Episode Forty Six Features Julie Austin Talking About Inventing Swiggies.
My Key Takeaways:
Julie was a lot of fun to talk to and we learned a lot, both about Inventing as well as Side Hustles in general.
In this episode Julie shares:
Her advice to a...
Episode Forty Six Features Julie Austin Talking About Inventing Swiggies. My Key Takeaways:
Julie was a lot of fun to talk to and we learned a lot, both about Inventing as well as Side Hustles in general.
In this episode Julie shares:
Her advice to anyone starting a side hustle.
How her Grandmother inspired her by having run her own little Country store in North Carolina.
What inspired her to invent Swiggies.
How she developed her first prototype and what it was made of.
The process that she went through to get a trademark.
How she first distributed product and what she did not realize regarding store sales.
The strategy she regrets doing as well as the one she regrets not doing.
How an impromptu meeting at a trade show led to a new market for Swiggies.
What the Hash House Harriers are and how they expanded her market in to Alcohol.
What a Trade Dress is and how she plans to use it to fight knock offs.
The unfortunate event which allowed her to meet her Patent Attorney.
Why she did not go on Shark Tank.
When she knew that Swiggies had made it.
That her next invention will be in the Pet Industry.
Why she wrote her book, The Money Garden.
[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guest today is an award winning author, inventor, futurist, and innovation keynote speaker. She's an internationally known thought leader on the topic of innovation and CEO of the consulting firm, creative innovation group. She's been an innovation keynote speaker for corporations, such as Proctor and gamble, Novartis pharmaceuticals, Northrup, Grumman, and cognizant technology solutions.
[00:00:27] Greg Mills: She's also been featured in the books, patently, female and girls. Think of everything. Her patented product risks, water bottles have been a NASDAQ product of the year semifinalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. And her products have appeared on the today. Show the queen loads. lifetime, ABC, CBS, NBC Fox news, Inc magazine, fast company, and the wall street journal along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world without further ado, Julie Austin,
[00:01:06] Julie Austin: Greg, that is,
[00:01:07] Julie Austin: a mouthful.
[00:01:09] Greg Mills: that is,
[00:01:10] Julie Austin: It sounds like I'm really busy. Doesn't it?
[00:01:13] Greg Mills: I think you are. So Julie, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world today?
[00:01:24] Julie Austin: Well, um, you know, obviously a lot has changed and everything has changed in the past two years. Um, I went from going 110 miles an hour to, you know, nothing to zero and, um, being in the live event industry and running multiple businesses, it just was crushing. I mean, you know, things have happened before I S I speak on disruptive innovation.
[00:01:55] Julie Austin: So, you know, things happen all the time. We go through recessions and, you know, all kinds of things happen, technology, but this, I think threw everybody for a loop.
[00:02:09] Greg Mills: Oh, yeah. We had to do things at my work that we would never have considered, like having people take their desktops home. we didn't have enough laptops to go around. So yeah I definitely think that that threw everybody for a loop
[00:02:24] Greg Mills: in case you're listening to this in 20 years from now, we're talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.
[00:02:31] Julie Austin: Well also, um, back in 2008, you know, something similar happened and it kind of everything just kind of crashed and burned. And, um, that's when I started, I wrote the book, the money garden, how to plant the seeds for lifetime of income. And that's what happened before that was that I had one invention, one product, it was doing fantastic.
[00:02:55] Julie Austin: I was flying around the world, going back and forth to the factory. You know, having orders that, you know, I, I've never made that much money in my life. It was, I kept looking at my bank account going, wow, what is that real? Um, and then that crashed and burned overnight. And the same thing happened. So, um, that's when I wrote the book for other people, but also I wrote it for myself to remind myself, to always have multiple streams of income and never put all your eggs in one basket.
[00:03:38] Greg Mills: Okay. What are some of the multiple strings of income that you advise people to get into?
[00:03:45] Julie Austin: Well, I always tell people, you know, start with, and this is the advice I was giving myself. Um, this was back in 2008 and I said, well, you know, what is my background? What do I know how to do? What am I good at? And I come from an entertainment background, I'm a TV and film background. So I said, well, I'm a writer and a performer, but you can't exactly just go, uh, do that, like stand on a street corner, I guess you could.
[00:04:18] Julie Austin: But, um, it, you know, it's a little bit different when you're in a movie or a TV show, but if you're a speaker that's quite different. And so I put those two together and started becoming a speaker and that's something I'd never considered before. And I did that until the past two years. And then I just never imagined that that would come to a grinding halt.
