Passion Is An Entrepreneur's Mistress

Passion Is An Entrepreneur's Mistress

Sean Castrina

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

10/2/2020

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Passion Is An Entrepreneur's Mistress

Passion is an entrepreneur's mistress. Don't fall SO in love with your idea that you don't test it.

Just because you think it'll work, [doesn't mean it will]. Make sure that the market wants it. I mean, beta test that like a son of a gun. That's what I find. People bring an idea to the marketplace, and the marketplace has no interest.


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.

ai generated transcription

as a startup your weapon is speed you are not a corporate you don't have the bureaucracy you don't have to have board meetings you don't have to have takes nine months to make a decision so but corporates or bigger companies and bigger yeah they have more money and more resources so the only thing you're competing on is speed so move really really fast if you have an mvp if you have an idea just put it out there even if it's landing page get some feedback get free ups do whatever it takes to you know to keep moving [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's built several uh 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 trademarks and uh today we have another great guest on the podcast uh name is sam and i'll probably butcher his last name kamani close enough perfect perfect and uh sam uh has done a few different things and so we started out uh running an e-commerce business and sold some supplements for a while i got into uh software development and uh then switched over to uh doing some where worked with some esports uh tech startup and uh moved to the bay area and started to get some traction and then it leads him to where he's at today so i won't spoil the ending but i'll at least give you the beginning so welcome to the podcast sam thank you thank you so much devon for inviting me to the inventive journey it's great to be here well glad to have you on so i gave a brief intro to your uh your journey and kind of what led up today but maybe if you wanted to take that rewind it and to walk us through a bit more of your journey and we'll have a conversation from there absolutely yes so as you say that um actually i grew up in india and i studied computer science and then i came to new zealand as an international student studied marketing and i was looking for um where those two fields merge and digital marketing of course was one of those um areas so that's how i got started um after not being able to get a job even after applying for hundreds of jobs i realized that okay if you know when you cannot find something um then you have to start your own you have to make your own job and that's precisely what i did i started networking and started using my own connections and that's what led to me owning or part owning e-commerce business where we owned a brand and um we sold um herbal supplements in new zealand and around the world um few other countries um so yeah that was my start in owning a business finding a niche um all that um thing after that um i took a sabbatical after the exit jump off of that just one quick so was it sounds like and i'm not trying to put words in your mouth that you know it was almost out of for lack of a necessity that you said hey i've tried to go the conventional route i applied for other jobs whether it's the you know background you're where you're from what the jobs are you couldn't find something that was a right fit and so you're saying okay i can't find something else i'm not going to just sit and wait for it to come to me but i'm going to go out and build it so is that kind of the motivation for getting into startups and entrepreneurship and you loved it from there absolutely i always had the heart for it and maybe maybe um wherever i applied they could see that that i always had the heart for entrepreneurship but you know um it is always hard to make that first step and it kind of pushed me into taking that step so um after having done that and after running it for eight years um i sold that company along with my business partner we both sold that company had our um first exit and after that i took like a sabbatical and i wanted to go back into software because i realized that when you deal with physical products that are consumable you have to worry about so many things so much regulation every country you go in it's like a two years of red tape and bureaucracy you have to go through you have to worry about expiry dates and you have to worry about stock management whereas software i find it infinitely scalable in just how it is used and how it can be deployed and distributed and promoted and all those things so that's when i joined the esports um startup and did that promoted in most of our users or our clients were all based out of new zealand so that's why we decided to take the company base it in um near san francisco and bay area and then and that's where it went from there then that got acquired middle of 2018 and that's when i thought okay cool i've done this couple of times now before you jump off esports which is the next startup one question no no this is yeah esports came first and then i went back into software development so while you're on esports so yeah sure at least to the common person sounds exciting right you put electronics you put sports together and you know a lot of people love to play whether it's video games or you know competing those type of things was it as exciting as it sounded like was it a fun technology company was it you know more just a grind or how did that go and what was it like to be in the esports arena it was absolutely as fun as it sounds because we were interacting with some of the most interesting people from all around the world so we made software that tournaments were run on say you want to set up a esports tournament you would use our software whether it is in the front end or backhand back end and you would use it to make the brackets to match people against each other you can run a esports tournament globally and also we had another product where we would um gamify gaming as in it was like air miles for gaming so you would get points for um or air points for gaming so you would get points for things you do in your game so it connect your steam or xbox or playstation account and the more games and you um adventures or quests you do the more points you get which you exchange for real-world prices however like i was in charge of lot of the