The Inventive Journey
What This Episode Talks About:
Persistence Is King
"Persistence is king and, I know you are going to hear that a lot or don't give up, don't have fear. But the way I describe it is there are days when I am kind of afraid of heights and, there are days where I feel like my job is to go, walk on the edge of a seventy-story building and look down. I just swallow it and get on the train and start working. You really have to push yourself past your comfort zone. Don't pay attention to the negative. Focus on where you are getting traction and momentum. Believe in your passion and what you are working on. Focus on building a network with people who really buy into your dream as opposed to spending your nights staring at the ceiling thinking about why somebody told you that you suck."
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What Is 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
uh persistence is king and i know you're gonna hear that a lot or don't give up or don't have fear but you know like the way i describe it is there's days when i'm i'm kind of afraid of heights and i there's days where i feel like i'm my job is to go walk on the edge of a 70-star building and look down and like just swallow it and you know get on the train start working and i it's a it said you really have to press yourself past your comfort zone to uh not pay attention to the negative to focus on where you're getting uh traction and momentum and um and believing you know your passion what you're working on uh focus on building a network of people that really buy into your dream as opposed to spending your night staring at the ceiling thinking about why somebody told you suck [Music] hey 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 he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab sometimes let's just grab some time with us at chat we're always happy to help now today we've got another great guest on the podcast chris uh steve rose star ghost if i can pronounce it close to being right um so chris came out of high school and entered into the dot com workforce so started out as a support tech then went to project management um did some things on the engineering side and then after the dot co dot com bubble i'm getting tug and tied all over the place today uh we're after the dot-com bubble uh worked in the educational system for a while um to build software platforms for various um college and other services um and then went over to a digital agency to work with the fortune 100 businesses um and then left that uh left that you found an enterprise portal company um and been doing that for the last 15 years um platform allows you to share your files and to work or to get some work done on the platform and he'll grab a lot more detail i'm sure on that as we chat so with that much his introduction welcome to the podcast chris hey devon thanks for having me today i really appreciate it hey my pleasure excited to have you on so i gave the third or thirty second version of a much longer journey but tell us how uh your journey got started uh coming out of high school and getting into the the dot-com workforce yeah so i actually get exposed to computers really young um had some data entry jobs even while i was in high school uh i think really where my sort of career journey started was i got lucky i applied for a job in a local paper uh for a small software company that was doing pre-press workflow software and they were kind enough to hire me as a sort of a lackey in the office but i very quickly got sucked into the support uh operation and sort of worked my way up through the ranks there so i learned um linux by looking over the shoulder college students that were doing it started to uh work more on the product management side and uh and during the dot-com bubble uh have some really interesting opportunities to work with companies like apple to bring um unix servers to the market uh spent a lot of time on the road a lot of time in trade shows some of the you know big uh shows of the day the mac world and see bold uh and drupal kind of shows and um it gave me a really um broad exposure to what the technology was doing how it was being applied in different disciplines everything from uh business education to consumer space even though you know at that time it was just sort of a fledgling uh space and so i just was everything that related to computers i was sort of you know enamored about um i actually took a break from it for a while while i was going to school and moved to an area where i didn't have access to the technology and ended up coming back and working for the same company a couple years later um in a sort of a more mature role uh started to run parts of the operation got involved in product management running the support group and um what happened was i you know i decided to branch out on my own at the right around the time that the dot bomb happens uh i started a small company doing technical consulting and now let me just ask one quick question you said yeah on your own is it did you have the foresight did you think that the you know you could see the writing on the wall the the bubble was about to burst it just happened fortuitous timing that you just happened to get out at the right time or kind of what made you decide to transition i think um but i was anxious to sort of go off and realize the opportunity that was uh the promise of you know where this technology and uh consumer technology computers in general enterprise uh computing was headed so i you know the bubble for me was um something that i experienced but i wasn't part of some huge startup that fell apart uh you know and went off the rails and so it was more of an observation of what was going on in terms of the spend and how companies were burning through capital and not necessarily sort of get to the other side of the dream but you know i also grew up watching companies like apple which were the underdog for decades uh you know strapped their way to being you know the king today really because they were focused on things like user experience and the quality of the technology so i wasn't so much um paying attention to the business cycles as i was looking forward to the opportunity i happened to make some bad timing decisions and frankly i was a kid i was you know 22 years old and didn't know what i was doing yet but it was my first sort of entrepreneurial foray into doing something independent and it really became the foundation for what we're doing today in some ways uh i cut my teeth in terms of understanding how to work with customers