048: While at uni came second in a business competition with a wearable product, bought his business partners out, raised $1m+ USD investment, merged with a similar company now with 40 FTE and an 8-9 figure valuation (Devin Miller)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

October 25, 2020

In this episode, Troy interviews Devin Miller, the founder, CEO, and managing partner of Miller IP Law, a law firm that focuses on helping startups and small businesses with patents (inventions), trademarks (brands), and copyrights (creatives). He built his first multi-million dollar startup when he was still in law school in 2013 as part of a competition. After getting involved in startups, he wanted to start a law firm to help startups and small businesses by protecting their IP and helping them grow. He has an electrical engineering degree, a Mandarin Chinese degree, a Masters in business administration, and a law degree.

Devin’s small business ownership journey is incredible. He came second in a business plan competition while at university and the following year, from his passion for running marathons, he pitched a wearable device that monitors your hydration. In 2013, aged 28, he saw the potential in the product, decided to buy out his business partners, and landed over $1 Million in investment in late 2015 pre-revenue. That value has since more than tripled with no sales yet. He, later on, merged the business with a diabetes wearable device company and the combined business now has an eight to nine-figure valuation (Somewhere between $10 Million and $99 Million)

The business grew from one full-time employee, himself, to 40 in the merged business. When asked at which point he felt he had succeeded, Devin said, “I’ll let you know when I get there” He says the hardest thing about growing a small business is finding work-life balance and the one thing he would tell himself on day one of starting out in business is, “There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs. Strap in and enjoy the ride” Get your notebook and get ready for tons of free small business growth advice from Devin.

This Cast Covers:

  • Starting several 7/8 figure businesses and how patents and trademarks were crucial to their success.
  • How he came up with the idea for a wearable device that monitors a person’s hydration during a marathon.
  • Partnering up with a diabetes monitoring company to form a single company and raise 8 figures in funding with plans to launch their technology within a year.
  • The intricacies of learning Mandarin by knowing about 20,000 characters.
  • Working a lot of hours to be more hands-on in the operations of the startup and the law firm.
  • Measuring success in business in different ways based on one’s long term goals.
  • The potential of getting bought out by a much bigger player in the wearables industry.
  • The importance of defining who your target market is before launching a product.
  • The diverse funding options that they have leveraged to raise cash for their business.
  • Demystifying convertible notes and why small business owners should consider them to raise capital.
  • The investment opportunities in the wearables business.
  • The stress he had to deal with from a lawsuit that was filed against them.
  • Having to step out of a comfort zone to get involved in a SaaS company.
  • Hating taxes and payroll, and how it took him a while to learn proper and effective hiring.
  • Loving the idea stage of a business: Coming up with an idea and executing it.
  • Why he doesn’t like the idea of getting a new minimum viable product.
  • Shifting from the foundation of making money to growing the business.
  • The importance of learning constantly and staying informed about what’s happening in your market.
  • The pressure that leads a small business owner into making a bad hiring decision.
  • The genius hiring technique that Devin uses to get the best performers into his team.
  • Building a great culture by figuring out what you want your company to focus on and how you want to approach it.
  • The challenges that business owners face when trying to find work-life balance.
  • Learning by listening to podcasts and reading books.
  • Diversifying their board by bringing on investors and people who can help grow the business.
  • Automating your business not to get rid of jobs but to free up time so you can focus more on core activities.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“Define your market, define who your customer is, and then figure out where they’re at” – Devin Miller

“If you don’t pay people, they don’t wanna work for you“ – Devin Miller

“Having a consistent learning mind frame is a great skill” – Devin Miller

“Figure out what you want your company to focus on and how you want to approach it” – Devin Miller 

“Work-Life balance is one of the toughest things to do if you’re a business owner” – Devin Miller

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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