Solve An Actual Problem

Solve An Actual Problem

Travis Jungroth

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


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Find A Real Problem

“Find a real problem. Find a real problem and start making something that solves even some portion of it, but it is one thing! just find a real problem. You can tell its a real problem because people are willing to pay for it, and people are paying to try to solve it already, that sort of thing.”

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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find a real problem it's the real find a real problem and start making something that solves even some portion of it but if there's one thing it's just find a real problem you know you can tell it's a real problem because people are willing to pay for it people are paying to try to solve it already that sort of thing [Music] [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i am your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur as well as the founder and managing partner miller ip law um i will uh be walking through today another great journey of uh another uh guest on the podcast travis and i'll give you a quick introduction but he'll do a much better introduction than i can ever give um so travis uh was a sales engineer for a period of time at uh rainforest qa and was in san francisco when doing uh different uh crowd testing and left that and had a good journey and now he has um been doing writing some code working with accelerators traveling on mobile and all sorts of interesting things going on um so he will uh by far give a much better intro than that but welcome to the podcast travis yeah thanks happy to be here so i gave a short intro let's uh have you start to beginning of your journey and tell you a little or give everybody a little bit more of an introduction to yourself and kind of where you came from and where you're at yeah sort of step 0 where i like to start is before all this i was a pilot i owned a a small flight school that was my first serial like serious entrepreneurial thing that i did uh after that i decided i want to be a software engineer so i've been kind of jumping already and i know you can barely get talking on your journey so you go from a pilot which you know that's an exciting and at least it sounds exciting i've never actually piloted if i've been in airplanes uh but you go from a pilot to you know to doing software engineering coding um how did you make what caused that transition because they both seem to be fairly different or distinct or there isn't a lot of commonality so how did you make that jump or decide to go from being a pilot and doing a flight school to going over to coding yeah they are pretty different um i like them both so i was flying for a living mostly teaching uh teaching people from scratch i was also doing some aerobatics i would teach people how to do a loop and a spin uh that that sort of stuff and one of my students actually yeah let's debate i mean i have i have some friends who are serious serious here at aerobatic pilot so i don't like to act like i'm in that crowd one of my students was on his first solo and he went off the runway uh in my airplane and crashed is is a strong word um he was fine the airplane wasn't so fine just like a dented up wing and um flight's a little bit tough it's a tough business and i figured that i'd rather um be a software engineer for a living uh and fly for a hobby versus what i was doing at the time was it was the opposite flying for a living and just offer for a hobby okay so you decided basically so did you have coding experience i assume at that point that you're saying okay you do in flight school but you've also done some coding really enjoy it know that you like it did that kind of start out as a hobby or how did you decide i liked coding better you know and i wanted to do flight school as a hobby yeah that was it i i can't remember exactly what it was but just seemed sort of fun uh picked up a book actually started in php um so i was always making websites i made websites for small businesses for a while um restaurants gyms that sort of thing and then i kind of messed around for almost a year there's a little time in between these i don't talk about too much where i was i was like managing this bag factory uh to make bags for the medical industry um and also went back i worked as a waiter a little bit and i was working uh as a cocktailer at a bar which is a good job when i was learning a coat because i could work like a six hour shift or something from like 4 p.m to 10 p.m and then before and after i was coding less even then kind of left my job and studied full time for a few months switch over to python and i just like full time with studying and interviewing and then ended up at a company in san francisco okay so you started started programming decided i'm not going to do flight school anymore started coding started working did you jump right into your own startup or did you work for and i think you said did you work for a company for a while and you know what was that transition how did you decide going to a big company to doing your own startup what was that kind of part of the journey yeah there's there's a lot in between because i uh worked worked the company's called house canary and i decided that i wanted to get more experience i mean i've been doing kind of my own thing up to this point but i wanted to get some like real company experience and house canary was cool they're still going i when i started there was like 25 people now i think