Know Your Business

Know Your Business

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Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


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Know Your Business

Know Your Business. Any kind of business that you want to do, you MUST know the business. You must know the customer. Otherwise, don't start the company, like, just looking at Twitter and saying "Oh, ok, that company has raised that much, I can do that!"

Definitely know your market, know your technology, and know your business. That is definitely what I would advise to 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.

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your business so don't like especially any kind of business what you want to do you must know the business you must know the customer otherwise don't start the company like just looking through twitter or whatever so okay that company has raised that much i can do that like this kind of stuff but definitely know your market know your technology and know your business so that is definitely what i would like to do hey everyone this is devin miller here with the another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that started several uh seven and eight figure uh startups as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks um today we have another great guest on the podcast and it's sooner hachi or as close as i can get to pronouncing it right and sooner started in germany worked on some cmos technology for a period of time worked on different technologies and smart buildings and smart smart homes and smart companies and then has transitioned over to what he is doing now and he'll talk a little bit more about that um so welcome on to the podcast thank you very much devin for having me it's great pleasure to be here well love to have you on so i gave this a very brief and high level introduction but maybe let's just if you can walk us through a bit of your journey and kind of or where you started out with and what the journey is to get you to where you're at today sure definitely so like i studied computer science but to be honest like i didn't like it too much then then i said i should be on the business side and and as you said i started my professional life and professional career and and see in building technologies located in germany uh and i was all like for the last 12 years i was only involved in smart buildings energy management technologies and anything that has to do with buildings and at that time i was basically responsible for uh emerging markets like business development new market entries and entering new markets uh growing the team over there and then of course building up these strategic partnerships in different countries from brazil into china and then moving to turkey and mana region and also including like other countries that are around europe and uh but at the time like we were like selling really expensive uh building technologies in in different like for uh shopping malls to office buildings to airports or whatever so uh but the problem that we saw actually at that time uh like we were selling those smart systems but after a couple of months everyone was starting especially on the customer side we were starting to complain like okay the system is not really efficient and we have problems and it is not smart and we cannot control it right and it is overcooling overheating and this kind of stuff uh at that time i was really explaining trying to explain actually uh like the those technologies are as smart as the people that are using it so at the end of today they don't have like it's an isolated systems like the engineers are programming it and they are mostly uh like calculated before life starts in those buildings but as soon as life started in those buildings those systems were running disconnected from the real life and all dependent on human input and that was the starting point because you know at that time you were i was trying to promise the executives uh to make like okay we can do it like a new innovation this kind of thing and like make it make it more adaptive but no one took care of it you know and then we we decided to okay spin off the company start before before we get into the spin-off let's talk about that for just a minute so you were you were working i think the company was named c-max is that right yes cement yes so you're working for uh c-max and they were a big german company they were they were in the smart building technology and so maybe if i summarize or understand you know you were in the smart building technology you were integrating all of that and yet the customers weren't happy with the product is that right or yes basically wasn't smart enough or it didn't do a good enough job for what it was touted to do so if i remember when we talked a little bit about it before you saying hey i'm going to start my own company you tried to start that out or start something or update that or work within the company or ad to see if you could solve the problem so to speak from within right meaning hey can we create a new division update the products do something so maybe tell a little bit before we jump over to your startup you know how did that go or how did you approach that within the bigger company in white you know why didn't that work yeah at that time like exactly like it was kind of like entrepreneurship so like not doing this spin-off but trying to do something inside the company and like speaking with executives or department managers and people that can make a decision so we were always because we are we were the one that were involved and speaking with the customers and being on site always on the field and at that time we were like saying okay look we were getting these responses and those are the customer feedbacks and why don't we create like an additional system that can work on top of it but you you know like the bigger the companies get it is like the processes takes too much time and too long time so and then they like and like these endless meetings like okay we should have a meeting let's do a meeting and then a meeting after a meeting and then a new meeting with another department and then the it department is going to involve this kind of stuff and then it starts this endless process of those meetings reports and this kind of stuff but nobody decides on something and uh and i tried like uh like close to one year so because that was really a problem and and we saw that that's really really a pain in the marble market as well but uh most of them what i see is like especially those big companies they are focused on like okay generating new projects generating new revenue and then uh moving to another customer going to another country and this kind of stuff they don't uh they don't want to stay say and to be like binding to the existing customer for too long time and i and therefore i think it was uh not like really um even there was a huge potential but they were not really interested and and so and actually we said okay that's not going to happen so one question so was it the the company because i think there are a lot of people that are probably in that hey i've got an idea hey i know if my company will approach it or pick it up i think that it would be helpful the company so you're trying to work within the company that you have it was that the company was not wasn't receptive to it wasn't listening or is it just a move too