The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs2/20/2021
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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keep going never never never ever give up never ever ever give up always keep that fire keep that passion awake and like and always remember what's the purpose what are you doing here uh what is your uh uh potential impact uh why you are doing this for real uh keep that passion alive and it's gonna be uh worth it at the end [Music] hey everybody 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 i p law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need any help feel free to go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time with us to chat now today we have another great guest on the podcast david and hoja is that how you say last name or close all right so and david uh since he was a kid really liked to invent create things has always been curious i think he mentioned one time he took apart a family television and couldn't quite get it all the way back to together and so was a good learning experience but maybe not her parents not quite so happy but then kind of after that you had an uncle that had a spinal cord injury and an aunt that died from multiple sclerosis and kind of is dealing with all that and kind of going through school and university and getting a mechanical engineering degree kind of came out with the idea of you know helping people and kind of uh focusing on that a bit and so built a company around augmented reality or virtual reality to help people manage some medical uh medical uh issues um and then jumped a bit to where he's at currently with the business he's at with fly parents so with matt much as an introduction and we'll dive into i'm sure a lot more of what you're doing today as well but welcome on the podcast david oh thank you so much i'm very happy to be here so maybe now so i gave kind of that brief high level overview but uh take us back in time a little bit more um kind of walk us through your journey and let's start to start at the beginning um i mean since i was a kid i always like to see and discover and learn from everything and create things even uh from uh the story about the broken tv or even my video games uh i when i broke the video game or there's some electronics issue i always like took it apart and sometimes there's uh some uh uh minor issues i tried to fix it by myself i like to do that so i always like uh to do and create and build things also in especially also in high school i built a solar oven because also i like uh green energy and okay how about we can make an oven just powered by solar uh energy uh and i did that and it was it was working a little bit slow but it was totally green uh which is which is awesome uh and then and let me ask this one question just because i you know jumping back to the television when you're a kid taking it apart what did was it thought that you thought you'd be able to put it back together and you just wanted to see how it worked and that nobody would be the wiser or what was the thought when you started tearing into a television i mean i did not i at that age i did not think honestly about how to put it back first i was thinking how does it work that's the most important thing how does it work i want to see all the wires all the lens or the screen and everything's down there so then i like after okay uh i got pretty much uh a better idea now and then i tried to put it back and look at it i couldn't so yeah but uh it's good like because the idea the purpose the passion for me at that point was like just to learn as much as they can uh yeah so so and now fast forwarding so you did that you did another or other things in high school kind of had that same figure out how it works tinker with it entrepreneur spirit type of a thing so you go you get through high school and go to college and i think you said you got a mechanical engineering degree is that right yes yeah and also because my background from uh like my uncle uh who got a spinal cord injury and also my aunt uh who passed away for uh because multiple sclerosis like that uh something in the background like keep telling me to focus uh for people with disability and to improve their quality of life to do whatever i can since i have like really uh uh good skills with technology uh and with the engineering background mechanical but it's not just mechanical because i did many other things as well like electronics software computer science uh uh electric engineering so it's pretty much when you're engineering basically you you like you like to be uh multi uh uh disciplinary and try to learn pretty much um everything for uh something from everything so that and that's uh so that's why i know a little bit software hardware uh many things and even i jumped i took some courses in medical devices as well to see like oh how can i expand my skills and uh help people so so now and i think that makes it you know first of all it's admirable hey let's choose a something first of all that you're interesting but also are interested in but also that it gives the ability to you know work on projects that will be you know able to get back or that you'll be excited about and be able to address real problems or real issues i think or certainly makes you know is a great uh path or a career path to set yourself on so now as you were wrapping up you know college you're wrapping up your your degree where did you go to or how did you kind of what was the first step along your path of uh you know kind of utilizing that degree or doing something with that uh i worked actually with the many startups when i was back in boston so many startups i just jump