[00:04:47] Julie Austin: So, I mean, I'm always, always thinking of, okay, what happens if this industry goes under? What else do I have that I can, you know, can jump into? And that a lot of that is using your own background. Like, what are you good at? What's your background? And, and a lot of people are not using it, which is really surprising to me.
[00:05:12] Julie Austin: And I go, uh, you know, when I kind of pull things out of him, I go, why are you not using that skill and talent that you have to create a business?
[00:05:24] Greg Mills: Yeah, I think a lot of people just either take it for granted or they're just so burned out by their day job that they don't even want to consider something that they already do as a secondary side hustle.
[00:05:37] Julie Austin: Well, a lot of side hustles and also I would really, really recommend that anybody who was going to go start their own business, if you already have a job is to keep that job because that's income. And then, you know, I know it's a lot of work. I know it's, you know, time consuming, but in your free time, whatever it is, start working on something that is yours, that you can do that doesn't depend on anybody else.
[00:06:13] Greg Mills: Okay. That's good advice. Now, growing up, did you come from an entrepreneurial or an inventors background? Did anyone in your family invent anything or have their own business while you're growing up?
[00:06:26] Julie Austin: That is a good question. My grandmother ran a country store. This is your in North Carolina. You know, um, it was, uh, in Siler city in between Raleigh and, uh, Charlotte. And it was in the middle of nowhere. She was a 17 year old orphan had no money, no education, no experience at all. And she walked into a bank and she said, if you give me a loan, I will pay you back.
[00:07:00] Julie Austin: You know, a penny per gallon of gas. So she wanted to open a gas station, grocery store. She said, I'll pay you back a penny per gallon until the loan is paid. she had no collateral. She had no credit back then. And they said yes. And she said, oh yeah. And by the way, I want to build a house next to it.
[00:07:22] Julie Austin: And I need some land. Can you imagine doing that today?
[00:07:29] Greg Mills: wow. She had some Moxy. I will give her that Moxie. Wasn't the first word that came up
[00:07:34] Julie Austin: she, she used to sleep with a machete under her pillow, so yeah, she, um, she was something else,
[00:07:42] Greg Mills: You have to be very careful waking grandma up.
[00:07:48] Julie Austin: but you know, she, she lived there by herself and, and ran the store and, um, I, I don't know how she even learned how to do it, you know? Cause the word it's not like she had any education at it. I don't know how she did it.
[00:08:05] Greg Mills: Yeah, that was going to ask you that. Cause you know, obviously no internet, no books that I'm aware of teaching how to start a country store, back then , I wonder if she had a mentor or somebody that, gave her a lot of advice or if she just gutted it out.
[00:08:21] Julie Austin: I don't know. I don't, I think she just figured it all out. And I guess she probably went, well, people have to have gas, so, you know, and they got to have food. And that was way way before all the box stores, the big box stores. And even when the big box stores came to town, everybody still went to her store because she had built.
[00:08:47] Julie Austin: And this is a, you know, something that she learned about customer service. I mean, she really gave her. People great customer service. And I watched her when I was a little kid, she used to let me, you know, she put some, uh, stacks and boxes up behind the counter and would let me ring people up. And, you know, when it was a little baby, I guess I was entertaining taming the customers and I would have costumes or something, and this is going to sound crazy.
[00:09:18] Julie Austin: But, um, I dunno, I found some pictures and, uh, I guess I was the entertainment. So while my mom went off and worked for the day,
[00:09:29] Greg Mills: I was going to ask you if you were close, but it sounds like you were, and you got to work with her. That was pretty goal.
[00:09:35] Julie Austin: yeah, from the time I was a little kid, so I kind of grew up around that, but she is really except for my other cousin, the only one in my entire family on both sides that ever ran a business,
[00:09:50] Greg Mills: What does your cousin do?
[00:09:52] Julie Austin: They have like a parking lot sweeper business.
[00:09:57] Greg Mills: Okay.
[00:09:58] Julie Austin: And so when all the big box stores came into town, they went to the owner or the manager and said, look, you know, you're sweeping this up with a broom. We have this heavy duty machinery. Why don't you pay us to go in and sweep up the parking lot?
[00:10:16] Julie Austin: And that's how they started.
[00:10:18] Julie Austin: So, you know, what is finding an opportunity is a good thing. You brought that up because you have to, an entrepreneur will spot opportunities everywhere, and there is opportunity to make money everywhere. You just have to look for it.
