Never Give Up
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Never Give UpMy advice is to just never give up. If you have researched to know that this is a good product that people would buy or even if it's not a consumer product. If it's a business you know that people are going to use or a service that people need, just don't give up. You never know. It might be the tenth time you get knocked down that you get back up again and turn that corner and take off. You can't let yourself stay down. You have to get back up and keep pushing forward with it.
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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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is to just never give up if you've done the research to know that this this is a good product that people would buy and that or even if it's not a something a consumer product right if it's a business that you know that people are going to use or service that people need just don't give up because you never know it might be the tenth time that you get knocked down that you get back up again that you turn that corner and really take off um so you just can't ever get back or let yourself stay down you got to get back up and keep pushing forward with it [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devon miller the serial entrepreneur that uh has built and grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we focus on helping startups and uh with and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and if you ever need help feel free to go to strategymeaning.com and are always here to help now today we have another great guest on the air on the podcast jared spendlove and so jared he started out his career thinking is going to be a doctor and has nothing to do with i think or very little to do with being a doctor anymore um but he started out there um then decided he was going to switch and so he actually as an fyi is a complete a site he lives just up the in a city just nearby or lived in south ogden you know where i'm located it's just about a 10 or 15 minute drive up so we don't know each other before the podcast but we do live by each other so at least to have that in common but he started his journey decided he wasn't going to be a doctor switched i think it was to mechanical engineering and had still had a bit of a medical device focus before kind of going through the rest of his career doing some startups doing some other businesses and landing where he's at today and he'll be able to give a little bit more about where he's at today how he's doing a full-time job doing a side hustle all of those fun details and with that much as an introduction welcome on to the podcast jared thanks devin i'm happy to be here so i gave a really quick overview of a few details but maybe a step back and let's start back at kind of when you wanted to be a doctor all those years ago and just talk through a little bit of your journey and have a good conversation yeah so i i grew up with this mindset of you know i'm gonna you know be a doctor and i had that ever since i was a teenager um and you know i started working towards that and got into college and and you know started talking to actual doctors and surgeons and that and realized you know maybe this isn't the exact path that i thought it was going to be in the end um and so decided at that point you know and i was i was going to school at weber state university i was a lot of my friends that were you know taking the pre-med classes they were majoring in microbiology and zoology and i'm like you know if if this doesn't work out for me i don't think i want to be a microbiologist or a zoologist and so i was uh getting it so now just a complete side remind me what is zoology is that animals or is it anything to do with the zoo or what zoology i think it's i don't know i i don't know like my question was legitimately i don't i've heard zoology i just have no idea what they actually do and if you're a zoologist and you're a listener no offenses zoologist maybe you can email me and let me know where or what a zoologist is yeah so you know i i i didn't know and so i was like i don't think that's what i want to major in so if it doesn't work out then i don't know what i'm going to do and so i was majoring in mechanical engineering um and alongside doing all my pre-med classes and you know it just got to a point that i i realized in my life that that wasn't the exact direction i wanted to go and so i did the research and tried to figure out you know what do i want to do i still want to stay in the medical field and i loved engineering i had been you know from a very young age been very hands-on in building things and um you know construction work and just taking things apart and kind of working with my hands that way and so i wanted to stay in that field but you know applied to the medical field so i transferred up to the university of utah and i got my degree in biomedical engineering um a lot of people uh hear that and probably again like zoology don't know exactly what a biomedical engineer is and so the way i describe it is i'm a mechanical engineer with an emphasis in medical devices and so you know started out at a startup company um there was four of us working there and so i got to wear every single hat that you can in medical devices i was r d i was manufacturing that was quality regulatory and so it was kind of my first experience of learning how to drink from a fire hose you know you right out of college and suddenly you're slammed with all these projects from you know designing devices that are simple cosmetic devices to um neurosurgical devices and so i got to see a wide range of how things worked and i got to work you know we were contract engineering company and so i got to work closely with the owners of those companies and the people who started them and you know i got my first taste