Pick Your Mentors

Pick Your Mentors

Pick Your Mentors 


Deepankar Katyal

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs



Pick Your Mentors

Pick your mentors they are very helpful. One thing that I was fascinated by when I moved to the US was that people are always available to help all you have to do is ask. Don't feel shy, don't feel that you are cool reaching out to a random person and they will ignore you. People talk and like to help, and pay it forward. One of the biggest things I learned from my mentors when I went back to them and said hey, thank you for helping me out. What can I do for you now that I sold my company? They told me three words that have stuck with me, pay it forward.


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 mentors they're very very helpful uh one one thing that i was fascinated with when i moved to the us is that people are always available to help always available to help all you got to do is ask don't feel shy don't feel that you know you're cold reaching out to a random person and and he'll ignore you people talk people like to help and pay it forward uh one of the biggest things that i learned from my mentors when when i went back to them and said hey thank you for helping me out and what can i do for you uh now that i sold my company can i gonna make you hold in the process they told me three words which have have stuck with me which is paid forward and that's what i tried [Music] hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller sarah the serial entrepreneur that's grown several businesses in the seven and eight figure companies as well as a founder and ceo miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with me and always happy to chat now today we have a uh great another great guest on the podcast deep katyal close enough i told him i was gonna mess up the name and i did my best but to give you a bit of a introduction to deep so um graduated from college in software engineering while he was in school he did some internships i think it was for samsung um and then moved to korea um came up with the business swipe that was uh became interested moved back to seattle worked on swipe swipe got acquired and was looking to start something new decided on the new business was to do a bit of i think keyword data and voice data to determine what to advertise to people did that for a shorter period of time left there went to a bigger company you know an ad an ad in marketing company and then ventured back out on his own and or i guess a little bit of consulting for qualcomm and also some other things but ventured back out on zone is doing his own thing and that's kind of where uh brings us to where we're at today and with that much as an introduction welcome on to the podcast thank you devin pleasure to be here so i'll give you i gave a the 30-second real quick brief run-through of your journey which never does it justice so why don't we go back in time tell us a little bit about uh college graduating software engineer and how your journey got going yeah yeah absolutely happy to uh i grew up in india and uh went to school there did my engineering over there and i've always been sort of since i was super young had been interested in computer software so so engineering was a natural path for me to understand what was what was going on and while i was in school i interned for uh microsoft and ibm and at microsoft i led a community developer community essentially called uh microsoft developer program helped students get uh free access to software's free access to education in microsoft technologies and that was really really fun um at ibm i worked on an autonomous computing project which was way out of its time back in the day it was trying to fix problems before they exist but it got me more and more excited about how people were thinking about software at that point in time and because this was 20 2007 there was still that weird craze of what a smartphone is apple hadn't really come up with the iphone then but i i was very interested in how mobiles could change fundamentally the way people work so i ended up joining samsung electronics in south korea to sort of help with that effort uh worked on developing a linux based smartphone on a platform called migo back in the day these days it's called tizen um and then eventually when when android came out we decided to merge those two together take the best of each platforms and and now it is the samsung default platform um while i was at samsung i met a few of the founders of actually the company swipe which is a keyboard on android phones that you you instead of typing you move your fingers across to form a pattern and input data that way and that motivated me to move to seattle which was uh quite fascinating because uh i had no plans uh of essentially moving countries uh but i just ended up here i still remember november 22 2010 it was a very cold day it had snowed and had never been in the snow before so for me so did you like the just as a complete aside with snow you know there's once the novelty of snow wear off do you like snow now or do you hate it i love snow but that day was a bad experience because i decided to walk given that i had no idea how the city worked and because it was my first day and i was 25 i was trying to make a good impression so i was dressed up in a suit and formal juice it was definitely one of those experiences uh ironically enough uh when i did reach the office after hurting my feet i got to know that no one was there because everyone was working from home so it snowed you walked in the snow anyway you got drenched and soaked and then you got to the office and you had to go back home pretty much pretty much welcome to snow so we are we actually just it's snowing outside now as i look out the window so i'm in utah so we're starting to it's been a slow winter but we're starting it's now i love snow other than i don't like to drive in it and i don't like to shovel it but otherwise it's a great thing oh it is a beautiful thing absolutely so you so you decided okay you know backing up just one question so you're working with samsung you know that's certainly a big company world-renowned has a lot of products you know get it work on what sounded like some cool technology there so what made you kind of decide hey i'm going to switch from samsung i'm going to go work as swipe which is a lesser known you know more of a startup and i'm going to change that into my career field was that hey i don't you know i want to work for i want to do something different i'm ready for a change i want to move to the states and this is my opportunity is it hey i just want to try something different kind of what was that what made or prompted that change in the in the career that's a great question that's a brilliant question so for that let me back up a little and and and tell you what swipe actually was supposed to do so everyone knows swipe as this wonderful keyboard that changed the way people talk about keyboards but that was not what swipe was designed to do it was designed to help people who are paraplegic who can't move their hands and legs who can't communicate with computers by putting a silver dot on top of their forehead and then having a camera track the head moment to create a pattern so that they can communicate with the device and of course this technology was developed free iphones pre-capacitive touch and and and smartphones didn't really exist to have swipe on that when the