July 11, 2022

Validating Product Ideas with Oren Schauble


Oren Schauble is a serial entrepreneur and builder. He served for years as president of Unrivaled Brands, a public west coast cannabis MSO.

Oren is a founding partner of Guinn Partners, a successful high-tech product development agency in Austin, TX. He served in leadership and advisory roles in marketing at startups such as TrackingPoint, Lift Foils, 3DR, Hangar Technology, and more.

Oren co-hosts a Top 100 entrepreneurship podcast about building businesses, products and interesting lives called 'Builders Build'

Transcript

Josh
 Hey, good day, fellow dealmakers. Welcome to the deal scout on today's show. We're going to have a conversation with a guy on the west coast. Who's doing some interesting in things in the world of e-commerce buying stuff, aggregating stuff, building products, and showing you guys how to do it too, or in welcome to the show. 


 Oren
 And Josh pleasure to be here. And I looking forward to chatting. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Now how the heck do you pronounce your last name, man? That is a unique name. 


 Oren
 I know that's the, luckily if you go to Europe, it's the same, last name is like the prime minister of finance in Germany. Plenty of people know it, but in the U S no chance, 


 Josh
 What's the worst. Someone's butchered that name as sick or. 


 Oren
 Chablis. Yeah. 


 Josh
 Cool, man. All right. What the heck do you do, right. We, I, I kinda got a brief thing from your, your guests intake form, but like, what do you do? 


 Oren
 All right, got it. I spent the last couple of years kind of facilitating a big public company, roll up of a bunch of different companies in the cannabis space. Once that kind of roll up was done and passed on to an, a new executive team. I really, I worked at a product development agency and I run a newsletter about how people bring products to life. We use that to facilitate relationships and deals, whether that's doing product development through the agency, or whether that's helping people acquire similar companies, or just build better businesses. I kind of live within the product development world day in and day out. 


 Josh
 Awesome, man. All right. So you look like a young fella. How old are you? Let's start now. 


 Oren
 I I'm 36. I, so not quite as young as a, quite as young as I look, but I'm in orange county, so we keep it real, a health and wellness regimen, beach time. Yeah. No alcohol because they call it California, silver, the whole nine. 


 Josh
 Super cool. All right. How in the world did you get this, people spend their whole life trying to get into the place of being able to do roll-ups work with, public companies, aggregating buying stuff, like how in the world did you get in it kind of give us your background. 


 Oren
 Yeah, no problem. I, I was, I worked at a handful of startups first, so I worked in a, a technology startup from the defense space. I worked in technology startups, building the consumer drone channel, CC camera, drones inside all of retail. I worked in that space for a while, helped to build that out globally. I worked at another software company that eventually got acquired. I actually started the product development agency with some friends of mine. Really, we had seen an opportunity there. Were working in the startups is were working with overseas contractors who are working with a lot of factories in China and Hong Kong. We saw basically how much these, the middlemen were taking advantage of some of the companies making it to, they couldn't be competitive by, basically upcharging what you could do directly in China. So, we began to work to do product development with complicated engineering here in the states, and then work with production with a team on the ground in China, and be able to kind of connect the dots there. 


 Oren
 That kind of opened up a whole new world because we began to see just, how much margin could happen going direct overseas. We had success with a couple of projects because I kind of had this unique background of being in retail, being in complicated products, like the defense space and the drone space when the cannabis space launched, it's a whole new industry, right? Anytime you open up into a new industry, people look for relevant backgrounds. Since I've been in kind of controversial, technology that had to be messaged, that made a lot of sense. This was, I was also my first public roll-up, I hadn't known as much about vehicles there. I was familiar with things like a reggae plus, and I was familiar with the idea of going public. But, we did a roll up that eventually took over a shell and went onto the OTC markets. 


 Oren
 Those are all like, it was completely new terms, but look, that's when you're doing entrepreneurial things and you're trying out new industries, that's where the biggest opportunity is to learn and get ahead of new things. I've always just tried to be on the edge in anything I tried to do. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Now, when you went through this vehicle, did you guys leverage a SPAC or was this a different tackle? 


 Oren
 W it was basically a, essentially a reverse mergers. There was an existing company that was on OTC that have been there for a long time. That was flailing. And, we came and did a tour, a successful private company immersion into that vehicle. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Did you guys have to raise capital to make that happen, or did you guys use internal cash on hand? How did you make that work? 


 Oren
 We, we didn't, there was luckily there was within that vehicle that were taking over and do basically work through this in the merger terms, they had a, they had some investments in other companies that were IPOing basically. We knew that there was a certain amount of capital coming within that vehicle. We basically valued our private company with the assets that we had and those public company, they didn't have many assets, but at least had some of these investments that we knew we could generate cash from and kind of validated accordingly when we did the deal. 


 Josh
 Okay. What you just said, let's go back in time, 20 years ago, and you're saying that to your 16 year old self, like, what do I do? All right. This is something you've learned from being in the trenches and actually making one of these deals happen. 


 Oren
 I would've said that, looking 20 years ago, actually remember I had really formative class when I was in high school. I had a money management class, which was just random, the most schools, I know don't have their have a thing. It was like an elective in math. I had thought at the time I wanted to be an accountant. I was going to go to a, to business school to be an accountant. I took this money management class and it was top. I remember this guy who, he drove a Corvette and know like a gold chain. He was a retired, it's like this is retirement thing was to teach people money management. The thing that was most formative about that as we did, like this virtual stock exchange thing. At the beginning of the semester, you onboarded the virtual stock exchange, you buy a bunch of stocks and you kind of work through that. 


 Oren
 I remember having a ton of fun in that process. I asked my brother who was actually a Goldman at the time, like what he would invest in and like invested a bunch of that and ended up doing really well. If I had kind of leveraged more of that and just learn more there and learned what the difference between NASDAQ and the S and, and the OTC markets and the pink sheets. I think there's a lot to learn there that isn't particularly that hard. It's just do people ever take the excuse to learn. I think do people understand what amount of a vehicle that is? If you have a business in any space, you want to combine it with a few others and do a roll up and see liquidity on the public market, or see options to raise capital and scale on the public market is a lot more accessible than I think people realize, 


 Josh
 Yeah, now it's exciting running, running a business and being a founder, being attacked. You're working in drones and cannabis and stuff that are leading edge, but taking the company public is, is a lot of work, a lot of compliance, a lot of paperwork, a lot of sleepless nights, right. So, kind of explain that process. What did you learn? If you could, if you, and I could kind of go backwards and do that deal a little differently, what would you do? 


