Looking to start your own company but lacking startup experience? Then Remote Start Nation is the podcast for you! Join Jim Doyon as he speaks with successful entrepreneurs to learn how they turned their ideas into thriving startups. In this episode, Jim talks with Ian Garrett, CEO and... See show notes at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/e50-from-idea-to-thriving-startup-with-ian-garrett-ceo-and-founder-of-phalanx/#show-notes
Looking to start your own company but lacking startup experience? Then Remote Start Nation is the podcast for you! Join Jim Doyon as he speaks with successful entrepreneurs to learn how they turned their ideas into thriving startups. In this episode, Jim talks with Ian Garrett, CEO and co-founder of Phalanx, a company that provides visibility and security of digital file access. With a military and technical background, Ian shares his journey of becoming an entrepreneur and how he leveraged his experience to start his business. From choosing the right type of business to securing funding and partnering with the right team, Ian offers invaluable insights and advice for anyone looking to start their own business. Tune in to learn what to look for when choosing a mentor and take the first step towards making your startup dreams a reality!
Learn more about Ian Y. Garrett at:
Personal Blog: https://www.crowdfuel.co/
Learn more about Remote Start Podcast at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/episodes/
Jim: Remote Start Nation is not having startup experience holding you back from starting your own company. Do you have an idea but you don't know where to go to get it off the ground? I'm Jim Doyon, your host, and I wanna welcome you to another episode of Remote Start. On today's episode, we're gonna be talking with one entrepreneur, with a military and technical background and how he turned his knowledge and tech experience into a thriving startup.
Ian Garrett, CEO, and co-founder of Phalanx, which provides visibility and security of digital file access is going to be sharing with us his journey of becoming an entrepreneur. We're going to be discussing how he leverages experience to start his business. We're gonna dig into what type of business to start, how to get funding, partnering up and surrounding yourself with the right team, and we're gonna look into what to look for when you're choosing the mentor for you. With that said, Ian, I wanna welcome you to the Remote Start Nation.
Ian: Hey, thanks for having me. Really excited to share my story and honestly, it's been a wild riot since starting, so started from having no start of experience. No idea how to even get that first step, but learned a ton along the way. So yeah, excited to share.
Jim: I'm excited for it. Talking a little bit before the episode, you have a very interesting background and you've had a great career and I cannot wait to hear how you transition that into starting your own business. But before we do, tell me something about you that we wouldn't know if we just met.
Ian: Yeah. So one thing about me is growing up and still to this day I've always just liked making my own stuff. Just part of that is the learning process of like, how do you actually go from, you know, just raw materials into a product that we use every day or food like, so I love cooking, love, like, crafts and stuff, but the way that's actually shaking out now is actually in this form of hot sauce, âcause I also love spicy food. So I've consumed a lot of hot sauce, so I was like, right, well, you know, there's, committing a decent amount of my budget here to hot sauce hot, what if I can make it myself? So I've been learning that process all different styles, you know, like vinegar based or different peppers and it's been a pretty interesting experience, definitely would recommend if you like hot, spicy stuff to make your own, and yeah.
Jim: Is it hard to do?
Ian: It's not at all. So, there's different levels of it. So I would say the easiest would be like, just buy some dried peppers and you can turn that into a hot sauce within like 10 minutes, longer is I would take some fresh peppers and you can ferment those first, and then that's like creates a really rich flavor profile there. But yeah, I mean, if you just wanna dabble, it takes I would say like 10 minutes to get started.
Jim: That's pretty cool. All right, Remote Start Nation. Look for it coming on the shelf soon, Ian's hot sauce, Ian's world famous hot sauce, well thanks for sharing that with us. Tell so you have a, like I said, you have an interesting story. Tell the remote Start Nation, about your background with your career, how you got started, and we'll get into how that led to you starting your business, but let's go first just on the background.