and solve very unique uh custom technical problems that's actually sort of it was a huge foundation for uh what i ended up doing in the agency space in the digital agency space in terms of creating unique custom solutions for large brands so it was a great learning experience i mean i learned how to create a business and you know get insurance and um and you know register an entity and uh go out and fish for business but i also you know it was early my career uh i didn't have any obligations and so it was easy to sort of transition into something uh that worked and where i ended up uh was working for the cal state system so i took a job with a local university here cal poly and san luis obispo and working for their it group i started by running the modem pool and creating the software that was used by students and other and faculty and staff to get connected to the internet um transitioned into a role where we started a program to create a unified web interface for all of the different campus systems that were used everything from matriculation to registration uh going through the campus life cycle and even interfacing with students and or excuse me staff and and alumni uh and let me just ask one question just because i'm kind of curious because i mean what made you decide to go into the educational you know software path and you know was it hey i have a great idea and i think it's can i can do something there prove on it or did they approach you or kind of how did you go in that direction yeah well so it was a sort of a it was a couple of um i guess agendas one was that it was an opportunity to work in an enterprise technology field at a very large scale so this campus is uh is pretty sizable in terms of the number of students and faculty and the institution in terms of the resources and so i it allowed me to use a lot of the skills that i developed in the small software space and pre-press technology and sort of move into a space i was very interested in in terms of dealing with large volumes of users and internet connectivity and solving sort of the broader problem of tying together different technologies to make a business run and i also wanted to go back to school and i you know sort of had a a vision for finishing out what i had started in terms of my educational journey and i and i never actually got to the other side i ended up being so heavily steeped in what i was doing from a career perspective and in terms of what we were doing i mean in a lot of cases at the time we were doing stuff that wasn't being taught yet i think that that landscape's changed tremendously but uh it was we were really pushing the edge of the envelope uh we brought wi-fi to campus you know i was one of the first people to be able to walk around with a laptop on campus and get uh get on the internet and browse the web and at the time that was you know it was incredible people would look at you as if you were an alien walking around with a laptop doing something like that so i it was an opportunity to really play with uh what has become sort of very commonplace enterprise technology now in terms of connectivity security interoperability and being able to glue together uh different systems to solve a broader problem and that really was the foundation for my everything i do now uh as it relates to integration and and solving technical problems it all sort of ties back to this concept of using a a framework a frequently called enterprise portal framework that's used to tie together disparate systems to create a unified user experience on the front end and they can also serve as a exchange for data expert systems and other systems of record just to be able to exchange that information and also augment it with additional information to drive the business where there is no home for it so both from a data warehousing and identity management and a user experience perspective what i really did is i get very deep into the world of creating a custom sort of wrapper around all of these different technologies that campuses and other businesses make an investment in in order to create you know a holistic workflow and experience for users that are using it to drive in this case it was campus operations so uh i it was great because it gave me an opportunity to play with technology at scale i learned a lot about politics in large institutional settings and how to really get um different uh factions inside of a business with different um you know drives uh to get on board and and embrace uh technical change and disruptive change in a way that um that makes a difference and i you know what i'm so excited for today is they're still using uh at the today on campus and across the csu they're still using the same uh portal foundation that that i established there a couple decades ago so that was really a wonderful opportunity to get you know steeped in big boy i.t uh and understand not just that the technical challenges there but also um how you finance that how you manage it how you deal with rollouts very large scales and in mission critical businesses and that was great i so i really i sort of walked out of that uh that space with a very strong sense of how to solve those kinds of problems and what i was hungry for at the time was to do things that were a little bit sexier and more consumer-facing you know i saw the wonderful things that were happening in terms of web development this was pre-mobile pre-smartphone even and um it just so happened that uh i bumped into an agency that was up and coming here uh in the area called level studios which um has turned out to be a darling in the digital agency space it's been known by other names these days sapient razor fish level uh web associates but it's basically a small firm here that was servicing really exceptional brands building applications for companies like apple and cisco and roxy and quicksilver and monster energy and um aeon hewitt i mean it was really uh it was an opportunity to be able to build the very cream of the crop in terms of uh custom applications that drive business uh either partner to partner b2b or consumer facing with the richiest richest you know uh most engaging user experiences you can possibly imagine um and working with teams of professionals in the design uh and and um application development camps that were just basically building stuff from scratch because we were working with brands that had the budget division to do that that was fantastic let me just dive in just kind of one question on on some of that you're hitting on um which is you know for those that are watching the