Go Out And Talk To Them

Go Out And Talk To Them

Michael Malone

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

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Go Out And Talk To Them

“If you think about your idea, and you figure out who your target market is. Go out and talk to them! And not people who know you people who are friends and family are going to be predisposed to encourage you.”


The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

think about your idea and you figure out who your target market is go out and talk to them like and not people that know you people who are friends and family are going to be predisposed to encourage you everyone this is Devin Miller here with another episode of the inventive journey I am your host Evan Miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several businesses to seven and eight figures as well as founded Miller IP law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today on the podcast we have another great journey to tell with Michael Malone just to give a quick introduction to Michael so he spent most of his life as a army officer unfortunately in about 2017 suffered a traumatic brain injury that kind of ended his career and he'll talk a little bit more about that and kind of from that having to deal with some of the impairments and injuries that come along with that he cited both to make it to come up with a product that make his life and others that there's absolute path similar conditions suffering from that making their lives better and so that's what he's now doing today so we'll hear a little bit more about his journey and welcome to the podcast Michael I think you definitely on your podcast I appreciate this opportunity so I gave a brief introduction but I'm sure that there's a lot more detail to tell so maybe if you want to wanted to walk us through a bit of your journey kind of starting when you're the army officer and what led up to where you're at today sure so I ended up spending 32 years in the military like I loved doing it you know supporting the country I was in Iraq in 2015 and 2016 and became extremely ill and was medevacked back to Walter Reed military hospital in the Maryland area and while I was there I suffered a traumatic brain injury and you know you never think about that until it actually happens and hmm you after the injury I spent about a week in the hospital and when I got out of the hospital I spent the next three years recovering working on my speech and physical therapy several times a week speech therapy occupational therapy and one of the the things I noticed was like I just couldn't remember stuff like my wife would tell me something and like ten minutes later it was like we never had that conversation and it's people don't realize how frustrating it is to go through your life and not remember the morning or remember yesterday remember interactions with people you know and how we connect with someone is is through those interactions and those memories of those interactions and so I found myself isolating while I was in treatment I just wouldn't interact with people and my wife's like you got to get out and I wouldn't go out unless she was there with me to allow her to cue me when somebody was going to approach and tell me how how I knew that person and you know occupational therapy is like well I'll use these ten apps to to manage your life and I've downloaded a bunch of different apps to try to get through things and I just every app had a different interface it was just really hard for me to understand what was going on and and I thought there should be a better way and I just couldn't find it and I convinced my wife to let me take some of my life savings our life savings and invested into this process you know I had talked to hundreds of my other fellow service members had suffered traumatic brain injuries in service either through explosions or rollovers and vehicles or airborne injuries and trying to understand what their problems were and how they align with mine and no a short dive in really quick and don't mean to interrupt your journey if I remember when we talked a little bit before about the podcast and the one thing I thought you know I made the probably the erroneous assumption that the brain injury necessarily came directly from the military right in the sense of the years of service if I remember right it was also it was on a bikie or rather getting a bike riding your competitive bike accident is that right yeah so the irony is I was at Walter Reed recovering for an illness and part of that recovery was adaptive sports so I have an injury a couple injuries from service where I have a spinal injury an injury to my right leg and so part of that recovery was getting into adaptive cycling and when I was in the cycling I had a high speed crash and that put me in the hospital for a week before I had an airborne injury where I suffered my first brain injury but that wasn't really you know I recovered pretty well from that mm unfortunately every time you knock your head it's not a linear problem right you don't lose just a little more sometimes you just kind of fall off the cliff and you you lose a lot more and so you know it's less about how you know I'm fortunate that I didn't get blown up so I don't have a lot of the other issues associated with a lot of my buddies like they have amputations and intractable in their body so I've been very fortunate in my service but you know brain injury brain injury some of my friends have brain injuries because they've had tumors cancer tumors and they had to have them removed and when those tumors were removed they removed part of the healthy brain too right because they have to get all that tumor out as much as possible and so that causes cognitive impairment and so your issue with memory is it's pretty significant sorry jumping back and I think those are all you know I first of all I think one thing they're talking with you that I thought was interesting is I didn't think about and you know never just one of those things I never thought about all the different ways that brain injuries can happen right whether it's military service which is what I always thought ematic Lee jump to and this is you know related a sense that you were tried to work on some of the you know injuries that you served while in the military that ended up there you know creating a different issue but then also you know we're talking about whether it's people that are you know having a a tumor or having other impairments or getting an automobile accident there you know a number of different ways and so there are a lot of different people there are a lot of different causes are people dealing with this based on different things but one thing I thought was interesting when you talked a little bit before is you said you had a crash you broke your