Just Go Out There And Do It
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Just Go Out There And Do It
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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just go out and do it with as minimum investment monet both monetary and time as possible i think a lot of new entrepreneurs that i see um are kind of infatuated with starting the next facebook and in order to do that what they do is they build out you know this huge idea with all these different layers that they don't know anything about actually doing but it all sounds great to them so they pitch that to people and people maybe like it maybe don't but tell them it's cool and then they go out and try and raise money and put together together business presentations and i think being prepared can help and i think raising money can help but i'm a huge advocate in just going out there and doing it [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's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademark if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat and we're always happy to help now today we have another uh great guest on the podcast aaron cosmets and hopefully i said the name close to being right and uh just as a quick intro on that uh aaron grew up uh or growing up in high school um always had little uh businesses that he'd run to make money you know client hustles and whatnot wanted to be an entrepreneur um had college and some internships uh or did several internships at uh different startups to kind of figure out what he wanted to do and what he was good at graduated in business and public relations from the university of southern california wanted to uh work at a startup to connect influencers with fans um found it was time consuming to find the influencers and so decided to start his own business to help start a fine influencer and he'll get into a bit more of that um after he learned the ins and outs of the industry and uh then he uh was uh grad or graduated come into that full time and been doing it ever since so but that much is a as a brief introduction welcome on the podcast aaron thanks so much and uh it was a good job on the introduction there all right i do my best so with that i gave kind of the brief 30-second version of the much longer journey and so why don't you take it a bit back in time kind of into high school doing the odds and ends doing the side hustles to make money and how your journey started there yeah um i think one of the main thing that made me really love entrepreneurship uh was in high school a buddy of mine we would put on these little events uh where we would book a venue we would charge people uh to come to the venue and then we would have to pay the venue we would have to pay for a dj but then we got to keep all the rest of the cash and i just loved the thrill of you know having all that risk and then having to go out there and sell and if you made a lot of money i think you know i once profited like 3 000 in a couple weeks event into a 16 year old that's a ton of money so i was pretty set then that you know i probably didn't want to do events um but being an entrepreneur was really fun i didn't want to you know sit at a desk and listen to someone else tell me what to do uh no i i knew that um you know in order to be happy i think i i had to kind of be my own boss and start my own business no i think that you know i think that's that's first of all it's cool i always think it's amicable for people that are in high school to figure out side hustles ways to make money ways you know rather than just going to parents say hey i need the new you know new clothes or i need i want to go get a car or whatever and you know they they pay for it or they tell you no or whatnot say hey i'm going to figure out how to make money and how to do that and i think that you learn a lot of good lessons and set you up well in life so so now as you're you know you're wrapping up high school you're deciding to go off to school you know how did that work where did school start you i think you mentioned a lot of startups you work for different startups or intern uh during school you're also getting the degree so tell us a little bit about how that there that trend part of your journey went out there worked out yeah actually when i was 18 so i knew i wanted to be an entrepreneur uh and my dad came to me and he said look you want to be an entrepreneur you should take the money that uh instead of going to college and you should go start your own business right now and i looked at him and i was like dad look i'd love to but i don't know if i'm ready yet i don't know what to do i don't know the first thing about business and you know i want to enjoy college so he's like well it's your choice um but that's what i would do if i were you um and i think i made the right choice going to college because i don't know that i would have been ready i didn't have the network and i wanted to you know enjoy college still um so but i went in with the mindset of i want to come out of this with a business so i knew the whole time i won't you know college to me would be a failure if i was taking a normal job after college uh so at first what i was doing is interning at all these startups and really trying to figure out one what's a good idea that what i want to do to what kind of boss do i want to be who are people that i respect and that are good bosses here and who are people uh that i don't respect and why don't i respect them and how can i not be like that when i start my own company uh and then really just try to get as much experience as possible so that um you know i can know what i like know what i don't like know that you know there's gonna be uh rules that i have to hire for and stuff that i will actually be able to do myself so i did a pretty good job of interning at a number of really interesting startups one of which was a company called tiptalk which connected influencers and fans so you could actually pay an influencer on their platform and ask them any question about anything uh and mine is pretty awesome because it is the same name there's a huge platform called tick tock was it that's a talk or was it a different one no it's uh it was called tip ti oh tip talk i heard you talk i'm like but i didn't feel like it was the same things online so i thought i'd clarify so appreciate that i'm glad you clarified that because there probably would have been a lot of confusion there uh this is before tick tock was even a thing um and and tip talk the app that i work for no longer exists but while i was there i kind of i realized okay uh you know my job is to find all these influencers well it's really hard to do in bulk i was going through instagram i was going through youtube just doing searches and you know it's fine if you want to create a list of 10 20 but when you're trying to reach out to 100 a day it's not easy and there was a lot of there was software out there that we looked into and a lot of it was you know tens of thousands just to access the software and and just mainly