2021 Veterans Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program: Learning from successful veterans in business

2021 Veterans Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program: Learning from successful veterans in business

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- And with that, I will assume the common thread. Thank you very much for that introduction. It's been a very interesting and butcher, jonesing career that grew successfully out of my service to my country. Continuing that service this afternoon, we have a panel of entrepreneurs that have successfully developed careers in business, in or following the military service. They have agreed to share their experience with us over the next 40 minutes. Our first panelist is Charlynda Scales.

Charlynda is the founder and CEO of Mutt Sauce, LLC. The company that makes the sauce for every meal. Charlynda, please introduce yourself.

- Hello everyone, I am Charlynda Scales. I'm an Air Force veteran. I served on active duty for 10 years. My company Mutt Sauce is about my grandfather, Charlie Farrell, Jr. His call sign was mutt for his adaptable personality. He invented a sauce in 1956, and that is the sauce that people enjoy today with our company.

We are a trademarked brand and I'm glad to be here. Thank you. - Thank you very much Charlynda. Our next panelist is Colin Wayne. Colin is a visionary of art. He built a multi-million dollar enterprise within the home decor space since founding Redline Steel.

Colin, please introduce yourself. - I'm Colin Wayne, founder and CEO of Redline Steel. I started this company based on seeing a market opportunity, essentially in 2015. I was looking for essentially decor for my own home.

Noticed that this was a massive market opportunity. There were zero paid ads on Google, and I took that opportunity in a blue ocean market. Even though I knew nothing about manufacturing to start, what is now the largest customized steel manufacturer in the nation. We're number one in the State of Alabama, according to Inc 500 and number four fastest growing company in the nation within manufacturing. Prior service, army combat veteran, military police staff, Sergeant.

Three tours, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And on my third tour, nearly getting killed in Afghanistan in the Paktika Province. Married, three kids, and look forward to today's conversation. - Thank you very much, Colin.

And our next panelist is Krissa Watry. Krissa is the co-founder of Dynepic Inc, which is a venture backed FinTech company powering the future of knowledge using the DX platform. Krissa please introduce yourself. - A pleasure to be here today. Thank you for including me. So as you said, I'm the co-founder and CEO at Dynepic Incorporated, but I'm also the co-founder and CEO at Dynepic Sports.

So Dynepic, we are a, we build digital infrastructure that powers the future of knowledge and the U.S. military is one of our biggest customers. So we're powering their training ecosystem in the U.S. Air Force. I'm a U.S. Air Force vet, but I also have spun out other technology and run a sports product company, which is a family run company called Dynepic Sports. And that I mentor a bunch of other entrepreneurs as well. So IP innovation like it says it on my shirt, right? Is core to all of our businesses and I look forward to speaking with you here today.

- Thank you very much Krissa and our fourth panelist is Sherman Williams, Jr. Sherman is the CEO and manager of Body Water LLC. And he is a 100% disabled veteran. Sherman, please introduce yourself.

- Hello, my name is Sherman Williams. I'm currently in this great State of Florida right now. I served for over 24 years of active duty service in United States Army. But we're all brother and regardless of the branch we come from.

But for me creating the healthiest beverage on the planet, in regards to everything we consume, everything that is today came from my experience and near death experience of what had transpired in Afghan as well as Iraq in a 15 month tour. So in regards to overall health hydration, the need for key nutrients that are pivotal to our ability to be healthy in the state of mind and thinking, this is where all this came from. So I can't wait to tell you guys the journey, the development and the hardships. So regardless of what we call patriotism what we fight for the day and being a plate and platform to make a difference.

Where we are now based off what we came and actually was able to overcome. Thank you. - Thank you very much, Sherman.

Thank you all panelists for the introduction. It's a very impressive panel of veterans representing impressive accomplishments. Over the next 40 minutes each of the panelists will lead a discussion focused on a specific question related to their entrepreneurial experience. The first question is for Lynda. And it is what motivated you to become a business owner of Mutt Sauce? Before I turn it over to Charlynda, is each of the other panelists will have the opportunity to comment and to essentially expand from their particular perspective and features and add on this particular question.

But the question again, what motivated you to become a business owner of Mutt Sauce? So last, Charlynda, please take it from here. - Thank you, Joe. What motivated me? Well, I was on active duty. I was serving my country, I was on an active contract.

I was at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And my journey as an entrepreneur actually started with eating something that I made and I thought that it tasted awful. And I said to myself, there's something missing. I don't know what it is, it took me a moment, but I was like, this sauce, my grandfather made, we would put it on everything. And since he had passed about eight years prior, nobody had had it.