 Oren
 Got it. There was a ton to be learned, a lot of it was having to deal with investor relations and messaging. I think the biggest thing that I would recommend to anybody is no matter how complicated your scenario is really messaging your way through it and being upfront and constantly communicating with your shareholders, especially now, where if you, there's no reason if you do a, like a shareholder call or you release information and you shouldn't be able to have a public forum on Twitter spaces or YouTube live or Reddit or any of those things to actually engage. So we did a lot of that. Stephanie, we had a relatively younger group involved who kind of understood that, but I think that managing that IRR is one that, even though we did a ton of it, I would have done even more. So that's a big one. 


 Oren
 It's just, it's like the little things like accounting's the, the biggest pain point is no matter how much you think that you have your numbers together and trust this team, or you can putting this together is, it's, everyone's extremely worried about it. It's going to, if it's right or wrong. In new and emerging industries that have complex tax vehicles, or have kind of, different understandings of accounting practices, then you may, it's a lot more complicated than one might think. That was where I think a lot of our sleep is I was like, Hey, we're using ma we bought this one business that does manufacturing account. We bought this other business that doesn't do manufacturing, accounting. We have to report on this in 30 days. There's a lot of, of integration there related to purely accounting, logistics. I think it's something that you can't ever have in the firepower for. 


 Josh
 Yeah. I love what you're saying about communication between your shareholders, right. I are, is so important when you take this approach of taking people's money, right. Like taking their money and applying it to your business and invest in it, right? Like there's a fiduciary responsibility and a trust that goes on when you talk about communications, give us some tips and tricks for proper investor relations, communications, different, maybe how often, how long, what to say, what not to say. Could you give us some of your overviews of what you've learned? Yeah. 


 Oren
 I think a lot of it is allowing personalities within the company to be able to engage. We had a, a lot of Y R I R had been successful at the time, or at least how was getting ink and interest is we had a lot of people that were on Twitter, who are in certain positions who weren't afraid to, and had permission to be able to engage in message and kind of go back and forth within the parameters that we had. I think step one for any company is it's just have a guide of what you can, and can't say, so people kind of know what we know, what is, what's allowed. Then, have a kind of open forum where you can discuss what those questions look like. People know the issues that shareholders are dealing with, and then let people talk. So I think that's a big one. 


 Oren
 Second is treating it the same way you treat marketing content in any business, if you're a retail business and you're putting things in social media, or you're putting point of sale displays in is making that same kind of content for IRS as well. One of the big things we noticed doing a roll-up is a few of our actual shareholders, especially existing shareholders in the vehicle. We used understood how many assets this roll up now had. It was as simple as, Hey, let's do a video where we show briefly every single asset that we have, and it's not like the kind of thing that's going to be hundreds of thousands of views, but if it gets a thousand views from your shareholder base and begin to understand the company more like that's important. I think a content strategy and doesn't have to be glamorous or high end or anything. 


 Oren
 We just actually practically showing what the business does and why you believe in it is really valuable. Those would be the two biggest things that guide and that communication protocol, and then, treating it like its own kind of content vehicle as well. 


 Josh
 Yeah, I think that's so cool. What about investor relations? When things aren't going awesome. Right. When it's going great. You want to tell everybody, Hey Sally, Hey, Bob things are great and here's your returns and all that stuff. What about when things aren't going great? 


 Oren
 Well, I think give it from just my shoes as an investor myself, right. Is, is, as you just want to know, right. You don't want it to be okay when everything's great. I get communicated with all the time and when everything's bad, I get communicated with never. Right. I think it's just keeping that same cadence, even when it's hard is super important and something, I think we see companies go down on all the time and guess what? It might end up with a share price that goes down because people don't want to hear the truth, but also it's just going to be, at least the people that are with you understand what the challenges are. This has less to do with the public company has been private companies I've been in and investor updates is making asks and like consistently saying, Hey, here's our issues. 


 Oren
 Here's where we need, I really need a experienced operations person who could do an ERP integration, or I, I really need, we need to hire and these X roles or, Hey, we need working capital. I think that in a public company, you're not gonna be asking your shareholders for help necessarily, but in a private company, it should be done significantly more because that's what your investors and your board. I used to be getting some leverage from them as well. I think people don't make those asks enough. 


 Josh
 Yeah. We forget sometimes, I've taken on investor capital and I've worked with a bunch of different, startups and such. What I find is when things aren't going great, sometimes you get embarrassed and you're like, I'm just going to fix this. Right. Like before I bring it to them and I go, all right, guys, here's a problem. And I fixed it. I'm an all-star. Right. In the middle of a problem, like leveraging the talent behind the investor dollar that's smart wealth, right. Wisdom, work network, their advice super valuable. They could save the day they could jump in and, rescue you. Right. Bring in bringing one of their buddies. 


 Oren
 It takes a village. 


 Josh
 It takes a village. Yeah. How now your investor, right before you were kind of in the trenches as a founder, what makes you a better investor today than other investors who might've had money handed down or a lotto winner? 


 Oren
 Just, what I have really tried to focus on doing is, especially as I became getting into more and more executive roles was still just remaining really tactical and saying, Hey, I'm still involved in, Hey, in the SEO of a website project or understanding what the teams deal with on the ground. Because I think that being able to come in and actually help with existing issues and just kind of do things like audit infrastructure or marketing or systems or process, and kind of help with those, that advice versus being purely high level. I feel like a lot of people get to a certain level of success and say, Hey, I'm an investor now or an advisor now. I just kind of, I have platitudes, I have high-level strategy, but, while all that's great and useful, there's a lot of people that can provide that. Oftentimes founders look at themselves as the people that have that guidance when really what they need is the blocking and tackling on the ground of like, Hey, you're not documenting your process. 


 Oren
 Or, Hey, like you should be looking at these tools or a, like a recommendation for an employee or anything like that. So, and in any of the businesses I'm involved with currently, I try to be, it's just extremely active on a tactical level as well, versus just purely in strategy email. That takes more time. I feel like that also leads the founders to have more value from my investment. 


