The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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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start earlier don't think about it more and more and wonder when you're going to do it if you have the idea and you have the passion to do it don't wait start today start right now make that first phone call get your business license get set up name your company start moving don't waste time because what you'll find is once you get into this you never have enough time hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups and seven 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 feel free to go to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast uh roger tilton and give you a quick introduction to roger so i didn't realize till a few years ago that has had or life had a theme since really started in high school um when in high school it was always trying to get access to something that people didn't want to have or didn't want him to have access to nothing bad of course but just uh and he'll expand on that a little bit been in high school um his his parents got divorced uh mom had three kids was a single mom grew up and and you know a meager meager lifestyle dad on the opposite hand had a nice lifestyle so kind of saw both sides of that after graduated went to university of washington got a degree graduated at one or not the best time in the 1980s with the depression but still found a job as a journalist or did that for a period of time and then his wife at the time told him that there was opportunities to make more money than a journalist because journalists often times don't make as much as you would think so went in to be a stock broker did that for 20 years and then started his own private equity firm so with that much his introduction welcome on the podcast roger thanks very much glad to be here so i gave a very quick run-through of a much longer journey so take us back in time a bit to you know how first of all the a bit of the theme of your life that started in high school and kind of how how things got going from there and let's uh talk about your journey from there all right well when uh when we're growing up we think that our situation is normal that this is how everybody grows up so we don't really see ourselves as any different but you got it right i called it uh going from poverty to posh in a weekend in a 45-minute car ride uh when my parents were divorced uh my mom was single like you said i had two brothers and we lived in what i call the gario you know part ghetto park barrio in san jose but on the weekends we'd go stay at this high-rise twin peaks condo overlooking san francisco san francisco bay and oakland so i didn't realize it but i had one foot in each bucket basically since the time i was a little kid when i got to high school i ran for class president as a freshman because from what i had heard the freshman class never got anything out of the student council so i thought hey i'll give you access to that i didn't know the word access back then but it became a theme of my life and when i left the brokerage firm for the last time in 2016 i realized that my whole life had been providing access to people to something they didn't have access to whether it was politics in high school or i became a reporter i would go out and find the information so people would have it so they would have access to the news the newsmakers the news conferences i would report that back to them so then the whole money thing is like oh yeah that's not you can't make a living doing that let's jump or jump back just because you jumped over a whole bunch of story which i think is interesting so you went to high school kind of figured that out and you kind of saw both sides or both sides of the spectrum with the rich dad poor mom type of thing you said rich dad poor dad you know those type of right we got to see both being within a short distance time went to you know university of washington but then you were coming out during kind of the depression in the 1980s and i think that's why you kind of said hey i was trying to figure out what i want to do journalist opportunity came available and that's how you started out after graduation or kind of how did you start out in journalism yeah i started out in journalism when i went to a community college in uh cupertino california went to de anza college and on the first day i went into the newspaper office and they needed bodies and i was sports editor by the end of day one editor-in-chief two and a half months later and i was also a reporter photographer typesetter i did it all and then when i transferred to the university of washington i worked on the uw dailies and then from there i ended up at a tv station doing writing and uh producing newscasts well that sounds like you know fun opportunity and something that kind of interesting as you're getting you're coming out of college now you did that how long how long did you do the journalism uh journalism position or journalism job it was i was i spent a total of 10 years as a journalist the last five with the tv station the tv news um and that's when and that's when i switched over to merrill lynch and it was really all about money and isn't wall street really all about money and that's kind of what i realized you know after 27 years being a financial advisor i i realized that that really wasn't what i wanted to do i mean i enjoyed helping people giving them access to investments right access to capitalism but it really doesn't work that way the rich get richer and the poor and the middle class get poorer hmm no and that uh definitely that definitely makes sense and so you know now you get into journalism you know it sounds like it would be a fun or exciting job but after a period of time saying hey it's more difficult to support myself off this wage i'm going to look for something so i said okay i'll go into more of the investment go into wall street they're about money and i can make a good wage and income when you make that that transition you know did you have any background or experience or know how to get into it or how did you because it seems like you know a bit of a jump from journalism to more of a wall street investing in venture capital and angel investor and and finances and all that so how did you kind of make that transition with that leap well this is where the story gets good devon my mother as i told you um had three sons single part-time jobs and she went to college at night she ended up getting her college degree in her 30s and then got hired at ef hutton in the mid-1970 as a stock broker so i had a part-time job there for a few months in 1979 and i thought oh i could do that but i was a journalist i was writing i was getting published i didn't want to do that but it was in the back of my mind and so eventually many years later i thought oh i could do that and so i went about getting hired without ever telling my mother that i was quitting journalism i just called her one day and said hey mom i do what you do now i work at merrill lynch hmm no and it makes sense and see now you do that for a period of time you say okay i'm going to go i'm going to work at merrill lynch i'm going to do finances now the one question i had was was it simply it was at was it as simple as simply your wife said hey this is going to be you know we need to make more money or we need to figure out a better income to support the family was that as simple as the decision was or was there anything more involved