Nobody had ever enjoyed it after he passed. So I asked my mom about the recipe and when she, when I talked to her, she presented me with an envelope and it was a single sheet of paper. I mean, we probably all have grandma and grandpa's recipe somewhere. But it's the decision of what do you wanna do with this small gesture? My grandfather instructed me to have this piece of paper, but I thought it was just bigger than a recipe. I sought mentorship to figure out how I could maybe make some more bottles for friends and family to help them with the grieving process. 'Cause they were still grieving the loss of him even after all this time.

But my mentor who came from score.org. So you can go to score.org, free mentorship across the nation, it's non-profit. And my mentor told me that I need to think big, he's like you could take care of your family. Multi-generational wealth starts with filing to be a business owner.

So it wasn't my original plan, Joe, but I followed the instructions. I did, I followed the checklist, like a good soldier. We launched within four months, but what I liked was he painted a big picture and he said, "You need to start preparing now for what you wanna see, like five to 10 years from now."

And so once he told me like this could be a retail product in grocery stores, I started my foundation. Building the foundation as if I was going into Kroger tomorrow. And I think that, that is why people saw such a fast trajectory with the company is because I was preparing for, the five to 10 year plan on day one. - That's a very interesting story.

And of course it really highlights the fact that when you look at these kinds of things and you started out with whatever it is that you have as a nucleus of an idea. That you have a picture, some kind of a goal, something that you're striving for. And that's what sort of pulls this whole thing together.

I'd like turn at this point to Colin and have him tell us a little bit from his perspective, what motivated you to essentially start Redline Steel? - Yeah, so great question. And I guess my thing. So I dropped out of high school at 17 years old to join the military. I was held back twice, never was a massive component for school. I don't know why, I did pretty well in the military.

I made Staff Sergeant at 23 years old. So for me, when I transitioned out of the military and after getting blown up in Afghanistan, transition out into becoming one of the largest fitness models in the world. 50 plus magazine covers like muscle and fitness, Ironman, traveling the world. At that point, I had my son and he's 10 years old, Carson. And he was a big pivotal point for me as motivation.

Motivation for me is more than myself. It's something that wakes you up in the morning, something that is a propelling component outside of just a monetary gain. And so what I was looking at, at this point as a liability, what happens if I get into a car accident, anything happens. And if, as a model you are your own liability. So I said, I have a lot more to offer than just looks. And so I transitioned into becoming an entrepreneur, saw a market opportunity, even though I knew nothing about manufacturing, even though I knew nothing about business quote unquote from formal education.

It didn't stop me from being motivated to hold the destiny within myself. I knew that I control what I put my mind to. And so well there's so much opportunity out there, a lot of stuff can be, researched and there's free. I'm not big on books and everything else, but like YouTube, that's been a big component for me. And now I'm in a complete blue ocean multi-billion dollar industry caps. And we're the largest in this nation, within the home decor signage.

And we're actually transitioning into federal contracting as well because that's recession proof. And so motivation for me is my family and my kids and knowing that I control my own destiny. - I love that motivation because that's what gets you up in the morning and that's what keeps you moving along.

And no matter what, essentially you're gonna be pacing, you've got the strength and the determination to move forward and make it happen. I'd like to have Krissa, and give us a little bit of an idea from the point of view of Dynepic as to what motivated you to become a business owner. - So I grew up in my dad's auto body shop.

He had arms collision repair, and so he was a mechanic. And he said, "Mechanics don't make a whole lot of money. Basically don't follow in my footsteps." And so I said, "Okay, well I guess I'll become a mechanical engineer." Got a full ride to MIT out of the Air Force Academy as a Draper fellow and a second Lieutenant.

So became a mechanical engineer. And I also had some internships where I knew very early on that I wanted to be a product designer. So, I kind of, I think had that trajectory. It was like, "Okay, yeah, this is what really interests me."

It's innovating, creating new products, getting that into customer's hands, seeing their reactions. So I kinda knew that's where I wanted to end up. Obviously the service gave me the means to get to that end, which was just incredible. And then basically after I got out of the military, I served under a CEO and I learned a ton from him.

And we've got boxes that have docked with the space station and a ton of stuff in space, but it wasn't my dream, right? I wanted to be my own business owner, I wanted to be a product designer. And so I opened Dynepic originally as a product design firm. Now we've since kind of spun out some of the tech into Dynepic Sports and then taken on venture backing to bring out one of our own products, our DX infrastructure. Capitalizing on a market opportunity, I didn't see anybody else capitalizing on. But yeah, so it was my dad's original auto body shop that really created that spark for me.

And I just love running businesses. - I love the aspect of the dream that you had. As you sort of, to take on these particular kinds of things, and of course, as you probably hear from many people, you probably can never dream too big. Because again, that sort of provides you with the mechanism, the motivation to drive forward and to create that particular dream and make it a reality. And I'd like to hear now from Sherman. And in the standpoint of what motivated you to become a business owner for Body Water.