growth in the company so um i would go and have to deal with all sorts of influencers from sports to music to everyone whoever we can get to compete in the tournaments to to build a profile for the company so one of the tournament we organized it even had a ufc champion demetrius johnson at that time of in 2017 um and um like an undefeated ufc champion and um we pushed him against um this stand-up comedian who has a persona of african rebel so even if now you search for that video on youtube it's got millions of views and stuff and it it spread like wildfire because they're both mentoring each other and and it was just a very very fun matchup and for people who would win would get to go against these sort of guys so it was immediately a massive draw and that campaign was super successful that we could get over 10 million plus views for spending not much money at all so we'd get to do all sorts of fun things so yes that was a very very fun experience however it was in very early stages that company and it already had got a lot of funding and there were all sorts of things um that were going on that did make it very challenging from a financial perspective because a lot of these models a lot of these things are completely new there is no um use case it's not like you know like a physical product that has existed for hundreds of years we are everyone is innovating and making things up so um yeah there are no guidelines pretty much you do whatever you want and and try it and test it so yeah so you did that and i think that so it sounds like it's as interesting as i anticipated which sounds fun so one question then we'll move on to kind of after that got acquired so it sounded like it was enjoyable it was fun you're having a lot of good times and then you know the company was going kind of for raising further rounds of funding and whatnot or had to sell and then yeah we had to sell yes yeah kind of like uh equity hire so i was the um only one so who did leave and start my own thing after that um i was the ceo there and pretty much everyone else got um kind of like a equity hire into another bigger agency so that's what happened with that company and that's when i thought cool i've done this couple of times now can i go out and help other founders create their sort of mvp minimum viable product get started in this journey so that's when i set up product done with a friend of mine who already own an agency so that's what we do right now is we help other founders build their solutions from pretty much from ground up no i think that makes sense so question or one maybe question for you as you did that you had acquisition of the company was it at that point you decided hey i want to go do it was you know because there's a few different ways they can play out one would be you get acquired leadership and ownership changes and it's no longer fun another can be hey this is a good time to transition out and you know why i love it i want to i've always had the dream of going to do something else i'm going to go build my own thing or it can be the third which is new leadership came in they wanted to you know clean house type of a thing and so they let you go so kind of what was the motivation or the the trigger for transitioning from that you know the esports to what you're doing now yeah so there was a lot of um uncertainty at at that point at the point of transition of how it is all going to play out and and of course on paper everything is easy but um whether it is a funding round or this sort of a transition it can even take six months or or an indefinite period of time it could be three months it could be six months could be nine months so i decided not to wait around and hang around and start my own thing when i was getting that opportunity with a friend of mine to start this another company so that's when we started this um it is a very interesting story even with the even with product done which we have started on how we found the niche and um how we got about doing that so yeah continue continue no i i think that's interesting so i mean so as you decided okay you split out you're going to go to your own thing with you and your friend you know saying hey there could be transition don't know what it's going to look like it's a good opportunity to do something else and say do that then you know so now you're you've basically gone through what would be you know kind of three different startups a supplement one the esports uh startup and now you're doing your current one was each of them the same or what did you learn from them or were each of them as hard as the last one because they're all different uh different types of products or kind of how is that going between the different startups oh so many so many so many learnings it's pretty much it's what has made me and given me all my experience as i have as i have grown and as i have worked through these different industries however at the end of the day i still do customer acquisition whether it was for the e-commerce um startup or e-sports or software development i still do the sales and marketing because i enjoy people i like meeting new people and i helping them solve their problems so in a way i have realized the the value of customer acquisition whether it is through marketing through sales through any any channel um and it has only honed my skills um i am a form believer in strengthening your strengths kind of a thing so you you work on your strengths more than work on your weaknesses uh so yeah so it has helped me to to do that so you know i think that that makes complete sense so as you did that was it easier each time you did it was it different each time you did it was it harder i mean so you know you maybe you can make the one argument hey it's easier now that i've done this two times before and yet most of the time or a lot of times when i've talked to startups and that it's usually hey this is different every time and it's just as hard it's just a different journey yes hundred percent i agree with that it is it is just as hard just a different journey however what i have now is the confidence that i can make it work i have made it work few times before and i have come out of sticky situations so it builds that um that grit muscle i don't know how to even explain it or if there is such a thing that yeah no i think i mean i think there's certainly a grit to it and it gives you the confidence because i'll say one of the more difficult things with startups isn't you know having a good idea and a lot of times and they're all there's plenty of hard things