Ian: Yeah. So I always thought I would be in just pretty much always in like corporate America in a very, just being a part of a big system, so like I've really tailored my early career to that. So, initially went to college actually at the United States Military Academy, which is West Point, studied computer science there, that was a lot of, a lot of fun, really, also really interesting experience, let, after I graduated, commissioned in the Army as an army cyber officer, so also was able to do a lot of really cool hands-on, cyber related computer rethinks in the army, and then after I left, went into a PhD program, also focused in cyber. So there's a theme here and artificial intelligence as well, so it's all really cool, the research side of things. And then also I had worked as a data scientists and software engineer, so that there was a lot of, you know, building towards, Hey, let me just use these great technical skills, you know, for a company, do some awesome stuff, but 2020 act and, you know, disrupted everything, and what I noticed was there was this massive spike in data breaches over 400% in 2020. And that was directly related to all of us, all of a sudden becoming remote workers, and more importantly the, in the lack of preparedness of companies, to have their entire workforce, remote. And me having the operational experience and the research ex experience of like what's on the cutting edge, it really, you know, culminated together to say like, there's something missing here. And what I believe that missing piece is actually humans. So there just wasn't enough, tools that were built for humans. Everything was kind of built with a control in mind and being like, let's push this down to the workforce. And then all of us are like, Hey, I got a job to do. I can't spend time. Like, I'm not getting paid for my security decisions, I'm getting paid to do my job. So we just do whatever's the most productive thing. So we wanted to solve.
Jim: And so you get this idea, what did you do next in, in starting the brand?
Ian: Yeah, so it, it was like, all right, here's this, you know, big idea. I just remember like specifically too, I was just woke up, mid 2020, looking at the news and then just like reading the news at my bed in the morning and just being like, you know what? I could solve this problem, you know, now's the time, I've always wanted to start my own company, like I mentioned earlier, I just always love creating stuff, and learning the process of creation. So I wanted to be like, how, like I always wanted to do it myself, and so I was like, now's the time, you know, the world's chaos anyway, and I can meet customers and investors from the comfort of my house, so why not? But that being said, you know, coming from the military, coming from, like my family has also been in the defense world, defense contracting. So it's like I really had no startup experience and not like any friends to, like, I didn't know if I had friends to ask in terms of everyone I knew was also part of big companies, so first thing was I was just like, all right, I'm gonna do this. Let me go find some people to ask about how to do this, fortunately, my wife actually had a friend who started a company about a year or so beforehand, and then she's was successfully raised venture capital was having an made company. And then, so I was like, okay, there's one I know, I know at least one person doing it. And then, so let me go ask some questions, and that was hugely helpful.
Jim: So step one, find somebody that had experience and ask them the questions, find out what they did to succeed, and so that's, you know, finding a mentor, right?
Ian: Yeah, yeah. So I mean that's, and part of that was actually one of the biggest things both at school and in the military they taught us was like always have a mentor and a career mentor or any kind of mentor to help you along the way, so, you know, taking that lesson learned into the entrepreneurship, it was like, all right, I don't, like, I'm never gonna know all the answers, but plenty of other people ahead of me have went through the challenges, or and if anything, find someone who knows how to do step one.
Jim: Right. So you find out step one, start asking questions and then where did it go from there?
Ian: Yeah, so, well, one of the first advice that she gave me was make sure you have co-founders and then also, you know, separately doing research. Found that, cause I knew that this kind of company, what we're building, we wanted to bring a new type of product to market, that wasn't, you know, just a iteration of something that just already existed, and because of that, I knew that that's gonna require a lot of upfront capital to be able to build and bring this into market, so I was like, all right. And I think the best way to go about this is raising venture capital. So that was step one, and then step two was like, all right, how do I do that, and between some research and advice, it was like, Hey, it's best to go about it with co-founders, trying to go at it alone is not impossible, but it's, there's a number of things that cause startups to fail and so you pretty much wanna mitigate against those risks and having co-founders heavily mitigates.
Jim: So you understand cyber, you understand tech, you understand where you want to take this business. What were some of the things you thought of going through the process of a co-founder? I mean, to say I need a co-founder is one thing, but to put yourself in the position to bring the right person in. What were some of the things that you looked at?