- For me, it wasn't planned especially witnessing a fellow battle buddy, actually die from over hydration. Going through various issues of skin, realizing that the water that we consume can play vital roles on how we are able to, I guess, function at a level of high sustainability. So witnessing and what I went through and seeing what other fellow comrades went through, regardless of nationality. We all were affected by what we consume and knowing that the body is made of 70% water. But that pivotal amount of water varies in the person based off height, weight, and the list goes on.

So all of that chaos and near death experience, I realized that something had to happen. Because we had the gatorades, we had the power waves, we had every other beverage you can think of that says that we are good for you, we need to replenish electrolytes, we need to do all of these things. And understanding before electrolytes, what did we consume to actually fill that void? And a lot of people don't realize it, it was in the food, it was never meant to be in an actual beverage. So understanding that and what I went through, derived a problem, and the solution was come up with something that actually has the integrity, values, and fortitude of actually supporting your ability to be healthier. That is you have good and bad cancer cells in your body.

And come to find out all of this stuff we were consuming were feeding those bad cancer cells. Which ultimately caused other issues in the form of some kinda disease that we can think of because everyone is affected differently. So that was the spark for me, what I went through, what I saw, what I witnessed, realizing something had to happened in my end. I knew nothing about the water industry and that took me about five years, going back and forth with people to peace mail me on a place that no one really knew about.

Except for those that already were involved like the Cokes and Pepsis and certainly having a monopoly on these things. So knowing that, putting everything in that it takes a lot. And when you see a problem, you shouldn't be afraid of it, regardless of the planning that didn't have at the time.

But knowing that you wanted to make a difference and knowing that your life matters, what you put in your body matters. And that's pretty much where all this came from. - And so, I think because what you end up with a lot of times is you see a need and the need lot of times is very close, very personal to you. And with that particular need you can also get the perspective as to how perhaps that particular need can be satisfied as one moves forward. And the way you went about it, finding it, and then staying with it for the period of time in order to develop that product is very impressive. Okay, we're gonna move on now to another question.

And this time we're going to look to Colin to provide the initial thoughts on it. And Colin and you are the initiator of these 3Ds. So please tell us about the 3Ds and how they influenced your day-to-day decision making. - Yeah, so I'd heard from a few different panelists about goal-setting and how important that is. And I'm a really big component about looking at, short-term, mid-term, long-term goals.

Anything that you get involved with should really be considered as one of these 3Ds. So I'll go through each one of those. And so for me, it's distance, direction and distractions.

I think every business owner has this exact same challenge. And if you can frame your entire mindset around these three core principles, knowing the distance based on a goal set, short, midterm, long-term. Short-term could be within a quarter, could be within a 12 month or under period. I would say defined midterms is like one to three year point and then long-term beyond three years. At least in my mind, that's kinda my longterm. A lot of people would set an out 10 years plus, but that's how I define it.

And so anything that I do is predicated on think of it like a gantry chart, and it's an X, Y axis. And I look at it as time, effort, energy, reward. So you're, your component on like a Y-axis would be your time verse going up on the X-axis would be the amount of stress and effort and energy that's gonna go into it. Now on the Y-axis, it would be your reward.

So anything that's above a five, for time, effort, energy, reward, and it's below a five. It's not worth my time. Is it worth, is it a distraction from what's gonna propel you forward to achieve your ultimate goal? So as a business owner, there's a lot of things that can come in and potentially distract you. I look at distractions as quote, unquote, opportunities that come knocking on your door. A lot of times, if you don't know what that distance and direction is of your goal, then everything is a distraction.

You have to know, where are you trying to take this? Like for me as the founder of Redlines Decor, demographic is predominantly women, 40 to 65 plus, Christian conservatives, married homeowners. Knowing my core demographic, I can look at it and say, all of these other categories, I currently have very little interest into, even if there's a higher yielded return from a reward standpoint. So, because I know what my end goal is in mind, knowing all of this, knowing the distance that it's gonna take that Redline will be a billion dollar company. We're in a blue ocean, largest skyscraper, in the home decor industry.

Knowing the direction, knowing my avatar, knowing my product line, ascension model. I can now harness this and propel forward without the distractions of shiny object syndrome saying, "Hey, you could do this. You could do all of these other things, but they don't align with those short, mid-term, long-term goals." So again, everything is predicated on those three Ds, but really the stepping stones are setting your goals. And then once you have that goal achieve that, those three Ds, and then look at everything that you do on that X, Y axis, time, effort, energy, reward, X, Y axis. And for me, that's been a critical component.

Anything that I wanna get involved with has to go through that checklist. - It's very interesting obviously, to see how those particular pieces come together and focusing you then on a day-to-day basis and keeping things focused. Charlynda, what is your perspective on decision-making? How do you go about that? - Well, I did a lot of failing forward and I think with failure, you get discernment. My motto is surround yourself with like-hearted people. I stopped looking for like-minded ones because sometimes when everyone in your, on your team or who you wanna listen to are people who think like you there's no room for growth. So I started with that, day-to-day I just make sure that whatever I'm doing as a small business owner, you tend to wanna do everything yourself and you'll spend hours on YouTube trying to learn.

