutely but one of the things i say is uh we were absolutely in a great position to be a new entrant scaling because you were an incumbent provider with you know millions of caregivers you saw your revenue drop to zero so absolutely we were not in that position uh i'll certainly say um it varies some folks are receptive and and need that help it's a function of pain points i i live in a home with somebody who's autistic i have a sibling who has a adult autistic children and those centers are closed day cares are i mean they're still the reality of the pain points elder care centers are closed and they're still families who need care because work still has to happen i'm blessed to be what they call part of the laptop generation i can continue to work from home and receive you know whatever paycheck i got lots of folks aren't in that position you know they gotta get out and work so some of the companies who we're in conversation with are those essential service providers um san mateo credit union who signed up as a customer some of those folks have just got to be in office so they can serve and well as other folks have the privilege of being home so we we're getting to see the best of both worlds because uh oh neva unlike some of those other marketplaces that aren't regulated care business we're actually a care business so regulated by the state of california and workers on our platform are really essential service providers and can go into homes and continue to work if i were some of those other marketplaces where i just do matches and i'm not really a care agency who knows what their workers were able to do legally but you know we built our business model our technology and built our relationship so that we could operate exactly in this kind of in my environment and our technology was built to create repeat care matches just so you can keep getting that caregiver you know think about a ride share business you don't want to get in the next random car showing up if you know you always got the driver you want if it's to take child to school those two days a week or to take you to the airport because you do have a business meeting or to run out and do those errands you know families think about expanding that circle of trust and bringing in that you know one resource maybe never the perfect solution in that regard so again if you really want to minimize your exposure our technology platform becomes much more useful and valuable and then finally i'll add in addition to enterprise grade and security we absolutely um built to show verified result uh verified credentials of a caregiver that means we can show you when they had their last coronavirus test result it was negative and soon we'll be able to show you a vaccine whether or not that's been administered so from a care perspective our technology because of how we built it around trust and safety from the beginning we just you know fit into uh the covet world so to speak but that makes folks who do need to think about opening those doors because they have the pain point of care and working from home or having to go to work um they're finding that our technology and our business model was designed to fit and to covet so that's what excites me certainly that's been what's in uh and enabled us to secure additional investment so we've raised a bit of money since i've seen you but it also enabled us to continue to grow and have those doors open in some cases but but i'm absolutely going to say when it first hit for many of us doors went shut absolutely got it and for and for us as a growing company certainly uh damaged our forecast of what we thought 20 would look like but now that we are seeing you know what we can call our new normal we do have the hopes of vaccines and as mentioned so many customers are able to see that we can demonstrate those certified results many of us have the pain points i i as mentioned i still have a kid in school i still live in two houses with a 86 year old woman and as you heard me say i live with adult autistic family members so we still have a need and we still have a pain point and i'm able to be here with you today because there's a caregiver and i'll never pro with my mom and her home today so that i can be working no i think that's it it's interesting how different companies have said or adjusted to covet and i think that it's a bigger it's not just cove it's certainly something that comes up you're always going to have things that change in the marketplace everything is going to if you can dynamically first set your company up to be dynamic enough and realize that hey this is an opportunity we can adjust to we can make it better then it's going to be the differentiator between often being successful versus the ones that aren't able to make it sounds like you guys have adjusted well and you know not that you don't have pain points not that you don't have to deal with things but you know dealing with that and having the structure and the management in place to do that it sounds like it was certainly not an advantage now one of the things that you started to allude to and we'll jump to that now is that you did have you know you're on your series of raising some money getting it or closing around and you had you know some of that and i'm sure it's not just you i you know working with a lot of startups small businesses you know they've had investors that they thought hey this is done in the bank and it's going to be you know closed and they they pull back investors are saying hey this is uncertain time we don't want to put our money at risk we're going to focus on the businesses we've already invested in and not invest in new opportunities and so there's been a lot of adjustments so maybe walk us through a little bit kind of a what year you know what happened to you and how that how you guys navigated through that well again i'm a former cfo i left my corporate