 Josh
 Did you, when was your first home run, right? Like you've had some base hits. You might've had some strikeouts or get pegged with a ball. When was your first like either home run triple or grand slam? How old were you? 


 Oren
 Honestly, I've had a consistent, like a consistent amount of medium wins. Like I've never had the, just the giant one it's been kind of compounding time over time, which I think is interesting. I think that it's just kind of knowing that, Hey, this investment you'll get back for X or, and it was small or this, and so I've just had a lot of those, but kind of ranging from, mostly over the last seven or eight years. Kind of from my late twenties on and against, so never had a multimillion dollar, like giant home runs and had lots of these compounding successes that, I think as almost a more realistic way to look at it, especially if, you're looking at the kind of modern world here where you can have crazy valuations in tech that come and go any minute. If you have a, if you're involved in a lot of, cashflowing, successful businesses, you continue to see those kind of basics. 


 Oren
 Really, you're just kind of building your own little, I don't want to call it like your own little Berkshire Hathaway, but your own little like portfolio of things that, have comp will have long-term success. I think that's a, a more interesting approach, at least a more practical approach and constantly looking for what this next giant home run is going to be. Cause for a lot of people that might never come. 


 Josh
 Yeah, no, I'm, I love this message about this because growing up, I was super risky, I've been in venture and I've been building a tech company and, but I've always was shooting for the moon, right. Either go big or go home. In the process, you, you go big and sometimes you lose big and I've been bankrupt and I've gone through that process. Like what I'm learning now, and I'm 40 now, and maybe this is just wisdom from getting our ass whooped is, base hits are awesome. Compounding base hits will, w I'd rather that any day than one grand slam, maybe in my lifetime. 


 Oren
 Interesting, interesting on that point too, one thing that's really impactful for me in that stage was I had a mentor who I was talking to about his investment portfolio. He mentioned, he basically had a hundred investments that were between 25,000 and a hundred thousand dollars. That was his entire investment strategy was small bets. He doesn't spend a lot of time on, and I remember that's how I started my investment strategy. Now I have a lot of companies I've put 10 to $50,000 in a, and looking at it like that and saying, Hey, I'm going to do that instead of your typical investments in a 401k or any of those, I think it's just a really interesting way to do it, especially, and I try to only do that with cashflow and businesses if possible. But yeah, sometimes you make other bets. I think that's an interesting thing for people to look at too, is that there's no reason that you can't be making, those kinds of investments as well, and really building up a portfolio. 


 Oren
 If you look at, Hey, I'm going to try and do one of those a year, which is something I think anyone can likely save to do. You're going to really look at it, seeing some pretty increased benefits. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Now I love this strategy as I get older, I want cashflow businesses. I want base hits, maybe some doubles. I don't even mind getting hit with a ball as long as I get on base. Right? Like, so my mindset shifted to work towards more investing in this portfolio approach. Like you were saying, rather than a 401k or something that is just like here's money in the public market, who knows what's going to happen. I like getting tactical in these businesses as an investor right now. You've, you've had your own startups. You've been a founder. You did a roll up, but now you're stepping into this portfolio investor approach, right. In, in running your own businesses, what does a day look like for you? Because you've got product development, you got investments, like what's a day look like for you. 


 Oren
 Yeah. Look, I, I really like to, I really enjoy working. There's a, my days are you have to have kind of a full span, but really, we have the actual day-to-day work of, running client work and agency things, which is a lot of, there's a standup every day. There's usually about two client meetings at all. I'll be in roughly every day. I like this afternoon, for instance, I'm leading a workshop. I usually do one or two workshops a week, specifically around an item. Like last week, for instance, I did an SEO workshop where we had really kind of dove into a company that bought a content site for their domain authority basically. We kind of dove into how do we use that to get key terms that matter to that business and map that out and who's gonna make the content and what does the content look like and how to make sure it's successful? 


 Oren
 So, we'll have stand, we'll have client meetings, I'll have a workshop every week. I usually travel to see a project roughly about twice a month. The rest of the time, a lot of what we're doing is, is researching and creating content ends up being a lot of my time, whether it's got doing podcasts like this, or really looking at, Hey, we're trying to find factory solutions or potential acquisitions or just kind of things that were bubbling around the surface to make a difference to our various companies. Because with the product development stuff that we're doing now, I published a newsletter every week where I aggregate factories and manufacturers in different industries. I take some time to put all those together, but really the actual benefit of that is we email that out to thousands of people every week. Some of them start making businesses in those industries when they're communicating back with us, what I'm really interested in doing now is I'm starting to see hate or four or five serious cosmetics businesses that I have relationships with are four or five serious health and wellness businesses. 


 Oren
 It's like, can we orchestrate a roll up there? Or can we, Hey, say, Hey, maybe you guys shared accounting and marketing services and move to one factory. There's some benefit here. Can we get, a block of ownership for helping facilitate that? That's the kind of stuff I'm really interested in looking at now. A lot of that is just whether it's, in the DMS or on a call, it's just talking to founders and just kind of talking to these folks. That's kinda the biggest challenge thing I'm working on trying to solve these next few weeks is I want to transition that from me being on the phone all the time to, can we do that in a community, a discord or slack or something, or can we find some new vehicle that makes sense to help facilitate those relationships? 


 Josh
 Yeah, no, that's super cool, man. Good job. This is so awesome. SEO and Google that's been going on for like 20 years, and this is one of your main focus. Now you're an investor, you've got capital, you're doing roll-ups and you're like, guys, we're running bootcamps, we're running these sessions. We're teaching still about something. Why is that so important? 


 Oren
 It's funny because everyone's obsessed, especially now with, I feel like anyone who hires the right agency or finds the right creative team can probably start making a profit on Tik TOK ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, if you have a decent product, right. The thing is, it doesn't last or it hits diminishing returns. If you have demands of investors to scale, and then all of a sudden you're not getting that same ROI, you ended up in a hard place while I love about SEO. What I recommend super highly for businesses that can take advantage is it takes six months or a year to really build any level of momentum. Everyone kind of avoids it because they want quick wins, but then once you have it's there forever. We worked with a brand called chlorophyll water that, they, we built up their SEO to kind of number one in that category of a small water category over time. 