Ian: Yeah, so one of the biggest things that I was thinking about is like, all right, I'm gonna build a team. So one thing that wouldn't have been helpful is for me to grab a bunch of my cyber buddies and we try to start this company âcause we all have the same skillset. So it's not impossible to do it that way, but you're essentially starting at a disadvantage because, if everyone knows how to do the same thing, then also everyone's probably interested in doing the same thing. And, as we all knows entrepreneurs, there's like so many things to do and the more you can diversify, the better. So I looked at myself and said, okay, here. Strengths and here are my weaknesses, who can, who do I know that's experts in those other fields or is at least interested in becoming an expert in that field that isn't interested in doing what I'm good at, so that we can round out the team.
Jim: I love that, I think that's a great idea. And for me, I have a business partner and it's kind of the same, like we understand our strengths and weaknesses and to, to stay in that lane and be able to go forward with your strengths and rely on them. I think you can create something so much bigger than if you just try to do it yourself, unless you surround yourself with a team, they don't have to be a co-partner, right, but a team that can help you in that. So, alright, so you know who you wanna bring in, did you go and interview a bunch of people or did you find somebody right away?
Ian: Yeah, actually the process took, I would say about four months of me asking around. So yeah, I definitely actually did interview a number of people, across a lot of different fields, so that it was, it was a bit of a process and it, a lot of it was, some people were like, oh, this is like a really cool idea, but I don't know if, I'm the right person, or like, oh, I don't really know about this idea, you know, so and, but that's part of it too, in terms of investors when they're, why they wanna see co-founders is, you know, if you can't even convince someone to join you on your team, as in the co-founding and the founding team, like, how are you gonna convince customers and how are you gonna convince investors. So that was part of the initial challenge.
Jim: And so what were some of the other things in that, this initial phase that you were going through that, you know, the Remote Start Nation can learn from, obviously it sounds like you, it took you a little bit of time to find the right person, what are some of the other challenges that you were facing during this time?
Ian: Yeah. So I mean, one was just starting from having no community, again, or at least no startup or entrepreneur community, again, like it's one thing to say I always wanted to start a business, but like I didn't spend enough time being immersed in that community. Yeah, so, you know, it's really. So I kind of just like brute forced my way into it, But I definitely wouldn't recommend it that way cause it took a lot of like starting from zero to like, let me go talk to everyone I know immediately, but there's, you know, a lot of communities out there, I've actually started even the DC area, a little bit of a happy hour, networking events, because you know, it's like, there's a lot of people that have a lot of different challenge, and a lot to learn from. And also a lot of people that are, some people are trying to offload their business. Some people are just out there, you know, love to give mentorship. So that was the biggest challenge was having no community to start with.
Jim: So when you went into this community, and I think community's so important, and I love to see that you yourself in it, did you have a business plan already written out? Was it just an idea? Where were you at in this stage? So the Remote Start Nation can know, like you don't have to start with, you don't have to have everything figured out, right? Like part of joining the community is to bounce your idea off of like-minded individuals who might have that experience that you don't have yet.
Ian: Yeah, yeah. So I actually feel like I get this question a lot in terms of the business plan or what do I need to go out and buy business cards today, right. Answer is definitely no. So for us, I knew that we wanted to go business model wise, I knew we wanted to go after, you know, pretty much a known business model, like the SAAS model. So part of that was, what kind of business model works well with, you know, a product-based company that works, a software-based, product-based company that's also, attractive for venture capitalists, like what works in their, you know, in their ecosystem. So that led us that way. Obviously like pricing, everything else is all gonna be its own experiments later. But in terms of a very base, I was like, I know roughly how we're selling it, I know roughly what we're selling, and honestly, everything after that is gonna need experimentation, it's there's no way you'll be able to write a business plan and fully execute that business plan a hundred percent, like on, even if you were given a pre-built one for a pre-built, you know, type of company. So if you're doing a coffee shop and someone handed you the coffee shop business plan, you're still gonna need it modified after.
