Keep Pushing Forward
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Keep Pushing Forward
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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Constantly Believe in yourself, believe in your product, if you feel like your product is, if you feel that you have your product has value, you'll have a lot of people that will dismiss it or say that's really cool. But you know, that's as far as it goes. And you'll have a lot of days where you're thinking, maybe this was a mistake, you know, maybe I shouldn't be doing this. And you'll have a lot of times where you're doubtful, but I would say just continue to keep the faith, keep holding on to your belief that you've come up with something valuable and that just keep pushing forward having faith it'll work out.
Everyone, this is Devin Miller, here with another episode of The inventive journey. I'm your host, Devin Miller, the serial entrepreneur that's grown several 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 pens and trademarks. If you ever need help with yours, just go to strategy meeting Comm. We're always here to help. Now today we have another great guest on the podcast, Joel Jacobson. And to give you a brief introduction of Joel so he went to Bonneville High School for those of you that are our listeners are in Utah grew up in a within a single parent home or single mom home and she always worked to provide provided a great example of, of hard work. Originally, he didn't necessarily care for as school as much didn't like math, and some of the others didn't do as well in math in some of the other classes. Grades You're so so graduated, went to be a commercial plumber for a period of time, went on a religious mission to Brazil came home and decided he didn't want to be a plumber for the rest of his life. And he wanted a bit of a different career path. And so really never thought about college into that point, but decided to go to college. When I started out. It wieber went to U of U went into some engineering, got one of his professors owned a consulting company inspired him to go into that got his professional license and engineering when worked at Hill Air Force Base on F 16 for a while, got some mentorship, got some licenses, started his own engineering firm, got some do D scholarships, graduated when worked for another contractor and that 16th got or did or continues his own engineering firm and worked on some of the products including one that we're happy to be helping with a bit on on the patent side as well, which is a cool product. That's a quick connect for ar fifteens and for other products. So with that much is in production. And that's quite the journey. Welcome on the podcast, Joel. Thanks, Devon. Dang, I guess we can conclude this one. Well, this walk or leave on a high note. So that will be it now. So I gave that 30 30,000 quick overview of kind of your journey. But take us back a bit. Take us back if I can not get tongue tied. Take us back a bit in time. And tell us kind of how your journey started. We're going to Bonneville high and we'll chat from there.
All right. Yeah. You have to go into Bonneville high. You know, I was a more of a jock, I guess you'd call me or Derringer. Back in the day, I didn't really care for school as much and didn't do well in math. And I, you know, had some really close friends back then. And we were pretty tight knit group. And but yeah, back then sports was pretty much my life. And so I never saw myself ever, that I was going to be the owner of an engineering firm, you know, in the future. And, you know, having graduated with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and aeronautical engineering, so, it was
it went to Balboa high and then is what I mentioned part of the journey as you graduated, you know, got soso grades, some classes like math and other ones didn't love it or love it enjoyed quite as much at that point in time. Now, what made you decide to go into Commercial Plumbing after the after you graduated?
Yeah. So after I graduated, I had a cousin who worked for a plumbing company, you know, and he just said, Hey, you graduated, you want a job. And I just thought, sure, low hanging fruit. So I took the job, you know, work full time, and was able to make some pretty good money and kind of just work full time and got to see the labor side the boots on the ground side of the workforce. So good. Good for me.
So no, and I think that's, you know, it's great to get those jobs where you learn a lot get experience, learn what you like, what you don't like and what you think of things and everything else. And so you did that. It sounds like for about a year or so. And then he went and he served religious mission in Brazil, which is always a fun thing. You know, a great and I'm sure rewarding experience. Now you come back after your you know, after your mission. And you know, what was kind of buoy saying, hey, maybe I'll get back into plumbing or Hey, I want to do something else to kind of what was that decision or that career path that pointed your journey towards engineering?