the video version of this um you can certainly see in the background that you have the the make c you know makes the uh banner and and some of that you have going on now how did that fit in with doing some of the enterprise portal or software and doing that with the educational thing is that they continue on or expansion of that is that because i think that that now gets into the augmented reality virtual realities that's still geared towards the educational platform and is it just an expansion of that or is it something different that you started or kind of help us understand how that plays into things yeah so you know um macey has been through its own sort of evolution i left the digital agency space and started a business that was building and hosting couple of custom applications for these kinds of uh brands both back office and consumer facing but the goal of that company was to serve as a foundation for doing stuff that we were really passionate about and wanted to bring to market as our own uh ip and maxie originated as a place to store evolving intellectual property for makers and 3d creators as folks especially in the 3d print space and in verticals like education it's essentially a repository a better place than a dropbox or google docs to store and capture projects and knowledge that are is being exchanged between teams and evolving over long periods of time where we want to capture and retain that information so that the next generation of users can use it so in education it's all about the next uh class coming in and being able to use the project work from previous classes and businesses oftentimes it's about capturing ip before it exits the company and keeping it in a safe place being able to keep track of attribution so you know to call as issues come up and um what we really are is a content management platform that has a lot of focus on uh attribution and is based around a project workflow and what happened was uh augmented reality virtual reality has been a technology space has been super interesting to us for a long time and uh you know a new class of hardware hit the market about two years ago now and apis for that those new classes of hardware to be able to do um development and create user experiences that were that are still today disruptive next level uh very different than what we think of when we kids think of the sort of traditional concept of vr the ability to mix content with the real world to be present with other users and share it as if we're there together to be able to take our audience on a journey to other locations that we can't travel to safely or have access to and so as we started to study that technology we came to a couple of really exciting conclusions one was that it's really hard to get your own content one's own materials into mixed reality on these ar and vr devices like magic leap and hololens and even the quest to uh for collaboration and sharing i can experience you know very highly polished stuff that's been produced by movie studios or game studios or that's been pre-baked but what happens when i want to share material that's important to me and part of my daily charge and so we saw an opportunity there to help solve that problem there also wasn't one easy way to collaborate have any sort of a co-present experience with that content and so uh and we also understood that when you're creating these kinds of experiences you need a place to curate all of these assets and materials that go into these experiences place to write down notes and instructions a place to be able to launch the experience uh when users are surfing for it and reading through to understand you know whether it's worth their time and what what we realized was making us that solution so uh mixi is it really the platform that makes it easy to create those mixed reality experiences and to curate all of that content uh that comes along while you're doing that production work so that you can focus on sharing the content with your audience and having that co-presenting experience awesome now that that definitely makes sense so now help me understand because i like that was a great explanation of what makes c is but it kind of missed the question which is perfect perfectly fine but now i'm you know where i'm trying to understand is you know you've been doing the 15 you know 15 years and in academics you did a lot of the software the platform and then you have make see over here is that one company or in other words where are you at today in other words you know yeah you did you were in the educational area for you know 15 years plus and then this came along is it one in the same is it one more focus on the other you should chasing two things in parallel or helps us understand kind of where you're at today no so what i've described to you was sort of my career journey those were jobs that i took with different companies that you know paid a salary for my participation uh i left the digital agency space and founded the company that is the behind makes me is a brand company called a megabit and um we started makesee as a platform as a product uh of omegabits about five years ago now focused on that originally on specifically in the 3d design and maker spaces and that sort of organically included educational institutions is a natural fit because schools are often using 3d design and maker workflows as part of stem programs so makesee is uh is is our core business today it's the product that we sell into different verticals uh through channel partners that are using this platform as a vehicle for delivering experience in mixed reality that are relevant to their users we have a lot of customers in the educational space um as an example but we're also working in other places like media and events and entertainment and energy sector and elsewhere where uh this is very universal technology uh the way i describe it is you know i just sort of stumbled upon i think that makes sense but rather than dive quite into the technology and we do have a different um podcast series for that and definitely love to have you on that more of the journey of just kind of it sounds like today this is the primary focus in other words but i but what i'll tell you is that everything that i've done up to this point in my career has fed into what we're doing at maxie we're working very heavily in education and understanding how to uh provide solutions in that in that market and that ecosystem that fit and that our cost justified that are relevant from a stem and learning perspective is a huge deal but also my experience in enterprise technology