focused on the bigger influencers which at the time the app really couldn't afford to get them on they wanted a lot of kind of micro influencers so i was like well there's got to be a better way and you know there's most of the industry is really just set up for these big companies with big budgets uh so the next summer while a lot of my friends were out there looking for internships i was like well why don't i come up with an mvp and start something where you know can help companies of all sizes really work with influencers in a way that makes sense to them and that's what i did i started off really small and i you know i didn't come up with a huge business presentation i didn't try and raise money beforehand i just went out there and started selling and started figuring out what you know what people were looking for and how i could do that effectively no and i think that that you know first of all i think just backing importantly that you know going into college saying hey i know i'm going to be an entrepreneur if i don't come out of this i don't come out with doing my own business it was a waste of money so to speak so let's make sure that i do a whole bunch of internships perfect startups and figure out what it works i think that certainly is that you know that's a great way to approach college it's a way to not just simply go and get a degree but also you leverage it as a way that hey i'm coming out of here and i know what i'm going to do and i've already got experience and start doing it so so you worked with the you know that company that start up for a period of time tip talk as opposed to tick tock and uh and you know work with them and you know get that hey there this is difficult it's very time consuming it's you know it's not very efficient there's got to be you know and that's where you kind of get your startup got to be a better way and i think i can do it better and i can figure it out so after you kind of learn the ins and the outs of the industry you know how did that transition to wanting to you know to using it as a way to start your own business or do your own thing how did you how did you kind of make that decision how did you come to that realization how did you get started yeah basically i just started doing some more research on my own um so i was going through and looking up different influencer search engines that were out there um and i found one that i thought looked interesting and could help me to find influencers so what i did was uh i purchased them i think it was around six hundred dollars per month so i purchased it for one month i think i probably at the time had about a thousand dollars in my bank account so it was a it was a substantial investment for me um at that time and really just went in and would do some searches so like fashion influencers and would download from them and categorize each of the influencers as i saw fit so for that whole month whenever i had a free minute i was just downloading influencers and kind of creating my own little influencer database so at the end of that month i had maybe it was around 30 or 40 influencer database that was categorized and then i went to go and start selling uh and the first thing i did was i query i i started freelancing so um i went on fiverr i went on upwork and i would just try and get clients right away i probably got my first client within a week for for ten dollars where i just made them a small little list of influencers eventually over that summer i was a hundred two hundred i worked my way up maybe to about five hundred dollars so still really small campaigns but it was great i couldn't do what i uh you know the packages that i'm able to sell now without getting that experience um and it was really good because i was able to work with you know a hundred companies maybe all with different size package but really to understand uh the nuances of each campaign what works what's effective what are they looking for what do i say to them to convince them to purchase how do i convince the influencers to work just for free product how do i do this without a budget so doing it at a really small level while can be frustrating especially if you're not a college student and you have bills to pay it's probably not always possible but was really helpful for for learning the ins and outs of the industry and doing so without a budget to spend no i think that that's awesome you know taking that bootstrapping it getting clients getting revenue and you know without a big budget you know kind of figuring out how to make it work is definitely i think a great way to go so now as far as the timing when you started to do kind of your own business and get that going were you still in college did you graduated what was it i just curious because you said your goal of going into college hey if i don't come out of here either having my own startup or knowing what i'm going to do college will be a failure so how did that work out timing-wise were you a success did you come out of college with your own startup or were you a failure but you recovered from your failure i'm happy to say that i was a success so i started that the company i think when i had about a year and a half left of college so for that next year and a half i never took on any more jobs i was a you know a full-time student who also ran this company uh and it was really great because i you know the university saw that you know i was an entrepreneur and they wanted to help me so a lot of my professors would talk to me about my business and make introductions and i really met a lot of people um that have been really helpful to this day just be because i had that business because i was a little different and was grinding on the business but for that year and a half i took on a ton of projects i learned a lot and i didn't make a whole ton of money uh but it set me up for right when i graduated to have a plan in place have a network in place and have the knowledge in place uh to actually go out there and be able to succeed so i was a student entrepreneur for a year and a half uh and then immediately graduating i said okay this is my full-time job uh i'm going to charge more i'm going to get more clients and i'm going to make this work i think that's that's awesome so you one checkbox success that's awesome that you were able to come out of school and uh be able to make or have that startup that you're already working on now as you're coming out of school and you make that i assume it when it became your full-time endeavor you you know you were continuing to grow it to make more money to uh build it into a business how has it gone since then has it been a hockey stick straight to the top and you made millions of dollars has it been one where it's been ups and downs still figuring it out bringing on other employees staying on solo kind of how has that gone for you since ever since graduation yeah so since graduation you know i was committed i said i gotta make this work uh and i was grinding non-stop on it and the pandemic actually helped the whole world shut down everyone needed to go