But over the years, the one thing that's the most valuable is my time. And I'm also a new mom. I had a baby at the beginning of the pandemic, the very first day, and he keeps me busy. But my time with him is the most valuable.

So I had to embrace the mantra of hire what you suck at. So the things that I'm not an expert at, maybe it's email marketing, maybe it's designing my website, maybe it's the sales at an event. So I love to talk with people that doesn't mean that I'm the best sales person for whatever event that we're doing. So I've had to learn to delegate and hire the experts. So I could see that fast trajectory in those areas.

You want your email marketing be done as efficiently as possible. So those kinds of things, and blocking time for important things. So I try to make sure that even the time I spend with my son and the time that I spend with my family is blocked. And building those boundaries is to let people know that I may be an entrepreneur, but you can't text me at two o'clock in the morning and expect a response, because I'm asleep, because sleep is essential.

I used to be one of those people that I was like, "I'll sleep when I'm dead, fake it till you make it." And that is horribly toxic. So if you're one of those people who are saying that right now, just let that go from your vocabulary because your health is important, your time is valuable.

And so that's what I would leave with you, Joe. - Okay, I guess we all have to look at it from a standpoint of balancing our lives and putting things into proper perspective. And at any given point in time, what is important is to keep those things, set up in a framework. So that as you move forward and you accomplish things, one doesn't necessarily override the other. Krissa, can you tell us what influences your day-to-day decision making? - Absolutely, so obviously running kind of two completely different businesses.

There's kind of different mantras that I take with each of them. My goal at Dynepic is we want to power the future of knowledge, right? We want to go be that next big tech company kind of change the equation, be the, put a female face to tech and hopefully inspire kind of the next generation. So, one thing I would say is I've been at this a decade and running two businesses, a lot of it's about pacing myself and surrounding myself with those folks that I can trust. So I think a lot of people think that they have to have success right out of the gate. I would argue that sometimes it's about the small steps you can take every single day that make you successful and put you on the path to success.

So kind of going back to the goals that you have really like look at your goals and it might take you only a year to get there. But it might take you five and be okay with that, if that's the trajectory you're on. As long as you're, to use Charlynda's words there, failing forward, 'cause failing is just basically a pathway to success.

So to me, it is about managing your time, finding a way too for me. When the pandemic hit, I was living in California, we had already been a remote company. And I was like, "What am I doing here? I don't need to be here. I wanna live where I wanna play." Because I live and breathe my businesses all the time.

So I wanna be able to go outside at the end of the day and be where I'd wanna rotation. So I moved to Reno Tahoe and I love it, right? So I can kinda get that balance in life that I'm looking for as I grow my businesses. So yeah, I would just say, do also what, be passionate about the things that you choose to spend your time on, right? Don't just do a business if you're not completely passionate about it. I think passion can really carry you through the tough times and carry you forward to success.

- Certainly as long as you make steps in a positive direction, they don't have to be big ones. Because then as you pointed out is sometimes gonna take you a little bit of time to get to where you want. But at those steps, moving forward, it has to be driven by the passion that you're talking about or in a positive direction. Success is inevitable, will be there for you. Sherman, please tell us much of your day-to-day decision making is all about. - My day-to-day is based off reaching that ultimate goal that you put in your plan.

So when people say, what's your plan? And mind you, we all should have a plan and it's written down and it's pretty much a living document. But for me, the plan is still not even close to being complete because as anyone know success doesn't happen overnight. No risk, no reward.

And mind you, the playing field is far from fear and forgivable. They, it is really hard to make a mistake and recover from it. Especially if it, it's one that's very financially killing.

And for me having a beverage company, the risk is there everyday, because before I can even talk about a product, where is it? So you have to make this product. And for me and the beverage and to where I wanna be on the shelf, which I'm on, you can't make it at home. You can't start a lot of these things unfortunately at home. You can start the idea at home, but realizing my ultimate plan moving forward was to figure out how I can check all of the blocks and not be saying, I don't have ABC to be given a fair shake. And then the ultimate thing that people fail to realize, regardless of your product, what makes you different? What makes you significant to the point that I'm going to actually give you a pause to consider what you're offering? And that's what I had to realize. So for me, what I went through and mind you in the desert, in Iraq, I started off with mainly being a skin support beverage.

But I've evolved and trademarked the term cosmetic beverage, because there is none. I realized that if I go into a field where there is nothing as in meaning another competitor, but it's harder in a sense because you're breaking a mold in a traditionary world that is dictated by media. So people don't realize what is right and left is deemed what people say it is. But it could be a different way of turning right, 'cause it could be a counter right or a full right. Versus this is just a left turn, 'cause your left turn may have a slight turn.