Jim: And business plans are meant to change, and that's they're meant to evolve. They're meant to, you know, adapt and change with where you're growing in business. And so I find, and even interviewing a lot of other entrepreneurs on this podcast, like I find that, you don't have to have, it's almost worse if you spend all this time putting together this huge, you know, business plan. It's better to have little steps of where you want to go to understand your ultimate goal, the value you wanna provide, and then figure out as you're building this, figure out how to get there. Do you agree with that?
Ian: Yeah, yeah, I mean, actually even more so than that, I remember having a business plan template that we were filling out just to, you know, have our thoughts on paper, and there were sections of it that I was like, I don't, like, I have no idea how to fill this out yet, and then, and we actually do like a annual kind of business plan update, and we're in the process of it now, and part of it's honestly just internally so that we can make sure that we're, you know, realigned. But also it's nice to see the differences of the year of how much things change. Yeah, and every year that goes by makes those components of that business plan easier and easier to fill out, which is definitely something that I just remember in the very beginning being like, I have no idea how to do this. And then a year later being like, oh, I can't do any, this is easy. And then a year after that, it's like, oh yeah. No, we were insane for writing that down.
Jim: I love it. So let's take a step back for a second and we'll continue in a minute of, you know, the journey and the steps. But tell the remote Start Nation about your business. What is Phalanx? What do you do?
Ian: Yeah. So what Phalanx and solving for is we're actually a central hub where organizations are able to manage and control access to their digital files across their entire organization. So what that really means is if you have like Google Drive and you have some files on your desktop, and you have stuff in Microsoft teams or you're using your email. All that is opportunity for that data to get lost. So biggest problem is that, you know, we understand and businesses understand who's accessing their database or other SAAS tools, âcause you know, all that logging in that you do, people understand, you know, who's badging into their buildings. But no one really has a good sense and especially not a centralized way to manage it for who's opening their files. So the best you can do is kind of the files that are on in the cloud, you can kind of get that information, but it's still hard to wrangle it, and then u usually the stuff on the desktops is, you're on your own. And so, especially if someone were to take a file so let's say to another location they're not supposed to be or someone stole it, you would have no idea that people are accessing the data. So we've built a way to centrally control and manage that, and then use the existing platforms that people are on. So instead of telling you to say, Hey, now you have to use the failings platform to manage your data, it's like, Hey, I'm on Google. I'm using Google, I'm on those 365, I'm using five Windows, Mac, whatever, and that was a key part that we felt was very important to let people be people and we'll bring the security to you.
Jim: Excellent. So through your software, I have a file in Google Drive. How does that work?
Ian: Yeah, so we actually are leveraging encryption. So we individually encrypt every document, and then we make the decryption and the access of that very easy. So, for example, let's say you had Google Drive or just on your desktop, we would come through, everything would be individually encrypted, so there's different keys for every file, so and what's cool about that is that it allows. Pretty much interface with that file in the same way you would normally.So there's other encryption styles, essentially encrypted larger areas. And when it does that, anything within that area is scrambled and accessible until you unlock all of it, so we're like, Hey, let's try to make that as small as possible to make decrease the, the burden while having that security. But what's cool about that is we also made it again easy. So if you would just double click a file, it would open up. So it's like from your side, Hey, it's easy, and we do, we have an authentication that happens similar to like you logging into like a website, so that way you know, that's where that's tracking that, who's logging into what, but from the actual interface with it, it's not like you have to open up a failing app or anything. Everything's at the file.
Jim: Cool, that's exciting. I and at the end of the episode, we'll ask where to find it and where people can connect with you to find out more about your business. We talked about having the idea and where you wanted to go, finding that co-partner, and then we talked about community. Let's go from there, was now the time that you wanted to try to go out and get funding, or was there a lot more to be done before that?