career in as a finance officer so i only bring that up to say that we run efficiently and and we manage cash well so um you know as mentioned earlier i'm also more likely to be it by lightning three times than receive vc investment so i raised through friends and family round i've raised over three million uh to build the technology to that now we can scale out to these locations but along the route within the last six months i believe it was in august we were actually in a meeting with one of our partners and just discussing with the board what our plans were and at that point we started to we're just now starting to talk about our second patent i shared with you last time we have a patent for creating trust and safety in the in-home care market it was awarded in 2019 well we also have a second patent and it's how we create that amazing caregiver video that every customer sees and we apply ai to create video content literally to create produce edit video content with no human intervention so now that i'm starting to talk about that patent i was able to attract some additional investor interest in that regard um so in any event in speaking to one of our partners and we were presenting into a board meeting and somebody said gee just for the technology like yours 350 million is a great price and certainly caught our ears and um you know we've only great write the check we'll take it no well yeah well oh you know you got to talk to your existing investors right so you know we heard the number and then the next day the person who was in the boardroom came and met to meet with us and said after you left the board meeting yeah they were going that's a good number for you guys and i get something really um that i can't repeat but i was quite stunned to hear it right but some said 350 million um but um because we've only raised to date in the form of convertible notes um and god bless wilson sansini and great law firms like viewers for creating corporate docs that meant that 90 of that would have gone to me and my existing investors weren't as pleased with the notion of me getting you know they'd have gotten back you know about 5 million and i'd have kept 390 of 345 million so that resulted in my investors led by chris yay you know the author of blitz scaling and he is my right hand and a tremendous asset um but as uh the moment when he realized that i saw his eyes light up and he demanded an investor meeting with my family investors to renegotiate um every negotiation as i shared with you devon has to be similar to the a medical visit that men take where you're asked to turn your head and cough because it did not feel good it wasn't pleasant but it did result in a good outcome and that was uh we did renegotiate with our investors and that when we do raise our series a and when we do um if at some point we ipo or have a change in ownership they'll benefit from it and as much as we will as as the owners so i'm excited to say that chris yay and the team that that worked with us negotiated a new deal that was better for all investors and it certainly means that anita doesn't get to keep 90 of uh 345 million but what our existing investors as a set of families came back and said is we want you to do the go big exit it's great you know somebody said this for tech only sale but now we want to see you know x number of subscribers on the platform and then go for this you know x billion dollar exit by 23. so now we are absolutely closing out the seed round we're absolutely raising the series a round and we're looking for another uh 18 million of the 25 on 100 million pre so if you have folks who are interested in investing come find us some investors in in our series a round get to benefit from both um patents patent one being o neva concierge care which is scaling nationally and the second being the ai robot video director which creates content certainly we'll use it for our own use but we know from the years we've spent as a certified minority-owned supplier working with great companies like microsoft apple and disney there are others companies who are going to find value in that technology so i'm excited that my husband my co-founder i think this is his tenth patent um video guy um he did get a his company kept the oscar for sound so if you think about all the elements that you want to have in creating that type of tech what better way to bring it to the market than as a certified minority owned business um and i think we can help a lot of great companies who create content do it cheaper faster better once they use our product no and i think the couple things you hit on that i think is certainly very interesting one is i can only imagine you know the imagery of turning your head and cough certainly again invites that understanding of what you had to go through and i'm sure you know it's hard because i think that if you're to get on the investor side they're saying hey we're we're representing investors we've got to do what's best for them and your side you're saying but we already made a deal you know this is struck like how can you come and renegotiate what we've already agreed and so i you know kudos to you it is a bit of that keeping everybody within the family and i think i liked i liked how you phrased that happy and in feeling like they're being dealt with fairly and everybody is able to pull in the same direction as opposed to pulling opposite or different directions because the worst thing can happen to a business or at least one of them is everybody starts to pull in different directions and they can sink in business more quickly than anyway so i think that you know while never a fun scenario i think kudos to you to navigate that and to be able to adjust that to make sure that you come through everybody's happy everybody's pulling in the same direction i also thought the other one that you hit on that was interesting was you know ai in the