[00:10:36] Greg Mills: Okay. Now let's talk about your invention. Swig is what inspires you in to invent it. And I guess probably backing up even a little bit from that. Um, can you tell the audience what a swaggy is?
[00:10:49] Julie Austin: They are risked water bottles. And the reason I came up with them, I was in Texas visiting my dad. It was in the middle of the summer. It was blazing hot. And I went out running and I had no water with me. And I thought, okay, I'll drink enough water. You know, I'm carrying my keys and music and I just didn't have anywhere to keep a water bottle.
[00:11:15] Julie Austin: And then I ended up passing out from dehydration, which wasn't smart, but people in Texas are friendly. And, uh, someone took me to the hospital and I'm thinking, wow, that was kinda dumb. Um, that should probably have water next time. But yeah. What if there was a way to keep it hands free. And then I realized if it's on your wrist, that's, that's hands free.
[00:11:41] Julie Austin: And then I can have my music and my keys and whatever. And, um, I thought, you know, surely somebody has come up with this idea. And so I did a lot of research and did not find anything. And then I went to the, um, through the patent office, couldn't find anything. So I went, Hm. Maybe I should just invent this myself.
[00:12:05] Julie Austin: And, um, that's what I started doing.
[00:12:09] Greg Mills: So how did you create a prototype for it?
[00:12:13] Julie Austin: The prototype was made out of clay and a, an off the shelf cap and, uh, just a regular like band. I don't even remember what it was. Uh, it was kind of like a felt or something. I mean, that's the thing about prototypes. You can just go to your local art store and put stuff together with Popsicle sticks and styrofoam, just so you have, you know, something that you can show because people, you can tell people all day long, it's a wrist water bottle and they won't get it.
[00:12:48] Julie Austin: But when you show it to them, even with the prototype, the clunky clay prototype, people went, oh, now I get it. And even more so once I made the product, then they were able to get it. But no, and, and not only that, but today we have, um, you know, you don't have to go through the entire patent process. Like I did.
[00:13:13] Julie Austin: You can get a provisional patent for peanuts. I mean, it?
[00:13:17] Julie Austin: costs almost nothing. It cost almost nothing to do a prototype. So it's way easier and way cheaper, because I had to, it had to go through the patent office twice and that's quite often how it, it works. They don't give it to you the first time. And, um, finally I got the patent and then said, okay, now what?
[00:13:43] Julie Austin: There was no shark tank when I started as well. I guess I have to get, uh, get the product may get a mold made and took, took that little clay prototype to a mold maker and said, here, can you make this? And luckily they, it worked the first time.
[00:14:02] Greg Mills: That's pretty incredible that you got it to work the first time.
[00:14:05] Julie Austin: It really is.
[00:14:09] Greg Mills: Now, the first time that it was rejected by the patent office, did they give you any kind of feedback as to why or they just stamp it rejected?
[00:14:19] Julie Austin: I don't remember. Um, I honestly don't remember why they rejected it. They usually, I mean, it usually happens the first time. And So it was an enormous amount of money that I had to pay the first time. Then I had to pay that again. And they said, are you sure you want to go through this? Because I don't think it's going to go through.
[00:14:43] Julie Austin: And I said, no, let's go for it. Let me sell my car. I'll max out my credit cards. And literally I was working two and three jobs, maxing out credit cards. It was, you know, you've heard this, these stories before from crazy inventors that we do all kinds of things to, to get our product on the moon.
[00:15:05] Greg Mills: So you were all in at that point.
[00:15:07] Julie Austin: Well, at some point you put in too much money and you can't back out.
[00:15:14] Greg Mills: gotcha. So you got the, uh, the patent back, it was approved. were your next step?
[00:15:24] Julie Austin: I had to get a trademark. So, um, came up with a name, the name hydro sport. And then I, you know, it was just a series of steps of, okay, now I have a name. I have a finished product, I guess I have to get some package. And then I, um, went to a friend of mine who had a manufacturing company and he loaned me some of his packaging.
[00:15:53] Julie Austin: I bought the rest of them, which didn't really fit the product. And I had to sit here in the, in my living room and glue them together. If I showed you, I still have one of those. And it is so awful looking, I can't believe they were on a store shelf anywhere. Cause it looks terrible, but I did get a lot of orders and uh, you know, you have to get the, uh, this called a header card for the packaging.