helmet I think you said you got scarred to face but you don't remember it but you got back up and kept riding the bike and then collapsed in the gut or took yourself to the ER or my me remind me how that was I thought it was interesting that you kind of you had your crash but then he got up and you finished the race that they crashed again and then had to go to the ER and that's kind of where it all came or I like kind of you know okay boy so I was going about 28 29 miles an hour and then but no it's tamiya I had lost some tire pressure in my front tire and so when I was taking a curve pretty pretty aggressively the front tire slipped out and I face-planted apparently into the concrete slid into the sidewalk and slipped up over the sidewalk so I remember hitting the ground hard and I don't really remember anything else this is all stories that have been told to me but apparently there was a service member there that was you know helping out with the course and I asked him if my bike was okay and he's like yeah and I'm like well help me get back on it it's apparently I got back on my bike and finished the race and I didn't realize like blood was pouring down off my face and when I got to the end like I didn't apparently I crashed again at the end of the finish line because I guess I couldn't figure out how to stop and so they called the ambulance and the next memory I have waking up in the emergency room with the doctor asking me if it's okay to cut off my clothes and I'm like like I hurt everywhere like I'm in so much pain like you feel free to cut off my clothes I can get new clothes but like I don't understand what's going on fix whatever's wrong because yeah I got that imported yeah exactly yeah and so I ended up being a week in the emergency in the hospital trying to recover from so I could get released and go back in to manage treatment at Walter Reed and so you know Falls and sports accidents caused a lot of brain injuries in the general population along with auto accidents and motorcycle accidents so you know surprisingly my type of accident it's very common outside the military and even in the military oh there's a lot of sports related injuries and auto auto and motorcycle related injuries so we just have the added benefit of having you know being blown up and you know hitting our heads bad when we fall out you know when we jump out of perfectly good airplanes mmm well so one so so now you wake up in the hospital and you know what was the progress I mean did you it wasn't an automatic you know hey now I don't know I can I realized I don't remember things or was a kind of you know slow progression of hey somebody keeps talking about things I can't remember or kind of how did you get to the point you're saying hey nothing you know something's different here and then we'll certainly jump into kind of now with that realization how you then came up with the solution that there you know that's the current project yeah I mean the week I was in a hospital I was in pretty rough shape so I wasn't really like I don't really remember that week at all you know I noticed when I was released from the hospital and I was back at Walter Reed like I had a hard time you know it feels you know I didn't notice it right away but then I like I just fell off this cognitive cliff where you know I couldn't find words to to speak couldn't remember how to take my medications which medications I needed to take you know I was exhausted all the time you know just being awake was exhausting for me you know and just not remembering what I had to do for the day or you know what conversations were going on and you don't when you're in a pretty tough space you don't really realize what's going on and so you know my care team my treatment team is the one that's like a we need to get this like he clearly has a brain injury we need to get him into you know the brain injury group and get his treatment coordinated that way and so the military is very good at integrated care hmm surprisingly and so that's you know the people at Walter Reed got me into that integrated care for traumatic brain injury and I ended up being there for about three years hmm so first of all sorry to hear about the injury I certainly feel for you what couldn't even imagine going through that and I'm sure that's tough but I think that you know interest interestingly from that experience now you happen to first of all go through that care go through the program get the treatment and then once they release you still have to come home and you have to live you know day-to-day life you still have your wife you have your family and everything you're going on and so then you know it sounds like kind of from that you're taking experience of how do I now go back to kind of functioning and doing and living my life again and that and that's the genesis of kind of where now you're at today with the the proper the product you're working on is that right yeah I mean when I was at Walter Reed I'm like like I got a I want to become self-sufficient again and you know I just couldn't ma my wife still is my daily caregiver and helps me out and even though I'm creating an app to help me with my chronic brain injury it's very hard to do because it's hard there's a lot of things that are going on and it's hard for me to keep track of what is going on so fortunately I have a pretty good team of young guys and girls that that are helping me in this journey for programming and marketing support and administrative support and my wife you know helps me all the time it's like okay what do you have to do tomorrow and helps me work through that and when you have a brain injury often the most important thing is what is going on today and what am I what's going on tomorrow and how do I get through today and what do I have to do to try to be successful for tomorrow I'm not you know when this thing popped up you know it was a surprise to me that I had a podcast meeting yes but so so I don't know thank you for coming on I don't know when we set this appointment right but you know and so it pops up on my calendar and then I'm like oh like oh I don't have the link on my calendar like I like I normally do right so I try to put all the information in my calendar or put it in my app and I just forgot and you know maybe at the time I thought I was going to and then five minutes later that thoughts no longer in my brain and so it just never occurs again mm-hmm and you know the app is all about how do I find things that I need to remember and how do I record things that I want to remember so things that are that occurred in the past that I want to be able to look up and things that are going to incur in the future that I want to be notified about and interact with in a positive way so far to do it so app kind of has the two folders you see and if I put in words in your mouth certainly