But it's dictated in that sense, making that simple example. So you have to actually say, "No, this is my figurative right." And you say, "This right." Meaning so example Tesla, no one wanted electric cars. So Tesla brought that forward. And so their hands was forced.

And that's how we are in our industry. We have to force a way of how you're looking at it and say, "Wow, we do need this. This can make a difference." So for me, that was my driving force to my plan, to making a difference and mind you, if you don't believe in what you're doing and you're not willing to putting much sacrifice at all. And I've known people that say, "Well, I'm putting everything in there." But you have to have some common sense too.

Because the key thing that you should be able to answer, if any question, what makes your product or your business different and unique from everyone else's? And for me, it was providing a cosmetic beverage in a cosmetic world where there is not a beverage. So that is my ploy and that's what I employ on all of you to find your niche, your need, and your driving force to say, I won't be denied regardless of the obstacles that will come your way. And mind you a lot of your friends, like my counterparts had said, you don't need them because they don't see what you see. Entrepreneurs aren't living the same values and the vision that we have than regular people, they just don't see it.

And they'll actually say, "Wow, I don't know what you're talking about, you're crazy." But it takes crazy to be right. Just like I tell people crazy who go on the stock market, you can lose your money in a second, but that's what it takes, risk. So don't be afraid, know what you have, have a plan, but knowing what's in that plan, where you wanna be to, 'cause it's A to Z.

So you wanna eventually get to Z. But like I said, it may take time. And for me, I'm working on year 13 right now. That's about it Joe.

- These are some very interesting points you made. And as you started out, initially, when you're talking about your plan and then sort of like expanded upon that, and there's, it's really a very important it is. I think you certainly have made the point, your plan becomes a living document. It's the, you set out and most of us don't have the vision to the future sufficiently. Well, that whatever the plan is that we don't have to change. It is as we go down the stream, they, we're making adjustments along the way.

And then improve it as you pointed out, you're looking for the uniqueness of that product because that's what's gonna set you aside. Essentially give you the opportunity to be successful in the end. Okay, we're onto the third question and looking towards Krissa.

And I would like for her to go ahead and address, please describe your intellectual property and how protection under the law has benefited you? So we obviously our U.S. Patent Office and the Office of Trademarks and we have this kind of capability and that's our, that's what we do in life. To always providing protection to intellectual property. So from the standpoint of your business and what you've done, how has that intellectual property of concern, actually sort of influenced you and then ultimately protected you under the law? - So, great question. I hold 10 patents and tons of trademarks and we copywrite our stuff. And we really try to use IP to it's, to protect our innovations and leverage them in the market.

You'll notice the registered mark on Dynepic. So we have the trademark on Dynepic. I think that's the first thing and it's the easiest thing. And sometimes that you can do is to go out and get a trademark for your brand, for your product. Make sure that there's no likelihood of confusion with other products or things in the market. And really make sure that if you're gonna spend money on packaging, that, that mark you put on there, you own it and can leverage it.

And I found that trademarks specifically when it comes to our fitness equipment business, there's a lot of folks in fitness that try to knock off really great innovation. So we've had a number of them right on Amazon. And that brand protection that we've got from trademarks alone is an easy way to take down folks trying to knock you off. The second one that we've been able to leverage pretty well is design patents.

Those are ones that too, we can put that design patent forward for the, for our fitness products. And Amazon's pretty quick to take down those competitors in the market. Utility patents, I think are a little bit more complex, but have been fantastic on our sports side to keep we competitors from trying to steal. In our case, we have our patented spiral strength grip, but we've reinvented the handle.

And so that specific utility patents on all of our product lines across our fitness equipment or hiking poles, our bike grips have been really critical. Now on the venture backed tech company, I will say it's a little bit different when it comes to patents. There's a lot of big folks that have, that try to push the smalls around, try to get your patents canceled. I think that's a little bit different market.

I'm really hoping Congress makes some action to further protect the smaller businesses when it comes to patent protection in the tech sector. When you're dealing with kind of a utility patent around, a connected device, but a lot of the big tech companies play in that side. And it's very, it's a little bit harder, but I'd say it's absolutely put down the IP, protect your IP, it's worth it. And get started small. It doesn't cost a ton of money. There's a lot in your small business or an individual.

I know the USPTO has a lot of different programs to even help the individual inventor to get their patents filed or get a trademark through. You can watch all the videos, I did my own trademarks. So yeah, I, just get started and definitely protect your brand. - And can you just go back and think for a moment? What was your experience with your first patent that you got? - So my first patent, I was so proud of it. I reinvented the handle and well, my first, first patent actually was through a company, but my first that I wrote through my company I made all the drawings, all the line art.