[00:16:26] Julie Austin: And then, then you have to get all kinds of mean, uh they're they're just all kinds of things you have to do with the packaging and the, uh, and then after I got that done, um, I just literally put them in my car and started driving door to door. So this is how crazy and naive I was.
[00:16:49] Greg Mills: So how did you get it manufactured? .
[00:16:51] Julie Austin: Wow. So the first ones that I manufactured, um, I'm in Los Angeles and I, you know, found a local manufacturer here that would do them because that way I could drive to their, uh, location and kind of keep it all together. And then, you know, the bottles had to be diff done differently than the bands and the cap.
[00:17:19] Julie Austin: So I had to get all three of those pieces in different places and then put right. And then I had to put them together. So that's the tricky part, but so th the, it originally costs me a lot of money to have them manufactured here way. Too much, because I finally realized, okay, if I manufacture here, I'm not going to make any money.
[00:17:44] Julie Austin: And then I started looking for overseas manufacturing and I happened to be at a trade show. And there was a guy, um, who was, I dunno, he had some kind of fitness product. And I went up to him at the booth and I said, who's your manufacturer. These are really, you know, this is great quality. And he said, my manufacturers and Malaysia, and he said, I can put you in touch with him.
[00:18:12] Julie Austin: And so I contacted him and I said, you know, obviously you have to buy in large volume when you buy overseas. Um, but again, being the insane person that I was, I said, okay, let's start with 50,000, 50,000. I had no idea how I was going to sell 50,000.
[00:18:39] Greg Mills: Where were you storing? 50,000.
[00:18:42] Julie Austin: I had to rent a U haul truck, a gigantic truck and, and get a warehouse, obviously not in LA. It was too expensive. And I had to drive all the way out. I don't even remember where it was like in like the industrial area. And I put them in the warehouse and then I said, how am I going to sell these?
[00:19:07] Greg Mills: So again, you were all in at this point.
[00:19:11] Julie Austin: Yeah, do not. Uh, this is a word of advice. Do not do what I did.
[00:19:16] Greg Mills: So you were, you were going through and selling these, you know, door to door and people are buying them individually. Um, when did you start getting, um, you know, like mass quantity orders.
[00:19:32] Julie Austin: Well, when I say door to door, um, I actually went store to store.
[00:19:37] Julie Austin: Yeah. But I mean, I literally would walk in and say, you know, who, who is the buyer? And you know, what kind of products are you buying? And that kind of thing. And I, and I, somebody luckily told me to put them in a pop, which is a point of purchase display and make it look really presentable.
[00:19:58] Julie Austin: So that's what I did. And I literally walked in and, um, just to all like chain drug stores, grocery store, seven Eleven's, um, car washes, any place that I could gift shops. And that's really how It started. Sporting goods stores, sporting good chains. There was one out here. Um, I think they went under, I don't remember, but, um, it was a decent size chain of sporting goods stores.
[00:20:30] Julie Austin: Now I've gotten them in all of these stores. Sounds great. Right?
[00:20:37] Greg Mills: It does until, you know, I'm assuming returns could be an issue or people actually, holding payment until they sell.
[00:20:46] Julie Austin: Well, that's what Walmart does. So the big box stores will, that's why you never, ever, ever want to go to Walmart first because, um, if they don't sell, you're going to get them back and you're going to have to be the bank for several months. So. Um, that was another thing. Luckily, I didn't go that far, but I did do this with chain stores and I had enough inventory.
[00:21:18] Julie Austin: Obviously I had 50,000 on them, but, um, that's not enough for Walmart, but it was enough for, for all of these chain stores. And, um, but the thing is I decided one day to go check them out, like, oh, look at me, I've got a product in a store. And I walk in and guess what? There, the box is upside down on the bottom shelf in the back of the store.
[00:21:48] Greg Mills: That's not gonna sell.
[00:21:51] Julie Austin: Yeah, nobody knows what the product is. And nobody can even find it because the box is turned upside down. And then I found out that they don't serve. The stores, you have to have your independent reps to go in and service the stores.
[00:22:09] Greg Mills: ouch.
[00:22:10] Julie Austin: I did not. This is a big, big, big lesson I learned. I did not know that
[00:22:16] Greg Mills: So at that point, did you become an independent rep or a dependent rep, I guess, or did you actually, or did you have to hire our people at that
[00:22:25] Julie Austin: I, well, I did hire one rep and she was fantastic and she was in Hawaii. So she covered, you know, a lot of territory out there and, you know, she just, she would go in, she'd get the order and I just ship it. And then she'd service all the accounts, um, until she retired. But so I would, if I had to do it all over again, I would start online for some reason.