 Oren
 It went viral on tech talk and have like billions of hashtags on Tik TOK. Guess what, when that moment happened for them in that category, owning that number one on SEO, it was just an absolutely massive play for them. If you believe that you have a unique category, or you have believed that you have search traction over time, it's going to last forever. It's like, that's what SEO and email lists are. The only things that aren't going to come and go like Facebook ad ROI is going to change, Tik TOK, our ad ROI is going to change, same thing, retail experiences go away with COVID or anything like that with Google search and email last forever. 


 Josh
 Yeah. That's super cool SEO and email list. It's things that you, their assets they're things that you own. A lot of companies are just missing putting a focus there. 


 Oren
 Yeah. The, one of the funniest parts, but missing on SEO and a conversation I have probably twice a month is, Hey, you should just name your products, what people are searching for. Instead of naming your, your sunglass, the Genesis, you should name it, like matte black men's, whatever, like just put like an exact thing that people are looking for and then develop a product roadmap. If you're getting searches for something you don't sell. There's what happens is the marketing teams and the product teams like don't overlap in terms of, how to take advantage of some of these kinds of blocking and tackling scenarios. 


 Josh
 Yeah. It's what are people searching? Right. That's filling an instant need. If you just named your product that it's. 


 Oren
 Yeah. It's yeah. It's a, it sounds like common sense, but it's a, yeah, it is. That's funny too, it's the same, thing's happening on Tik TOK people, search tech talk as often as they search Google and this is across generations. If you have the same thing happening there where you're going to feed someone, a video for a thing they're searching for, you can find a certain level of success and that's it just a giant untapped mine, 


 Josh
 What tools. We're, we're trying to improve our, SEO and email lists and such. We're working on that. Now, what tools would you recommend for a fellow creator fellow founder runs multiple companies, and we're trying to figure this out. What, what tools do you recommend? 


 Oren
 Yes, there's a tool called a H R E F S. So this is, it's a paid tool. It's like a hundred dollars a month. That kind of thing. What that does that I love is that you put your website in, and it kind of spits out where you rank on all these terms and it has ideas. You can enter a list of terms and it will give you ideas related to those and their difficulty and the average search volume. You can do competitive analysis. I do an SEO workshop, like we did last week, you plug in your own site, see what you've got going, come up with some ideas based on the words you have in there, you plug in the words you think you want to rank for, explore it, find some ideas, and then you go take five or 10 competitive websites and put them all on there, see what they rank for and see the ideas that come from there. 


 Oren
 You kind of develop this master sheet of, okay, we have hundreds of these terms. Usually what we do is we just chunk it out by the name of the term, how difficult it is, and then how much search volume it has. You start to see things pop out like low difficulty, high search volume. You just identify those as your primaries. That tool is a little hard to use. Like if you're not, super tech centric, but like, if you spend some time with it's super useful and at least gives you, it'll help you get a roadmap for how you want to improve your SEO and what terms want to focus on. 


 Josh
 That's super cool, man. All right. Talk to us about your product development company. You built some cool stuff, drones in the cannabis industry, and now you have a firm dedicated for this to help other people with. 


 Oren
 So it's called wind partners. It's around for a couple of years. And so it's based in Austin, Texas. There's about 25 full-time engineers that work there now, and really we're focused on really complicated products. In my product world kind of site newsletter, I'm really focused on e-commerce like base hits. Like you want to make jewelry, you want to make supplements. You want to clothing like that kind of stuff, where our agency focuses on really hard thing. We've done, I see anything related to robotics, autonomy mobility. We've, we worked on the which is the hydrophone electric surfboards. We've worked on a single person in flying aircraft. There's one called the lift aircraft. We've worked on all these kind of really specific niche products that have to do with, like lithium ion batteries, like really complicated stuff is where we like to focus. A lot of that was we had worked together previously in drones. 


 Oren
 A lot of those clients come from drones. When you learn drones, you have to learn autopilots, which then applies to any kind of vehicle. We also have to learn batteries, which applies to any of this kind of new electric world we're in. We really focus there and we've got our core office and we have what's called the center for autonomous robotics out in Austin, where we partnered with a VC firm called capital factory to put a little incubator on the lake in Austin where, different companies have offices and they have shared spaces with 3d printers and, smaller, like some kind of key equipment out there. We're trying to facilitate the ecosystem there as well. Look, it's just become a really interesting company. We basically help there's three stages of which people working, right. One, they have an idea and they need a prototype. They'll come with a sketch or say, I want to make this thing. 


 Oren
 It's like, right. Let's make one and see what we can do. The other is, Hey, we came with a prototype, but now we actually need to be able to make this affordably and sell it. And that's kind of the second niche. The third is okay, we're making a thing, but we really need to make it cheaper or better and like scale it out. You can help with supply chain and iterations and things like that. So, yeah, it's, it's a really exciting place to work and facilitate. And, it's been going on for a handful of years and Austin's a great place to have it. There's a ton of, they move the defense innovation unit there for the army. There's a lot of interesting work happening there. There's, it's always been kind of a hotbed for kind of drones and mobility. So, yeah, it's an exciting space to be in. 


 Josh
 Alright. Let's just say we tabula rasa cleaned out all the cool things that you've worked on in the past, but except for one, and you're like, it doesn't like let's set aside money, let's set it set aside, but there was like one cool product that you or one of your clients have worked on that you're like, if I accomplish nothing else, but getting that one thing to the market, I would choose that again. 


 Oren
 You know, that's, that's really interesting question. I do love the foils sophisticate, hydroelectric surfboard, mainly because it's just such a unique experience. Like when you're on top of that thing and you're like, kind of flying over water and you have this sensation because you're on the hydrofoil so that you're like, you're not actually touching the water. You're just kind of purely flying. I think it's as close as like a person can get to feeling like they're flying and it's a look, it's a niche product for, kind of high end water sports enthusiasts, but it's just, it's so perfect when you're on it and engaging with it. That that's one that I have a lot of love for. 


 Josh
 Yeah. I I've seen one of those in action and it looks like a surf board or whatever. As you start going, it like lifts like a foot or two over the water and it looks like the guy's flying. 