it's around 200 or something they've grown a good amount it's a great place to have that first job after that i worked for coinbase for a bit just to change it up and was working there right during the boom of everything and you know i've been searching for what the right thing for me was for a long time uh after coinbase i was doing algorithmic trading full-time so i just write python scripts that would uh trade cryptocurrency and that went well and that's when i really started traveling a lot of that time i was in uh columbia and i went went to thailand at that same time and so after that uh i realized that i didn't really like doing that because it was kind of cool and offered a huge amount of independence was it fun to go see the world no the traveling's good the work i didn't like it's very lonely work and i really should have gotten more people kind of involved i think i was worried about throwing other people's money into the crypto market or if i take on another partner what if they just kind of run off with the code which is more of a concern with algorithmic trading versus like hiring someone for a startup because the code's kind of everything so i decided i want to push it up again and work at a job where i spent all my time talking to people and so that's where the sales engineer thing came from like look i've done a little sales and some other jobs and also you know owning my own business their sales and that but it seemed easier to break in as a as a sales engineer versus you know like an account executive cold emailing people that was that was the last thing i wanted to do that's how i ended up at rainforest okay so you decided hey i'm gonna i want to be a people person which is basically the exact opposite of i want to be a coder that you know or a new cryptocurrency where i'm you know i always have the idea that you're locked in a room and you're doing a whole bunch of coding but you got to travel the world so at least that was fun but he decided i'm going to flip that i want to be more of a people person or have that human interaction and that touch so then you went over and you did the uh you went to sales engineer and then uh tell me you know so then when where did you go from there so he went to sales engineer and did that for a while then what happened or what was the next step in the journey yes i was at rainforest for about a year um and that's when i was doing a lot of traveling so half that time i was in mexico half in colombia and i guess the other half in europe yeah i'm like i'm kind of rounding things off it was like six months columbia only a month in europe um but mexico mexico was cool lots of diving in mexico and reinforced when i was there i've been there for like six months and they laid off two-thirds of the company i stuck around one of the only sales people that kind of kept around and i was like the last sales person for a long time the other two guys like bounced you know they got real sales jobs because they change things up so that's kind of a longer story it didn't work out at rainforest anymore there wasn't they were moving off of what i want to do which is real high touch sales like spending all of your time talking to people that kind of were pivoting the direction to accompany everything so in december i stopped working there uh because they asked me to and that works out well they didn't want you to so there you go yeah exactly they started actually and um just just a random thing it was that was like a week before christmas and then i got a dengue fever because i was hanging out in the jungles in mexico scuba diving so it's pretty rough uh and i had some time to do some introspection and what came out of that was uh that i wanted to to start a startup i had everything on the spreadsheet i went through like i think it was two weeks total and i kind of phased it out i had introspective periods i took personality tests i just and everything was in play i'm like do i want to go back to being a pilot do you want to be a software engineer do i want to be a magician full-time every like there's nothing off the table and uh starting to start up one so then i went to mexico city and i spent a few months taking around ideas simultaneously trying ideas seeing if i could find a co-founder figuring out more in detail what i wanted to do and this current idea was the best one that came out of that i'm pretty excited about it so maybe for everybody else that doesn't know what's the current idea or what did you land on yeah so it's uh managing data for tests in web applications it's a pretty niche thing but the reason i landed on that was actually one of the first things that i did but i wanted to try more ideas uh it was a huge problem when i worked at rainforest for prospects for people for current customers and the basic thing is how do you get how do you get your application ready for testing with the scenarios that you want and then after you do your testing which kind of leaves the database in a mess usually how do you reset it back and there's some tools out there most people are doing homegrown stuff they're writing their own scripts it's really hard to use or super expensive you know not something that you want you have your average qa engineer working with so far to maybe not amino dumb it down to people by level or make it into a more planar english version of it so managing data so and and by all means correct me if i'm wrong as far as i understand it when you run an application at least for some applications you're going to need to have data that you can run through and make sure that you put it through