Subject Matter Expert

Subject Matter Expert

Garret Grajek

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


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Subject Matter Expert

SME. Are you an SME in the field? Are you a Subject Matter Expert. If you're not, partner with someone, or get a bunch of advisors who are. 

You have to answer, as an innovator, you have to answer, every call has to be, "Why the heck do you exist?" And if you can't answer that, please don't start a company.

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

sme are you an sme in the field are you a subject matter expert and if you're not partner with someone or get a bunch of advisors who are you have to answer as an innovator you gotta answer every call has got to be why the heck do you resist and if you can't answer that please don't start a company [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another uh another episode of the inventive journey and i am your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups to seven and eight figure companies as well as the ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today on the inventive journey we've got another great guest garrett and grotchek or grudjak or if i say right or close enough close enough garrett grayjack great jack there we go and uh so garrett has worked for some bigger companies with ibm and cisco and but he's also kind of jumped back and forth between startup and big business and startup and big business and uh right now he's in more of the startup phase and so he's made some uh build some big good companies work for some big companies and has a great story to tell so welcome on to the podcast garrett thanks for the opportunity love it so i gave a bit of your intro but maybe if you want to walk us through a bit of your journey and you know kind of where you're at today but then take those couple steps backwards so we can hear about the journey led up to where you're at today and we'll uh we'll hear from there fantastic um started as a programmer really important for the rest of the story programming is the basis of my inventions i'm gonna i'm i create it security software so i should know how it actually is created and what the effort it is okay as a programmer i eventually uh popped around into big companies like you said places like ibm and and other places like that and texas instruments but my real career started when um after doing a startup coming to california but he had it was going to do a startup and i did some linux programming for them that failed and it's good to fail you know that i know right because you learn a lot that failed i had very little to do with the failure i had a lot to do just the programming the product work but i was taking it on as an essie a sales engineer and my opinion to the invented world out there there is no better position for a startup guy than to be an essie because you touch all aspects you touch the technical you touch the sails you touch the corporate and most importantly you are the purpose the person representing the product and getting customer feedback from yes just just for those that may or may not be familiar because i've heard the term a lot and yet i probably couldn't explain it very well so what does a sales engineer do or you know you mentioned they touch a lot and i've worked with some but i don't know what all the what all that they do or what the background is on that in the it software world it's always a batman and robin that's what it is it is there's a sales guy and everyone knows what the sales guy is he's got the price list he's doing the dinners at the luncheons in the you know pre-covid world right and he's closing the deal following the thing but the actual product the actual product sale understanding that hold it this is the requirement this is the future requirement these are the credit the present products being used or services being used by the enterprise and the sc the sales engineer is to represent the functionality and characteristics and deployability of his product therefore he's the person that says you have requirement a i have product b we have a match or he's the person who also should get off the call and tell the sales guy and say listen this is he's not we can go through the process we can fill out that 100 page rfi we can put all our cycles we don't have a chance in heck of winning this deal that's the sc's role and he's in he's comped for the sales and he in the old days did the installs which i did and that was very helpful now a lot of companies divide up the installs from the sc and the sc is more of a powerpoint sc which i don't think is very good all right so you did i see it may be jumping back just a little bit yeah sd but so you mentioned you graduated got the the software engineer or software or computer science i i never always get the team yeah fixed up there seems similar in my mind at least um but what so what was the first job so did you start out because you kind of jump back yeah i i did a graduated ut in in computer science that was back in 86 did the programming for 10 years a lot of contract program in there became an se for some key security it security companies the first being rsa security that was a fantastic company to start off it is and got my brain working authentication and identity which i then became you know a uh a an expert on that subject identity in i.t so you did that when i uh first such as netegrity yes yeah netegrity which is the first sso company single sign-on company um and then ibm and then cisco before beginning the real journey right that's your that's your standard job someone's giving you a paycheck what about the startups that's when what i did and this is what i highly recommend people use their brains to do as an fc i did two technologies which i combined then into one into a company called secure off i did a two factor company and that was rsa security and i did a single sign-on company that was netegrity and secure auth now we're talking 2005 i combined the two products and that my dear inventors in the world is really what inventing is it's taking one idea and another idea and putting them together so i i created the first shrink wrap single sign-on two-factor product called secure off and that's i ran that thing technically for nine years so question on that so because you started out at the bigger businesses and you worked there you said for about nine years is that right um i did ten years of programming and then all those uh sc jobs was about another eight years yeah okay so you did that for i guess i know you know 17 years plus yeah and you know so then you went over to the startup realm so how did you make what was the the trigger what made you decide okay i've been doing this for a good period of time you know working as an se working for other companies and what made you do what made what was the trigger of jumping between the startup and small businesses which is what you you know you indicated that's