I researched how to like write all the patent stuff and I made the first draft. I then took it to a patent attorney who helped me, taught me about claims and how to write my independent claims and my secondary and third claims to protect the invention. 'Cause that's really what matters.

So it was a little bit of a learning process to get that first patent out there and three years, I think to finally get it granted. But man, that was rewarding to get that first patent and be able to say, "Okay, I own this core product now. We can now start innovating and expanding our patent portfolio across that patent line." - Sounded very interesting.

'Cause as you started talking about it, your face lit up. - Absolutely. - I'm sure. - I love innovation. - That it is without it.

Anybody that gets that first patent, that is a remarkable achievement. Charlynda, would you please tell us about your experience with intellectual property? - Certainly, so our brand and, is mutt sauce. So if you look at the logo, it's my grandfather's face.

And then what we did was we trademarked the name Mutt Sauce, and also the logo. Now Mutt Sauce is a food company. We distribute a line of all-purpose sauces on our website, muttsauce.com. But when it comes to food, you cannot patent or copyright a recipe.

So I learned that in the process of getting started, when we had to think big from the very beginning, how to protect the recipe itself. Now, I knew that the trademark would protect the name, Mutt Sauce, it would protect the likeness of my grandfather's face. So no one else can use any photos like that, of my grandfather's face and pass it off as something else. But when it came to protecting the recipe, we had to use things like trade secret agreements. So my manufacturer, I have a, it's co packaged. So I use a manufacturer who uses the recipe to make it.

So we have a process by which we protect the recipe during the manufacturing process. But if you look at brands like Coke and Pepsi like, they're not kidding. You have to keep this thing locked away.

If you really wanna protect the food recipe. The other thing is besides the trade secret agreements, we have accounts on Amazon and it did help us to have that trademarked. Because when I went into Amazon, I said, "Okay, we're gonna start selling on Amazon. Let me go in here."

And someone had texted me about the same time that I was doing this process is like, "I'm not buying this on Amazon for $30 a bottle. Have you lost your mind?" And I was like, "$30 a bottle, what do you mean?" Someone was taking our sauce out of the grocery store and reselling it on Amazon for $30 a bottle and set up their own account called, it was called mutt sauce. So had I not had the trademark for it to turn in for brand registry is the process that you go through Amazon to prove to them like you are the sole owner of this brand's name, likeness, all of it. When I was able to show them the proof of my trademark, they were able to kick the guy off of Amazon and prevent him from illegally reselling my product.

- That's very fascinating that you, I had that too that kind of experience. And, of course we have that today in many different kinds of things, 'cause people can take a given product, and take it apart and rebrand it and go back out again. And so there are, the whole aspect of the intellectual property then becomes extremely important in vary just about any direction that you, that one would go. Colin, how about you in intellectual property? - Yeah, so we trademarked our logo and our likeness and our name. I haven't explored a lot of other options with it from, I guess, an IP side I know there's a lot from it's. I'm looking at it from a lot of different angles.

I think that on the panel, I'm probably one of the few people that don't require any type of non-competes within my company, the only thing that I have is NDAs. And I'm a firm believer that people relate to people, people buy, I'm not worried about competitors. What I'm concerned with is my reputation.

That's all I have at the end of the day is your integrity and your name. And, you know, even if we are the, we're the largest in this category within steel home decor. But if somebody were to come in and disrupt it, this is a massive market opportunity for anybody. And I open that, I embrace it. I love entrepreneurship and I thrive typically under pressure.

So for me, it's, I haven't utilized it too much on a trademark side. But I mean, we had to have it in order to move forward with Amazon. Lecturer Orlando was talking about like, we've had multiple accounts that are fraudulent. So having those, being able to be shut down extremely fast because of that trademark has helped us tremendously. And would love to continue to explore and educate myself on ways to further protect myself. So I would say as a 32 year old veteran, that's just trying to figure this stuff out.

My first business that I'm in currently is the same one I'm sitting in. I'm figuring it out and yeah, that's kinda my input on it. - Okay, well it's, you do have a very important element though, that's the name of your company and that's the projection that you have made with the success of your business. And that, and just unto itself carries a certain amount of waste from the intellectual property side of things.

That, that belongs to you. You built it. So Sherman, how about you? What's your perspective on intellectual property? - I believe is crucial, but for me, another caveat to protecting yourself is having that trademark or intellectual property tied to the person. And I think a lot of people don't think of that. I actually did it on accident.

Think of it, Coke and Pepsi have products and they have a main Coke and a Pepsi. So if they were to get sued, if that company got taken from them, that product is tied to that actual company. But for me, my company's Body Water, I don't have a product that's named Body Water. It's called Body Aqua, Cosmetic Beverage, Kids Aqua, but it's tied to the ultimate owner trademark to me, Sherman Williams and not the company.