into startup because i could learn a lot of things especially if i'm working with small teams uh and i work with many startups uh i was focusing more on 3d printing and drones uh and even actually uh while i was uh working uh um after college i was i had an idea which is uh making a a medical drone which is basically like a flying ambulance to provide medical suppliement for uh any accidents or any emergency situations so you can fly a drone and it obviously it will be much faster than any ambulance uh especially if you have car traffic or if you're in a big city so sometimes uh and every seconds matters uh sometimes you can save lives with within a second so that's why the drone can be very very helpful i worked that for quite a bit it's still like between the engineering mechanical uh also the medical background and actually i work with um i was um visiting my general hospitals with some doctors to get some advices like oh how about if i add this or what do you want because i i can i can build the drone the device and everything but like i don't know the medical need that much so i had to work and ask and be with the doctors and uh visit the emergency room sometimes and like check what what they want what are they what are they what they what they need so so now you do that for a period of time and if i remember when we chatted so you know you kind of get into exploring a few different things you know get the you know work on the drones kind of you know get that as a way to um you know provide some assistance and help to it and then i think you switched over to build a different company in augmented reality or virtual reality is that right yes uh another thing which is actually um something else my sister had eczema when she was a kid i did not actually think about it at that moment but uh one um years ago i went to a conference at mit about dermatology and eczema and crohn's diseases like they mentioned how people are suffering from skin diseases especially children's then oh at that moment i just went back in time when i was a kid oh my sister had an eczema and the skin disease is really horrible and it's really hard to manage that chronic disease and then i came up with an idea which is basically building um a game using vr ar virtual reality augmented reality which is a very interactive game so the kids can play with the games uh while at the same time we do all the image processing to help the parents uh the caregivers to take care of their uh children especially managing these crohn's disease takes a lot of time and effort and money uh and i we won uh and then that's um the start and uh i work with the uh with um with uh some entrepreneur as well uh we were four people in the boston area uh and we worked for that quite a bit and then so one question because you so you were what made you decide you know so you're working originally they're doing your job and you're also doing the drones and kind of doing that what made you decide to product better word switch or decide to jump into excellent augmented virtual reality was it you know other business was difficult lacking the ability to find a market fit was it hey you know why interests have changed markets change or kind of what made you decide to make that initial jump and shift or did you do them all the same time uh it's a little bit overlapping but at one point you uh i had to decide okay i need to focus on this alone so uh i always like even nowadays sometimes like if i have some free time i'll try just to check other things always like to keep my mind innovative and try different things but when you reach a certain point like okay now you need to to decide which one is your main focus and sometimes you have to say goodbye to the old one and uh and at that point i was like i was working with drone and 3d printing man but i saw this about the building the the game for kids for chronic diseases okay i thought it's going to be better for me with my passion with my interest to focus on that so i stopped working with drones and other stuff to just focus on the on the ar vr uh game no makes perfect sense so so now you do that you know you work on that for a period of time now where did that you know where did that get to did it ever establish and i guess let me back up one question on that is was this a kind of full-time gig was this what you're doing your full-time endeavor were you working a full-time you know full-time normal job and this was a side hustle or kind of how did those go together yeah that's uh the uh the vr ar game was a full-time job and we worked with many doctors uh caregivers um especially with at boston children's hospital and uh national hospital uh and we were we but uh at the same time i met another friend um uh and also a mentor uh who was a great landscape designer uh and then but in 2006 he was diagnosed with als same like stephen hawking and then nowadays he is living with als for 15 years now and now he cannot move his body and even cannot talk and that inspired me and also i remember the pain from my uncle my aunt and many other friends about this specific uh severe disabilities and i said okay i think it's time to jump and help those people and because that it's a really big issue especially and i have great connections um family friends and also especially uh i'm i'm i am inspired by stephen hawking a personal professional uh especially during college i got inspired by stephen hawking uh a lot uh uh his mind his career professional life and everything and and i realized there are many people like stephen hawking out there uh they're brilliant they're amazing they're just missing accessible technology to be the next stephen hawking the next engineer the next