 Oren
 Exactly. It feels like it when you're actually on it, you have the sensation that it's like very hard to describe, but once you get on it for long enough, and this is a company I work with, like pretty significantly, we worked with them on the product development side. I've worked with them as an advisor for a long time. It's like, once you actually get used to that experience, like you're just in this like, very, like, it's like a flow state that you're just happened to be, you can engage in any time and it just no way for your mind, your body to feel that way. Doing anything else. 


 Josh
 Yeah. All right. If I come visit you in Austin or on the west coast, let's go ride. 


 Oren
 Brother. Let's go. 


 Josh
 Super cool. I love it. All right. You're working with these people, they could come to you with a, an idea, scratched it on a piece of paper, and they're like, all right, this thing does, it's a skateboard that flies whatever, back to the future. Right. And, and you go, cool. We'll, we'll help build the prototype. That, is that what your group can do has the capacity. 


 Oren
 That's a, and that is easier than it seems like we've systemized that process and said, okay, let's break this down to its components. Like, what does this propulsion or power system, what does it, what's its actual ID, what does it need to accomplish this? Just circuit board doesn't need to, and so we have kind of a, a process for actually developing that. But, and in a lot of cases, people, when they actually walk through that process, they realize there's some core flaw in their idea, oh, they can't draw this much power to execute that in this size. A lot of things kind of fail at the prototype level. When you do see an idea that happens, you actually make the one thing and you see the look on a founder's face or look on someone experiencing it and you go, this is a new thing you've kind of brought into the world. 


 Oren
 That's really exciting. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Yeah. I've tried to create some inventions back in the day and I drew it up and then I sent it off to affirm and they wrote me back and they said, Hey, this is going to cost that much. I'm like, holy crap, I can't afford that. I got to go sell a kid or something. Like, how does that process work? I'm a founder, I've got an, I'm an inventor, super creative. I come to you with an idea. How does this work? 


 Oren
 Usually, usually it starts off with, we do all like workshops and exercises. Usually it starts off with that. Okay. We're gonna sit down, we're gonna get some smart people in the room who have some level of core competency in what you're already doing. If it's a medical device, we've got some people for that, the software, I've got some people for that. If it's mobility, or a vehicle or whatever it is, and I'm going to really talk through it like front to end. Then, okay, we're gonna get one session. We're gonna pay for a session sitting down with these people. We're going to kind of know throughout that. Yeah. After we're completed with that, is this actually viable? You can kind of walk away and before you've spent a bunch of money saying, okay, I shouldn't actually do this. What happens a lot is it might be viable when people realize the work is going to take to actually bring something to life at scale. 


 Oren
 And they go like, you know what? Maybe not. You know? If you have something that's viable and you want to build out the roadmap for it, then you have a decent amount of a cost of like, Hey, here's some projections and we'll go and get some data of what we think units are going to cost at this quantity or this quantity what's gonna cost for development and actually gets kind of fully quoted out. A lot just comes down to that exercise of like identifying, is this going to work or not? There competitors who hadn't thought of, is there a technology that would actually make this easier than you thought it would be? Because there's some new breakthrough and just sitting down in a room and working through it. 


 Josh
 Yeah, it's super cool. So what products will you touch? What products will you not touch? 


 Oren
 There's, we will touch almost in this particular company. We're really focused on things that have a lithium ion, lithium polymer batteries, things that use telemetry, which is basically if you have antennas or radios that let that are putting you to a certain point in space. If it's got autonomy, like it has an autopilot. Like those are really sweet spots for us, for like those particular electronics. We will touch almost anything that the, the founder is really passionate about how that actually has the resources to execute working through. That there is a real consumer demand in the market for like, and so, we've developed toys and, rescue devices and, things related to camera accessories. Aren't really our core competency because we saw how enthusiastic someone was, things that we won't touch a lot is we have a lot of recommendations for people that are doing consumer packaged goods products, and we'll help you with your SEO or we'll work through one or two things there. 


 Oren
 The actual development of that, there's no actual experts who can really, work through the manufacturing of those things. I'd rather just send you to a factory. So we don't touch that as closely. Things that are intensely complicatedly regulated, or require kind of importing a parks that have to do with like I tar or like all these restrictions you have. If you want to move something from the U S to a different country, that's something where we might touch it, but it often ends up being more trouble than it's worth. 


 Josh
 Yeah, no, I totally get that. All right. What would the, what is something that you wish as a, as a deal maker and investor, what is something you wish someone would bring in front of you and said, Hey, I've been working on this idea. What, what are you like, hoping someone walks in knocks on your door for, 


 Oren
 I think a lot about the, I think a lot about Dyson who kind of completely, and then moving to, the way they kind of rethought of how people push air back and forth and just have a completely new concept for it. I don't really care what the actual application is, but I want someone who has that kind of idea of like, Hey, let's completely reframe the way we think about a common item. I think that's where a lot of disruption happens currently because we have all these big entrenched companies that we've grown up with, whether it's, Nabisco or whether it's food or whether it's electronics. It's like a lot of the same groups that I've been around for a hundred years. And they're not thinking like that. There's a lot of opportunity and just taking a couple percent of their market share and building a 10 or $20 million business relatively quick. 


 Oren
 I think anyone who's kind of really rethinking the core competency in a new way, using technology. I'm interested to talk to. 


 Josh
 Yeah. When you see something, what are some as a product development firm, you've built a bunch of stuff. Like how many products do you think you guys have, you personally have taken from idea to some level of market. Okay. 


 Oren
 I mean, definitely more than 50, probably more than a hundred. If you start looking at like a tat, you'll take a product and they'll build three attachment skews or, kind of accessories is that it's definitely caught in the a hundred plus in between the, all the people that worked on it. Like I work on projects individually. A lot of people at the firm, like, it's definitely it's in the hundreds, which is kind of crazy to think about. You look at like all the patents involved and all of the actual things that are on shelves and some of the live long lives, some of them that have kind of died or trend and moved on, it's a, it's kind of staggering, but it's interesting to think about it. It actually bringing things to life. 


 Josh
 Yeah. All right. You and I are doing a deal together. Let's just say you, I are going to form up in, in build something super cool. What's your superpower and what is a weakness that you would look for maybe from me or someone else. 