coming up that is hard you know executing on it's hard building the teams on it's hard getting funding is hard so there's a lot of hard things but i would say the difference between a successful startup versus one that doesn't make it very far is oftentimes almost what you say in that grit or that ability to you know you're when you have big problems there's kind of two different things you can do you can either you know give up curl in a ball cry and go you know go back to a normal job or you can you know work it out figure it out solve the problem keep at it and i think those that are keeping at it to keep working the problem are going to be the ones that are able to be successful and push through those difficult times that every startup has and i think that's true whether you've done one startup with 20 startups it still has that nature to some you know it's it's not difficult or it is always difficult it's just different types of difficult yeah one thing i have learned about uh you know you you mentioned a very interesting point on there's two ways it can go whether you you give up or you continue or or you know you pivot um so one thing i've learned is that once you have identified a problem you have a vision you have a mission to solve that problem it's um stay persistent towards that mission but pivot your tactics if they are not working so same for product done we have um probably pivoted over tactics multiple times same for the esports startup pivoted our tactics to get users multiple times and same for the the e-commerce um you know if one channel is not working we switch our channel and or we switch our distribution model or switch our whole marketing model or or how we are doing whether we are doing retail or purely ecommerce or direct to consumer or whatever so um as long as the mission is the same the vision is the same how you get to it doesn't matter you can always pivot it try new things try different tactics okay no that makes perfect sense so so now that brings us so he did the esports exited and then i think he's you know when he talked before he did kind of a three-month handover and then to my envy i wish i could do it i've never been able to do it you took a year off took a sabbatical you got to go travel take a break have some fun and relax and then you came back and you you're now you started what is the startup you're working on today so maybe you want to provide just a little bit of insight what are you working on today and what what are you building so um just like you i'm doing few few different things um the the first one on my main nine to five my job is working for product done where we build products for the people that are like sas products mobile apps uh pretty much entrepreneurs founders startups come to us with ideas or a product that they want to improve on and we help them got from a to z whether they need help with their ux ui or they need help with further validating their idea and what things they should put in their mvp which which rarely happens because a lot of founders come to us who are like already set in what they want to build but we help them get from sometimes they don't need the full solution or cannot afford the full solution so then we help them get to that point by building say like a very small prototype and helping them run a kickstarter campaign or some sort of a funding campaign and you help now about five different startups get some form of funding um just locally just in new zealand australia um in this region we have helped them because we know where they can reach out to and who they can go to and all that so so we help them with that um doing this initially when we started we realized people had lots and lots of questions it's once again it comes down to this you know this inventive journey and how did it start so we thought okay cool we are getting asked the same question people are having the same problems around building a minimum viable product what can we do so me and like couple of the developers in the team we put together this website called buildmymvp.com and where people can choose what they want and they go through on a journey and at the end it gives them the breakdown and we used to even at one point used to send them some templates and things that they can get started themselves and it was um crazy we did like we built it and we released it we did zero marketing no paid ads no nothing pretty much and within one month it went to number one in google globally if you search build an mvp or build an mvp for me or build my mvp or something like that any um like a combination of that so that was a year and a half ago and that sort of reinforced that okay there is a huge need for this we need to do something so then um january last year in 2019 i wrote this book the 30 day startup with my co-founder and we just put stories around you know how you can simplify your initial idea and build mvp within 30 days and if it's taking you know more than a month then maybe it's not an mvp you're building a full product so and of course th this does not apply to every project but it is mostly related to tech startups where they are not dealing with physical products actually even physical products you can do like a prototype and engage the interest where the problem exists just like you know your last guess or your last episode on the inventive journey i think jeffy was saying that so often um founders or entrepreneurs get started thinking that there is this problem but then there is the market doesn't exist and and that that is something that we validated by building to build my mvp we did this book i did zero promotion and like as soon as i launched it it went to number four in amazon in its category and i was like why is this happening it's like how are people finding out and so so far 11 000 people have bought the book or downloaded it and and mostly all organic i've just started going on to podcasts in the last month and a half so this is something completely new and that that's how it got started so every day three or four new founders or entrepreneurs reach out to me on on linkedin that hey i want to do this i want to build this i have um i have no funding i have no idea where to start i don't know what to do and that's what led to like about a month and a half ago um i kept on getting asked the same question once again so i i got i started to get fed up not really fed up but i'm like i'm saying the same things why don't i go and ask founders who have done it people who have done it who have managed to raise funding who have managed