sake but you have you know things you know memories you want to remember whether it's hey my son scored at and I'm making them out but their son scored the winning football touchdown in this game and want to make sure to remember and be able to kind of at least recall or have that as a conversation and take the notes so kind of my thoughts at the time and then there are things that hey I need to get this done tomorrow or day to day living and those type of things and you wanting to also make sure the things that you need to get down the Captur so it kind of serves those dual purposes is that what you're saying yeah it's all about like you were saying the things that occurred in the past that you want to recall for for whatever reason whether it's a family event it's a work item it's a it's a hobby type item it's an interaction with a person mmm which is great because you know I don't remember conversations with people and so like I record those in the app and then the things that I need to do you know if I want to I need to call the VA next week and reorder my medication normally my wife does that but I set it in my calendar in the app to remind me to do something like that or if I have a do out you know I need to write a blog post and I'd set myself a bunch of a due date for that and then a bunch of minders to remind me to do it and normally to be successful I need to take action right when that reminder occurs mm-hmm because I'm not gonna remember later right it's it could be there and then someone can mention something to me and then it's completely gone and you know when you have a brain injury people don't realize how much of a burden it is on the caregiver mmm I my wife is a saint because I'm hard to manage you know it's it's super frustrating for her to tell me things and talk to me about stuff and then you know later that day or the next day it's like the conversation never occurred mmm and so you know she always has to be with me to take care of me like you know I can't you know I sometimes get lost like if I'm going to the store I know where the story is when ice I get to the store and then I can't figure out how to get home like I forgot where home is and I might just have no idea and so then I have to have my wife call me you know I call my wife I'm like I don't know where I'm going I'm at the store like how do I get home and then she'll have to tell me the address and help me spell it out so I can type it in because I can't even when that occurs I can't even figure out how to spell words so it's super frustrating and you know caregivers you know caregiver burden is one of the things and I'm hoping the app helps alleviate mm-hmm and what's going on with that and then well and one thing I thought you mentioned it was interesting kind of along that lines as you know a lot of things that are interesting but one of them was you know you mentioned you know not only it's kind of like you know and that analogy but I'll make the dalchi anyways he does kind of like the old commercials that you used to watch I don't think they're still on air anywhere it was kind of like you know the balls for men and you know not only am I you know the founder of the company I'm also a user type of a thing you know and so bad analogy but you know the point is I thought it was interesting and when we talked you know a lot of this the way that you're troubleshooting it and helping the developers and helping the programmers is hey this isn't working for me or hey I can't you know this didn't this fell apart or this broke right or this thing an app isn't me I don't know how to use it and I thought one that was even interesting that I think you brought up and if I put words in your mouth again stop me but you know you're even saying hey we use it we're used to like icons on a phone or a cons on an app and yet you know we can remember and associate what that icon means and yet unless it's very self-evident what the icon means if you don't remember and you can't remember you don't even know which where on the app to click and so I thought I was interesting that you almost need that perspective of the user that's going through that in order to make things better to make the app actually the product actually work for the intended audience yeah I mean everybody likes icons and I hate them I like my interface designer on the template he's like wow I created an icon for everyone ten points am i okay great I'm glad you did that but now remove them all like I don't need another nine things to try to recall mmm because I'm not like I'm not gonna remember him and I just want the word and so we do use some icons in the app but when we use the icon there's always the word the label mm-hmm and one of the fixes that we are currently trying to get I'm trying to get the programmers to do is like there's a way to filter data in the app hmm and in the new version and the new interface design but it doesn't say filter and so when I go through the prototype I'm like how am i filtering it they're like well you use these icons at the top I'm like well I tried to use that icon and I couldn't figure out how to create a memory using it they're like well it's a filter and I'm like well that's all great but at the time I was trying to use it I was trying to create something and so if it's a filter then you need to tell me it's a filter it's you can't just assume things you know one day it may it may be clear to me and one day it may not be I was trying to save something in the app and for some reason I was exiting out of the the memory I don't remember how I was but I was so frustrated and they're like well what are you doing I'm like I don't know I'm just I'm just I'm being done and I was using the back button on the phone so instead of clicking the save mmm the back button just canceled the memory and like it didn't like if there's a button that says save but I couldn't I couldn't grasp that I had to hit the Save button and so we ended up changing the flow of how the app works so if you use the back button it asks you do you want to save do you want to cancel or do you want to just get rid of this memory and you know it's it's feedback like that from our beta testers that are helping us make this better I posted I think that's first of all it's an awesome awesome product awesome mission sorry to hear this story but I think it's great that you're saying hey I'd rather than you know and I'm sure that there were some of what rather than wallow in self-pity or what was me let's see now how I can help myself how I can help the caregiver how I can help other people in a situation and let's say I'm going to use my experience as a way to help other people so I think that's a very admirable thing to do so as we kind of now walk towards a wrap-up towards the end of the podcast I always ask a couple questions and you may or may not remember