Yeah, it was a couple of things. So, you know, I got home from my from my mission in Brazil and I started to question you know, whether I wanted to jump back into the plumbing world. You know, at that time, I was, I guess, a second year apprentice, you know, in the apprenticeship program. And I thought, well, I guess, man, I could get back into it. Or I could maybe go to college, which to me was kind of a swear word. I was like, I don't want to really go to college, but I kinda liked to learn how things worked. I, at the time, I had a four wheeler that I rebuilt, I loved their bikes, I love four wheelers. And so at the time, I had a four wheeler that I was rebuilding, and I stripped the entire bike down to the frame the engine and taking the engine apart, rebuild, put it back together. And I started doing that kind of tinkering with with some other things, you know, in that three, four month time period that I was home and kind of not really had much to do, you know, you get home and it's like, well, I don't have a job. I'm not going to school yet. So I just kind of Tinker. And I started thinking, you know, what, what is it that I wrote, I really enjoyed doing and then what am I passionate about? And it just kind of seemed natural that I like to learn how things work. And I like to take things apart and see how they, how they work, how they function. And so I was like, Well, I guess the only thing I can think of that I you know, could probably earn a decent living and have pretty steady income would be like an engineering, maybe a mechanical engineer, but that's way too smart. For me. I got way too many math classes in science, and I probably wouldn't be able to do. So. That was the turning point though, for me.
So now so yeah, you decide, okay, kind of have that Turning Point decide to go get the degrees, you go get the degrees in engineering, and then you come out of school and I think is at that point, you decided you'd go work on F 16 for a period of time.
So yeah, so I started up a weaver state, you know, did their pre engineering program at the time, they didn't have an abet accredited engineering program. So I either had to go to the EU or I had to go to Utah State. I decided to go up to Logan to BYU couldn't CIF. I could have gone to BYU to give a little plugin for my alma mater. So there wasn't really Yeah, I just I didn't really think about BYU that time. I just was either going to be the U or Utah State. I went up to Utah State go Aggies, and went up there and took, you know, stumbled through I mean, I guess you could say, anybody, any engineering student, I'd say 95% of them just kind of stumble their way through the material curriculum and get through it. You know, there's 5% or whatever that are natural. smarty pants is but the rest of us we work through it. So that was me. Graduate I
was right there with you at school is not one. Oh, yeah, this is a breeze. No problem. It was always one I had to do a lot of work with so I might in the same camp with you.
Yeah. So now, got that. Once I graduated, then yeah, I went out. And I was able to get into working with the Air Force as a civilian there at Hill Air Force Base. And I was my first assignment was first position was there in the F 16. Structural department. Kind of a cool job.
I don't know. And that sounds like a cool job just to be able to work on F 16. I mean, that's it sounds like an exciting whether or not as exciting as it sounds, it certainly sounds like a pretty exciting job. It will now go now, how did you so you did that for a period of time. And I think you worked at Hill, you also went got a master's degree at Purdue. So kind of what made you decide and then I think you went back to work on F 16. So kind of what was it decision of going back getting the masters and then also going back and working on f6 ts before you started your own engineering firm?
Yeah, so kind of in the back of my mind, I've always had the dream of owning and operating my own engineering firm. And so I had the opportunity when I was working at Hill Air Force Base to work with a licensed professional engineer. And, you know, I asked him, Hey, you know, would you be okay with me training under you? While you know, while I'm studying and preparing for my professional, my PE exam? And he says, Yeah, yeah, and if you pass the exam, they'll sponsor you. So we kind of had an agreement, I saw that as a as an opportunity to get licensed, licensed, become a licensed professional engineer, and then that would then open the door in my mind for me to be able to practice engineering professionally on a professional level for clients. So it was kind of always there.
So now you go get the pert, you know, you go get them the additional degree, you continue, I think to work on, you know, f 16 for as a as a civilian for a period of time. Now, what was what was kind of the tipping point, when do you decide, okay, I've got enough experience. I've got enough degrees, I've got enough, whatever, before air to decide, okay, I'm going to jump in and start doing my own firm or start developing my own stuff.