what you've you've done or done there several times and so when to start with the big business when to jump into the small business in our industry this it industry there's always laughs there's always layoffs and me i was the head of the technical resource at this company and the vp of sales at the company that laid us off and and i had already been talking to this individual about combining products from my past and how the current products be done and that's happening at every airport and every lunch table right now the sales guy and the seo are talking about if you had a company what would you create and the only difference is we did we just we decided to take the idea take the conversation and turn it into a a a company now he he the the partner did the the the uh the the legal paperwork and i got to it about creating the product with a lot of interesting overseas help first because it was on a budget um see so that partially answers my question but i'll hammer on you just yeah go for it so you you did that but what was that what was the truth you know what was the tipping point or what was the aggregation of points well the typical the tipping point was they lay off right and to be honest i had made some money in in done some investment and the idea of just going to get another job and then going through the standard you know things oh we had a good quarter we love you oh the company's not doing good your division's going you know not is going to be cut that kind of stuff just became annoying and i'm hearing that a lot right now from people who are you know either i just had two phone calls this morning people thinking garrett i think there's going to be cuts in my division that's going on across the board and i simply simply it was a desire to control my own destiny i swear that was it you know if i make a bad product or i i you know you know can't make a call or i can't answer a customer's question then it's on me right but i i i have to admit do go back to big companies as you said i i will do it do startups and then i'll go to a big company um maybe for a mental pause but also what i really do in them is understand what is being done and what is being missed because you watch my career i went back to big companies and i learned a lot i mean you know these companies are in business for a reason they're not doing everything wrong there are they are answering the needs of customers in a usually a large way but there's usually things that are fringes that will become the major that aren't being handled and can't be addressed by a larger company so so no and i think that that's very insightful so you did that so you went from the big company you say lay you know lay off round of layoffs and then you agree that you know every business and you know you work at any place long enough there's going to be the ups and downs and so you did that and you said okay you know what i want to be my own boss i want to do my own thing i want to be able to set my own direction and you did that you did did the startup combined in the couple two-factor authentication so what was the so after you did that how long did you do that for did that for nine years did that for nine years and that was probably the uh the most largest span of growth for me personally business-wise and just intellectually that was a fantastic experience because it went through some serious ups and downs i mean we had no money and i was doing anything to get the product built and to get the word out and that made me extremely efficient in both aspects one there is amazing talent around the world locally and around the world to get a product done and two that was just literally in two thousand five six seven that was just when people were starting to get their handles on how powerful avenues such as linkedin and lesser uh facebook more twitter and webinars could be to start start a business i really feel the social media platforms of linkedin and webinars put products at a much smaller products at a much more even keel than a larger products before that i mean how do you get the meeting with the ceo well i know how you do it you you do a webinar that says straight out to the bob who i call them the bob the guy who was told to garrett his job is to get sharepoint right get on the iphone right i'm not kidding was that everything that was something that that i was able to do my single sign-on product back in 2008 right and that got me on the map i i sent out a webinar invite on sunday i meant to send it on monday and i accidentally sent it on sunday right and i've got immediately 67 people on that webinar on a sunday night you know you know west coast time maybe you know 7 p.m okay so voila then and and then i'm guaranteeing we can get people geared but those aren't the buyers no they're not but those are the guys who walk into the next room and say i got it solved you asked me to get sharepoint on your on your iphone i got itself here's the product let's give them a try and that put me on even keel with the big guys that i had a product that was doing something different and i was able to solve their problems and that's that's what's really fun to learn that that is this and that avenue is this that i can talk directly to the people the influencers in the count the people who actually have to live this so and now it's just jumping for it and i think that's yeah rightful and as we kind of now keep walking through your journey so you you started the the single sight on two-factor authentication company and you know i think when you talked a little bit before the podcast and talked to you a little bit more you know you you mentioned that you know one of the i don't know mistakes and one of the things you did was you took on you know several rounds of financing and at some point you know as the financing firm came in they almost took over the company and removed management so how did that go or give that a little bit of insight is because i think that's you know insightful is to yeah you know this is something if you would have asked me in 2014 i would have been very hard to speak and not be cut off or muted right because i was angry that was like how could you dare me do it but guys here's the deal we we took on a lot of people's moneys we took a lot of funding right in a lot of rounds right and in their minds even though we had grown the company we hadn't executed there wasn't an exit on on the parameter okay and not i'm not going to take blame for that because that was not really my role in that in that company but that is the bottom line is is you know we weren't giving dividends we weren't giving any things and even though we were growing a company they were looking for an exit so after many rounds the investors had enough leverage to say okay that's great it's great product we got we gotta get exit out of it and that's exactly what happened is that the the um i i literally my bad for not being in those meetings and not maybe arguing more with my partner to say hey