slowly for how for what you thought the market wanted so you know because there's kind of that difference hey the company is big and it just moves slowly but they're receptive and they're willing to implement it versus hey you know no they don't even want to listen they're not willing to they don't want to have that input they just want to do the way they've always done it kind of we know kind of which flavor did it give you yeah i think in our case like uh it was both like uh they were first not listening and they were saying that okay we have tons of other things to do so we don't have the resources even they have the resources but they don't want to deal with it and usually i think another problem was those ex except like those executives or like this higher they were like uh like 20 they're in in the same company for 25 years 30 years so they don't want to deal with a new thing or an a newcomer that like us okay like why don't i bother with those new things and i have like my stuff to do and and this kind of stuff and that was the biggest problem but of course like um uh they were not fast enough they were not like uh age old enough that is that that was there but the the bigger problem was they were not willing to do it they were not willing to change as well and and i think that was the biggest part where where they say that they okay we don't do it or that's not honest that's that's right now unnecessary we don't do it okay no so that makes perfect sense so as you as you come to that realization or say now it's not going to work within the company the confines of the company i'm at you know i but i feel there's an opportunity here how is that transition to going out on your own was it hey i'm going to start this as a side gig and i'm going to work you know what the company i'm at now or hey i've got enough savings i'm going to go all in on this or i went out and got investors or kind of how did you make that transition from you know from working to cmax to doing something on your own so in that case like i totally decided okay i will go full force on it so because otherwise i don't think that it will work like uh like working part-time especially if you are uh trying to do something that is somehow like a defect some kind of thing left like okay i can do an e-commerce on the side this kind of stuff but if you if you are willing to do uh this really like high-tech thing then you need to be there like full-time so in my case it was like okay i will i will just quit my job and i will be there full time and full force everything there and luckily i was also involved in with some um executives from other companies like energy utilities from austria this kind of slayer and i was speaking with them and one of them backed me up as well at that time so and then i said okay we should start and then uh it moves on so i did not do that go that route that okay which i can start uh part time i can work on the weekends and then try that will never happen so that is also what i always see as well especially in tech startups so uh either you go full everything on or you don't do it in the beginning so in my case it was okay i will do it because also i i was i i have been speaking like with over 100 people before i took that decision especially for like facilities manager engineers like other companies that had these problems and so on and with all those feedbacks that i get i said okay that's really a problem and i can really focus on that so short answer is you decided to go all in decided hey i'm going to quit my job start this new thing i think it's you know i've done my some of my market research i've talked with other people i think it's going to be a good go of it you know so as you made that jump you say okay i quit my job going to go all in um you know was that a smooth transition did from day one it started to work perfectly and you had customers out the door was it a slow build and ups and downs or how did they go how did that transition go from hey i've been working for a big company too hey i've got an idea i'm going to start my own thing oh okay it was never like that easy i hope i wish that it was like that but like it was really it's like having being responsible for your own company is really different and it's not like you can't say that okay i don't want to work today this kind of stuff but uh what we saw also is like uh especially if you are by your own your own like uh with the uh with the co-founder of course like who was the cto and uh in the beginning it was really difficult to convince people especially for potential b2b customers to work with us because they know today we are a really new company that has this is like not even one year old and uh in the first one off years it was really difficult then we also focused on on the r d and development and but after one and a half years it started to move on but the first time the first one year especially it was really difficult to uh to keep up with the market and then to do the researchers to convince people and this kind of stuff it was not easy so during that first year you know if it sounds like you're saying i think that's you know certainly a valid you know issue a lot of companies faces hey where's new companies new startup getting customers to trust us and to say hey we'll go with you we'll give you money we'll get we'll hire you it always takes some time and work and ability to get traction and it's always easier once you start getting customers to build on that because then you have a track record you can show the other work you've done for them so during that year that you're building and things are slow and they're difficult and trying to convince customers doing the r d you know what did you do for revenue is that you know living out for personal savings investment dollars maxing out the credit cards moving back in with your parents or any of your own but how did you you know how did you deal with the idea of i've got you know i've got to fund this company um while while we get to start to get that revenue building yeah so yeah like in that in the first year like let's say also like but in the first half here so definitely it was also personal savings and but also we were lucky that we were we started in europe so you know there are really uh fast track rent applications that you can do and especially if you are working on a technology that is focused on sustainability uh also like lean tech stuff so we also took those grants as well so in the first year so that really helped us uh to to have money in the account especially uh so the money that we are spending on r d research everything uh you spend and then you get you get that back from the government so that really helped as well especially i think i can easily say that that saved the first one up here so we we received a couple of brands for our research and then that is that that keeps us alive so if local government was friendly provided support and also grants and then it sounds like a little bit of savings as well kind of the combination of all of that so now as you now as you get the company been you know get start to get traction start to build it how did that transition go does it continue to go upwards is it gone downwards with covet is it continue to um to build things out do more r d or kind of what's that what's that transition been to kind of bring it up till today oh okay and after that like after our first customer that we that we signed after like