of what it means to be an entrepreneur kind of at that point from a sideline view you know i wasn't the entrepreneur i had no ownership in anything other than you know come to work each day and work hard and and give my all to what i was putting into it and you know i started seeing you know a lot of these companies that you know we work for and design medical devices for and you know that over the years you know they a lot of them their whole goal was to build up uh a product in the company that they could sell to larger companies you know johnson and johnson and merit medical here in utah and you know lots of bigger companies boston scientific and so i saw these these entrepreneurs you know come to us with an idea we tried to turn that idea into reality and then they turned that reality into a lot of money i thought to myself i'm you know this is great doing my job i love what i'm doing but you know you don't get the financial benefit as as the entrepreneur does and so um that started getting my my my wills turning in in my head of you know everybody's probably got an idea of or the thought that man if i could just come up with one good idea you know that would be great and so but one before you dive into the big idea you did take i think you mentioned when we chatted a bit before you were at the startup and you decided you did want to you ended up going to a big business for a while but then you missed the impact is that right so you did kind of have that extend of working for bigger businesses and deciding that wasn't for you is that right yeah so i i worked for two other larger companies after that startup company um and it was it was good i got great experience because large companies have resources that smaller companies don't you know there's more people there's more money there's uh better equipment and so i got to see get my the startup company we weren't the manufacturers of anything either so you know we had to outsource everything so i learned how to outsource and and work with contract manufacturers but at the larger companies where we actually did manufacturing i got you know hands-on manufacturing experience that was was great and so you know i feel like i i got a well-rounded uh experience at the start of my career in medical devices of the startup the large companies the r d the manufacturing the quality engineering you know a taste of everything and it it was while i was at one of the larger companies i had this thought of you know well let me take one step back so i had a neighbor who has a boat and um we would go boating our families together and you know we would talk and uh he he came to me one night and he's just like hey man i've got i want to buy something and so tell me what you think let's go look at these you know it's called a wake shaper or something that you put on the side of your boat he had an older boat it was like a 98 malibu and so um it was primarily just a wake boat you know wake boarding skiing that type of stuff and so he wanted to put something on his boat to be able to surf behind it and we we tried the whole everybody cram into one corner of the boat and list the boat as hard as you can to one side and try and get the weight to clean up to be a a surf wake um but i mean you only can get so far by doing that and so we wanted something that you know he wanted something he could clean his wake up you know and make a surf wave and so we started looking at him online and you know debating really it was me trying to convince him to buy one so i could use it and so he you know we looked at him for it was probably like the second or third night that we had looked at him and uh he you know he comes to me and he said hey jared you're an engineer i'm into you know the sales and business side of things like don't you think we could make something you know better than what's out there and and sell it i'm like yeah sure we've got the money for it you know everything you know coming from the medical device world your medical devices are not a cheap thing to do you know you you can create something really simple and spend a whole lot of money on and it's probably that way in a lot of things but you know just from my experience of medical devices you really can't get very far without money yeah and i've been through that i've you know some for several of the startups i've done have at least been medical device related and you know you always have to worry even about fda approval in clinicals and trials and safety testing and even product development and a lot of things and so you're always a very expensive endeavor to ever do medical devices just because of everything that all of the now if you get all the way through and you get a good medical device reward can be great but it's not a the front end is certainly a heavier lift than in some of the other areas yeah and and so when he said that i was like yeah if we've got the money for it and in the back of my mind i'm thinking you know a recreational product like there's not a whole lot of regulations on that stuff so this would be great for me because i'm used to being heavily regulated and you know getting approvals from the fda and everything and so and and heavy documentation and so i thought this might be something fun to just try out let's make a prototype and just see where we go from there and uh so he he went and made a prototype on his own and he cut a there's a product out there that's a velcro it's a triangular wedge that velcros to the side of your boat so he went and got some velcro and an archery target and cut it into a triangular wedge and velcro to the side of his boat and i wasn't with him when he did this and you know he came back to me and said you know it worked for about five minutes until it ripped all the duct tape and velcro off my boat and you know didn't really work it cleaned the wake up and made a surf wave for about five minutes until all ripped