Time And Effort

Time And Effort

Greg McGregor

Devin Miller
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs

10/31/2020

Time And Effort

I think that you have to realize if you're going to start a company it takes time and effort. It's the comment you made before that big hit that was all the ten years in the making. I mean you have to stick to it. You have to adapt to it and change to the things that come to you cause it's not going to be easy. Stick to it and realize it takes time.


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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ai generated transcription

i think that you have to realize if you're going to start a company it takes time and effort it's the comment you made before you know that that big hit it was all the 10 years in the making i mean you have to stick to it you have to adapt and change to the things that come to you because it's not going to be easy so yeah just stick to it realize it takes time [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 has grown several businesses to seven and eight figure companies as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law the um patent patent trademark law firm that focuses on helping startups and small businesses with the patent and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the podcast greg mcgregor and just give you a quick intro so greg's journey started back in the in college when uh cell phones uh were people are where people were couldn't really carry them around they were the bigger bricks and then you had the created the pay-as-you-go system with pre-paid uh prepaid cards and gave up some to control and companies went bankrupt and then rebuilt and started an ai company and quantum computing and all bunch of things and everything in between learned some good lessons and with that much as an intro welcome to the podcast greg it's a pleasure to be here thank you so i gave a little bit of an intro but go now to dive a little bit deeper into your journey so um tell us how you got started and where it all started for you well you really brought me back to the beginning i've forgotten all about that i guess there's been a lot of adventures and so forth i think uh for me in terms of my very first very first company and so forth was yeah back back in the 90s with uh with cellular as you mentioned i i there was a big problem with uh being able to roam with cell phones you know there was people buying cell towers and you'd have to uh uh not get a bill for like four months and have to pay extraordinary fees and so what ended up happening is all throughout europe you just couldn't roam you couldn't go anywhere except your little local town with your cell phone so i had this crazy little idea that i would uh decided to move from the big central servers all into just the phones themselves and make it a distributed system and they all did their own accounting i got laughed at a bunch i even got left out of a couple of vcs um but it definitely did work and we knew and that was where it all started it was kind of cool and it's kind of never stopped up and down from then so you so then backing up just or diving into that a bit more so you in college decided i'm going to get into cell phones or that's kind of where my journey starts and so does that just hey i want to were you a user of cell phones at the time you're just saying hey that's a cool technology do i see an opportunity here or kind of how did you jump into cell phones or what took you in that direction well it actually started um in college my dad actually was talking to a wireless carrier and listening to what their problems were and this is when i came up with this idea and i did an internship at this at the university and got credit for it and so forth and uh it was kind of it was laughed at a bit it's it's kind of unorthodox to think you're going to take an ibm mainframe and shove it in that low computing phone and stuff way back when but that's where it all started and then i continued on um it started out with some rental systems um was really the thing they wanted to do was rent phones back then and then it really diverged into a general expanse of prepaid wireless use the money in your phone for stuff and things like that so it's pretty cool all right so you jump in the cell phones and so was that your own you started your own company then was that with your father yourself yeah yep yep we partnered together and went ahead and did that and it was called telemach telephone mcgregor okay yeah so and you and then so you started out kind of hey let's see if we can make it so you're not gonna only stay around in your little area and then you're not waiting four or five months or half a year for a bill you went into prepaid and then i think when we talked a little bit about the or before the podcast that you kind of gave up control little by little or gave it up to someone else you know it's interesting right the journey had us you know with any startup i think sometimes people look at a success and think it happened overnight and i that's rare in my case certainly not the case overnight success 10 years in the making yes it's definitely more like that so we're in a situation where you know we've gone through four or five rounds of funding because you you don't have a product that was successful and it wasn't being bought you'd go through another round trying to figure it out so until we had this big hit and uh at the time you know we only had maybe you know 10 people in the company but we're making eight figures a month um and so we had a group come in that uh said hey we'll take you to the next level and and so we turned over control to them to do that and that was a big mistake that was probably the biggest mistake that we've ever made we should have just hired them as a consultant because we had the money and we had we hadn't had what it took to get to that point you know so you did that so was it out of you know just and by no means insults intended was it naivety that hey i think that they're just going to do a good job they talk the talk they walk the walk was it death by a thousand