that was close by the end of 2018 and then because of so we also see that our technology is really uh working on a way that they also would like to work so that was really a good fit for us and then i think everyone everything moved a little bit more faster because like the customer was really satisfied and they they promoted us to other customers they were they were these big holding companies they have a couple of other companies as well and then we jump from each one one to another and that really was uh like moving really fast and but also what we saw especially in during that phase is also like what uh it is something different that in your office that you are trying to go out but it's really different on the field and at that time for example we were thinking that okay we can only have a software solution that can solve the problem but we saw that it cannot be it's not solving the problem we need also the hardware so then we developed the hardware as well and then we said okay we have right now the hardware and the software but we didn't have for example at that time with controlling feature we were thinking that okay if you write like a real-time feedback reports then everyone will look at it everyone will take action according to those reports but we realize that nobody takes action so nobody looks at the reports nobody logs in they have excuses all the time and then we say that okay we should have these controlling features we should do a lot of it so that the system can more and less be an autonomous controlling system as well so that it can decide by itself and after having that feature that was uh the accelerating point in our pace so everyone was looking for it so that we are no one would like to depend on human anymore and that was the really big jump for us actually so that that also created like a a differentiation decay according to our competitors in the on the field as well so we were basically the only one company that were that was able to to offer the controlling future as well of the buildings and uh but fast forward so uh how it actually interestingly in the beginning of course uh it affected us because we were only targeting commercial buildings so we didn't do anything on the residential part we were always and only on the commercial side so and in the beginning obviously like everything was closed nobody was doing something some of the customers they they asked for for a couple of months and some of them they said they will just close because they don't have a business anymore and this kind of stuff but it's really interesting what happened uh during the last three months is uh everything changed all of a sudden because they see that they right now need more information from those buildings either they are preparing for re-openings uh they are they need to reduce their operational costs they need to maximize their operations and optimize use this kind of stuff so poet really showed them that they cannot rely on those traditional technologies or traditional industries that are human focused they need to move from uh these like manual uh traditional in industries and technologies into digital world so that is right now for example uh really like we are getting every day two or three calls from different companies even from outside the u.s like southeast asia pacific asia and we started a couple of projects and i think poet uh has shown those companies like either they are real estate companies construction companies or retail chains that they need to convert their buildings portfolio into digital assets and and they need to have that information anytime anywhere and instantly and that's helped us a lot to right now even right now we don't need to convince people they are just calling us and saying that we need that how we how can we do that well that's that's awesome that's certainly uh great progress and i it's great to hear that uh you guys have continued to have success i had seen continue to build for you so now as we kind of uh reached the the point in the podcast where i always asked two questions um so we'll jump to that now so the first question i always ask is so what was the worst business decision he ever made first business decision that we ever made was in the beginning uh having too many people as uh like hiring too many people they needed so that was the worst ever decision that we did and uh because in the beginning we were like even in the in the first year we had 10 people working for us that was too early like i think uh hiring too fast it was the biggest mistake that we did yeah and i think and that's i think a problem that a lot of their startups have you know either hi don't hire fast enough or you hire two best right you wait too long and then you start to have quality issues or you don't aren't able to fill orders and on the flip side if you hire too fast and you're having too high of a burden you're having too big of a burn and you're not and you have people that are sitting around or you're not able to keep yeah and that so i think that it's i mean it's always hard to find that sweet spot of where you hire just enough you have the right amount of staff you're not too understaffed you're not too overstaffed so i think that's a great point it's okay now the second question so if you're talking to someone that's just getting into startups or small businesses what would be the one one piece of advice you'd give them uh i definitely will the advice that i will be in all your business so don't like especially any kind of business what you want to do you must know the business you must know the customer otherwise don't start the company like just looking through twitter or whatever so okay that company has raised that much i can do that like this kind of stuff but definitely know your market know your technology and know your business so that is definitely what i would like to do okay awesome i think that's both a good lesson learned is as well as good good piece of advice was people whether they want to get to know more about your business reach out to you personally invest in you be a customer or get a job there or any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you and connect up with you sure like i am really like online on linkedin anytime so i am accepting any uh most of the requests like these kind of things but also they can reach out to me on email so i am mostly i am responding to any email and which is stoner at the top digital so both work so on linkedin or email happy to answer all right well i encourage people to reach out to you or get or get connected on linkedin or email or any of the above and certainly check out what you guys are doing well sooner thanks again for coming on the podcast it's been a pleasure and it's a great to hear your journey for any of you that are also have a great journey to tell and you'd love to be on the podcast feel free to go to and apply to be on the podcast if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe is uh so you can get a notification when this uh this episode and all the other episodes come out and uh lastly if you ever need help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law we're always happy to help sooner thanks again wish you the next leg of your journey even better better than the last thank you very much devon and it was always great to speaking with you and thank you for having me my pleasure [Music] English 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