we're being a little tone-deaf here you know the investors really want an exit and you know and and yes you know and and and that that that i was i was focused on the product i was focused on the the ses i was focused on the deployments that was my world and also the channel so the the the bottom line is that the investors did have uh loser patients and one or an exit and then did a management switch so so on that and you know in hindsight's always 20 20 or whatever you want to use so if you could go back and do it again would you would you still take on the investor dollars oh yes you know and in doing that you know would you would you change it meaning you know was it are you happy that the exit occurred or that you got you know change of management that led you to the next thing or would you say hey what we wish we would have done is you know we could have taken less investor dollars and kept more of the equity or we could have made sure that we align our you know align our goals with what the management or what the investors want such that we would have you know stayed in alignment and done that or would there be any changes or would you do the exact same or whatever no no you're having as i mean hindsight 2020 can't fault humans we all try to make the best decision we can at the time but looking back at the data there was no question we should have signed up some bankers about about in the uh we about the sixth year i know others who don't know the details would say garrett you should have lined up the bankers in the third and fourth right classically yes but our first two years were so ludicrously non-progress i mean literally like three four customers after two years amazing they stuck in but i was a lot younger okay um but by by the sixth year which on a normally funded company would have been should be seen as the second to third year of a company right i mean we you know we had nice revenues we had a really great reputation as the product that can do anything in a single sign on two-factor world and the competitors were still catching up i think right then if we would have said hey what we should have done is an adult decision and said okay because i already have people talking to me now the adult decision should have been to keep up with the market which there was a competitor came out um that he was doing wonderfully was really executing you know in gangbusters called octa okta and they had built a cloud version of the product i created and it was really damn good right and we should have you know seen that and said hold it you know what we should do we should either take on the funding to compete and live in this world with you know what differentiates i don't believe you should ever build me two products or should said hey let's let's you know do an exit we've got a lot of nice accounts that companies would like to buy us for and and do it that way that would be the decision to sit and that would have been about really in about the fifth sixth year yes that's what i would then okay no that certainly makes sense so so now you need to do that and keep moving forward along and journey so you do that and then you you know that one the management comes in they change the you know the investors come in and change management you decide you know that make that exit type of a thing so then what was next on your journey after that you know and then i i tried i was uh i did not compete which i honored and and maybe i should have because i had some nice offers to go in companies that were like that but i i honored the uh non-compete you know and i didn't want to i had equity in a company and i you know when it did sell i did you know make some money off of that um so i did uh some good school thing work i ran a consulting company a chinese-based consulting company and that was really good experience for me to help me understand some of the some of the talent that i hadn't brought in to secure off namely outsource and tell it so when my non-compete was up like 18 months or whatever i did put my resumes out to the open market and a very interesting opportunity locally came up it was a ai based company that um had killed it companies called silence had killed it in a world i wasn't familiar with which was uh malware basically the uh the concept of the agent you put on your desktop you know the old you know antivirus but they've done it in a much much more nifty cool modern way using ai to identify patterns in the executable and they had made more money than any other company in the history of i.t let me quantify that and they had got to 100 million dollars in revenue faster than any other i.t security company in the history so they there was crazy times this is uh you're talking 2017 and they were just throwing ideas at the wall what can we do with ai and god bless them right because here you are you were the fastest i.t security company because you used aai okay what else can we do with ai so i was hired in the incubation team to come up with an identity product and i did i came up with something that i really believe in i mean it was it was a really cool product i said hey what we can do with ai instead of identifying on the on the laptop and identifying malware we can identify when the user is not the user and that's what i did for the next three and a half years of my life okay that was going back to you know a major company and was really good helped me understand the concept of ai then tell me what it took to build tell taught me things that you know i i didn't necessarily have to argue with the company i was working for is that was a very much a homegrown ai company but i also did my research and outside and saw that wow there are companies that if you hand them a data lake a set of data they can help you with the algorithms so once again kind of like when i want to secure off and then left and then work for uh heading a chinese outsourcing company i said man i can start using more outsourcing to help me build this stuff faster right when i left silence i was doing comparisons and understands that man if you want to do an ai product you can you know hire all your data scientists internally but that's kind of silly that's like building your own highway because it's that that stuff's available you just need to uh you need to be this is getting wonky about ai but in ai you need to be able to collect massive amount of data relevant to what you're trying to solve don't worry about the algorithms those will be written and that's what i learned there okay so now if we maybe jump forward just a little bit to kind of now where you're at today maybe to provide just a little bit of insight you know started out there going back and forth a bit and fourth you know had some success jump back and forth between you know industry and startups so now where does that lead you to uh to today yeah you know what's really funny is uh you know i i'm sure there's someone who's better speaker to me it gives you the you know uh uh necessity