Ian: Yeah, so it's a hard answer, question, answer in terms of there's definitely not a, right answer to this, for us, we wanted to go pretty much immediately to start raising capital, again, cause we knew that there was a big upfront cost to be able to build a product that is this technical and be able to push it out. Especially âcause our, we were targeting enterprise, so any kind of B2B is longer sales cycle, higher requirements, it's not as easy to just like put it in someone's hand, and have them run off with it, especially in the security realm too, there's also a level of confidence that we needed to be able to provide to those organizations that they can trust us, so we went out immediately to go raise some capital, which again was something that is not necessarily super, wasn't super obvious for us on how to do that, what helped a lot actually, is we went through an accelerator, we went through the Techstars Accelerator in New York City, the one based outta New York City that is, that they have, they're worldwide actually, and we also applied to a Y combinator, we ended up getting accepted to Techstars before the end of the application of Yco, so we ended up, rescinding that, but those two I definitely would recommend, I know there's actually a lot out there right now, and there's a lot of different styles of how they go about. Asking for various things, but this one is they take some equity and they also do a separate investment, and some people complain about the amount of equity. I think ours was like 6% maybe, you can all find it online. But so, but we were, super early stage. It was, it was great for us, but honestly, the network there is, it's still an active network, we reach out to Techstars founders all the time, people are so friendly and able to willing and able to help you, but that's like that fast tracked to our ability to fundraise for sure. Because without that, I didn't, I didn't have a network of investors like, again, it goes back to the community, like if you meeting people first, then when you wanna go do something like this, then you actually have some people to talk to, like, I didn't know any venture capital, so I was like, I dunno who to talk to, but that again, fast tracked, all that helped us immensely, to be able to do that.
Jim: Community's so important and I'm glad you hit on that cause I was gonna circle back around and say Remote Star Nation again, it comes down to your community and you know, you hit on something that I wanna make sure we all understand, it's different for everyone, your community might not be the same, and it depends on what type of business you're starting, it depends on what you're looking to do, who you're looking to connect with. So you have to take the approach of doing the research to find out the best fit for what you're trying to do. And it sounds like you did that with Techstars.
Ian: Yeah, yeah, I mean they definitely helped us better, I guess refine our business for sure, going into it though, you definitely want to be a company that wants to be venture backed and it goes down that path, so wouldn't say like, if you are on the line between, maybe I should do services, maybe I should do a product, figure that out first for sure. Before you go down the accelerator or at least those kind of accelerator routes, there's other kind of accelerators out there, I think, for, like small business style in certain regions, and then they're all aimed and, you know, building the community in that region, definitely focus on those then, but yeah, de I would say like number one, honestly before even like incorporate, register, figure out what kind of business you wanna do because that determines on what kind of funding. You can go after and you want to go after, which will also determine the end of the end of your life cycle for that business, whether you have to exit in some way, whether it can be something that you can hand off to your children, it all really starts with what are you actually trying to build?
Jim: That is a great point, that is very good advice. Thank you for that. You came from a military background and you know, we've talked about the traditional, funding, but did you also have access to other, you know, types of grants or loans or anything like that that might help with, other ex-military individuals listening to the podcast?
Ian: Yeah, so and actually it's not even limited to ex-military or veterans, but there are a number of government grants out there and this, so I had a lot of experience with this, for one, just kind of growing up in the defense contractor world and then having worked at a defense contractor for a little bit, as well, but yeah, there's actually a number of both grants and contracts out there designed for small businesses, because it, you know, it could feel like a very daunting thing to go after it, and it kind of is, which is, unfortunate, but they, there's a couple different ways that the government is trying to be able to get in, you know, new inventors or small businesses to be able to operate as well. From a services standpoint, I'm not as, savvy on that process, but I do believe they're pretty much every large contractor has a requirement to have a certain number of small contractors that work with them is subcontractors. So there is a route that way for smaller business, but one they're more familiar with, it's called the ciber, the Small Business Innovation Research. Contract and grant, so there's every, not every department, but a lot of departments have this kind of c grant that's really designed for small businesses to be able to go after. So like, for example, the DD style, they'll have like, let's say the Department of the Army, I was in the Army, they're like, we need, you know, we need some innovative ideas on how to do some sort, let's say new radio. So they'll put out a topic there and then you could submit, usually a phase one, they'll give you like 150K for usually about like three months of period of performance, and usually the end result of that, it's just like a white paper, you know, study or like even a prototype or something like that, so it's very, accessible. So you don't have to have this massive lab, you don't have to have all these resources, it's like, hey, it's you with an idea and the government with a need, you can go after. I think NSF, has some grants that are even less, specific on their topic. It's like, Hey, anyone in artificial intelligence or anyone in materials design or whatever, if you have a great idea, pitch to us, and again, they'll to you some money, and then if they like it, then they'll transition to another phase and you know, you can really start in great business that way.