and building software solutions for you know large fortune size companies has given us a lot of insight into how to drive innovation and disruption inside of businesses to allow them to differentiate to get ahead of the competition to be more efficient to do a better job of engaging their customers and so we're i uh and my team a lot of which i've worked with in some of these previous roles who have joined us as a company today are part of make c and our company that are helping solve this problem now using this new class of technology so makesi is uh is my company i'm the founder uh it was seeded out of you know years and years of um of learning uh how to solve these problems using enterprise computing technology and now with this new class of hardware uh devices that have come out on the market we think it's a game changer in terms of what you can do to influence your audience compel them help them understand better uh do a better job of selling and training and support no and i definitely get that i said and i i'd definitely encourage everybody to check it out more because i said i think sure it's certainly a great platform has a lot of applications a lot of uses unfortunately we don't have time to go into all of the pos or all the details of the product and so um but it definitely is insightful to kind of what brought you up to where you're at today and kind of what things are going on not a natural progression yeah sure absolutely so with that as we start to wrap now towards the end of the podcast and i said love to have you back on and we can dive much more in depth into the what you guys are doing today with make c and how that or how that company's evolved but with that as we jump to or towards the end of the podcast i always have two questions that i ask at the end of each episode so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what'd you learn from it uh oh man i've made a few i guess um worst business decision and i've probably done it a couple times in my career has been to try and have a go out of it on on my own or with a small team you know thinking that we could pull off uh something spectacular um you know with little time and resources so i've learned a lot about how to really understand the hidden costs of doing things and how uh what it requires to engage others and get them uh in involved and on board in a way that creates real momentum um but i think that that's you know uh trying to do something grand with uh in an in too small a capacity is a has been a lesson i've learned a couple times in my career and i definitely applied it to what we're doing these days that makes e no i think that you know there's a lot of lessons learned and you know figuring that out along the way definitely makes sense and easy to make that mistake but a great one to learn from second question i always ask is if you talk to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you'd give them a persistence is king and i know you're going to hear that a lot or don't give up or don't have fear but you know like the way i describe it is there's days when i'm i'm kind of afraid of heights and i there's days where i feel like i'm my job is to go walk on the edge of a 70-story building and look down and like just swallow it and you know get on the train start working and i it's a it's a you really have to press yourself past your comfort zone to uh not pay attention to the negative to focus on where you're getting uh traction and and momentum and um and believing you know your passion what you're working on uh focus on building a network of people that really buy into your dream as opposed to spending your night staring at the ceiling thinking about why somebody told you you suck those people don't get it and they don't matter so um my persistence is king i mean that dearly i taught that to my kids and i hope that that's something that people park away with no and i think that there there's a lot of it's a simple you know there's a lot of different ways to say it and be people that are on time and yet there's a lot of truth to it in the sense that you know doing a business whether you know any and having any level of success or any level of ability to sustain it is going to require a lot of that persistence a lot of the time and effort to get into that and there really isn't a replacement other than just doing it and diving in and being willing to continue to work hard and dedicate yourself towards uh building something so i think that's a great piece of advice we've touched on it a bit but for people that want to reach out to 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 in your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to your contacts you find out more yeah uh you can find me um on linkedin my name is chris stavros uh i also could be reached through makec.com m-a-k-e-s-e-a dot com we'd love to hear from you there's some great examples on the site of how the technology applies and we're really eager to see users apply this for their interest in discipline i mean i you know the way i would just explain this is think of us as sort of like youtube for augmented and virtual reality we're putting the power of this technology in your hands to tell your story uh to your audience and it's about virtually any subject matter no pun uh so the opportunity is yours we're really excited to see creatives and teachers and uh influencers and sellers and others take advantage of this uh to do a better job of engaging their audience and taking them on a journey and helping them understand uh and we're here to help uh participate that we're really excited to be part of the journey awesome well i definitely encourage people to reach out to you on linkedin on the website or any other way um and and check out uh both the the services you can provide and and uh and and make sure to support you guys so with that thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show couple more things make sure to leave us a review share click subscribe however you can help us to share this with everyone else out there so we want to make sure that everybody finds out about all the awesome journeys so they can be supported along their journey and with that you need help with your patents your trademarks or anything else feel free to go to strategy strategymeeting.com applied and grab some time with us to chat we're always here to help thank you again chris and uh wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last it's a pleasure thanks so much for having me take care absolutely you
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