to build something whether it is a service startup or product startup or i interview investors who invest in these sort of startups and what do they look for so that's how i started with my podcast want money got money where i interview founders and entrepreneurs and successful people like you where they shared where they share you know how they got started how they got the first bit of funding how they got the first bit of team together and and all that so yeah so that's awesome that's you know certainly i said just full disclosure i we know you you go on my possible or podcast i've also been on yours so um we're sharing information everybody's audiences with the hope of uh helping the startup community so as we start to unfortunately or fortunately whatever was it we're getting towards the end of the podcast and uh and i always have two questions i hit on it towards the end of the podcast so she'll probably jump to those now so the first question i always ask is so what was the worst business decision you ever made oh was business decision that's very easy in between in my um sabbatical it was actually more than a year after a year i thought oh cool i'll just build something on my own and i thought maybe i should try this being this solopreneur stuff and just realized that that's not for me um and i gave that up very very fast very easily because um i realized look i like people i like working with people i like building teams around me i don't want to be doing everything so it was just a marketplace web app that i built i built it very very fast within a couple of months and i started to get small amount of traction but my heart was not in it and i realized look i need to work with people i'll always work with a co-founder i'll i'll not go on it alone again it's just yeah self-discovery it's one that you have to find some people work very well that you know they have their direction their vision and even if they build a team they want to be the person in charge and yet that's often times one it's a lot of times lonely and too it's a lot of time it's hard because you very very seldom to somebody have all the skill sets they're going to need to be successful on their own and so you're always looking for those that person or people that can counterbalance your talents and be able to help you build it so exactly complementary skills and talents and it's great to bounce ideas with someone and have that support as you say very very essential especially for someone like me cannot speak for everyone else yeah so now i'll jump to the second question second question i always ask is so as you talk if you're given uh someone that's just getting into startups or small businesses one piece of advice or your best piece of advice what would that be as a startup this is a very easy question because i see people making this mistake all the time as a startup your weapon is speed you are not a corporate you don't have the bureaucracy you don't have to have board meetings you don't have to have takes nine months to make a decision so but corporates are bigger companies and bigger yeah they have more money and more resources so the only thing you're competing on is speed so move really really fast if you have an mvp if you have an idea just put it out there even if it's landing page get some feedback get free signups do whatever it takes to you know to keep moving keep moving really really fast don't let perfection stop you that's right i think that's very good advice and i think that you know getting out there seeing if people want your product seeing if they understand it seeing if you're going in the right direction the right audience is always much better to do at the earlier stages rather than putting in a whole a large amount of time money and effort only to figure out that you've missed a mark or that the mark the market's not there or you need to go pivot and go after a different market the earlier you can find that out certainly the better yes oh go ahead just one thing yeah just like no point sitting on it for two or three years and saying oh i had that idea five years ago but then why didn't you do anything you know you had to move fast if you have a startup if you have an idea just go fast go yeah 100 case per hour 100 miles per hour you know no and i and that's probably because i asked the same questions on the end of every podcast and i think we're up to now and i'd have to look 70 plus podcasts that we're people we've had on the show and i would say probably the number one there's a few but one of the number one business mistakes that people say that they make is they didn't get going they just they should have just got going they should have done it they waited too long and you know and they eventually got to it but they always looked back and said i should have got going much earlier one of the things that kept me back shouldn't have kept me back so i think that's a good point so now as we wrap up and i appreciate you coming on the podcast if people want to whether it's use your services get your book get advice from you or otherwise just connect up or link up with you what's the best way to reach out and connect with you the best way is linkedin i'm quite active on linkedin just like you so just look for sam kamani s-a-m-k-a-m-a-n-i or sam kamani.com or just look for my name in any of the podcasting platforms you'll find one of these sort of episodes uh or on my own podcast which is want money got money with sam kamani so yeah well i encourage everybody to check out your podcast check out your book and uh utilize all your services so um thank you again for coming on it's been a pleasure it's been fun to hear your journey certainly for everybody that's all those listeners out there if you have your journey that you'd like to tell and i'd like to come on the podcast certainly feel free to apply just go to inventivejourneyguest.com and you can apply to be on the get of the show if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you can catch this episode and all the new episodes as they come out and last of all if you need help with patents and trademarks certainly feel rea feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law and we're here to help so thanks again sam i wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last and excited just to hear how things continue to go for you thank you thank you so much evan thank you for inviting me and best of luck all right thank you English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded

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