iphone came out a light bulb just went in our heads that made us move that technology to a smartphone but the reason why i got interested in swipe was because it was doing so much to help the world oh cool so and so you got interested in swiping you said hey this is a cool technology can have impact for the better and i decided okay while samsung's been a great experience i want to do something different i want to go work on technology that's exciting cool and has that positive impact is that about right absolutely so now you you make that jump you go to the seattle you get or bear the snow for a while you work for swipe um you know how did and then i think you made a transition to another startup that was more kind of keyword data voice data so what you know kind of what prompted that transition and how did that work so not a transition swipe was acquired by a company called nuance communications uh and newman's has been in in the field of uh voice recognition technologies dragon dictation and also keyboard technologies so ironically the funny thing is cliff fishler who actually invented the original t9 dictionary sold it to nuance retired came back started swipe and sold it back to nuance at nuance a couple of us were pulled aside to work on innovative new projects so we were there was an innovation team of sorts that was created between the previous ceo of swipe mike mccherry uh senator wallace superman who was the head of product and myself and we started this division with two products which was a using keyboard data voice data input to understand user behavior for precise ad targeting and the second product was using conversational uh communication between an ad unit to give people a more personalized ad experience an example would be if you're looking at a car ad on your phone or your desktop you just look at a car and then you click on it but instead of that you could talk to it and say what's your mileage what's what would be my potential apr could you book me an appointment hmm and that got me interested in advertising uh overall because before that i didn't really care much about advertising once i got there that's when i moved made that move to a company called opera mediaworks because i was so interested in advertising so no and i think that makes sense so kind of you swipe got acquired you worked on that and say no this is interesting technology and it's out of south but then even with regards to advertising and more specifically said oh this is an interesting industry find it fun and so now i'm going to make that switch and kind of more focus on advertising marketing company and go get that experience because there's that's where your interest lies so you made that transition now that was a bigger if i remember when we talked about bigger advertising or bigger marketing company that you switched over to yes it was uh the third largest fourth largest i would say advertising company back in 2014 when i joined it uh facebook snapchat google and uh it was trying to change the way that people thought about advertising automating it so while i was there we acquired around 11 companies that we brought together and i led the global product for 10 out of those 11 companies to to sort of bring everything together bring up the revenue from x to 6x or 7x which is when i i realized how inefficient the whole advertising ecosystem was and i wanted to fix it but i didn't have the resources internally to fix it so i decided to take a break i took around two months off and architected things in my head and then i bootstrapped a company called evangelist that focused on making advertising technology completely 100 automated instead of the manual efforts bootstrapped the company from zero to uh around million and a half to million dollars a month in revenue in two years uh and then merged with the public company to to bring it to uh greater heights and that's where i am right now uh as the ceo of the advanced list division of the public company mobiquity so now one question kind of dive into that just a bit so you you grew that you bootstrapped group for two years on your own what was the decision what was the motivation for merging with the other company and kind of doing that and this and i'll give you a couple scenarios some people are saying hey i just want to keep this as my own i want to be able to grow my own thing capture my own destiny i don't want to merge other times you're saying hey in order to be able to dominate in the market or to have the resources i can't do it on my own and so this is a great opportunity other time saying hey we got awesome technology you got awesome technology we can make something even better so kind of give us an idea what was the motivation for kind of making that merger that you know change in the ownership structure that's a brilliant question so i think it was more the third option that you mentioned awesome technology awesome technology so this company mobiquity technologies was a client of ours one of our or many clients that was using our platform to essentially cater to their advertising needs and what this company did pre-merger is they dealt in data so they kind of understood people's movement patterns across cities states different locations malls and whatnot and understood their behavioral uh patterns based on that their shopping behavior their living behavior and whatnot and that's that's the piece that we missed we had built an execution technology uh that would get data signals make ai-based decisions and execute on something but we did not have the core data we always bought data from other sources to make this happen so it was it was a manage made in heaven that said okay we have the execution technology you have the data makes sense to bring it together and and offer it as a unified product rather than all over the place no and i think that you know that's always interest and that's a little bit and completely different you know journey but kind of the same thing the one of the first come the real first company i started was while i was doing mba school without boarding all details started as a business competition bought out my partners crewed into an actual company alongside when i was doing my full-time legal career was doing this as a second full-time career or second full-time business but grew that and then we had an opportunity to basically license a lot of the technology to what was in a different industry but technology matched up really well with what they're doing and made the decision hey we if we were to license to them you know partner with them so to speak that would uh increase what we could do with the technology you know significantly so i certainly get you know making that decision um so now as you made that decision and when or when did you when did the merger take place or when did you make that uh or change uh december 2018. so two years after after formulating the laundry so so you've been doing that now for a couple years two or three years with the merger doing that has it been a good deal and you know good good queer path would you make the decision again would you say hey i wish i would have stayed independent or kind of what looking back now you know how is that how is those last or sensor merger how's that played out for you it has been great actually uh it has been really really good i would absolutely do it again um it it brought people to the table that i could learn a lot from which was incredible based on their years and