video creation that that was almost kind of hey we're doing that and it's supporting our own business and yet it's interesting where you can find those values and those key points that you're saying yeah this is something that our business is doing we want to protect but you don't look at that you know i i'd assume maybe i'm wrong at least when you started out the core of ai video creation wasn't the it was caregiving it was helping people and yet now you're saying hey as we're doing this we're building tools that make that make our job better that we can do and it provides that value and then you look and see how does that provide value to others and so i think both of those are kind of interesting points that you hit on absolutely and as i mentioned now i started out insane i hadn't gotten any attention from vcs so these who've invested in me some of them as many as seven eight times i got one of those folks i've got to give them a great deal they've been with me since 2014 you know figuring out the idea what we wanted to go after as a market was easy building the tech was harder you know we found it in 2014 so we're starting to we're looking at year seven and just now looking at a monetization and and talking about exit plans so i gotta honor those folks i gotta make sure that they're rewarded for sticking with me and and that if there is a nine figure ten figure exit they are absolutely deserved to be a part of that ride and along with us so you know it's not just giving them the deal we you know we cleaned up some stuff and all the things you need to do to get ready for series a and we are just very blessed to have great folks around us to make that happen and to your point no we never went at this planning to build you know a project code name hollywood that's our internal name for it you know we didn't plan to build hollywood but when it became apparent as a need and it was something that we could do and again we're blessed to have fernando hernandez a director at microsoft on our advisory board and he clearly early on said you know something like this in our gaming division in our media division some of those other companies that i talked about that video would really benefit from that you know and unlike the technology stack we built to deliver care which took years this is something a little bit shorter uh products like product cycle but again we know how much companies are spending to create content especially now in a world with covet and by applying our technology we can just reduce the cost of that and and make it so much easier for a small business to create content or gosh forbid can you imagine uh having a linkedin profile that was a quick easy video that you could do from from your iphone so we'll you know we'll move in that direction or or your samsung right we're independent but we're excited to be able to bring that second patent in the market so again those folks who invest in aniva in that series a get the benefit of both patents because uh certainly our 2021 includes creating that separate company um that that focuses on that and it'll have its own set of investors and it'll have its own own material path but i'm excited to set that puppy on its way and to bring the benefit to those folks who come in at this stage to get the gains of both companies and again just blessed to have guidance from folks um and your roles and others to to help in that regard i keep coming back to minority certification we're also pursuing women-owned certification but for those of your listeners who have an opportunity to consider leveraging whatever status you bring for benefit take advantage of it if the world gives you lemons make lemonade so i just thank you for allowing me to share that advice but that's how you that for me that's how i got great relationships with oracle and other companies who at least know about this technology could tell me hey that's a great idea and then encourage us and and in the case of fernando and microsoft offer a little more direction and input into how a product could be useful in in that marketplace right as as their supplier and i like that and i think going back just a little bit to one thing you said you know one of the things i think is easy to overlook is you know once you get the money from investors just like okay thanks for that and you kind of move on and you tend to forget forget about their contribution i almost like you know kind of as you said they're they're there early on in the ride they're putting a lot of faith in you they're putting in investment they're putting their you know time and effort and money behind you and there's not a certain outcome especially if you're looking at a seven year development timeline is hey plenty of things can go wrong plenty of things cannot work out and so to remember them and to actually you know treat them say hey i do remember you being along the path i do remember what you did for us and the support so let's make sure to treat you fairly i think is certainly admirable now you started to touch on just a little bit and as maybe as we kind of wrap up the podcast so you know we've we've now done this the second podcast and maybe we'll have to have it on for a third because you're a great guest um but we did the first one and you know then we're now six months later but now looking out the next six to 12 months where do you where do you project or where do you think things are headed for you wow uh next next six months to a year how many states are we going to be operating in we also in the last six months made our first uh higher in the state of washington shop there what customer exists in the seattle area that we've had eyes on and then we plan to deliver service to so our business model is for those resources um to those regional heads to come here to the bay area to learn the team the product the tech to experience the scale here and then go back