 Oren
 Got it. I'm super, process-driven like, I will, I like coming to a company and saying, Hey, we're going to document the way we do things. We're going to kind of put it in this kind of framework. We're going to follow that framework until it's successful. I'm also really focused on people and how we make sure people are really excited and feel like they're valued and seal like they're working on something that has a lot of mission. I really like to focus on that for we're partnering, where I have my biggest concerns is where it's people that talk a lot, or have a lot of excitement about something, but don't actually do the day-to-day tasks. Like anyone that feels above anything, I have no problem getting on a sales call, like at any point, and doing that. I don't ever want to feel above working on the line for half a day or, or getting in the mix of a sales conversation. 


 Oren
 I found a lot of people that do. For some reason, that just kind of really bothers me because I feel like no matter where, I don't know how you can expect our team members to look up to you, if you're not willing to kind of go into any of those roles. That's kinda the biggest red flag I look at is when someone's like, oh no, I don't do that. It's like, well, in a startup environment, we're all doing it. Like it is one of those, no matter what your background is, successes. 


 Josh
 Yeah. I just, I just something in my trash can, right? Like, and I just washed our dishes, right? Like we're a small startup. Like, this is when you're an entrepreneur, you got to wear it. Even as an investor, you gotta be willing to put on many different hats. If not, that's a red flag for me too. It's teamwork through your career. What's some advice do you have, when it comes to choosing your team, choosing a partner, choosing investors, like what are some things that you're like, I wish I knew this 20 years ago. 


 Oren
 Yeah. I think one thing that's really stood out to me is you can kind of predict where life will go for anybody and that people change and that, no matter how good you feel about someone one year, another year, like things are gonna happen. I would say it's, it's worth it to stick through with people that you believed in. Cause they might have a rough six months or a rough year or something might happen in their lives. That doesn't mean you should abandon it completely. You're going to have those same things happen to you. If you've taken care of those people, then the likely the same will happen. Also a lot of it is just finding those people that don't turn off at like at 5:00 PM. Right. I'm not saying you have to work 20 hours in a day, but are you excited and passionate about things, whether it's work or not, the majority of the time. 


 Oren
 If you find like-minded people that are like that, a lot of people feel like it's not okay to be like that all the time and be one of those obsessive people. If you find a, like a tribe of those kinds of folks, like you have something really valuable. I just like to remind people, it's okay to be intense about things and then gravitate towards other people like that. If you can't find them in person, find them on the internet and then really kind of build people that are equally as passionate about like life in the world as you are. 


 Josh
 Yeah. No, that is such good advice because I find now I love my wife and my kids. If you go out further, I have some people in my inner circle, but if you ask me like, what's your hobby. If I, if I get past wife and kids and hanging out with them and going, doing some standup paddle boarding, if I get past those or camping, if I get past that, like what do you do for fun work? I love my work. I love building stuff. I love investing in things. I love figuring this out. Like that's my desires, my passions by calling it's what I'm put on this earth for. I hang around, people like that, we just jam. Do you find that too? 


 Oren
 Oh yeah. It's it's magnetic and it's pretty much the standard paddleboarding. Cause that's my only actual hobby as well. But, but yeah, it's like once you actually find that, cause it's not, I feel like I'm once you've branched out and you are actually building things, yourself, or investing in things, it's no longer that, oh, work is a nine to five job or it's just one thing I don't want to be too intense about. It's your have your thoughts and ideas in a hundred different aspects of interesting businesses. And that's amazing. So yeah. I completely agree. 


 Josh
 Yeah. What kind of stand up paddleboard? Do you, do you like, okay, do you ever surf on it or is it just flat water? 


 Oren
 Yeah, I do. I have a, it's a, it's not really a power conclusive, like a long Cisco longboard, just so I can surf on it if I want to. I, I had a hydrofoil incident a few years ago, got some stitches in the forehead. I, I try to keep it a little more low key on the, in the, it actually in the surf. But yeah, I love it. I'm out there three or four times a week. 


 Josh
 Well, I'll tell you the coolest experience I ever had. I took my, I had a stand up paddle and an inflatable one mind you. It was super cool, but I took my daughter at the time. She was like six and went to east coast. The waves, weren't huge, maybe three foot and she surfed on it. Like I Sat behind the board, I paddled her out and she stood up and I was like, bro, like the proudest dad is the coolest thing. It's so cool, man. As you're, as you're building this stuff, right? Like how do you find you've got a family. How do you find work life balance? Do you believe it? Do you think it's b******t? Like, what are your thoughts on it? 


 Oren
 It was really hard when were doing that roll up. I was in the office every day and I was in the office every day for 12 plus hours. That was really tough now kind of in this next, kind of post roll-up world that we're in here. It's a, it's been a lot easier just cause we're home. Most of the time I'll go to meetings, but we kind of work. A lot of this is remote. I'll go out to Austin to come visit the studio or I'll go to visit some clients and being able to kind of work around that. So I know that, Hey, guess what? Like I'll pick up my kid at four and that's all right, because I'll be back doing an hour at eight, like being able to work it around your life, which I feel like is a new concept, like kind of post pandemic and build around that is, has been great. 


 Oren
 Also just getting, I've tried to get my son really interested in the things that I work on. Like, this weekend I was sketching out some point of sale diagrams and like he had his own graph paper and he had his little rulers and all that. He's like sitting next to me doing some of those things. I want him to be a builder and a creator as well. Even little things like we take apart, lots of, we go to the first store and we'll buy electronics and we'll take them apart and put 'em back together. It's just like having him understand of what I do and having a passion for how things work. I think just makes that all naturally easier because we're both excited about whatever particular thing we're looking at that week or weekend. 


 Josh
 For how that is so cool. I to do the same thing, I would get like a, an old vacuum and I would take it apart and see how it works. I would cut open a baseball and see like how the guts of it. Yeah. Wow. Do you come up with any ideas for inventions and product development you're on your own or are you just kind of take other people's ideas and build them? So, 


 Oren
 No, I, I like to, I do a lot of ideation. I've basically gotten to the point where I have a lot more ideas and I have time to actually act on them. That's a lot of what I do in my kind of weekly newsletter is I'll say, Hey, here's a bunch of ideas I've had recently. A lot of, it's less about a idea for a specific invention and more of like a brand associated with one where it's like, Hey, guess what? Like eighties nostalgia is huge right now here's some brands are taking advantage of that. I really think that would be applicable in men's fitness and you should do it this way. Like, I'll put some of those out there to people just because I have my hands full of things I'm already trying to build, but I, I have no shortage of ideas. Like I love to kind of ideate. 