Yeah. So, you know, I started up Jacobsen engineering the year the very year that I got licensed And I just started to try to take on freelance work, try to get some sort of some experience under me try to give me some some kind of foundation some credibility. And it was like the following year that I got accepted into the d. o. t smart scholarship program and was afforded the opportunity to move out to West Lafayette and do my master's degree out of Purdue. Do my thesis out there. When I came back to the government, however, it didn't, the challenges were not the same. I didn't have the same drive, you know, it was just different coming from grad school in a highly advanced aeronautical field and university. Coming back to the mundane paper pushing that I was doing that I didn't realize I was doing kind of before, but came back to that and thought, well, this just isn't doing it for me anymore. So I decided to leave the government. And that cost me money because I would have to repay all that I had a commitment to them. So debris, pay that, but I went work for the government contractor, where I was actually doing more developments were more research, more design work, more integration, I was actually hands on putting stuff on the jet new avionics packages and new systems. And I really liked that it was really fun. I got to learn a ton. And yeah, and so I was there for about four and a half years. And at the time, I had taken on a really substantial contract with a client that was in itself providing full time work. And I was working full time with the government. Well with this contractor, and I just decided, I need to give one of the two up, we were in a good place financially, I just decided to go ahead and make the jump and let's let's try the Jacobson engineering full time, and see what happens. So that was when we we decided to do it.
Now one question when you are working with you know the VOD contract and doing a lot of that as a contractor. Were you still doing Jacobs? engineering on the side? Or were you saying hey, I already got I'm already, you know, have way too many things going on? I'll put that on hold or, you know, or what was that? What before you jumped in full or full time on your own engineering firm? voice? Dude, you are still doing that on the side? Or was that on hold?
No, I was still doing that on the side. You know, I was I wasn't I was looking for, I guess you could say, the the big contractors, a big client that would be able to allow me to leave my full time job and then do what I've just been dreaming up for the last, you know, 10 years or whatever. And so I finally got that client in 2019, toward the end of 2019. And that work carried me all the way into and past summer of 2020 at a full time basis. And then so I was working that and my full time. day job. So I had the two of those I was trying to balance and I just thought I've got it, I've got to get rid of one or the other. And I this has always been my dream. Let's let's try it out and see how it goes.
So now you and I think it definitely makes sense. So now you jump into your own dream, you say okay, I've always want to do my own thing. Can I do my own engineering firm, you know, and I always figure side hustles really are just a second job because you usually spend as much more time on the side hustle as you do on the quote unquote full time job, but you dive in full time say, Okay, I'm gonna try my own thing. At that point, you know, how did it go? Well, you already had some clients, you had some basis where you, you saying, Hey, I gotta hustle, I got to get some more clients, I'm, you know, I got my own projects I want to work on are kind of how did that go as you jumped in full time?
Yeah, so as I jumped in, I had one one client with several hot leads, you know, for other clients. And it seemed like, things were going to shape up nicely for me. And when I, when I left, you know, I really only had the one one major client who had a lot of work projected, but ultimately didn't never pan out. So I left the comfort of my salary job to become, you know, Jacobson engineering full time, and it didn't pan out the way that we were hoping and, and what he was, what they were what I was being told and promised, and then all of these other hot leads, I had just kind of fizzled away and I was left with a little bit more spare time than I would have liked. Which kind of leads into magnatech.
So that's again because you need just kind of answer the question so you know, you wouldn't you get you know, leads dry up or your figured out what you're going to do, you know, you have you know, everybody has to make that leap and you always have that client or one more clients, he hopefully comes along your hope has work and sometimes it works out and other times you had to start to scramble. So as you're facing all that, you could have You know, you had one path where, hey, I'm going to pursue my own projects, I'm going to do my own thing and start to make it go the business that way. Or alternatively, you can say, Nope, I'm gonna, you know, hustle, the, you know, whatever it takes to get new clients on board, how did you kind of grapple with that decision? or How did you weigh those out?
Um, it was kind of a calculated decision, you know, it was just I wait, like I said, we were in a good place financially, to take the risk. I felt like if if, at the very worst case, I needed to go back and get a salary job somewhere, I can always do that, I felt confident that I could do that anyway. So it was just kind of weighing the risks, and just saying, you know, it was taking a leap of faith, like he said, we had the clients, or the one client that was providing the majority of the work. And then it was just let's focus on our marketing to try to find more clients. And hope that it hope we can find some work. So it was really a leap of faith, honestly.