online find new ways to to reach people and you know this was my life for like this was i'd wake up in the morning work on influence hunter go to bed still be working on influence hunter uh at around may i think i had about five or six full-time client uh like month of recurring clients which was at a a point where i was uh able to you know um sustain myself and sustain my business pay myself which was great but i had no more time to take on any more clients i was basically at capacity uh and a close friend of mine um came up to me and he said you know i love what you're doing it's super interesting um you know i just got a full-time sales offer for six figures uh but they've delayed it because of the pandemic and i don't start for another three months so i've got literally nothing to do do you need any help with your business i'd love to help you for free and we can figure it out later if it works and you told them no right you're like oh i would never want free work for somebody that will help me out that would be a terrible idea yeah i wish no i uh i badly needed help at that point it was the perfect timing um and he's a really smart guy someone i'd always wanted to work with but you know the stars kind of align there and i said absolutely like please i have so much that i'm trying to do so he came in and he basically immediately started working full-time for me working the same crazy hours as i was uh within a few weeks we both realized that this was working out and he said look um you know i want to work for you can we come to something that made sense and i brought him on as a business partner and he turned down that six-figure sales job and committed to building influence hunter uh with me um a year later we're we're still together and we have about 10 full-time people now so he did an amazing job one of the first things we did was we hired a full-time account manager so someone in charge of overseeing all of the actual campaigns who after a couple of months uh quit uh her full-time job and um you know allowed us allowed me to not actually be running all the day-to-day within the campaigns which i couldn't have grown my company to around 30 active clients the way we are now well you know there was no way i was tapped out at about five or six no i think that it sounds like it was a continuing to grow up bringing people on that was a great opportunity both for him and for you and it worked out well that he just decided to stay on with you which is that's awesome and that sounds like it's continuing to be a success and you know i was interesting when you hit the pandemic and i think any change in the marketplace it always causes nervousness but also presents a lot of times an opportunity that you can now say okay how can we leverage this to make our business even more successful because anytime that there's a change in the marketplace people either will try and wait it out they'll you know they'll start to lose sales or they'll adapt and grow so it's awesome that you guys took that as a way to continue to grow the business so well that brings us up a bit to you know what your journey is at and where you're at today and a little bit of where you guys are headed and so with that we'll jump to the two questions i always ask at the end of each podcast um the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it the worst bit the worst decision i ever made uh was probably uh not wanting to hire at first so i worked on this business for a long time and i was so scared that uh people wouldn't be able to do this as well as i could and i think that was kind of naive and overconfident of me to think that you know i'm so smart i'm the only one who can do this because i've found that there are a lot of really capable people out there who are able to do this so that and um also overselling i think when you're you know young and you're especially not just young in age but maybe young just starting a business uh it's really easy to over promise so you really want this client you think okay i can get them you know so many sales through influencers i can do an amazing job let me show my best case study and pitch that to them is like that's what's going to happen to them and you're it works differently for every single business so really understanding what you're actually capable of and the deliverables that you can promise such as like amount of influencers worked with amount of content generated as opposed to just like bottom line revenue promising down in sales uh so those were probably two of the the biggest business mistakes uh i made was one not giving other people enough responsibility to start uh being scared to give uh other people roles that i thought i could handle and then two over promising clients because it can be an effective sales tactic but you know if you don't deliver you run into a whole other bunch of problems now if anything i'm too honest with what will happen i'll let them know because i've reached the point where i would rather them not be upset two months into a six-month contract i'd rather not have them as a client than get you know have them upset no and i agree with john all friends i mean one is it's always hard as an entrepreneur especially when you start it up it's your baby it's your own thing and you wanted to you know you want to success you're best of them to as you bring people on you still want to say well i can do this better i can do it quicker it's going to take me as long to train them it's just doing it myself and for all those reasons you just hold on to things so tightly that you know you almost can sometimes hinder the growth of the business because you're not allowing others to do the things that you aren't adding as much value or they can be done by other people such that you can focus your time and attention on the things you really add value and others can't do nearly as well but i think it's one where everybody almost has to learn that lesson and go through that experience you get as one where until you've done until you've gone through it you never fully understand it and then the second one i agree with you as well it's always easy you know short-term gain sometimes if you over deliver over-promise then and you under-deliver sometimes it will initially come out of the client because you're over-promising the game you'll get create all this value and you have now as you start to under-deliver they're not going to be long-term clients so i always agree with you i think it can be a short-term successful sales tactic but harmful long-term to the business so i think to your point it's always better to honestly either under promise or just honestly promise this is what we can do this is realistically what we're able to do in the timeframes and the budgets and what and then let them know so they can make that informed decision so i think those are great mistakes that are easy to learn or make but also great ones to learn from so now we jump to the second question and before we get to the second question this is a reminder we also have the bonus question after this episode