 Oren
 A lot of it comes down to that, Hey, what's the actual concept of a product. Also something that's just like, what is the brand or niche? That's what Tik TOK has taught me a lot about. It's just like, oh, if you apply this particular product, but you see you focus in on, late thirties, goths, whatever the right demographic is like, you can make something. I think that people need to think compartmentalize a lot differently than they could in previous years and succeed. 


 Josh
 Yeah. You're coming up with an idea, what are some validation things that you do to see is this worth us throwing a hundred K into or not? 


 Oren
 Yeah. We have a little, a sudden, we recommend for a lot of people to kind of come to the agency and are looking for a truck to see if they have product market fit is like, Hey, you can launch that. Actually having a product. Yeah. If you get a prototype and you get a, like a functional looking prototype, make 30 or 40 social media videos like Tik TOK is the best for this, because it will give you the kind of raw unfiltered feedback and featuring that and put up a landing page with a presale and say, Hey, enter your email. When, if you want to find out when this thing starts selling and then just see if you get any level of response or attraction. If no one responds to any of your content and no one signs up on your email page like, you're probably not going anywhere, but if you're starting to get people asking, though, when it's distinct shipping or they're putting their email in for the presale, then you're like, oh, you should really look at this. 


 Oren
 We're in this beautiful world right now where you can go validate something without making it and do it fast and affordably and spend a thousand bucks on ads and know if your product has some legs and that's kind of a zero to one it's bought bigger. If it's going to be like the next giant product, but you can validate something small for e-commerce relatively easily. 


 Josh
 You can pre-sell it, which funds the project. 


 Oren
 Exactly. 


 Josh
 Yeah. What about if you build it? They will come like, nah, man, this is a really great idea. My grandmother told me to do this and she thought it was great. And she said she would buy one. Right? I'm going to go spend all this money. Have you seen that happen too? You see a warehouse full of junk. Yeah. 


 Oren
 Of course I was like, I want a lot of it comes down to some people just don't have the juice to keep going through whatever adversity comes to them, even if it's a good idea. Some of that comes down to just human life. Sometimes things get worse than others or, mental toughness or your co-founder fell apart or whatever that ends up being. I've seen plenty of warehouses full of stuff. Honestly, like my garage is full of things that are like half-assed ideas that didn't work and that's all right, because you only need to have, the sunk cost of those tends to be a lot less than the profit of the ones that are successful. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Half-ass ideas. Let's, let's do this, let's play a game. You and I are coffee shop or cocktail bar, whatever. Someone walks in, they go, Hey, what's up Warren and Josh, I've heard you guys on the show and I've got this great idea. And you're like, we're like, yeah. Awesome. They go first, it's going to, it's going to revolutionize the world and change it. There's 7 billion people in the world and if only 1% buy it, right. Like we've heard the same pitch from thousand people, but they go, Hey, ma'am before I shared the idea with you, here's my NDA. What, what's your typical response? 


 Oren
 I mean, honestly we tend to sign the NDA. Like I'm not super worried about it, but it's, it is one of those where it's like, you're probably taking yourself too seriously, but if someone's lawyer or dad's friend told to him, I'm not gonna burst their bubble and be like, Hey, guess what? That probably isn't gonna matter. You can probably take your idea anyway. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Yeah. I see when this, my view on, in days, if that's the first thing that happens, I probably go, what, or, and you take over if that, if you guys do that, but I'm out. No, thank you. Okay. 


 Oren
 Well, I've just found like a lot of entrepreneurs, especially first time ones just don't know any better and I can't fault them for what they don't know yet. And, and it, and I think that there's so many people that need that level of help that, sometimes it's worth, giving them that little run through. 


 Josh
 Dude, I love you. You're a lot more patient than I that's awesome though. When you're, when you're let's just say, we go to second base with someone we're like, we see an idea and we're like, this is freaking awesome. And we're going to participate in it. Like what does that look like for the founder? If you're like, Hey, this actually good. We want to do it with you. Like what the, 


 Oren
 A lot of it comes down to, looking through, what capital who's brought, what capital of the table, whether we're bringing capital, they bring capital and who's bringing what legwork to the table and who's bringing kind of what IP and just really breaking it down to an equation that everyone's comfortable with. And, we have a couple different formats for how we do that depending on the product. It's just kind of trying to find something everyone can be excited about. 


 Josh
 Yeah. When it comes to protection of ideas, when it comes to like patents and provisional patents and patent applications and all those kinds of things, like how do you guys approach that before pushing a bunch of stuff on social media? Or do you just push it out there to validate? Yes, 


 Oren
 We, we push it out there and kind of actually get down into the actual execution of it as fast as we can and have kind of found that even the people we know that have really good patents are still just dealing with tons of copycats in the market. It only gets you so far. If it does, it's a ton of litigation and a ton of time to get there. Really you're better off just getting to market. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Quick to market, get people paying for things. I find that I made a lot of mistakes in the past when I tried to protect too much, rather than sell more. Right. Selling more. 


 Oren
 Sales distribution Hills, a lot of ones. Let me tell you, 


 Josh
 Yeah, sales and revenue covers a multitude of sins, right. If you're, if you're doing a lot of that or, and this is super cool, man, when it comes to that surfboard, the foil surfboard, where can I find that man, 


 Oren
 Dot com and they have about 300 rental stands kind of worldwide or partners that will actually go and give you like a little trial and you can get out there that been to kind of, I want to try it out, but yeah, that's a highly recommended experience. Let me tell you. 


 Josh
 Awesome. When it comes to, I'm going to ask you a few more questions, but let's, let's give you some plugs where if someone in the audience are like, Hey man, I got some ideas or I want to participate, do a deal with you. What's a good place for people to connect with you and do a deal. 