Now, as you're doing as you're doing your own project, you know, I guess the first question, how did you come up with a project? or How did you land on which product or project you wanted to take internal? And do your own work on?
Are you talking about Mike magnatech? are right,
yeah, that's a good example. Sure. Or if you have any other projects that are worthwhile to discuss, whichever projects, he kind of decided, hey, I've got some good ideas. And I'm going to take on, you know, take these on and see where they go.
Yeah, so I found a lot of ideas in the past and really magnatech was, was the only idea that I really tried to bring to market and it's been, it's been a lot of fun, it's always been a dream of mine, to to invent something, to get it patented, and be able to, you know, make something useful for our society. So it was always that was kind of always a dream of mine, as well. So yeah, like I said, just having a little bit of extra spare time on my hands, I was able to, I got myself my first day are back in June of last year, through a brother in law, and I asked him at the time, you know, what this little accessory mount was? And he told me, you know, this is for accessories, if you want to attach this or that, or whatever on there, and I thought, hmm, is there any, anything out there right now, that's a quick attachment or a magnetic accessory, he's like, no, nothing really that worth anything. And so anyway, that's where I had the idea, you know, let's, let's see, if there's some way we can do this, you know, what would be some of the criteria that you think would be important for an accessory mount like this, and he said, you know, just being self zeroing and being strong enough to withstand your recoil and stuff. So anyway, so I started down that path of, wow, this is, you know, the creative juices were flowing, and I was able to just, things just started coming together really organically, I really didn't have to battle too much with this particular idea. It just kind of all seemed to come together. And it was, it's been a lot of fun so far.
No, and that, that is fun, it's always fun, when you you know, you have an idea, you have something that you can latch on to you start to see it come together, you start to produce a start to do everything and, you know, get some that traction. And so you know, for me, it's always fun to have the idea. And then it's fun to see the prototype. And then that first sale, you know, you kind of have those different milestones all which are really just fun and exciting, then kind of keeps building. So now as you kind of, you know, branched out, you started to, you know, do magnatech, he started to predict, you know, chase after some of your own projects. Now, looking kind of into the future a bit the next six to 12 months, kind of what are the plans? Where do you see things heading? And where do you know, what is? What do you hope for in the future?
Yeah, so I think, you know, in the next six months or so, I'm hoping to continue, I do have two to six month contracts with two different clients in the aerospace industry right now. So I'll continue with those clients. And I will continue to look for other opportunities to work with clients in any industry, aerospace and automotive, renewable energy. So it doesn't really matter the industry, every almost every industry needs mechanical products and design. So I'll continue to pursue those types of opportunities through Jacobsen engineering, I'm trying to scale up this business a little bit, trying to bring on more workflow that I can spill over and bring on some employees some engineers. So that's the goal with Jacobsen engineering is to scale it up to maybe a two person to engineer firm, two or three, you know, just depending. And then with magnatech is I hope to grow that also that product. start scaling that right now what you we produce 250 kits have this magnetic mounting accessory for a particular flashlight that we've, we've procured and sourced and we are now selling. So I would say the next goal would be to double it. Let's try 500 kits. And let's see what happens with that and just keep going from there. Cool.
Sounds like an exciting road ahead. So that's, that's fun. So well now we kind of brought it brought or brought everybody up to the the president even looked a bit into the future kind of hits that point in the podcast, I always have two questions at the end of each episode that I asked. So we'll jump to those now. So 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
probably the worst businesses, you know, made is probably not tiring a business attorney to help me establish or set up my business, you know, with, with me having multiple businesses, I took the advice of my accountant, and he said, you know, it'll be easier if you set it up this way, maybe easier for him, it may not be the best way, business wise. So I would say that that would probably be one of the mistakes I made is just relying on my accountants to tell me how to how to set up a business rather than getting some advice from legal counsel. So as I say, so that was what I learned from now on. If you're gonna set up a business, make sure you just spend an hour or two with a business attorney, and just make sure you're doing it right.