cuts to where they kept asking for more equity was that you know how did you you know if you have a company that's being successful what what in motivated or prompted you to turn it over and how did you kind of lose that control to them yeah so you know like i think um on on the one hand you know the promise of doing an ipo and having the right ipo package um back then um and you know for me personally something i've always had to work on i'm 100 trusting you tell me that i take a face value i'm learning i'm learning not do that all the time going forward the hard way yeah so so now you so and then they took it in if i understand they kind of took it in a different direction you didn't go it basically kind of drove it into they just ran the contracts they had and didn't didn't push it anywhere anymore forward so eventually no things die because that's what's really important about a business products living you know come around and go and you even though you're in a startup you've got or your own company you've got to continually come up with new products and new ways of selling that's the whole name of the game it's not just one yeah so and i completely agree i mean it's kind of the old adage is because sages you know if you're not growing you're dying kind of a thing but in a lot of industries either have to continue to innovate continue to sell continue to expand or you start to shrink and eventually go away so i think that's certainly a true adage so you take that and so now you've gone through you you know the company goes into bankruptcy and you know you kind of lost control and then the company got taken to the bankruptcy and you had to pick yourself up first of all you know and i'm sure you're not the only entrepreneur that's had to go through that you know bankruptcy experience or losing the company losing you know control type of thing yeah you know how did you pick yourself up from that or how did you or figure out how to move forward um i just i just do it you just get up and go like i don't know any other option you know it's just i'm always looking forward and pushing forward so um yeah let me ask my question a differently so as you're doing that how did you how did you decide what to do next meaning okay can you go back and i'm going to start a new cell phone company am i going to go to a different industry am i going to go work for a big business or how did you kind of okay gotcha yeah so i think at that time i decided uh a job opportunity had come up at laurel space systems to to be the principal for um a software satellite project and so i went off and uh did that for a little while and didn't have the burden of the uh of you know the fundraising and running the company so that was sort of a break before i went off to some more startups and then back into starting my own companies again okay so you took that break and how long did you do the break for before you mean before you got the itch for startup yes sorry to finish my question how long did you take your or take your break from startups before you went back to them probably about a year and a half yeah so you take that you know go and go and work for someone else do that for a period of time and then you start to get the edge you know how did you how did you arrive then okay so you get the itch again was it just simply hey i hate working for big other people or i like working for myself or i like the freedom or i like to set my own direction or kind of when you say that it's because i mean different people orders that just hey i think i can do this better i can make more money because different people have different motivations for startups right some of it is i just love to invent others it is i want to make a lot of money others it is i think i can do better or i'm smarter than everybody else so kind of what was that is for you or what moted you to get jumped back into startups i i would say there's at that point in time it would be a different answer than this point in time um but back then you know there was the whole ipo craze and so forth as well around 2000 so um yeah i jumped back into some startups went through went through one of the ipos and and then um then went off with a group of people uh from from the start and then went off to actually start my own after that um i think that so that was one of the motivations then but i think over my career and looking at it now there's a lot of i'm just not built that way in bigger companies you know there's a lot of process and things that are there to run something that some other inventor had come up with and so they're just there executing and although i find i find that interesting i'm more driven to to find that thing that can then grow into a big company if that makes sense i'm more i'm more attuned to to see what needs to happen in the marketplace go um painstakingly try to pull it into the marketplace um but then i'm not as excited about having to run a big company yeah so you decided okay so now now we're moving you know so we move forward you've got that answer say i'm gonna go do my next startup my next thing how did you decide what was that next opportunity where you're gonna go and what you're gonna focus on let's see what was next um we went to let's see my brothers and i uh did a startup um and we decided to get into the financial space we decided credit card fraud was a big issue and so we partnered with mastercard to uh bring biometrics to credit cards so you'd have to use your thumbprint on a credit card to actually authenticate a transaction so we got that startup and we pushed that for a while that was really fun we got you know mastercard on board and and things moving quite a long for a good period of time there it was a lot of fun so it was a lot of fun so did you keep with it did it grow is it still live today or you know what happened is it yeah so we we actually had everything up and running and we were looking at we had to get a large investor which we had on the hook to to purchase the ip for the fingerprint sensors um and so we were negotiating a deal to get that there wasn't there's not very much ip around fingerprint sensors and i'll