[00:22:58] Julie Austin: I didn't know how to do it online. I didn't know how to use Amazon. I didn't know anything about anything. I just thought, okay, I have a product. I'm going to go get it in a store.
[00:23:09] Greg Mills: Well was Amazon or around when you started it or more than a book sale bookseller at that point?
[00:23:17] Julie Austin: Um, yeah, but it wasn't really, um, you know, I, it wasn't what it is now,
[00:23:26] Greg Mills: Um,
[00:23:27] Julie Austin: but they were selling products.
[00:23:31] Greg Mills: yeah, I'm thinking you probably would have had to have had a lot more, um, I guess technology investment at that point to have sold online, it is not like it is now.
[00:23:48] Julie Austin: Yeah. I mean, I, maybe I shouldn't beat myself up too much, but, um, yeah, I just, these days I would say do it online. That way you take away a lot of the, you know, expense and headache of getting them into stores. Although I got him into a few, um, chain stores that ordered over and over and over again for probably 10 years.
[00:24:18] Greg Mills: That's pretty good.
[00:24:20] Julie Austin: Yeah.
[00:24:21] Greg Mills: So retail, has that been your biggest, , customer base market? Yes. Thank you. Or
[00:24:30] Julie Austin: definitely not.
[00:24:33] Greg Mills: what what's, what's been your biggest market.
[00:24:35] Julie Austin: Well, I'll tell you another story.
[00:24:37] Julie Austin: I was doing trade shows and I just thought, okay, it's a sporting goods product that. The way I looked at it and I would go to these sporting goods shows and not really get very much interest. And it was kind of disheartening. I thought, well, you know, it one, it not one, but it was a semi-finalist in the NASDAQ, uh, competition and NASDAQ had a big party for all of us and, you know, that was gray, but the buyers weren't really buying.
[00:25:12] Julie Austin: And so I was kind of disillusioned and I said, okay, I'm going to try one more show. And there was something called action sports. I think something like that. And. I loaded up my car. I got my booth ready and opening day. I was right next to a skateboard ramp with the music blasting. So you couldn't hear anybody talk.
[00:25:40] Julie Austin: And I realized really quickly, this is not my audience at all. And I probably lasted about an hour or two. And then I just said, okay, that's it. I was just in tears. I went, okay, I'm going to, um, no, I'm packing up. And I started to leave and I saw this guy who was packing his, his booth up. And I said, well, why are you leaving?
[00:26:05] Julie Austin: He said, this is not my market. I said, well, it's not mine either. And we just walked the show together and he said, you know what? Your product is, it's a promotional product. And I said, what's that? He said, you know, like hats and mugs and pens and t-shirts that companies put their logo on and give them away.
[00:26:24] Julie Austin: And I said, I don't know that much about it. And he said, okay, well I have a show next week in Vegas. If you want to come out, you know, just bring your stuff and you can have a little corner of my booth and you can kind of test it and see what happens. And so I went out there and walked into the show and I got mobbed in the Isles.
[00:26:47] Julie Austin: I was just shocked. Everybody goes, whoa, what is that? What is it? Where'd you get it? And I couldn't even get to the booth. There were so many people stopping me and I realize, Okay.
[00:27:00] Julie Austin: this is my mom's. And I didn't. And then I had, uh, you know, had the product at the booth and everyone wanted a sample. So that's the thing you'd have to give out samples.
[00:27:14] Julie Austin: And I didn't really have tons of samples. I ran out of all of the samples and all my cards, and this is how I sold almost a million of these.
[00:27:24] Greg Mills: , that makes sense then.
[00:27:26] Julie Austin: yeah, it was total serendipity. Oh, not only that, but I'm getting ready to leave the show and I'm walking through the hotel or something. And I, and I, this guy stops me and he said, if you got five minutes, I'll tell you how to sell a bunch of those.
[00:27:43] Julie Austin: And I said, okay, it worked before. And he said, uh, it's called the hash house Harriers. Have you ever heard of them? it's.
[00:27:56] Greg Mills: teasing.
[00:27:57] Julie Austin: house. Harriers is a, what do they call it? A running club, a drinking club with a running problem, put it. So they drink beer and run from keg to keg.
[00:28:12] Greg Mills: Okay.
[00:28:14] Julie Austin: And I've never heard of this in my life. He said, people are running around with open cups of beer, spilling their beer. And he said, this is perfect.