artist the next doctor writer whatever they want to be and i said okay i think that's the time to uh jump to this uh for real and and uh use all the passions the skills that i have to help all of them and then i started my company uh which is uh so now one question on that so because you had the company was your full-time gig that you were doing the augmented reality ar vr type stuff with the eczema you know did you wind that company down did you run that in peril did you sell it you turn it over or kind of you know if you already have the the initial company was it a pivot for that company kind of how did you make that switch or that transition to the new endeavor um i i started i was uh kind of like working full time with the uh augmented reality company full time and then at one point i i started to just to play with the idea to help people uh with disability then at one point the the company uh the ar vr uh company didn't work that well and we tried to raise funds but we did not get much funding and i i was really struggling through okay i now i think i need i need maybe i need to stop then uh we stopped uh just because lack of funding uh but the idea was great so uh if if we had some funding maybe uh uh i will take more to the next level but we couldn't raise fund at that point and also still my experience also still fresh as well so we tried to talk to investor i wasn't really good at talking to investor on building the business model i was more technical uh person like i know to build things like i worked pretty much as a cto role but not much as a ceo uh and i did not learn about how to convert your innovative idea to uh turn into a big company and raise fund and uh even asking for government grants and all kind of stuff but with with my uh then i i learned that uh through that through through my journey and then when i started my company parrots i already have the experience i try i made a lot of mistakes uh and actually i uh it's good to make mistakes it's good to learn it's good to grow uh because sometimes uh okay how about a if i talk to an investor like this way maybe that's the other way maybe uh maybe you are presenting a really uh not realistic financial projection uh because as innovative sometimes we are we go super optimistic oh we're gonna have um two million dollars or uh we have a a very big huge uh uh market opportunity but in reality the market opportunity maybe it's it's it's smaller than uh what we are thinking so sometimes um it's not just having the great idea but you need to turn that idea and understanding the market understanding how you can sell a product how you put a price for your product how to do market analysis market research how to talk to users uh i did that so i learned a lot sometimes i i was talking to customers or potential users uh too much maybe sometimes it's not just about asking them how uh what they need sometimes it's better to observe them and see that what's the problem so i was through my journey i'll learn that so it's not just about focusing about solution oh i can build things like let's do it sometimes it's just to take a deep breath and like uh step down a step uh back up and look oh what's the problem here what is the problem a lot of companies these the they made amazing products but they are not really solving a big market needs or a huge problem and that's a lot of companies failed or startups failed to raise fund or even to grow or uh they had to close so i learned that uh with a hard way or a good way no and i think some of the lessons you'll learn are oftentimes the hard way and but they're the lessons that are the most important to learn and that sometimes the best way is the hard way so now as you are you know you're looking at parrot as as it is today kind of first of all maybe give this a brief explanation as to what it is and and where you guys are at and kind of what the future looks like for it yeah uh so uh now pirates uh pirates uh we provide a solution to empower people with uh neurological disorders and their caregivers uh we have uh two devices uh two products right now one is a hardware and software and uh the second one is completely a software and basically we provide uh 5c just to make it simple for everyone so the first c which is uh to help people uh with very severe condition for uh to for navigation that's like the first c which is control uh to have uh control of their surrounding and like have a uh drive their wheelchair indoor and out there safely uh that's not number one the control the second one which is communication which is actually the most important thing here is communications because a lot of them they kind of speak and they sometimes uh they use very slow technology uh sometimes they have to wait 10 to 20 minutes just to speak uh our devices can help them speak within seconds so communication the third one which is connectivity connect them to smart home devices so they can play with everything uh with their eyes for example because that the fourth thing which is compatibility which is uh our device is compatible with eye tracking joystick head mouse uh and even now facial recognitions so they can uh based on their ability some people they can move their hands so they can use joystick some people they cannot move pretty much anything but they still they can use their eyes so that's why we use eye gaze in technology so based on their ability we are pretty much compatible um and also different platform whether it's windows or uh android ios and different platforms the the fifth one which is about the caregivers so also we maybe maybe just so you know so kind of the the consolidated answer and just maybe help to summarize it a bit if i understand it