off and so i started you know at that point thinking all right i've got some connections to a machine shop i've got some ideas so i started doing the research of what was out there already um i started looking into some of the patents that exist out there because i'm i didn't want to waste my time designing something that somebody's got protected that in the end i'm not going to be able to sell it or do anything with it so i started you know looking into the patents and um reading a lot of reviews to find out why people like certain ones and why they don't and so you know there was two main competitors out there two different types of products that we're competing there's the velcro version which only one company was selling at the time and they had you know patent on that and then uh the next thing out the gates was one the suction cup to the side of your boat and uh they you know that was patent pending and then all of a sudden you know there was 15 20 different suction cup versions out there and so i you know i thought obviously i don't want to go the velcro route to me that didn't make sense to put velcro on the side of a boat and the suction cups i was you know there's pros and cons about the suction cup so i was like everybody's doing the suction cups there's got to be a different better way to do this and so it was really like the connection method between the wake shaper and the boat that that had me intrigued of trying to figure out how can you put something on a boat that is with you don't have to screw holes into your boat and and have to be super technical to understand how to properly do that to your boat and most people probably aren't willing to do that to the side of their boat to you know mount something onto it that way and so i started just digging into you know cool technologies and whatnot and i i came up with the idea to use magnets to attach it to a boat and i get the question all the time of well aren't boats fiberglass how are you going to magnetically attach something to a fiberglass boat and so um i i created a really sleek narrow strip that would stick to your boat with a double-sided tape and you know that was a lot of trial and error to find a tape that would withstand the forces that was waterproof that you know you're pushing on it when you're driving through the water you're pushing on it with hundreds of pounds of force and so it has to stick really well but at the same time i'm like again i'm in that situation of do people really want to put something on their boat that's semi-permanent without the ability to take it off so i need to find something that stays on all the time when you want it on there but will come off if you want it off which is a hard thing to to do so now so now you go through so you have the idea you you said okay we're going to do the research we figure out what works what doesn't work lots of r d trial and error figuring it out and you know let's say so you finally at some point you reach the the point where hey we've got at least our initial product we've got our initial thing um you know and i think we talked a little bit before you did a little bit of patenting and trademarks getting all that squared away when you did all that so you finally you know all of that or behind you and he launched a company how did the company launch go did it sell like hotcakes and everybody wanted one and you were a millionaire overnight was it ups and downs was it all downs and it crashed and burned and it never took off or how did the launch go as you got past the initial pre you know figuring out how to what to make and making it to actually launching the company yeah so my business partner actually just prior to us launching into you know our production runs he uh he went another direction he started a restaurant and so um he went and did that and he's been very successful at that and so if you're in the south weber area check out burley burger it's awesome burgers and fries uh but so i kind of took this on myself so i lost my sales partner you know i i was an engineer i am an engineer and i i don't have sales experience so i was off to a little bit of a rocky start trying to sell this i i made a limited small run of product and thought man i don't really know how to sell this you know i've got product now that i think is awesome and i've given away a handful of them for free and had people test them and gotten really good feedback but i don't know how to sell this and so i just started thinking like all right well maybe instagram and facebook could be a starting point for me because i i don't really know what to do so let's create instagram facebook pages and you know that first year it was just a little bit of marketing on instagram and facebook and i didn't really sell a whole lot and it was hard and you know i remember so i started selling uh may probably in may and may went by and you know i'd set up an online shop and may went by no sales then june goes by no sales i'm just like oh man this is like i'm stressing out i dumped a bunch of money into this and i'm not selling anything i don't know what to do and you know that that first cell came through in in july and i thought like man i was so excited like it was really silly how excited i was over one cell but i was so excited i'm like okay maybe maybe i can do this you know i felt trodden down after you know a couple months of nothing happening but again knowing i haven't really spent a whole lot of money trying to market or sell this and i got that first sell and then after that it was you know every couple weeks i'd get another cell and so i'm like all right i can do this this isn't my full-time job this is kind of like i wanted to see if it worked if i could come up with an idea and sell it and so first year it was pretty rough you know i spent way more money than i made um and then year two things started to pick up i i started i i hired somebody