where we'll talk a little bit about intellectual property so if you're interested in that make sure to stay tuned after the end of the episode um but before we jump to the bonus question wrapping up the second question which is we're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup for a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them just go out and do it with as minimum investment monet both monetary and time as possible i think a lot of new entrepreneurs that i see um are kind of infatuated with starting the next facebook and in order to do that what they do is they build out you know this huge idea with all these different layers that they don't know anything about actually doing but it all sounds great to them so they pitch that to people and people maybe like it maybe don't but tell them it's cool and then they go out and try and raise money and put together together business presentations and i think being prepared can help and i think raising money can help but i'm a huge advocate in just going out there and doing you know my business was profitable from day one because it had to be i didn't have any money to spend i spent all my time doing two things one selling the business and two figuring out how to do my service more effectively now i'm in a service business so it's a little different than some other sectors per se uh but i think that that was the best use of my time it was better use of my time than it would be to be making presentations and pitch decks and pitching to people um you know i was selling to actual customers and i was performing the service that i was selling and all my time was spent trying to find a better way to do those two things and i think you know as uh you know if you're doing your first startup i think you should try and focus on spending as much of your time doing those two things no i agree i think what even if it's a product a lot of times you know you can get a now i hate the word minimally viable product just because it always makes it sound like i'm going to put out the crappiest product as quick as i can and it shouldn't be a crappy product but i think you can find ways of whether it's a service and or product-based business often times you kind of buy into well i have to have huge investors lots of money and everything else and there's always there's some exceptions where that's true but most of the time if you look at it work hard think about it and strategize you can oftentimes figure out a much more minimalistic way to get started and start to be profitable such that you can grow into that envision as opposed to trying to go zero to 60 a month so i think that's a great piece of advice well as we wrap up and before the bonus question that people want to reach out to you they want to be a client a customer they want to be connected in sponsors they are an influencer and they want to have you represent them or utilize your services they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out find out more and connect up with you i would say linkedin so you can reach out to me aaron cosmets k-o-z-i-n-e-t-s if you add me on linkedin i'll drop me a note i'll probably connect back or you can reach out to me at info influence hunter dot com and i would respond to you there awesome i definitely encourage everybody to reach out i think it's a great opportunity great platform and definitely worth checking out and supporting so with that thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you listeners out there if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to uh inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast please you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and do leave us a review so other people can find out about all the awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else through business just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat now with that is now we wrap up the normal part of the episode i always love the bonus questions because it's kind of fun we get to switch gears a bit you get to take the you get to take over the hot seat and get asked me ask me a question that i get to take over and answer and so with that i'll turn it over to you as to what is your top intellectual property question yeah well i hope you don't mind me asking this and you're able to answer it because i don't know if you will but i'm curious what is your least expensive patent you've ever worked on and what is your most expensive patent you've ever worked on and if you're not able to tell me the dollar amount maybe can you at least tell me what they were i'm sure yeah i'll um and i would i'll take it from a total investment you know start to finish in other words you can you know prepare and file is one thing versus getting it all the way through to get a issue patent so least expensive is zero dollar i guess not zero dollars i was gonna say zero dollars should be a bit fascist because i've done several of my own so i've done i love startups i've done some of my own startups the first that patent i actually wrote all the way through was for the business i started in mba school which is now evolved into a nine-figure business um but that was the first business i ever or first patent i ever know i've done other work and i got experience work for law firms but i wrote that one all the way through was that one so that one other than the cost i think it was two or three hundred dollars for the filing fee to do it i filed my own patent did it myself now i wouldn't recommend that for most people because i had experience i was an attorney i knew what i was doing and so it's not the same thing as doing it yourself and that's a whole different discussion that would probably be the least expensive but one probably the most expensive the bar to look at and that's not a question i thought of before you probably if i already get into some of some of them if they're very niched very specific and it's a very crowded feel a lot of people have already invented in there and you're doing a very narrow difference or a change or modification it could take longer there's probably been patents i've worked on that have reached the whole process 20 to 25 000. so that's a outside the norm they usually don't take that much to get through but some of them we fought a lot longer we did a lot or it took a lot longer and it was good motivations it was worthwhile for the decline for those ones so you can range anywhere from two or three hundred dollars like when i originally filed my own patent while i was still finishing up mba school law school for my startup all the way to businesses that are willing to fight the long fight a good fight because so that gives you a bit of an idea of kind of the range of the different patterns i worked on so fun question one i hadn't actually thought of so that kudos to you for asking a good question so with that we'll go ahead and wrap up the podcast thank you again aaron for coming on it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last same to you uh it was awesome being on and i appreciate you having me you