So that's a big piece I believe that I stumbled upon because people unfortunately are devious and they work harder to steal versus create. And for those that suffer are those that put everything they have into something. And for it to be stolen from you, you can say in a blink of an eye, that's the crucial element of a trademark. And unfortunately nothing's free, your idea costs because you have to protect it. Unless you're not gonna say anything near yourself and you even the old fashioned way of putting it in an envelope, mail it to yourself and have it seal and go through all of that.

It doesn't work anymore. Because I know everyone has heard nightmare stories of all that used to be mine. They took it and this and that, and it happens, but it's crucial for me moving forward. And I was very skeptical because I didn't know exactly where I was gonna go, but I know it was gonna be huge.

So I was very careful who I spoke to. But moving forward, like putting stuff on social media and things of that, I made sure it was trademarked. And that's the key. And then of course, patents come to find out you can't patent beverages. And you don't want to anyway, 'cause a patent pretty much is a blueprint to your recipe. All you have to do is add or subtract something and they have everything you put out there in the atmosphere.

So people don't realize trademarks is a blueprint of wood almost called near close to what you're providing. So you have to be very cautious of what you put in the atmosphere to include patents. But trademarks is crucial because everyone knows the Coke sign, the Tesla sign.

Those are those key trademarks that separate you from, for example, buying the Genesis Condo versus the Bentley. There are very close trademarks, but there are different based off wingspan. And if you look closely them having Genesis in the B, but they're still able to use that because of the dimensions of that, for example, in regards of a trademark. But it's very crucial and don't take it for granted, especially if you're serious about becoming an entrepreneur and really making inroads in what you're doing. 'Cause I employ anybody who's not serious about making a difference in your business is not, 'cause everyone's on social media now.

But where you gonna be on social media to be that difference maker? So that's my 2 cents. - Thank you, Sherman. Certainly the aspect of protecting and recognizing that it doesn't come without an expense and an amount of money, that's gotta be there.

The intellectual property capabilities and out of the trademark give you that and you own it. But, and gives you the macro place to go out there and protect it. But therein lies essentially, and certainly you wanna, you certainly don't wanna put it aside. But it's gonna cost you some money to go ahead and do that and get your appropriate legal elements and that all in their place. The last question we have for the day and then I'd like to address to Sherman. And that is to what extent has the service to your country contributed to your success? - For me, without serving, it actually changed my whole mindset of life in itself.

Because in the military, it breaks you down to, you can say a newborn. And for everything that was instilled to me, my values, my integrity, my intestinal fortitude, I would've gave up years ago. Unfortunately based off the history that the country that I love and serve as, we have a lot of bad, you could say bad voojoo, still in the system. And it affects a certain things and hinders you to actually seek the American dream that you very well deserve. And without the service I would have gave up years ago, for I'll give you two examples. So there was a time in my service that a co-packer was refusing to manufacture my product.

And mind you I've already paid him, I had a due date and all of a sudden, he says, "I'm gonna give you the money back. I'm not gonna make your product." Any person in their right mind without very much on the back I would say, "Wow, what's going on? I need to find somebody else." But I didn't accept that. I actually drove eight to 10 hours and mind you I was still active service.

I put in emergency leave and 'cause it wasn't an emergency, but at that time he had to save family. So I beat the truth a little bit, but it wasn't emergency. I drove for about 10 hours to Virginia based off where I was stationed. And I showed up at the foot store, our footstep.

And he said, "Why are you here, Sherman? What's going on?" And mind you he called me everything but the child of God. And but at the end, but that last statement was, "I need a mechanic and I don't know what I'm going to do." And I say, "Well, you're in luck, sir. I'm a mechanic. I've worked on equipment for 15 years in the United States Army." The whole demeanor, everything changed, what was broken was a palletizer.

I don't know what that is, but that was the key component for a manufacturing process. And they were down for already three days and they couldn't find someone to fix it. But you know, who went in there and fixed it? Yours truly, took me about 12 hours and mind you I already drove, didn't get any sleep. And I continued to work on that product, that piece of equipment until it was functioning. And I not only did that, I serviced the rest of the assembly, worked in the manufacturing plant and ensure that everything was going to happen so I can get my product made.

But mind you even after I fixed his product, his machinery, service his equipment he still didn't wanna make my product. So I had to go over another hurdle in regards to some certification documents that he didn't need, but he was asking for, and mind you, this was a weekend. So it was just crazy how things happen. But at the end of the day, I made it happen based off my background, what I believed in, and my intestinal fortitude that I was able to endure in the military. And that was one incident.

But I'll say the last pivotal example would be when financial issues was going on in regard to needing key financial support. Everyone needs money and mind you, you only put in so much. But going back and forth for an SBA loan for people realize it takes three to four months to get that. But for me, it took almost 14 months.