is the mother of all inventions something like that right so that i that i get the sounds gets brought up by blackberry there's a reorg blah blah blah it's all good rock and roll give me a nice severance and i'm like okay but it's also march 2020 and then we'll go down to history what we all happen in march 2020 right covet i mean no company is going god you know what we need we need an identity guy to help us build a product right and so i just said hold it i got a nephew with an idea working with a consultant in the in the um um identity audit space let me take everyone's brain and explain the identity audit you all use an identity product you probably use an octa or something like that single sign-on to get into an enterprise what you don't know that's going on is all these companies if they're regulated if they're the ffirc for your banks ncua for your credit unions for your healthcare you got hipaa hi pba if you got your publicly traded you got sox compliance all of those access rules of the users in those companies have to go through an identity audit either annually simulantly or quarterly depending on the compliance and that process is manual so when i looked at what the nephew had and what i was working on i was like yeah i can really run with this taking what i've known taking the outsourced talent that i was able to accumulate right and the knowledge of of that we have to do is execute execute quickly on a a small area and that we can get our word out we can get our word out early and differentiate ourselves through social media and that's what we're doing right now we're being very lean on spending we've got a couple of isrs working on linkedin got some amazing webinars that i'm already doing and getting the message out and made some real key partnerships that's where i'm at today all right so now and i think that that brings us forward to today so now as you know there's always more things i want to talk through than we ever have time to so as we kind of reach towards the end of the podcast then i'll maybe i'll jump to my you know the the two questions always ask in the end and i think you know as we talk through your journey so you know one of them maybe we touched on just a little bit you know if you're to look at you know going from startup to big business startup to big business and now to where you're at today again with startup what would be the worst business decision you ever made you know i i i don't know if i come across that way or not and maybe chicago accent i have people think i could be negative i just can't ever let my brain work that way you know seriously i mean i don't think any inventor should ever think that way what was the worst decision i mean i they're there but i don't even want to go down that alley i i can there's there's decisions as you respectfully and asked that way right is there's decisions i would have done differently was it the worst no because well then all right as a good all good attorneys do i rephrase the question okay what would be the ones decision if you could go back and change that you would change um would it change was my um eq during the startup process of secure auth and that sounds and that's you're not going to hear many people say that and because i don't even know what that really means so this is the emotional quotient i was very intense i was very hard on everyone including myself but about that but other people get it so i probably well i know i did rob people the wrong way in the really early part in the first four years or so and that made it difficult to mend after that it started growing bigger so it's it's it's kind of like well it is we want to win we're good guys we're intelligent and we're all intelligent in the business that's the things we know the the difference between intelligence between one company and up here is just microns um but we gotta remember that we're dealing with humans and humans have memories okay so we're gonna if i summarize that it's you know you'd have realized or been more intentional about the eq which is emotional quotient or how you deal with people yeah the interpersonal so so now if i jump to the second question which is you know if you did talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup and just getting going what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them sme are you an sme in the field are you a subject matter expert and if you're not partner with someone or get a bunch of advisors who are you have to answer as an innovator you gotta answer every call has got to be why the heck do you exist and if you can't answer that please don't start a company that's it be the expert you should have a reason you know a reason the author whatever that is a french a reason to be your reason to be is x i have no problem answering you a test the cost of implementation of an audit identity-based audit is too expensive and i can do this in the cloud and have done it cheaper than anyone else for the for the license and the deployment you as the innovator have to be the sme and should i don't care how rifle how how my optic that similar point is that should be your reason to be all right fair enough so obvious so if i would take the two things is one is make sure to check your eq and then the other is you know making sure your subject matter experts are perfect so yeah all right so people that are wanting to find out more about your product connect up with you invest in your company do anything any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you um linkedin is great first of all the garrett greyjack as someone told me 10 years ago garrett don't make fun of your name it's great there's only one garrett greyjack in the world i was like that's a good point okay and you a test the company is you a test y-o-u-a-t-t-e-s-t for your audit uh and compliance purposes all done in the cloud okay perfect well i certainly invite everybody to check out to or check out your test um support it check it out if you want to be employed there get a job there invest in there connect with the connected there or anything else make sure to check it out and i appreciate coming on the podcast it's been a pleasure to hear your journey always always plenty of fun things to talk about that we never have time but appreciate you coming on and for those of you that are wanting to be a guest on the inventive journey and tell your journey you can make sure to go to and for those of you that want to make sure to get notifications as you listen to this episode and all the others make sure to subscribe and lastly if you're needing any help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law garrett again thank you for coming on it's been a pleasure and it's been fun to hear your journey and wish you the next leg of your journey all the best all the best thank you was it was very enjoyable English (auto-generated) 29:34 NOW PLAYING "GET A COACH OR MENTOR" THE INVENTIVE JOURNEY PO

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