the paces make sure that it can handle the load that it acts correctly that you catch all the edge cases or cases that aren't the normal cases but may come up and so you're trying to do a lot of different things with data when you're testing it in order to make sure that you know that you break the application and testing and fix it rather than when it gets out in the field and customers are actually using it and then you have a much bigger bigger problem and so what you're doing if i if i maybe summarize the right you're helping the people to manage their data that you're used for all of that testing so that rather than having to write code that you know only catches some things or doesn't actually catch the edge cases of those things rather you're managing that data so that we can make sure that the the software gets adequately tested is that a fair summary yeah yeah that is and you know just out of it with data people think of it as this maybe big data and this fancy thing it can be something really simple so if you have a shopping website and let's say you have a qa engineer you want to manually test it before you send that new version of the of the code out well first of all you don't want to do it in your production environment because if you buy shoes well they're going to shoes are going to get you know sent to people so you need to do it in some sort of testing environment um and you know how do you have stuff in the inventory for the qa engineers to add maybe if you when you're done with all your tests all of your shopping carts are empty well it'll be nice to have shopping carts that are full uh so you can kind of run a test of what happens if there's 100 items in the shopping cart that's where i'm coming in so you can just use the application like normal no coding get it ready for testing uh do your whole testing run with your manual engineers or something like rainforest those are automated external testing services and then do your cleanup afterwards so now if i were to take that and so you just you landed on you went around in a few any other crazy ideas so you're trying to come up with the idea you landed on this one if you have any ones that you either or the crazy ideas that never would have worked or you got in or you i'm usually the opposite of i always have the ideas that i always want to revisit i still think they're great ideas but i never had the time to pursue but i always put that in my someday pile so is there any ones that are in your sunday pile or in the crazy idea pile that maybe someday you'll go back to oh yeah there's a pile of them a lot of it just didn't feel like the right time um one was using machine learning to figure out the behaviors between different sales development representatives to figure out what actually makes um what makes them successful or not what are the difference makers and then ultimately that was going to extrapolate to all employees so like what are the differences between a good employee a bad employee or if you change things and something i just couldn't get into it i worked on it for about a month and i found it technically interesting but i just couldn't really get into it and i felt like maybe it's not a serious enough problem and that was in like february and then by march i had been talking to a bunch of sales development representatives and then all of them on linkedin were like like many str's i've lost my job um so i kind of dodged a bullet on that one because i was going to sell them to market that just got wiped out using junior engineers to write tests uh for code again it's kind of a testing theme another one was auto generation of code so you just put in some basic stuff like the test so very um very code-based you know what changed things a lot was i have a friend who's a really good mobile developer we're kind of talking about doing stuff together i was going to come back to the us for two weeks and visit a bunch of my friends who run different small businesses wineries um like cannabis growers uh pilots also and because i wanted to go into some really underserved market like that and that was scheduled for like march 15th and like this because there was no way i was going to do my genius tour of the western united states in the middle of the lockdown so i kind of ended up with what i knew okay no that makes perfect sense so these are after all those crazy ideas and i like the idea i actually think the one idea was cool that hey you can figure out what makes a good sales person and what they do differently and how they close sales i still think that's a good one you should come back to that or or somebody else will come back to it at some point i'm sure um but now you just you landed on what you're doing today you decided okay i'm gonna manage basically you know all of the data that's used for quality assurance and for testing and whatnot you can get that startup going and how has it gone so how has it been since you've got that going you're working on it launched it minimal viable product you know i think that when we talked before he kind of did a quick minimally viable product that was last month but maybe what you know how is that gone for you or where are you at today and what's uh the next steps yeah what i have out right now um at highly is is really a free you could say mvp almost a prototype and it does a very basic thing which is just database snapshotting so it can like freeze the database and sort of unfreeze it now i'm working on the next uh the next big features which i'm trying to figure out is it's looking like that's going to be data multiplication so you