to where they live to live it out so we're excited that chris seitler's joined he's in the redmond area home of microsoft um as mentioned we're talking to a number of companies about other states that we expect to be in and right now we're repositioning our infrastructure to allow a multi-state quick multi-state scale into as many as five at a single time in the next x months so literally our technology is built to just drop and go in a region we've got a business model on how to bring the folks in and scale them back out and you know right now it's also creating all that wonderful m p uh all the stuff that goes along with building a great dynamic system and uh from an operational standpoint you know heretofore for the last seven years we've been strong in product strong in engineering because it's been about that design getting that input from customers and making it better but now it's about the operational part of the team and sales and marketing and the blocking and tackling and going out making it happen so we just made those hires um some of those key hires in an executive role in the past few months so those folks are just coming up to speed and contributing in such huge huge ways out of the gate you know when we had a company uh approach us uh maybe a month ago uh and say hey can you on board ten thousand clients and we'll you know we'll contribute a subsidy of x it took us by us by surprise yet here we are x weeks later now marking up a master services agreement with that company you know is it going to be a deal we want to take we don't know because you know it takes us off of what our we thought our path was but when somebody knocks on your door and says hey do you want to take this deal um and and uh we actually met this company in 2018 uh their president walked up to me after a pitch and seen our own eva 1.0 platform not the 2.0 in market and said can you onboard 100 million clients in the us and uk so you know to get an inbound call two years later from that team saying hey can you want to do business it's exciting to be able to respond and say yes and now be marking up a msa so who knows where it goes we have other inputs like that and it's because of hosts like you who allow us to share our story and our message and talk about our capabilities and our desire to grow and scale with like-minded people and i really love how thank you for making me feel good about how i treated our our investors but it's about our values how can we be a company based in trust and care and family and not treat my investors that same way the same way i would treat my caregivers my employee customer and enterprise customers so this is my my way of saying so devon if you invest in me i'll take your money and i'll treat you just as fairly all right always give you always give you what i i have on my wallet and i can't promise what my wife will let me or invest beyond that i like your wife i like her husband too that's right so now so as we wrap up and there are i'm sure plenty of things and i think that's exciting i am excited to see and i think it'd be fun to have you back on maybe in six months or a year and kind of see it's fun to see the progression as you guys continue to move forward now for people that are wanting to whether it's myself or other people wanting to be an investor they want to be a client they want to use your service they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what is the best way to connect up with you and find out more absolutely you can always come to my website www.oneeva.com that's spelled o n e v a and you can find me anita neva.com and you can find me anita gardein on linkedin so i am excited to expand the network and we always look for collaborative opportunities to grow so especially if you're an insurance company and you're looking to bring more value to your customers anywhere in this country and that includes your customers being able to have access to fbi background check in-home care to cook clean shop and drive whatever services they need for their children pets and elders we're excited to be a part of that so devon thank you for allowing me to make that pitch in that commercial i'll hit you up offline about cash and i invested and i thank you again for the opportunity to share with the audience thank you for making time for me and folks who look like me i'm excited to be able to be where we are in the market and to be able to just share more care with folks who need it so that's what we're really about at the end of the day absolutely i love to share i love to share and to provide them your message other people because i think what you guys are doing is certainly needed and certainly a great service now for all of you all the other people that are listeners who want to you have your own journey to tell whether it's you're just getting started or you're not like anita and you've made it through the trenches and you're coming out and you're growing and making they're being successful wherever you're at along your journey if you'd like to apply to be on the a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com we're always here to hear your journeys and share them if you're a listener always make sure to click subscribe so you get notifications as all the new episodes come out and last but not least if you ever need help with patents and trademarks we're always here to help you as a startup or small business and just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time to chat with us thank you again nida it's been as fun it's been i don't know it may be even more fun than last time if that's even possible but thank you again for coming on and it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you sir you have a great day bless you thank you for the opportunity and your audience thank you all have a great day English (auto-generated)

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