if we don't remember we talked before but also maybe even a more surprise than everybody else but I'll ask you up now anyway so the first question I always ask is what was the worst business decision you ever made I so I'm on LinkedIn and I'm connected to a bunch of overseas developers and so a couple times I try using Indian companies and overseas and it just it was like throwing money on the ground and lighting it on fire so that was the worst business decision and I did it not only once I did twice cuz because you know maybe the first time's a fluke and so if I was to do if I needed to do that differently mmm now I would use a third party contracting site more like upwork upwork.com and and that way there's some guarantees right if they don't deliver you get your money back and so so that you know I now use up work for up work and 99 design for all of my either design work or programming if I was to outsource for like my website or something like that fortunately I've been able to onboard some interns that were connected to me by you know someone I had a nonprofit organization where I talked to them about what I was trying to do and those interns have really brought the product along we're still got some problems to solve like security when we go to the cloud but other than that we're moving along so at worst decision well not just just outsourcing in general without using a platform that provides guarantees yeah ok so that you know do that again I would do a different I mean that's something certainly to learn from and I think that that's it's a good thing to know for people because oftentimes you look at outsourcing and it can be a good you know good Avenue can save money can decrease and do it on a shoestring budget or on you know those type of things but it is good to know they hate not all platforms are created equal or not all you know all people you reach out to are gonna do the same job and so I think that's a good lesson learned so ok then the second question I always ask is if you're to say somebody that was wants to be an entrepreneur just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them so when you think about your idea and you figure out who your target market is go out and talk to them like and not people that know you people who are friends and family are going to be predisposed to encourage you if you go talk to it like I talk to random people have brain injuries you know I'm a Facebook group several Facebook groups with people which my brain injury and you know I posted a poll on Facebook the other day about some interface design and 150 people responded and that they you know loved the idea and look forward to it and 30 of those joined my beta test group so you got to find the P people who are going to buy your service hmm and see if if they agree with what you think and be open to what they say because they may help you adjust what you're going to do to be more successful and I was if I dovetail into that ask him a failed pre buy it mm like however much you know like I want a dollar you know will you give me a dollar to reserve your spot hmm right and if people will start giving you a dollar then to reserve a spot then you probably have something no I think that's always a good question especially and it's not asking necessarily friends or family because friends and family ask him to give you a dollar they're probably give you a dollar just cuz they want they don't want to hurt your feelings but I think that when you're saying hey you know when you're talking to a stranger and you you know tell them an idea it always is very insightful when you you know you say now would you pay will you pay for this now or will you reserve it or will you do it because we're building it and if they say if they hesitate or they hone up they say okay we need to do some different maple we're not you know hitting on the market and by its first they say oh yeah I would love that happy to reserve it I think you know I'm happy to do a pre-sale then it says okay there really is a demand in the marketplace so I think that's the great thing both to one is to get out and to talk with people so I think you almost had to two points one get out to talk with people get their feedback figure out whether whether they want how they can use it if it's useful in the marketplace and then to ask for money you're asked for them to see if they'll actually pay for it and both of them are very insightful so I think those are both great points so as we wrap up and always what plenty of these are wish we could talk on more but as we wrap up people want to you know whether they have the caregiver whether they're gods with traumatic brain injuries whether they have I think you mentioned also Alzheimer and dementia and other cognitive health issues or if they want to donate to your cause because I think it's a great cause which I think it is what would be or they want to invest in your company because I think it's a great investment what would be the best way to reach out connect with you and get linked up so the best way is to go to our website we to link calm and we have that's we the number two link comrade ya w e the number two link2sd I will come to us and we do have the way to pre-purchase on the website we're kind of working through the redesigning it because it's kind of clunky right now but but that is that is how the best way to get ahold of us and and if you have a problem pre-purchasing on the website if you send us an email through the forum we can work that out with you all right and I think that if I when I looked at your website went through there's also place that if you want to donate either to pre-purchase or just support the cause so you can also go there so definitely invite everybody to go go to the website and that's again just for Wii so w/e the number two link comm and whether it's to use a product we beta testers support them donate or anything else so thank you for coming on the podcast it was a fun episode to go through it was a very interesting journey and applaud you for the work you're doing thanks again for coming on for those of you that want to be a guest on the inventive journey feel free to go to inventive journey guess calm and apply to be on the podcast we'd love to hear your journey and if you're a listener make sure to subscribe so you can get reminders to get this episode in future episodes and certainly if you need any help those patents or trademarks feel free to reach out just amiloride pline are always here to help thanks again Michael it was fun to have you on it was a great great to talk to you and wish you the best with we - link and I think it will be a raving success and they decide to hear the next phase of your journey alright thanks Devon have a good day you [Music] English (auto-generated)

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