years of experience i had never been exposed to the public market so this was a great learning opportunity for me on on how public company versus private company works how vc funding as opposed to public funding works and the combination of the product has has certainly created value so you know it's as we say in software it's never one plus one is equal to two when you're merging two software companies together if one and one make five or ten or twenty it it uh makes all the more sense for it so it definitely has been amazing and the fact that we we couldn't get a ton of resources without raising funding when we were independent given that it was bootstrapped it has also helped scale things faster with the availability of certain resources no and i think and that sounds like it was a great decision it's one it's fun you know it can either work out well and it can work out terrible right some mergers you just you don't you know the technology doesn't match people don't mash you know everything else another time just saying hey this is really fun i can work with a lot of like really exciting people it can build the company and it's probably a lot of my same experience when we've done with the other company that did some licensing with it's been a great experience so now as you're looking kind of towards the future saying the next six to 12 months where does that look like for you where do you think you're headed and kind of how does that play out so i've always been interested in in how to help the world right which is the whole reason why i was telling you i joined swipe in the first place the fact that it became a software company was a different story altogether so i'm i'm in the process of exploring certain uh products in the medical field that kind of help bring the costs down quite a bit and and right now i'm not in a position to share uh internal details and then what the company is all about but it is the field of medicine it's uh with one singular goal how to bring the costs down that people eventually pay out of their own pockets and and it's in the field of uh figuring out how sterilization processes would work how perioperative procedures would work and how equipment tracking would work at a very optimal level uh i'm always doing some other things on the side so one of the things that i do right now is i consult with a chip manufacturing company uh helping them sort of understand uh what's next from a software perspective five to ten years down the line strategize for it oh cool well it sounds like a lot of can't always provide all the details but a lot of exciting things a lot of fun things that are in the future and coming up and maybe once that gets a little bit farther down the road and we can uh you can share a bit more details we'll have to have you back on and discuss that a bit more yeah yeah i'd love that so now so as we kind of bring the the journey up until today and even looking a bit in the future the good transition is to now ask the two questions i always ask at the end of the podcast so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was your worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it um [Laughter] everyone makes weird decisions i think the worst decision that i made as part of evangelist uh was not raising money and it was a very calculated decision because unfortunately uh as as fun as raising money sounds it is a full-time job so my my options are very clear either i run the company or i raise money and i choose to run the company instead of raising money but i believe raising money could have uh spearheaded us faster we could have uh gotten more market traction faster and and maybe it would have been a bigger enterprise um i don't regret it uh would i do it again possibly not i'll possibly go raise money the next time yeah you know that one's always a hard one and you know to raise money to not raise money in the sense that you know if you if you don't raise money sometimes it the company never gets anywhere you don't ever you know doesn't take off it doesn't perform or you never get off the ground and yet sometimes you'll say oh but if i raise money now i've got a bit more of handcuffs i'm not the only i don't get it you know you have other people that are involved in the business making the decisions driving it and so it is always kind of that hard decision to make and sometimes you look back and say i made the right one i kept it all to myself another time to say no i should have taken on the money it would have had a bigger impact so definitely get that or making how that decision is made and you know and looking back on it yep now now the second question i'd ask is so if you're now talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them pick your mentors they're very very helpful uh one one thing that i was fascinated with when i moved to the us is that people are always available to help always available to help all you got to do is ask don't feel shy don't feel that you know you're you're cold reaching out to a random person and he'll ignore you people talk people like to help and pay it forward uh one of the biggest things that i learned from my mentors when when i went back to them and said hey thank you for helping me out and what can i do for you uh now that i sold my company can i you know make you hold in the process they told me three words which have have stuck with me which is paid forward and that's what i try to do no i think that that you know mentors can one thing i didn't appreciate as much you know earlier on was that mentors can have a big impact on business in the sense that you can one leverage things or leverage knowledge that you don't have personally and or expertise to sometimes if nothing else you know there is a lot of up and downs with you know doing your startup doing a small business and doing those type of things and the mentors can sometimes just be there to lend an error let you know that you're not alone that they've been through it too and everybody has those ups and downs and so i think that you know a lot of friends getting a mentor certainly has that benefit well as we wrap up if people want to find out now more about you your business they want to be an investor they want to be a customer they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out connect up to your find out more email uh very easy my email is deep dep at my last name uh k-a-t-y-a-l dot m-e so feel free to reach out i'm always here all right well i definitely encourage everybody to reach out connect up with deep and find out more and uh be certainly uh keep an eye on him so now as we wrap up thank you for coming on the podcast for all of you that are listeners um if you want to be a guest on the podcast and you have your own journey to tell feel free to go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show if you're a listener also make sure to click subscribe so you get notifications as all of our awesome episodes come out as well as leave us a review so new people can find us last but not least if you ever need help with patents or trademarks for your startup or small business reach out to us at miller i p law by just going to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help thank you again deep it's been fun it's been a pleasure to have you on and uh wish you the next legend journey even better than the last thank you devin it's been a pleasure appreciate your time you

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