Jim: That's a good point. Let's go to the pitch process. So we've already talked about, the first three steps and that you went through and the community and the co-founder, what about the, you know, now you're really trying to get funding, did you get rejected a lot? What were some of the things that you went through the dos and the don'ts that you can share with the Remote Start Nation?
Ian: Yeah. So, I mean, definitely spoke to a lot of investors, and a lot of nos for sure, but what's great is that, with the kind of volume of being able to speak to a lot of people and a lot you actually learn for one, I would say the, at first it's investment money just seems like investment money, but like the more you talk to different types of money within that, you actually start to notice what people are looking for, and it also goes back to their business plans, right? So like a venture capital firm is a business that has to run like a business. So they have their own goals and they can only, or, so they, they need to have a certain, you know, ROI to what they're investing in, so something, is potentially like a two x return just isn't high enough with the amount of risk that they're putting in, and the, you know, the amount of other companies that potentially are failing, within their portfolio, whereas like, private equity, two x return, sure we can do something else with that, or like an annual investor, which is, you know, using their own personal money, they potentially also would be kind of fine. With two x, who knows? But it, at the end of the day, they're investing in one off, like here, one here, one there. It could just be, they could have no real rhyme or reason behind it, they're like, Hey, I just like you, I met you, here's some cash kind of thing, some of them are more formalized or like, I only invest in, you know, cyber security companies at this kind of stage, at this kind of blah, blah, blah. And that's closer to more of like a venture firm. But some angels operate like, and then the venture firms also will have what they call their thesis, which is more of, more or less what they're looking for in a company, and again, they'll have different stages that they invest in, so not every venture capital firm is good for you at your current stage. So definitely one thing that I would recommend is not to, not talking to the biggest, baddest firm, you know that, let's say they only invest, that the smallest check that they write is 10 million and you're looking to raise, you know, million dollars, like, that's just never gonna happen, and you're was, you know, you're wasting their time and they're wasting your time, like, you know, both ways, it's like this, it's just not gonna be, beneficial for anyone.
Jim: So again, a lot of what we've covered today there, there's a common theme and it's to do your research and understand your business and where you want to go before you jump into things, right?
Ian: Yeah, yeah. So definitely, a lot, a little planning goes a long way, and that includes even just starting the business. The biggest thing that, we learned and we didn't do, which is beat us, you know, we got beat up over it a lot was, we didn't fully understand the customer profile enough going into it. So, you know, it's like, I like, and this is the, probably, the biggest issue is because I had so much experience in the field, but I knew what the market was missing, but I didn't know what the market's tolerance for purchasing was, so there, and that was a huge gap, right? So it's like people, what people are trying to buy. And what the market needs are, like two separate things, and then so it, it took us some extra time to take what the market needs and shape it into something that looks like what people are willing to buy.
Jim: That's a good call, let's go back to the mentor and, you know, community as well, but you know, what did you look, in a mentor, what did you look for, even in the community that you saw was really helpful, that you want to make sure that we take away from this?