put you put one thing in manually you know like one shoes in the in the shopping cart um and you're like well i actually want that to be 100 or one user account and then you want it to be 100 user accounts so that's working on what i'm working on i'm going to be kind of laying low and just talking to customers and doing development maybe for about the next six months i think i'm gonna go back to mexico to maybe oaxaca um it's real cheap down there a lot cheaper than trying to go back to san francisco or something no i think yeah i kind of there's not a whole lot of places more expensive in the world than san francisco so by that standard if you put that as anything else looks cheap to compare to that other than maybe like new york or tokyo or somewhere of that nature um yeah did that so you know so if that's the plan and you're gonna say okay kind of got my minimally viable product or at least the first kind of pro beta product launch you're going to work on that so are you doing is it this full-time devotion is it a side hustle how do you you know how do you support yourself when you go down to mexico and party or you work you do the coding in the meantime you know how do you kind of balance those things as you're trying to get the product up and going and launch yeah i'm on it uh full time and that's that's really important to me i've tried to do stuff before like side hustle or part time and things like that and that worked great for some people i'm a pretty all-or-nothing kind of kind of person um so even when i went to school i didn't do that great in school but then after when everyone else went to high school i did emt school i did pilot school um and i killed in those because it would just be like three weeks and that all i needed to do was be an emt and that was great i can't do the like class you know math class english afterwards stuff like that so yeah long answer i'm on it full time and it's a lot of fun uh you know supporting myself i have some cash save up and i just keep the spend real low so i'm in carmel right now and i'm staying with family uh i've raised them a little bit of money like friends and family around looking to do more probably in in july okay so then one question i thought was interesting we talked or talked through a little bit just slightly switching gears um before the show we talked a little bit about um you know how did you so it seems like i would have absolutely and i'm not at all well-versed in this state but you know how to go and find those customers or how to say hey here are the people that are wanting to do that you know use that or use the data to have data management in order to make sure you test it how did you go about finding those or finding those clients or you know how what's that process been to try and find those people that it is a pain point for those people that are looking for your service well the good thing is i was pretty immersed in that world so i was able to to reach out to people right away uh so i started with old co-workers um from rainforest so people who knew you know they knew the qa space really well um and you know some people from alaskan area that i that i worked with people that i had tool to at rainforest and then kind of second degree out from there you know got referrals who else you know who else might be interested in it that sort of thing and then i've had pretty good luck like cold emailing on whatever on linkedin and then i've even randomly hit people up on on reddit and i just i really believe it's so important to talk to a lot of users talk to users frequently make sure that you're doing the right thing it's so important if you can't do that um you shouldn't start the startup that you're thinking about because it's like if you can't even get anyone to talk to how are you going to sell this thing how do you know what to make the right thing so you got to fix one of those things either make something different or figure out a way to talk to some people no i think that's you you if you're getting it into a startup you have to either have someone on the team or if you're doing it on your own be able to figure out where you know be willing to approach people and and to reach out and get outside your comfort zone because a lot of a startup is figuring out who your customer is talking with potential customers getting the first ones on board and even if you're you know the most geeky or you know nerdy engineer and i'd say that because that's more of what i am you still have to get outside your bubble in the sense you have to find those people that aren't going to be your clients or they want to they're going that are your clients and be able to sign them up so i think that's a good good thought so now we've kind of reached as we get towards the towards the end of the podcast and we i always hit on two questions towards the end of the the podcast so maybe we'll jump to those now so the the first question i always ask is what was the worst business decision you ever made um i think the the worst one was after um after my airplane was crashed i didn't um i didn't just try to fix that airplane again i tried to get like uh that one was totaled and then i bought it back and then i resold it and rather than just fix it i tried to get this like kind of bigger fancier airplane and i had someone who said he would loan me the money to buy um the bigger fancier airplane uh and then i put a deposit on like the new airplane and then after that he wanted a whole bunch more details and then it was suddenly all conditional you know he wanted the whole business plan versus said oh yeah i'll