[00:28:24] Julie Austin: You just open it up and fill it with beer and then run to the next keg. And I went, Wow, He said they have one every night, somewhere in the world. It is huge. So now I sell maybe like 20%.
[00:28:40] Julie Austin: of my sales are in the alcoholic.
[00:28:43] Greg Mills: Wow, 20%.
[00:28:47] Julie Austin: Yeah. So these are things you never ever know until you actually open your business and start running it. You don't really know who your customers are going to be. You think, you know, see if I have written a business plan, it would have been obsolete in a month.
[00:29:08] Greg Mills: can see the, imprinting, as, as a company's, gift or a swag, but I would never have come up with the drinking and running.
[00:29:22] Julie Austin: Well, it's, uh, it's a big, big market. The hash house Harriers. Yup.
[00:29:29] Greg Mills: Wow. So if anybody's listening out there, you need to target this market. It sounds like it's probably underserved.
[00:29:39] Julie Austin: Yeah. I mean, if you have, uh, an item for beer drinkers and people who run and drink beer, I mean, for me, it was just, okay, I have both, this is perfect.
[00:29:52] Greg Mills: Yeah. That I would not have thought of that.
[00:29:56] Julie Austin: No, and that's, that's the thing you have to just launch your business and get into it. And then this whole thing, um, I don't know. Did you ever write a business plan, Greg?
[00:30:07] Greg Mills: No, I never have.
[00:30:09] Julie Austin: I haven't either. And I know a lot of people say you have to have a business plan, but you know, it really would not have.
[00:30:19] Julie Austin: made any sense.
[00:30:20] Julie Austin: It would have changed within a month. The whole business plan would have changed.
[00:30:26] Greg Mills: Yeah, it would just spend, you'd have been spinning your wheels at that point because you didn't know what you didn't know.
[00:30:31] Julie Austin: Right. I think a marketing plan is good, but a business plan. I don't know that it's perfect unless you're trying to raise venture capital. I don't, you know, I never done it.
[00:30:45] Greg Mills: yeah. Now you mentioned that you were kind of beating yourself up because you didn't put it on Amazon. Are you on Amazon? Presently?
[00:30:57] Julie Austin: Um, yes. Sort of, um, what happened was I, uh, a counterfeiter and this is another thing. If you invent a product, you are going to get counterfeiters. They just, whether you're a big multinational company. Or, you know, a mom and pop you're going to get counterfeiters and that's what happened. And I've been swatting them down ever since.
[00:31:23] Julie Austin: And then one got into Amazon and I'd been fighting to get them off because I have, um, some pretty strong intellectual property right now and they are violating it. So, um, so, uh, yeah, the point is the counterfeiter is still on there and I'm trying to get them off.
[00:31:47] Greg Mills: Okay, now it seems like Amazon could come under some, liability for that.
[00:31:53] Julie Austin: Oh yes, they will. Yes, they will. Um, I, you know, I am trying to do it the nice way, but, um, has got to, it's got to come on. And, and what I have, and I think I was telling you earlier is that.
[00:32:12] Julie Austin: I have a trade dress. It's a registered trade dress, which comes under a trademark, but it protects the look of a product. So.
[00:32:23] Julie Austin: it is actually more valuable. It's stronger protection than a patent. Not everybody can get it. There are certain things that have to happen for you to get a trade dress, not, you know, not everybody's ever heard of it.
[00:32:43] Greg Mills: I had not heard of it and , I Googled it. Um, and one of the examples was the Coca Cola bottle. You know, it's kind of got that slim, but tapered, waste look almost like it's a body and then it's a Coke bottle.
[00:32:59] Julie Austin: Yeah. That's a very good example. Um, luckily for me, Mine is, um, and it does protect, it has nothing to do with the use of a product. It's I mean, I'm not an attorney, so I'm not going to be able to explain it well, but, um, my patent agent was the one who told me about it and he is fantastic. He's amazing I, I don't know what I would've done without him.
[00:33:33] Julie Austin: And the way I found this is another story of serendipity, the way I found my patent agent was because we were both scammed by the same guy. So this one guy said he was a, you know, a guru, this market. If anybody calls themselves a guru run, here's a marketing guru. And I was so exhausted at this point, I thought, okay, please, somebody helped me out here.