 Oren
 Yeah. So a couple places. I'm at Oren meets world on Twitter. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and, kind of engaging with ideas there. Our website for our agency is Gwyn partners.com. There's kind of a contact form on there for people that are looking to kind of work on something there. The site where I put out all our product ideas and everything is product world that XYZ. That's where it kind of gets out the newsletter of all the different factory ideas and all the different ideation stuff I put out every week. That's kind of the best three places. 


 Josh
 Cool. What questions should I have asked you during this interview about product development? You know, 


 Oren
 You kind of covered a lot, I think, the one I'm I mentioned a few times we can go really deep on it. It's just like the opportunity to Tik TOK as, or it's just like costs are cheap. Organic content goes far massive audiences. That's one where I think, people should lean in and embrace that. No matter what age, demographic or product you're doing, that there is, there's still like a huge shift happening there that hasn't fully been taken advantage of. 


 Josh
 So, so let let's dive in there just for a sec, is the huge, thing with tech talk, right? 40 years old, should I be building a tech talk? I've got, my companies or whatever, should I be paying attention to this? Should I be afraid of this year? 


 Oren
 You should at least be paying attention to it because we've seen the shift happened before, MySpace to Facebook, to Instagram, and now it's happening Instagram to tech talk and it's happening fast. All the majority of the world is on there of all age groups and types and sizes. It's a medium I wouldn't be afraid of. Especially if you're running, advertising the value, the return on ad spend, you're getting on that platform versus Facebook and Instagram on the same products is significantly higher. It's like it was with Facebook five or six years ago. If you're making money online with ads, you should definitely be paying attention to it. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Super cool. As we're going through this, what are some of the things that you will be like a red flag in terms of like someone comes up with an idea and it seems like a decent idea, but you're like, red flag. I don't con I don't think you should pursue it. Here's why, what are some of the things that you see that just up, 


 Oren
 If it's something where if Amazon can make an Amazon basics version of it, then I definitely would, I would stay away from it. There's, there's a lot of that. If it's a, if it's something where you can't find multiple streams of distribution, if it's something where you say, Hey, I can just sell it online or I can only sell it in retail or whether I think that in this world, if you really want to look at success, you need to be able to have redundancy in terms of your distribution channels. I'd want you to see something that you have multiple ways that you could go to market in case one doesn't work. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Okay. If Amazon basics can just replicate it and build it, then you're the, and I'm. 


 Oren
 Like, Hey, you might have a run, but you're probably not going to have longevity because they're going to do it. They're going to copy it. Yeah. 


 Josh
 Yeah. The other one was multiple distribution channels. Give me an example. 


 Oren
 Yeah. Basically if you're saying, Hey, I'm going to sell this product and we're going to sell it online, direct to consumer. Yet that's the only way we can make it work because we don't have the margins to go to retail. I'd be worried because I'm like, Hey, direct to consumer is great. At some point you're gonna hit a cap of scale and you're want to be able to do both. You're going to be able to go to retail and be able to continue direct to consumer or the same thing where it's like, Hey, we really can only sell this thing at retail stores. Like it's the only way it makes sense. Like, and I w you could apply it to any number of things. I like to look at, are there multiple angles that you can actually sell this product? You don't have to use multiple angles, but in case one starts faltering, making sure that there's an actual backup, so that business doesn't have all its eggs in the, Hey, we sell to this type of stores. 


 Oren
 And now those are all closed basket. 


 Josh
 Well, I have so many questions for you. I got to keep going with a few. Cause I think this is going to, we work with a few e-comm businesses and people who work in that, the product development space and people who are trying to build stuff. What about competition? Right? Like when you're looking at an idea, how do you see if it, if there's a, a niche, if there's a competitive gap, like how do you see that? 


 Oren
 This is where SEO comes into play big. Again, one of the things that succeeded really well with the lift Wells products is were able to own SEO for the category term equal. We're the first ones out there. And were number one across everything. If you go into a category and someone else owns the number one, two, and three slots, or have a super dominant SEO position, I tend to avoid it. If the SEO position is like decent, but not major, then you still have a big opportunity. Maybe you can overtake it. That's one where I'm like search is going to dominate such a big part of the business. You're gonna be paying that cost to put your ad there in perpetuity. If you're not gonna be able to have some level of being entrenched and you can succeed, but it's way easier. If you can actually find something where the SEO will work for you. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Can I, can I easily target and own the space that I'm building into. So good. One more time. Where can people go to connect with you and do a deal with you? 


 Oren
 Yeah. A Twitter or miss world, and then you can sign up for the newsletter at product world that XYZ. And then the agency has been partners.com. Any of those places you can find it. 


 Josh
 What was the width partners or w. 


 Oren
 G U I N N. 


 Josh
 Q U I N N. Partners. Where does that name come from? 


 Oren
 That's where, one of the, so it was myself, this guy, Craig, and this guy, Colin were all the individual kind of three guys who worked on it. Collins was the most prolific of us. His last name, his last name. 


 Josh
 Oh, perfect. All right. I love it. I love it. Love it. Love it. All right. Or thanks for coming on the show. Did I miss anything or. 


 Oren
 Anything. 


 Josh
 You want to. 


 Oren
 Cover quite a lot. Hopefully people find it valuable. 


 Josh
 Awesome. Fellow dealmakers listening in, or maybe watching this on YouTube. If you've got an idea, if you would like to explore, some product development and building stuff, taking stuff to market as always reach out to our guests, say, thank you, connect with them. Do a deal with them. Just connect directly with them. All their contact info will be in the show notes below if you're working on a deal or something. Sounds interesting. You want to talk to us about it, maybe on the show, head on over to the deal. Scout.com. Fill out a quick form. Maybe get you on show next till then talk to you all next episode. See you guys. 

Oren Schauble Profile Photo

Oren Schauble

President

Oren Schauble is a serial entrepreneur and builder. He served for years as president of Unrivaled Brands, a public west coast cannabis MSO.

Oren is a founding partner of Guinn Partners, a successful high-tech product development agency in Austin, TX. He served in leadership and advisory roles in marketing at startups such as TrackingPoint, Lift Foils, 3DR, Hangar Technology and more.

Oren co-hosts a Top 100 entrepreneurship podcast about building businesses, products and interesting lives called 'Builders Build'