to do my to run a google ads platform and that started to pay off for me when i say payoff i was breaking even i was whatever i put into google ads i was getting back out of it in sales so i thought you know this is good i mean it's at least the charts are going up you know if you look at the sales graph things are going up but to me i'm like i'm still putting money into this and i'm just breaking even at this point and so i could you know the cost of my product the cost of marketing and then my cell equaled out to zero you know so i'm like not including any time that i put into it and so i was like well at least at this point i'm not losing any money and so i talked to my wife you know and she's just like look i'll support you in anything you do as long as we can live our lives the way that we're living now and you can make any payments you need to on your business and so i was like all right well um i'll keep pushing forward and so you know first two years was a little bit rocky um but during that second year of sales i got a booth at the uh the utah boat show and i went there and i sold you know more units at the boat show than i sold my very first year of selling it and so i was pretty encouraged by that but i met um a man there i he just looked like a normal person walked up you know tell me about your product you know it's kind of funny there uh brand new boats nowadays have built-in surf features for you know the boat and everything and so uh you know my product and other weight shapers are meant ideally for product or boats that are you know seven or more years old um and it does help some of them that are that are new that don't have the best surf systems in them it still helps those definitely but the primary targeted target is is people that have boats older than seven years sure that makes sense you're saying hey i got no boat i don't want to have to go buy a brand new boat or spend 30 40 50 100 000 or whatever the the cost of the boat is just to do weight or you know to do wake surfing so let's you know how can we modify it so i can keep using the boat that i've already invested a lot in without having to go buy a brand new one yeah exactly and and i have you know a lot of people would walk by and i'd start you know i'd be like hey you guys interested in surfing like come check out my product and you know you'd get this smirk on people's faces and you knew instantly they're gonna tell you i have a brand new boat you know there's just that look there in their eyes that you know i was all excited and gung-ho about hey i got somebody to listen to me and then it's you know this nice smile i'm just thinking in my mind they're going to tell me they have a brand new boat and they don't need my product and that would come out of their mouths and so this this man came up and uh talked to me you know tell me about it and he had this smirk on his face i'm just like all right i'll go through my pitch but in the end you're going to tell me you have this brand new boat you think it's a great idea if you have an old boat you'd buy it but well it turns out at the end of our conversation he's he he goes well i'm i'm the vice president of cells for h0 sports and hyperlite and if you're into boating you know those you know those names i mean they make everything from skis to surfboards wakeboards boots uh life jack everything inflatables um and so you know he said you know would you be open to a distribution agreement because i have a sister company that is looking for another product to put in their portfolio and i think this would fit right along with them and so you know you can just imagine i i mean i'm a pretty personal person i get excited really easy i mean he's talking to me i'm just like thinking of my mind like jared calm down just have a normal conversation with this person don't freak out and so um just i told him yeah of course yeah i can make money off of at this point yeah exactly so i'm like you know i'm definitely open to that and so i i you know gave him a brief history of my background you know i i put a lot of heart and soul into this product but you know i'm an engineer and i definitely could could use a good sales channel so you know let's talk and so um i think one other thing you meant so you know just to fast forward just a bit when we chatted before so yeah you got you you've landed this deal you're excited and then but i think that what you mentioned is that they were wanting to find a cheaper way to manufacture is that right right you needed to drive down yeah because you know when you go from me trying to sell it direct to consumer it's one thing but when you go from having to outsource some of the manufacturing to you know the manufacturer makes money i make money you sell it to a distributor who sells it to a retail store or a boat dealership who then sells it to the consumer there's a lot of people in that line that have to make money off this to make it work and so you know you start seeing okay what's the sales price and you back track of you know your your your boat dealers are going to want x percent of revenue off of this and you know distributor is going to want about this and so what's left for me wasn't a whole lot and so i decided you know i got to find a better way or a cheaper way to make this um so i pursued that avenue and um it was a long path i had to reformulate a new material because i was i was using um it's not plastic injection molded part or a rotational molar which you know those are simple easy ways to produce products i was doing a polyurethane foam molding um and so polyurethane is super temperamental i've learned a whole lot over the last you know few years of doing this a lot more than i ever wanted to know about polyurethane um and how temperamental it is to temperature to humidity to everything and so um in order to go with a new manufacturer that was gonna you know be a better price for me had to