or anything that kind of more that went into that well it was a little bit more involved um in tv news especially you bump into a ceiling you know i was working in the seattle market i think at the time it was the 14th largest television market and it was a destination market people wanted to move to seattle so they would take lower pay for me to get higher pay i'd have to move to a larger market like new york and i didn't really want to do that plus i wanted to wear nice looking suits to work every day and i didn't do that as a journalist and i thought yeah i want to i really want to ingratiate myself into this wall street lifestyle so now so now you make that transition you kind of you know start to figure it out was it enjoy you know was it as rewarding or enjoyable as you know doing the all the journalism stuff was it fun and exciting or did you you know did it was it one where hey i made a lot of money i got to wear the nice suits but i wish i'd go back to journalism and kind of how was that transition for you well two months after i started at merrill lynch i was at the world series in 1989 it was the fifth consecutive year i had gone to the world series huge baseball fan right and there's an earthquake and i work at merrill lynch i'm not a journalist and i was so bummed it's like oh my god i want to tell this story but i couldn't um yeah there was a lot of give and take i i liked helping people i like giving people access to wall street investments but i really soured on it over the years because wall street really does only care about themselves and the one percenters and everybody else is just kind of a nuisance and so what i wanted to do was give access to the 99 percenters you know most people don't realize this but access to capitalism is very limited in this country and when i say capitalism i'm talking about generational wealth building capitalism not capitalism with loan sharks and student loans and refinance and foreclosure because look at people in their 20s and 30s today what have they what is their experience with capitalism debt loans difficulties making it i mean they don't have access to wealth generating capitalism like private equity like venture capital like new industries and that's what i've set out to do with my companies give people access give the 99 percenters access to the wealth building mechanisms of capitalism like private equity like venture capital and i'm doing it with the legal adult use cannabis trade because it's not regulated by the federal government right now and if you as an investor wanted to get into private equity or venture capital or legal cannabis you have to be accredited accredited means you have a million dollars of liquid net worth sitting over there in your bank account or your stock account and you make 200 000 a year or 300 000 if you're married that's one percent of the people so we're eliminating 99 of the people from access to getting rich hmm no no one question and we'll definitely dive into that a bit but before just backing up a bit so you did worked on wall street it was for 20 plus years is that right 27 years as a registered representative on the nyse so now so now you do that for you know 20 plus years what may what was the tipping point or what's the the what point you say hey i want to do this on my own i want to go out start my own firm give people access to you know capital they may not have otherwise done and that type of thing what what gave you that you know that what gave you that motivation that prompting to do that well i think it started when i wrote an op-ed that went viral in october of 2008 that said dear congress don't bail out wall street because i knew exactly what would happen you know i read that article now 13 years later and exactly what i predicted would happen happen you know they took all the money and they gave themselves big bonuses for bailing themselves out hey we saved the company yay um so 2008-2009 the way that wall street engineered that financial meltdown you know it was disgusting and nobody paid the price not one single person went to jail for that so that's that's kind of when i started looking for an out and then in 2012 uh when washington legalized adult use cannabis and colorado did too i thought okay there's an industry that's going to become one of the fastest growing industries in the united states not the world in the next decade or two i mean and now we've seen it that was nine years ago that we first legalized adult use cannabis in the united states nine years now we have 15 states that have legalized and we're on our way to 50. i mean there's no there's no doubt we're going to get there and so who's going to make money on the cannabis industry the rich fat wall street guys again probably but what i want to do is offer access to that industry that generational wealth building opportunity to the 99 i'm not going to leave out the one percenters but the way that i look at it devin the minimum for the one percenters is 25 000 the minimum for the 99 percenters 420 now the accredited investors still get all that fine due diligence research of a wall street analyst i mean i've been doing it for 30 years now i've spent the last five years tracking the growing legal cannabis trade [Music] no that definitely makes sense so now that kind of brings us brings us to where you're at today now if you're kind of you know and doing the investment helping the you know the other 99 or those that are don't typically have access to it or can invest when you look at now kind of the next six to 12 months where do you see things headed or what's a trajectory you guys are on it's nothing but up devin i mean this industry every every time you turn around there's another store opening i live right on the border with massachusetts in southern new hampshire and there are legal adult use marijuana stores opening all over the state i mean it's just happening maine now is starting to open retail stores you've got illinois and michigan i mean it's a growing industry and for anybody who wants to participate we're here for you you don't have to have a million dollars net worth you don't have to have a 25 000 minimum you can have access so so no and i think that that's that's cool in the sense i think that you know it's a industry that you know people oftentimes don't know how to get into it or they get into it and they have to be accredited or they have to go through a lot of regulations and so providing access to people with in any given industry i think is an ad admirable if i could say the word i'm endeavor so well as we kind of now catch up to a bit of your journey and where you're heading a bit in the future i always have two questions i ask at the end of the podcast so i'll jump to those now for a bit 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 uh know who you go into business with know your partner um before access world group there was a predecessor company which i won't name and i won't name my partner but get to know your partner or you can lose everything quickly no and i think that's you know it's an interesting you know if you get partner getting a partner in business is uh there has a lot of overlaps with dating and otherwise get you're marrying someone but people oftentimes you don't you don't take it nearly seriously or think about it in the sense that you date you you know you get to know the person you have a relationship you go out a lot and everything else and yet often times with a partner you just think oh that they they compliment this so they have this