tell you one thing uh it all vanished the day that apple bought it all for their iphone um so that really put a big damper on what we had um to be able to push that project forward so it did not succeed yeah okay and we brought up you know one and i if people have it as part of the journey i'd love to talk ip but certainly not the focus of it yeah did you guys go in and go in naively not think you needed ip did you have your own ip and he got into a point it was david and goliath or you know kind of how did that play that you know kind of it got taken out from under yeah yeah well so from back in our prepaid days and so forth i mean i had a lot of patents and they were litigated over some of the laws changed due to it so it was very well aware that we needed ip and i guess what i'm talking about and so we did put our ip together our patents and so forth for the biometric work but uh the ipm specifically talking about is around you know manufacturers of the thumbprint sensor itself um it was too big of an ask for us to do that at the time so that was a piece we're buying as a component so we were going to stick by exclusive rights to the fingerprint sensors and buy it up um was our strategy and uh applebee's to the punch and that went on to the iphone opportunity miss could have been great right but the thing is that's how it goes right i mean you'll hit one you'll miss one you'll have a big win and then you'll just and then then you'll move on to something else and you know it's just the way it works no certainly agree and there's always you never know where the passing on taking you have to decide where where or how to pivot and adjust based on what what's thrown at you so so now you know apple comes along sweeps up all the ip and you're saying hey this is just getting too hard to maneuver we're not going to likely be able to compete against them so with that mind then what was the next part of your journey and what did you do from there um well i you know i had decided to um at that point i had been in a number of places and have a lot of great engineers and so forth so i decided to start a software development company to do custom software and take all the skill sets for to build some other people's products i've been doing that for a good decade now um and having great success in the uh artificial intelligence world um for fortune 500 companies and some startups um but that journey too it took me from building mobile apps to you know websites and so forth but we really hunkered down on our ai expertise and you know getting getting some success in the government space and again you know my personal itch it's creeped up again and so we're starting to uh we will be coming out with some products in that space um because i really do like the product revenue stuff as well it's always a lot of fun to give birth to something okay so so that brings it now i think when we talked a little before you also went on to do internet over satellite is that right oh yeah yeah i forgot completely about that well that was the the ipo i was talking about um i went with a couple of guys down um down silicon valley to build a company called ibm broadcasting and i had the experience from the royal space systems to try to build internet uh over satellite for streaming uh the streaming internet and streaming video and so forth so we were at the time trying to push out streaming services to the edge um because you had dsl or things you just couldn't you couldn't get that streaming video so it was a big streaming video company yeah that was kind of fun that was actually a lot of fun i was a blast so you did that and you know what happened to that company so is it you know did it they didn't like you know is it growing you get acquired shut down or what happened no it's uh it it when ipo got acquired by i think it was williams communications and continued on and i don't know what i don't know what's happened since okay yeah so then you did that so is it kind of and on that one so that one got acquired was it hey we are we've grown it to the point we you know we'd like to get out start something new was it hey we're you know we think this is too good of an offer just to pass up or you know when you when you get approached did you guys see the offer did they seek you or how did that acquisition take place trying to remember it's been a while um i'm trying to remember exactly how that all went down i think they just wanted to buy up the streaming services if i recall i wasn't in the negotiation for at that time for the sale at that point i had already moved on after the ipo and so forth to another another venture yep so does that take you so from there does that take you to where your venture is today or it was yeah i'm sorry with the timeline here so from the ipo stuff there then we went off to the biometric credit cards to build a product and then i went off to the uh custom software development yeah so so that's where now that's where you're at today is that right yes yep doing work in the government space and commercial world the fortune 500s and so forth so now is that your and clarify for or help me clarify was that your own is that your own business are you doing consulting are you working yeah or how did you make or how did you proceed on that yeah no it's 100 funded known by me um so that makes it really easy to manage and um yeah and so now i'm also do the funding for um our products that we're coming out with in the government space and ai space okay so it's a little easier no hey if you can get to where the government will pay to do money it's a good revenue source and good revenue stream on the other hand it can sometimes be difficult to get into government stuff but it's a good place to be yeah yeah it's we've been at it for a little while here we're just breaking ground they say you know three to four years and we're about right there yep and the one thing we talked a little bit about before i think if i remember right is um that you on you know you learned along the way on this last venture at least i think it was this last venture you didn't necessarily take any investment dollars you decided you were