lend you the money so you know i end up losing money on the deposit and that kind of accelerated some of the problems with the flight school and the the sort of short version of that is counting it as having money in the bank before before i really did now i just i don't think of the money existing at all until in my bank account no and that reminds me of almost kind of on the the law side and working with clients and you know we always work with a lot of startups and small businesses and we do free strategy sessions where we'll talk with them and you get a lot of people that are excited and say yeah we like to get going and some of them do so i mean and not saying all against the clients but then you'll get some that say they'll want to get started but never do and so i've always kind of similarly come to point hey once there's actually invoices paid money in the bank or they i count them as a client until then there's kind of still a potential client that love to help it you know until the money's in the bank it's a much different scenario as far as how you proceed versus when you have down the bank you're able to proceed forward so i think that's both a good lesson learned and i think it's one that has a lot of value so if we then jump to the second question i always hit on which is now if you're talking to somebody that was either just getting started in a startup or small business or wanting to get started what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them find a real problem it's the real find a real problem and start making something that solves even some portion of it but if there's one thing it's just find a real problem you know you can tell it's a real problem because people are willing to pay for it people are paying to try to solve it already that sort of thing um and that's just one of those one of those mistakes that you make so early in the life of your company and it's so avoidable so i think that's why it's like kind of the most important advice keep in mind it is amazing how many startups get made for problems that no one really has you could have the world's best mousetrap and if nobody has any mice problem it's not going to do you any good yeah it doesn't matter and you can you can figure that out ahead of time like so that's that's what's so almost like frustrating about it is this it's an avoidable issue like you could just go out and do some like surveys and chats or whatever version whatever to figure out like wait is this mouse thing like does anyone even really care uh you can do that very early but with very little money very little time don't leave it for a year or two down the road um no i i that's great advice so well great well i think those are two uh two lessons learned one is that hey you know if uh don't count your chickens before the hatch or don't plan on money before it's in the bank account and two is i ain't finding a real problem and i i think that that one sometimes you know i always had the problem on that one if you get you can almost start to drink your own fluid right and you think that you got a great idea that's really cool and exciting and from a technical aspect and solving the problem figuring out making something there's a lot of fun things there and yet it's almost always better to step back and say but will people actually buy this well they actually want it not just because it's a cool technology because i'm doing it much better than someone but as they're actually solving a problem which i think is not cool technology is not always something that people will buy just because it's cool has to solve that problem so i think that that's great advice so so for people that were wanting to reach out to you that want to get connected up want to use your product wanting to find out more or otherwise get in touch with you what's the best way to reach out uh email's great travis at um i'm also on i don't know most social media as travis jungrotz uh j-u-n-g-r-o-t-h i'm the only one so if you see a travis young rock that's me you're the only one in the world that has that that combination of names huh well that's a pretty that's a pretty bold statement now now i'm gonna have to go and google somebody and see if i can find a second one go look for them it's a it's a family name it's it's we're you know came over to america and i don't maybe a travis has been born since i last checked all right well oh but i have to take that as a challenge but i appreciate you coming on the podcast it's been fun to talk about your journey and how things are going um sounds like got plenty of things to go on in the future look maybe we'll have to catch up the next time when you're in mexico and see how things continue to go um in the meantime good luck with your journey um for those of you that are uh in your own journey and want to come on into the podcast and tell your story um feel free to apply to be a guest at the en or and for those of you that are enjoying the podcast feel free to subscribe either on youtube or on any of the podcast platforms we'd love to have you subscriber and so you can get updates on the new episodes and for those of you that are looking for a patent and trademark attorney um we're happy to help you at miller ip law we love to help startups and small businesses so thanks again travis for coming on it's been a pleasure it's been fun to talk through your journey hear how things are going and look forward to the error to the next step of your journey thanks evan it's been a blast all right until the next time English (auto-generated)

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