money or they have this access and good enough you know you kind of jump in but there's a lot that goes into you're going to be with them a lot you're going to be working long hours you know you're both going to be contributing and are hopefully contributing you're going to have your ups and downs you'll probably have your fights and whatnot and so you better make sure as you're doing that the partner you get into bed with is going to be one that that you enjoy and then one that's going to be a good relationship a business relationship because otherwise it can certainly have you know certain negative repercussions for the business yeah i was um uh pretty astute when i figured out what was going on it was um it was like six or eight months after we started that i thought this is not working you know what did i have access to 27 years of clientele i had access to money what did he have access to well supposedly expertise but he was just more interested in the money that i brought in so i started over and here we are no definitely makes sense and a good lesson to learn and one that a lot of entrepreneurs when you go into going into a partnership or in the business you learn one way or the other so so the second question oh yeah i was going to say second question i always ask is if you're talking now to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business what be the one piece of advice you give them start earlier don't think about it more and more and wonder when you're going to do it if you have the idea and you have the passion to do it don't wait start today start right now make that first phone call get your business license get set up name your company start moving don't waste time because what you'll find is once you get into this you never have enough time no i like that because i think that you know you always you can always make excuses as to why now is not the right time and whether it's hey i'm just you know i haven't i don't have the right education or i'm i'm you know getting uh starting a family i'm getting married or i'm farther in my career and i don't want to change it or i don't have the money there's always reasons why you want but every time people get into i say the number one answer we get you know with people is they say what they would tell entrepreneurs if they could is get started early get started now because you'll always you'll you'll very seldom look back and regret getting going now but oftentimes you'll wish you just got started earlier so i love that as it takes away absolutely well as we start to wrap up the podcast that people are wanting to reach out to you they're wanting to know more they're wanting to you know they want to be er have you invest in them they want to be a customer that client 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 you know just like you devin i give out my personal number it's 978-597-8900 and my email very simple rht those are my initials at acwg.co very simple email rht at ac wg acwg.co well awesome well i definitely encourage people to reach out and just as a reminder people we are going to talk for just a couple minutes with the bonus question after the normal episode about intellectual property uh we'll hear your number one intellectual property question but as we wrap up if you uh for the normal episode thank you again for coming on 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 i'd love to have you on the podcast and uh and share your journey just go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show two more things as a listener one is if uh if you end your podcast player make sure to click subscribe so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two uh make sure to leave us a review so new people can find out about us last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else go to strategymeeting.com sign up and uh and grab some time with us to chat and strategize so now as we wrap up the normal episode now we get to go on to a bit of the bonus question where we get to flip the tables a bit and you get to ask you know you could ask me questions i normally during the normal episode always get asked questions and you get to tell me more about your journey and now we get to flip that a bit so with that along or i turn it over to you what is your number one intellectual property question you know i got a patent back in 1997 and shortly thereafter i think was maybe four years it expired is that right is that how long they last uh not unless you maybe didn't depending on when you had maintenance fees due as possible so normally it will give you the normal answer then you give a couple caveats normally when you do a patent application is 20 you get 20 years from the date of filing so in other words from the day that you filed your application you get 20 years before it expires now there are a few maintenance fees that you have to pay in different increments along the way in order to keep that keep that patent application active and going so you know you have them every few years increment and they get progressively more expensive and the way the government basically sets up is hey if this is an important patent to you you're willing to pay more you know fees in order to keep it active for that full 20 years if at the you know if you get into it and you're saying hey we're no longer using it no longer valuable it's no longer worth enforcing then you can let it go abandoned so probably where you got into it was after you went through the examination for a period of time you hit one of those first maintenance fees period you didn't pay the maintenance fee and therefore it went abandoned yeah and then uh about a year later i started getting uh photographs sent to me from eastern europe of my splatterless urinal all over eastern europe and i didn't make a dime on it well that is that is always a trade-off you can get a patent and if you if you can do it it's worthwhile and yet there's also that cost and that trade-off of how you maintain it how you keep it active and what makes sense so but back then back then it was just a whim i was working full time full boar at uh at the wall street firm that was my total passion at the time the patent was just kind of a whim and then somebody sent me a picture of my toilet over there and it's like wait a second how did that happen and that's how it happened yeah i definitely understand it's one of those that you can look back and hey if only i kept it active if i could have been you know i could have enforced it or got licensed from it or anything else and yet on the other hand you could if nobody had ever done it or they hadn't knocked it off you're saying hey i paid all these fees i never did anything with it and it doesn't make sense either so yeah always always a crystal ball and you have to decide where what uh which path you want to take well that that totally makes sense now the way the government does it ratcheting up the fees so that you have to decide whether you think it's important or not yep exactly anyway it's in the public domain all right well that was a great question it was fun to chat a little bit about intellectual property appreciate you again coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and if you or anybody of the listeners ever have any other questions about intellectual property feel free to go to strategymeeting.com and otherwise i wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last hey thanks very much i know i know where i'm going to go for my ip law devin thanks a lot sure thing you