[00:34:03] Julie Austin: And, uh, he turned out to be a nightmare and found out that he was scamming people all across the country and including my patent agent, he got scammed by the same, we call him dirt mag. He was scammed by dirt bag. Um, but, but he turned out to be, it turned out to be the best thing that could ever have happened to me because of something bad.
[00:34:30] Greg Mills: It's amazing how it kinda lines up like that sometimes.
[00:34:35] Julie Austin: I've had really good luck and really bad luck.
[00:34:39] Greg Mills: Yeah. It sounds like it, but your bad luck, hasn't been totally catastrophic. It doesn't sell like.
[00:34:47] Julie Austin: No, it seemed like it at the time. Cause it took the product off the market for about a year. And then I had to spend money hiring lawyers and you know, it just, it was so stressful. there anybody who's ever been through anything like that? It's, it's very stressful, but you know, once I figured out, okay, he is scanned a lot of people and you know, this, this does not look good for him.
[00:35:19] Greg Mills: Yeah. Don't name the name, but what was kind of his, uh, modus operandi or his pitch
[00:35:24] Julie Austin: um, well let me, he started off in slip and fall. He was a scammer. I mean, he was a con artist and, and, you know, he just prayed on inventors because, you know, we're kind of, uh, you know, we, we it's, it's overwhelming what we have to do, you know, manufacturing and packaging and marketing distribution, and we have to do everything ourselves.
[00:35:54] Julie Austin: So. Now I just is, is terrible. That that's, um, the people try to scam And ventures like that, but that's, that was his thing. And there were, I found a lot of them that he had damn,
[00:36:07] Greg Mills: And you're probably not the typical inventor in that you, you sound like you're probably more of an extrovert and I, I think a good number of inventors are probably introverts.
[00:36:16] Julie Austin: and that's probably true. Yeah.
[00:36:18] Greg Mills: I don't really have anything to back that up with, but from the people that I've talked with, that seems to be the case.
[00:36:25] Julie Austin: Well, and, and you have to, it's just like writers, a lot of writers and I'm also a writer. Um, you know, you're a lot of writers tend to be introverted, but that's not how you're going to sell your stuff. It's the same way. Everything is about sales. Everything is about marketing. And so you just have to get over it.
[00:36:49] Julie Austin: And I have one of my neighbors who was just invent. He didn't invent something. I don't know. He he's, he's got a product he's trying to build a business around. I don't think he actually invented it, but, um, he got a little bit of investment money from somebody and he said, oh, I need to hire this one. And that one and this one, I went, no, no, you do not have enough money to start hiring people.
[00:37:15] Julie Austin: Don't do it. Learn how to do all this stuff, yourself, learn how to do it online. All of the things that are cheap, um, to do, or probably cheap and creative, those are the things that are probably going to work anyway. Don't be throwing your money on ads and, you know, hiring a bunch of people because that's the way to just blow through your cash.
[00:37:43] Greg Mills: Did you ever try to go on shark tank or any other shows? Sure
[00:37:48] Julie Austin: No, because by the time short tank came along, I had already financed everything myself. I was already, at that point, I was actually selling quite a lot. And now that I think back on it, it probably would have been the best time to go on shark tank because they watch you when you're hot. It's like, well, now you're selling, you know, hundreds of thousands or this thing.
[00:38:14] Julie Austin: Right. So, but I just didn't think I needed it. I didn't need the money. So I was already in business.
[00:38:24] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, imagine there been many highs and lows with creating your own product. Can you give us an example of each you may have already given us one of the lows with the scam artists, but.
[00:38:39] Julie Austin: Yeah. Oh, and by the way, um, as far as the shark tank, if I did it today, I would just, I don't even know if you can do this, but I would go on there to get a licensing deal from, Uh,
[00:38:53] Julie Austin: from Kevin that what I would really like to do. So, so if he is listening, if you're listening, Kevin, call me. Um, Yeah, What was the question?
[00:39:07] Julie Austin: Oh, the highs, the highs. Um, I went to, well as an adventurer, you Yukon, you go through periods of, wow, I'm really going to do this and I've got it going. And people are interested too. Really lows and I've run out of money and, you know, nobody likes it and nobody likes me and whoa, whoa, whoa. And then I remember taking a vacation and going to Utah and I saw a rock climber with my product and it was the only one.