you know it's really looking at people that are needing it's a platform that it helps people i think or more specifically kind of with different neurological disorders in order to help them have a more meaningful and uh helpful or a happy life is that a fair shorter summary yeah yeah so so now as you as you roll out paulie and you're looking you know sorry parrot which is you know has meet paulie which are on your platform but you roll out parrots you know what is the next step for you kind of where do you guys see the future heading or kind of you know how do you continue to build the product and introduce it to the public yeah we have been working right now with about a five nursing home around the country uh with people with als multiple sclerosis some hispanic injury and cerebral palsy uh we'll try to expand that uh uh to more uh customers and also we are working to get our devices to be covered by insurance and we have a big potential for that and also we started to talk with the va uh as you know they have some people uh with brain injuries or even als multiple sclerosis so the veterans community is also one of the biggest milestones to reach nowadays and we are looking for that and we're going to be at the actually at the veterans uh healthcare summit uh uh i think in texas uh in a few months well cool sounds like a lot of exciting things going on and a lot to um a lot a lot of things a lot of ways to grow the business so well as we start to wrap up the podcast and i always ask two questions at the end of each podcast so maybe we'll jump to those now so first question i always ask is so along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it i think one of the worst uh mistakes in my journey like jumping to the solutions without thinking about the real problem uh so because as innovative especially if you if you got a great skills with with with your hand or with with your software or whatever skills you have if you like to build things oh build the coolest thing ever but uh what's the problem are you solving here just because it's cool or are you solving a real problem here so i don't think uh i i did that a few times not just one time to be honest with you so so i just uh give i want to give an advice to all innovators entrepreneurs out there make sure you're solving real problem first and understand that and then think about the solution now you can build whatever you can you can do whatever pretty much with all the resources that we have but make sure you're solving a real need here and i think that's a good you know it's an easy sometimes we get so enamored with here's our device here's our product or product and we think it's so cool and it can do so many things and sometimes the easiest the thing that we should be thinking about the most but the thing we tend to overlook is does it solve a problem is this something that people can use that they'll pay for and is there a market for it rather than just making a cool or you know cool thing that is a great idea but maybe nobody's willing to pay for not willing to pay what it costs to make so i think that that's certainly a great le easy mistake to make and a great one to learn from so as we jump now to the second question which is if you're now talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i think the the journey of entrepreneurship is sometimes hard and we have to accept that fact but i'll i'll say keep going never never never ever give up never ever ever give up always keep that fire keep that passion awake and like and always remember what's the purpose what are you doing here uh what is your uh uh potential impact uh why you're doing this for real uh keep that passion alive and it's gonna be uh worth it at the end yeah and keep going no and i think that you know almost a quid or quote the winston churchill of never give up type thing never ever ever and i that's you know whether or not you intended to quote it but that's one of the one of the great i think one of the great quotes from him and certainly inspiring but i think it's certainly a lesson to learn from is you know there is a most of one of the biggest traits that separates a a successful entrepreneur a sex successful business or startup is the ability to even when you're facing hard things you're having to go through things that aren't as fun or that you're having to deal with issues is to figure out never give up figure out a way through it and and make it a success and you know that's i think a great trait and one that everybody needs to have well as we wrap up if people want to connect up with you they want to learn more about your platform they want to be a customer they want to be a client 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 connect up with you and find out more yeah you can check our website flyparrots.com and also my email david fly pirates dot com well awesome i'm happy to connect with everyone well i definitely encourage everybody to to connect up find out more check it or check out flyparrots.com um and david thank you for being a guest on podcast it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners uh if you have your journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and be apply to be a guest if you're a listener also make sure to click subscribe so you get out notifications of all of our new episodes come out and leave us a review so everybody else can find out about us as well last but not least if you ever need help with a patent or trademark just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time with us at miller ip law thank you again david and uh good luck or wish even the near next leg of your journey even better than the last okay thank you so much you