going to bootstrap it or otherwise keep it is that a fair assessment or how did you as you learned along the way and you did the different ones did you continue to take investment dollars or how did yo how that goes with investors you know when you do private investing um you can have some really good investors that help back in that's really good money you can have uh investors that uh call you every single day and freaking out because they spent their life savings when they shouldn't have you can have we had one investor that stole the money um so we had to deal with all that so it becomes it becomes challenging so what i'm what i've decided to do now on this particular venture is not seek investment until i start getting some products up and they really need to grow after that and then i'll seek out the right investors okay it it lets me it frees me up to focus more on the company without without that extra burden so and for people so in i guess a couple questions so how do you decide when you're you know you kind of said you want to get some products up and running or is there a point that you will take investors or how do you weigh because you kind of got competing interest right one hand you'd love to keep control of your own business be able to not have anybody else tell you how to navigate or how to perform and on the other hand sometimes if you don't take investor dollars it can handicap or hold the company back so how for you at least you'll make that decision away the options um i think we have i mean i have explored at some point here's some investment for some of these products um i think as they take off we might actually form another company with a joint venture we've talked about doing it with some event investors that way um so i think there's a blower going by outside sorry about that that's all right so it adds a little bit to the ambiance so i guess so all right so so you you do all that and so now so taking the next you know investors not investors when it makes sense when you need the money when you don't um you know take the next six months to a year kind of as looking forward looking where do you see things headed for you well we've been getting really good traction in the government space and um i i expect to win some of these contracts and be able to flush out the rest of not only the products we're looking at in ai but the future that they're looking for and what's really nice about the government investing in terms of having that for them is that i can then turn around and apply that to the commercial space so these cutting edge technologies whether it's been siri or you name it have all had some government backing to get started somewhere um i'm taking that strategy uh for right now but i fully foresee as we start approaching the commercial space potentially looking at investment and so forth as well okay makes sense all right so once we start to to wrap towards the the podcast so now i always have two questions you kind of already answered the one but we'll we'll hit on it again nonetheless so the first question i always ask is so what was the worst business decision he ever made yeah i think turning over us to a group that could uh potentially do an ipo for us that never did you know that turning over that control when you know we really could have actually hired them because we kind of knew what we were doing you know i think we rather would have partnered with them to do it or maybe structured a bit differently and not been as trusting um that was probably the worst business decision today yeah that sucks to be frank had a great revenue streams going great you know yeah only we if only we had a time machine so exactly all right so then we go the now the second question so um if you're now talking to someone that's uh just getting going with startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you give them um i think that you have to realize if you're gonna start a company it takes time and effort it's the comment you made before you know that that big hit it was all the 10 years in the making i mean you have to stick to it you have to adapt and change to the things that come to you because it's not going to be easy um so yeah just stick to it realize it takes time all right great and i think that that is certainly a trade if you're going to be a successful entrepreneur or going to make a career out of it you have to be willing to stick to it being willing to navigate it pivot understand that things aren't always going to go your way and that's the only way otherwise if you if you cave it the first time you hit a big roadblock you're never going to make it you never will that's exactly what you have to do if you get stuck on your idea and don't budge you're done so now so people want to reach out to you they want to find out more about your story they want to learn more about your services you're how you're doing the government they want to invest in you they want to become an employee of yours anything you're all all everything in between what's the best way to connect with you uh info at brightappsllc.com is the best way to get a hold of us that's monitored and someone will get back to you whether you're applying for a job want a partner or whatever all right well i certainly encourage people to reach out to the air and connect up so well thank you for coming on the podcast um enjoyed to have me on now for those of you that are um have your own journey to tell and would like to come on the podcast always feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com apply to be on the show and if you have if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you can get notifications when all the new episodes come out and lastly if you never ever need any help with patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us at millerip law and we'd love to help you thanks greg thanks for coming on thanks for sharing your journey and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last all right thanks amelia it's been fun thank you you English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded

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