And mind you I'm still going back and forth with them now because due to the fact that need was hindered and took so long, it pretty much almost derailed my whole dream of what I had, but I kept moving forward and didn't give up. I mean, because at the end of the day, people wanna wear you out. They wanna wear you down till it's not that important to you. But what you show defines what the outcome will be. And it was based off of everyone's background. And my background was derived from my service in United States Army, of all of the hell I went through to not go from enlisted to a captain in the 24 years that I served.

And even in that, just going through so many different obstacles that made me the perfect, I say person in regards to, for the obstacles that I've been able to face and overcome and still overcoming. But that's just one of the stories, and I know many people have stories. But based off what I experienced and what I was instilled in the military, I know I would've gave up a long time ago. - Okay, the key thing there is, and it really rings loud and clear. You made it happen, you had a mission, you knew what you wanted to do.

And there was no turning back. That's what you did. We are running just a little bit on the late side.

So I'd like the next three participants to spend no more than maybe about a minute and address the question similar to what Sherman has done. So Charlynda, please give us your thoughts on, your background in service and that, and how that contributed to your success? - Sure, so I'm actually a fourth generation veteran. My family has served in every branch except for the coast guard, but we're still recruiting. And I'm a current reservist. So I'm still serving my country but I see entrepreneurship as a continuation of service.

When you have served in the military and you decide that you're going to go into entrepreneurship or business ownership. That to me is saying, I still wanna do my part to make this the greatest country on earth because small business drives the local economy. So what you're doing is strengthening the country by being a business owner. My grandfather used to tell me that humility will take you further than money.

And as an entrepreneur, holding onto those core values that were instilled in us from the multiple generations of service. I lead with humility and empathy, and I've been surprised at the doors that it's opened. I've stood on stages with millionaires and billionaires, even as a small business owner.

Daymond John's book that just came out last year. He profiled tons of famous people and me, which I was really surprised, but it was not money or anything like that, that made those connections. It was holding onto your core values and being a good person.

Those things that we learned in the military, service before self, that, that's what sets you apart from everyone else. Thank you. - Charlynda that's an amazing story.

Those are the kinds of things that we carry as values as we move forward and reach those objectives, which we have to, we have no choice. Colin, how about a one minute for you? - So joining the military a few days after my 17th birthday, after getting emancipated it made me grow up extremely fast. And made me realize like, this is the real world.

I was very adventurous, I loved taking on new challenges and I kind of found myself. So from a point of entrepreneurship and the adventure behind it, not knowing what's the next step. That was a big component. That's really something that wakes you up in the morning, kind of that mission first mindset. A lot of people don't realize it, but I volunteered for all three of my tours of duty, volunteering going from this company to this battalion, just to be able to build.

So I think having that type of mindset from the military, instilling it into business, not being afraid to take on any challenge, any obstacle, and then leading from the front. That nobody's above it, no matter where you're at in our organization of Redline Steel nobody's above taking out the trash or anything else. And there's a lot of leadership that I learned from, from a positive standpoint.

And also, I don't wanna be like this guy, but I'm glad that I had that experience. So now I know how to become a better leader. - And Krissa, would you please give us your thoughts, right on here. - So I think I agree with everybody. I think it's the grit that we learn in the service that helps propel us and hopefully is the reason, I know it's why I have been successful.

I think I have a unique twist in that because of my military service. I have some of the military folks seen our infrastructure that we built our DX platform that we fielded and they said, "Hey, Krissa we need you to bring that in and help us modernize our training ecosystem inside of the U.S. Air Force." And so now my DX platform is white labeled by the Air Force as motor. And we are the core infrastructure, that's powering their future of training with an open ecosystem with all these others, small businesses and vendors activated.

And we're actually a U.S. Air Force requirement for that activation. So I would say it was my service and that connection that's helped also propel our success at Dynepic. - Just in summary over what we essentially had a discussion on for about the last 40, 45 minutes is just, has totally been amazing. Each one of you are outstanding individuals in what you've been able to do, where you came from and what you've achieved, you had. From my perspective, certainly what you were involved in and moving forward from here.

You're very insightful entrepreneurs, you've started out, you've made your adjustments along the way, and that passion drove you in the end to essentially achieve what you have today. And I'm sure it's gonna continue to drive you forward from where you're at right now. I will leave you essentially with one point when you are successfully, when you have successfully completed your service tour, you have the capability to be an entrepreneur. And we at the USPTO are here to support and protect your intellectual property. So to those of you that are out there that are listening and that have, had the opportunity to observe them. Essentially passing that, to these individuals and that have taken over the past certainly number of years in developing of the products that they have.

You can derive a lot of clear thinking in your part, in terms of what you could do essentially moving forward and just keep in mind that the USPTO is here to support and protect intellectual property and can help you along the way, achieve your objectives.

2022-01-17 15:35

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