reformulate a new material so i had to go find a manufacturer of foam that could come up with a new material for me and i spent you know a bunch of money trying to come up with a new foam bought a bunch of foam pass it on to the manufacturer they started and i just wasn't completely satisfied with the uh the quality of the product there's just polyurethane foam it creates air to expand and grow and you trap air in your molds and and so you have to find the best ways to get the air out of the molds and so so you know and i think that you said no you had the quality issue and you ended up losing i think it was a decent amount of money because you ended up having to pull the product is that right yeah so i i wasn't happy with it the distributor wasn't happy with it and i ran through a lot of you hundreds of units that i had to pay the manufacturer for but in the end i i got it all back and i threw it all my garbage i mean every bit that's got to be a bit of an ouch in the sense that you know you don't the money the business isn't making tons of money yeah you have the prospect and then one you have products that's not quality so the distributor the deals that you have they're not going to want to do it two you have to eat the cost because you can't do anything with the product and so i'm sure it's a bit of a setback you know one is going to delay time frames or even sour the relationship and two is going to cost you know a lot of out of pockets so you know as you have that now you're dealing with the throwing the product away having to start over you know taking us i think when you started that wasn't that wasn't too long ago that you had to start over and then you and you've got you went back to the original manufacturing did that got the quality and i think it was just this last summer that you got the quality back kind of went back to the original manufacturer and started really selling again with the the high quality product is that right yeah yeah so we we delayed launch and it was just last year of 2020 you know right in the summer june was when i was able to finally deliver what i felt was you know pristine product to uh this the distributor and you know it you hit a really good point i mean the money wasn't so it was an issue i mean i had a problem throwing away all that money um but that wasn't what was on my mind it was the relationship you know that i was really worried about you know i i thought you know money i can make money again but i can't it's really hard to fix a relationship that you've soured you know if if you've gone to a point that you know the worst thing that could happen is the distributor just pulls the plug and says look this isn't working out you know you didn't feel your end of the agreement if we don't have to fill our end of the agreement and we walked away from this and not only did i just lose money i just lost my my only best customer you know and so yeah and a lot of times it's kind of you know the first impression is the lasting impression and a lot of times you get one shot and if you don't make it that shot they're going to move on to the next you know shiny object so to speak or the next thing that they're going to try and sell so now so you started out back in june 2020 were able to rekindle that relationship reinvigorate it keep it going do you have to start over how did that go yeah so you know luckily so my distributors fat sack and so we co-branded the product and i i'm forever grateful for them i've learned a lot working with them and and they have been super patient with this whole process of of you know the the issues we had at the beginning and and to today they've been super patient with me and my company and which has been great you know i flew out there when we were having all these issues i flew out there and this is just before i mean just as covid kind of was really hitting hard around the us and so i i remember flying you know not really knowing too much about what kovac was going on you know and i get to the airport and there's like nobody there and so i'm like you know get to the hotel and they're just like well our restaurant's still open but there's not a whole lot open around us and so i was like wow this is this is crazy i mean this is a total new experience for me so i went and met with them and you know talked to him face to face came back made a new plan you know went with the original manufacturer produced great product for me um and so you know fast forward to today um i think that the relationship has definitely uh strengthened and and our confidence in each other has has strengthened and it's been great um so far and they're still you know trying to make something repeatedly over and over and over again there's always challenges in manufacturing there's always you know something that you have to deal with i mean i've been doing this for a while not just my own company but um i work for a startup company again right now in medical devices as my full-time job and i mean just every area of manufacturing it it's really hard to just turn the lights on and things produce perfectly and you get good product every single time it's it's still struggle and you know but i i'm to the point now i've been able to hire a couple employees to work directly you know at my house i built a a pretty large shed in my backyard and i mean it's probably a shed but i like to call it my uh my workshop but it it's it's a shed that we're we're molding some of the components ourselves out of the urethane and doing all the assembly and all the clean up the inspections and everything so i i've at least been able to step back just a teeny bit from being so hands-on in the manufacturing process to being able to manage it through other people um but then again doing the quality inspections and everything myself just to make sure that you know this is this is my my name going out on this it's not just a company name to