Ian: Yeah, so I mean, definitely goes back to knowing what are you trying to do, instead of just kind of going out there and just, just saying like, Hey, let me just see what happens, because it, you get what you ask for and when you don't ask for anything, you get whatever is around. So that go, that directly goes in church community and your mentors too. So if you're just like, I'm looking for a business mentor, you know, you might get some great people, but you know, they'll, if their experience and their mentorship. Let's say they're all, they've sold a bunch of tech startups and, but like what you're trying to do is a service based small business, like they're gonna have a lot of advice about running, starting, growing, selling a tech startup, but that wouldn't necessarily be the right advice for you as a someone who's trying to do, let's say, a brick and mortar small business, it's gonna be, they're gonna have a lot of ideas that are just not gonna be relevant or be good for you, so that's definitely the first thing is just to go out and figure out what you're gonna do and then find the people like that. And then for mentors, I would say find some across the spectrum in terms of stages. So almost like the, venture capital advice of make sure, you know, don't shoot too far in advance, make sure it's kind of like where you're at now, right? And maybe a couple that are in the next steps and just, you know, keep updated, mentors wise, like definitely find one that's, and then, which is helpful for us, one that had just been in our shoes recently, like in the last year or so, because they're gonna have very tactical advice and very hands. Advice that is gonna be very actionable. So like they, you know, maybe they don't know about the end state, but they know exactly how to do set one when you're at zero, they know how to do one and two. And then, you know, having that actionable advice is great, and then also have someone on the other end too, who's at Step a hundred who can tell you,because they can't tell you step one and two cause they don't, you know, it's been so long, listen, 20 years ago, right? But one step, one and two looks way different 20 years later for two, it's, they're, I'm sure they don't keep that in their mind, so but they know how to do step a hundred and they can tell you, this is how you drive your visions towards a hundred.
Jim: So look at somebody that can give you that high level overview of how to achieve success. And then look for somebody that can give you actionable steps that are very close to where you're currently at.
Ian: Yeah, a hundred percent.
Jim: You know, one thing, and this kind of goes back to, you know, finding the right partner, it's one thing and I imagine from like your stance of having that technical background, having that cyber background and understanding, and it goes back to what you said earlier with it wouldn't make sense for you to bring on other, employees or a co-partner that was doing the same thing as you when it came to, reaching out and marketing and, and really getting the product out there. Did you, is that where you brought in the right partner to do that for you or did you reach out to a company? How did that look?
Ian: Yeah, so, I mean, we started, anticipated the need for some sort of non-technical help, front, just because of, again, myself, I was like, I don't really have that, like I have the deep technical knowledge, and I have a lot of like, Program management knowledge as well from done that as well. But I didn't have like, marketing, sales knowledge. And neither had that much, desire to do a lot of that, obviously, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do, but, if I could find someone who is passionate about it, or at least like is willing to jump on that, you know, I was very interested in that so early on, you know, we, and all just the three of co-founders, we started it together, and we pretty much went into it knowing what our different lanes were, based off of our skillset. So there actually wasn't a lot of conflict in terms of everyone just like knew what their roles were, yeah, and it was very obvious, but that being said, yeah, I mean that's one of the biggest lessons, you know, that I would say a technical founder. Cause I've actually talked to a lot of people that, especially that are highly technical, have been very successful in their careers, down this technical path and are like, I'm gonna do my own company, and for one they go like, I'm just gonna do it myself, I don't need anybody, and the reality is building a really amazing product. It's just like the baseline, and that alone isn't gonna, isn't gonna sell, like build it, and they're not gonna come, like that's just the reality, you have to do, you have to do sales, you have to do marketing, and if you're a solo founder, that means, and you're a solo technical founder, that means you're doing sales and marketing, I most technical founders, or most technical people I know, like, hate that, so, right, just like that's when you say, I wanna be a solo founder, just know that you're saying I am gonna be a sales and marketing person too.
Jim: It's hard to wear all the hats, and that's where it's, you know, I talk with a lot of entrepreneurs, it's like, that are looking to start, and that's the first thing I ask, I'm like, what do you want to do? What's your why? Where are you good at? Like, understand your weaknesses and be able to live with the fact that you're not gonna be good at everything.