Now, and I think that's always great advice in the sense that, you know, with the, kind of follow on with that a lot of times as an entrepreneurs, you know, as somebody that's doing a startup, so in business, you always look into one, you know, save save money, because there's always more things to spend money on than money to spend. And to you're saying, oh, wow, I can probably do this myself. And so kind of when you get into that mode, sometimes you're right. Sometimes you can say money in some areas, sometimes you can do things yourself. But there are also areas where you're saying, hey, I need the expertise. I know when something needs someone that knows what they're doing, how to do it, make sure it's done, right. Because usually, if you don't, if you cut corners on areas is usually more expensive and time are tight and more time and effort to fix it than just get it done. Right if it is able to be done. So I think that figuring out what areas you need expertise on who can help you in those areas is a worthwhile thing. But it's an easy mistake to certainly make. Yeah, the second question I always ask is, if you're talking now someone to someone that's just getting into a startup, just getting into a small business would be the one piece of advice you'd give them.
Just probably to constantly Believe in yourself, believe in your product, if you feel like your product is if you feel that you have your product has value, you'll have a lot of people that will dismiss it or say that's really cool. But you know, that's as far as it goes. And you'll have a lot of days where you're thinking, maybe this was a mistake, you know, maybe I shouldn't be doing this. And you'll have a lot of times where you're doubtful, but I would say just continue to keep the faith, keep holding on to your belief that you've come up with something valuable, and that just keep pushing forward and having faith it'll work out.
Now, and I think that, you know, one of the things that differentiate between everybody that, you know, there's a lot of people there, they're the idea of, you know, idea guys or idea people that they have great ideas, and they you know, they think that you know, oh, I have you know ideas all the time. And I'm if I ever Chase, I might be a millionaire type of thing. And those people are much different than the people that actually execute, they actually do something they follow through, they continue on it, they stick to it. And those are ones I are oftentimes successful. And no ideas as he goes are a dime a dozen. It's that execution. It's a follow through on the ideas that makes a difference between somebody that always has that idea that never does anything with it. And someone that builds a business around it. Couldn't agree 100
I couldn't agree with you more. Devin, it's, it's, it is so true. And I've had a lot of ideas in my lifetime as well. But like I said, this was the only one that I felt like magnatech was the only one that I felt like I Well, it was just a combination of things, just time and resources. And it was just a lot of things combined. That just said this is a good time to do it. Let's do it just felt right.
So yeah, and I definitely think that I think it's a great advice. So as soon as we wrap up if people want to find out more about magnatech they want to look at the you know the Quick Connect accessories for the AR 15 other things you guys are producing or they want to reach out in your engineering firm. They want to hire you for a contract basis or they're worth the D o t. They want to be a customer 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 reach out find out more?
Yeah, probably the best way is to just go to our websites. Jacobson engineering services calm is my website and magnatech calm and magnatech is spelled with a hyphen between magne and Titan tech. Oh, I don't know if the podcast is going to have any videos. Is it?
It will have video so Magna is right there on the hat so yeah it's right here on the hat. If you're watching on the video side then go ahead and you can just grab it there if not is Ma Ma je ne das tch comm right?
Yeah, yeah, that's a so I would say go there. We have there's contact us on both websites just just hit that. Fill out your information, it will send an email right to me. So
awesome. I definitely encourage everybody to reach out find out more support the support the business support the startup and in hire, hire Joe for all of your engineering needs. on LinkedIn. All right, LinkedIn are connected on LinkedIn as well. So well as we wrap up for the for the podcast. Appreciate you coming on job being a guest on the podcast. So it's been a fun, it's been a pleasure. Now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell, we'd love to have you as a guest on the podcast. Feel free to go to inventive guests calm quiet to be on the show. Two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast player so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out, and to leave us a review so new people can find out about all of our awesome episodes. Last but not least, if you ever need help with patents, trademarks or anything else, just go to strategy meeting comm grab some time with us to chat. Thanks again. Joe's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thing, Devin