me i mean this is this is jared spendler's product going out there that i'm really proud of and put you know everything i could into it and so um so no and i think that that's that's a fun journey and it's cool that hey you know you had the had to pull things back you had the manufacturing issues you learned the lesson but it didn't kill the company you're able to reinvigorate it get it going fix the issues and kind of be able to and i think that that's one of the you know the differences between what you know what a lot of people call entrepreneur versus an entrepreneur in the sense that if you know one entrepreneur the first time they hit a hiccup or a hard you know hard spot or something else they give up because they don't have the wherewithal versus if you really want to make something successful you have to be willing to pivot adjust and and take some of those down days or down months or down years in order to make a success so well as we wrap up the podcast because we always have way more things i want to talk about than we ever have time to talk about but as we are reaching the end of the podcast i am going to jump to the last or two questions i always ask at the end of the podcast um 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 it so that that would definitely have to be my decision to try and make a little bit more money and sacrifice some of the quality um it just i mean what i learned from that was that you know like i said relationships are the most important thing that the money comes and goes but the relationships you make with people can lead to more and more in life and so i i i risked the relationship over a financial gain and it it was and we weren't talking a lot of money as far as you know financial gains and losses and everything because in the end it's not that that mattered to me um but making that decision to try and and i wouldn't say take a shortcut because it wasn't taking a shortcut because it was it was you know a good process but it just wasn't right for this product um and so i should have given myself more time to investigate to make sure that it was the right thing to do and you know i i probably should have pulled the plug before i did and so that's kind of what i walked away from that way then you get a lesson learned of sometimes you know quality at the end does matter standing behind your product and if you know it when you're having to especially early on in a relationship sometimes uh you know you sac you sacrifice one area it's for profit something else has to give so i think that's a great lesson learned so second question i always ask is so if someone is just getting to a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them you know they're they're and you kind of hit on this there are so many ups and downs in a business that you get knocked down so many times it would be really easy i mean even even right now i mean i i've put so much money into this that i haven't made out of it yet um it'd be easy just to be like you know what this this isn't working out and walk away from it but my advice is to just never give up if you've done the research to know that this this is a good product that people would buy and that or even if it's not a something a consumer product right if it's a business that you know that people are going to use or service that people need just don't give up because you never know it might be the 10th time that you get knocked down that you get back up again that you turn that corner and really take off um so you just can't ever get back or let yourself stay down you got to get back up and keep pushing forward with it no and i certainly agree and i think that that's a takeaway that ever you know every you'll either learn that you have it and you're willing to stick with it or you're going to flame out quickly because every business is going to hit those areas where it's going to or again give you pause or give you a reason to not keep going wrap up people want to reach out to you they want to buy your product they want to be your employee they want to be your investor they want to be your distributor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to find out more reach out or connect with you you can connect with me on linkedin um or you can email me at my my business website it's the letter j and then my last name jspendlove flipsurfwake.com um and i i i've talked to lots of people about other ideas and so i i'm always open to looking into more but you know i i'm proud of what i do and and the things that we can do and so uh fat stacks our distributor if you go to their website fatsac.com you'll be able to find locations that sell uh flip surf and you know i hope that you can get out there and use the product because it really is amazing and a great product all right well i definitely encourage everybody to reach out to jared check out the product checked out flipsurfwake.com is that right is it one org fat sack definitely look into it use a product be a supporter um and uh and and make sure that uh this business is as successful as it should be now uh as we wrap up the podcast if you're a listener if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to come on the podcast and share it always feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and sign up to be a and uh on the podcast as a guest if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe and rate the podcast so that we can always you can get notifications as all the new episodes come out and also let everybody know how awesome the podcast is and last but not least if you ever need help with your patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us at millerip law by going to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help thank you again jared it's been a pleasure it's been fun and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you i appreciate it thanks for having me on the show you