Ian: Yeah, I mean, I usually, people are like, how do you juggle everything, you know, how do you, how do you do it all? Especially startups, there's always, there's always something else to do, and I pretty much just say like, it's like failing management, it's like, how do I fail at things in a way that keeps everything running? So yeah, knowing that there's never gonna be enough time in the day to do all the things, pretty much how do I achieve just the things that matter? Like how do I decipher through and filter to make sure I know what matters? And then how schedule that out, and then if there's, if there's time for, and it was also nice, is there's also so much unknown that things that you think are important end up not being important, and that ends up just like shaking out at the end.
Jim: That's great advice, well in our time is coming to an end here, but before I do let you go let the Remote Start Nation know where they can find you?
Ian: So, there's, I guess, two areas, so if anyone's interested in failings or any of that, you can reach us @Phalanx.io, that's our website, or if you just Google failing cyber, we usually the one of the top hits there, but if anyone wants to just reach out to me personally or, you know, ask me more about, startup stuff or entrepreneur stuff, I've also done a personal blog on the side, just kind of detailing and keeping track of just lessons learned and kind of tools and tips and tricks that have come along the way. And that's at crowdfuel.co. And then they can actually email me also directly at Ian@Crowdfuel.co.
Jim: That's awesome, thank you for that, one more question. What's the biggest takeaway, the one thing that we either talked about or we didn't get a chance to talk about today, that you wanna make sure their most art nation understands and can leave with?
Ian: Yeah, so the biggest thing is if you wanna do any kind of entrepreneurship, start now or start yesterday pretty much, âcause that was the biggest thing for me. I waited so long, for like 10 years, I was like, oh, let me find the perfect idea, let me like, and it's just like that, none of that matters. Just, yeah, just go out and meet some people for one, and then pretty much start, and then the other thing is just talk to potential customers, like that's the number one, like before you even like truly start, like when you have an inkling of an idea, find some potential customers to just talk to them before you build anything. And just, you know, if you're selling to consumers, find a hundred people. Pitch your pitch, your idea to a hundred people, get the feedback, if you're doing businesses, find 10 businesses or you know, people within those businesses that'll be buyers, pitch it to them if they, and I don't, and even though you don't have anything, if they're truly, if you have something that's good, get them on a wait list. So if you have a hundred people on a wait list for when you have it built, like that is amazing, so I think a lot of people think they have to start with something and then go sell it. Go sell it first, and then build what people wanna buy.
Jim: That is incredible value, that is absolutely gold right there. Ian, thank you so much for joining us, I appreciate it, it's been awesome.
Ian: Yeah, really appreciate being on and thanks for the opportunity.
Jim: Definitely. Well, Remote Start Nation, I hope you learned as much as I did today and can put some what Ian shared with us to work for you, thank you all for joining us on this. Remember, leave a comment, subscribe, but most importantly, share this episode with your community who you think can learn from what you heard today. Until next time, go start something. Start today and build the lifestyle that you desire by taking action.
My name is Jim Doyon. I'm a father to three awesome kids, husband to an incredible wife and the oldest sibling to a large split family.I'm currently on a mission and I can't wait to share with you. We sold our house back in 2020, and we've been traveling this beautiful country in a 42-foot Travel trailer ever since. We visited 34 states, and are about to embark on our second loop around the country, stopping at some of our favorite spots again, but also getting to see new areas that the US has to offer.We are trying to experience this life to its fullest spending quality time together. I'm running a business and building brands along the road. We've been fortunate enough on this journey to meet new friends, catch up with old friends and family on many of our stops. We love exploring each City from downtown's to the natural resources it has to offer. I'm passionate about mountain biking and it's not only in my way to get out and explore but to exercise, clear my head, think, and strategize.
CEO / Founder
Ian Garrett is the founder of CrowdFuel and the Co-founder & CEO of Phalanx.
Previously he was a US Army Cyber officer as well as a data scientist in the defense sector. He combines his operational knowledge with his PhD research to bring unique insights to the intersection of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship. He has spoken at numerous events and conferences on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, startups, and the effects of the future of work on cybersecurity.
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