[00:39:44] Julie Austin: So I knew it was mine and it had my name on it, had Hydrus born on it. And I said, I made that. I invented that and that's this. And it's somebody, who's not a family member that I gave it to. This is a stranger who just went online and bought my product and they're using it. So that's, you know, that's one of the big highs I think
[00:40:09] Greg Mills: Yeah, I think I'm Travis Ross back of a Hydroflask actually. So that, was one of his, milestones, so to speak that when he actually was. Paris. I think he was going to visit the lube or something along those lines. And he saw somebody with a hydro flask and it was in the wild, you know, kind of felt like you'd made it
[00:40:32] Julie Austin: yeah. As he was in the loop and someone was asking what it is.
[00:40:37] Greg Mills: I don't know if he was actually in the loop but in any event he was in Paris,
[00:40:43] Julie Austin: Oh, well, that is very cool.
[00:40:46] Greg Mills: yeah.
[00:40:47] Julie Austin: Um, I know I have sold most of my product internationally, actually, um, in 25 countries, not in France. Never ever have I gotten an order from France and I don't know why, but Nope. Never gotten one.
[00:41:07] Greg Mills: So. If there's any distributors or want to be distributors in France, call us.
[00:41:17] Julie Austin: Yeah, I don't, that's kind of strange, but yeah, I mean, I've sold a lot in the UK. Um, Australia's a big market. South Africa is a big market. Um, Guatemala was a big market. I mean, that is, you know what, since you brought it up, that is one of the highs is to, um, that I've made friends all over the world. So I've had distributors, you know, and, and the thing is I never, ever signed any contracts with anybody, the only contract to ever sell.
[00:41:58] Julie Austin: Was with dirt bag and it turned out to be the worst thing ever. And I decided, no, you know what, we're going to, it's on a handshake. I promise you that I will, you know, depending on the size of the country, you know, I can't say you're the only person in the entire country, but you know, if it's a small, really small country, I may only have two or three distributors.
[00:42:23] Julie Austin: And I said, that's it, you know, depending on how big it is, I will not ever sell to anybody else. And that's it. And I kept my word. And so did they, and I've had people sell tons of these, um, with no contract and it's just all on a handshake, but yes, it was awesome. Just meeting all of these people from countries I've never heard of.
[00:42:52] Julie Austin: And it's great.
[00:42:56] Greg Mills: Yeah, I could see that being a huge advantage. Now I noticed on your LinkedIn bio, that you're a volunteer at a doggy food bank. Dogs are near and dear to entrepreneurs over 40 is hard. So we thank you for that. Do you have a dog of your own?
[00:43:13] Julie Austin: I have two rescue dogs in my own. Yup.
[00:43:17] Greg Mills: Okay, well, so two rescues. How old are they? And what type, what type? Roughly mutts of muds acceptable, but
[00:43:27] Julie Austin: Yep. I have a 14 year old toodle. That's a terrier poodle and, um, a puppy she's about almost a year old and she's a terrier English setter mix and, and the tiny little poodle toodle, uh, is the boss.
[00:43:50] Greg Mills: Okay. Yeah. It usually works out that way.
[00:43:53] Julie Austin: Yeah. She's she needs the boss. She was here first, but, um, even with my older dog, before she still came in and she was the boss. So we just decided she she's the boss of everyone.
[00:44:07] Greg Mills: Yeah. Now, do you have any ideas for more products to invent or potentially something in the pet realm or?
[00:44:15] Julie Austin: Yes, I do. Um, as funny you said the pet round, it that's exactly what it is. Um, and I think the next go around, I'm going to have to partner with someone because it's, it's a lonely doing yourself as lonely. And, um, I would just rather, the next time it'd be with a partner and, uh, you know, share the ups and the downs and the financial part
[00:44:47] Greg Mills: Yeah, I can, I
[00:44:48] Julie Austin: I don't think, I don't think this product is going to cost nearly what my, the first one did.
[00:44:55] Greg Mills: Can you talk anything about it without giving away or is,
[00:44:59] Greg Mills: Just kind of what it is or what it will do. Maybe it would be, without giving it away. Okay. Fair. Fair enough.
[00:45:06] Julie Austin: you shouldn't, and you shouldn't do that when you're, um, when you're an inventor, you shouldn't tell people until you have at least a provisional patent on it. And I think it's for legal reasons. Um, again, I'm not a, not an attorney, so I don't know, but it has something to do with disclosing it or something, but
[00:45:30] Greg Mills: Well, I tried. So
[00:45:33] Julie Austin: good. Try Greg.
[00:45:34] Greg Mills: thank you. So do you have a provisional patent applied for,
[00:45:40] Julie Austin: Um, I don't, and I'm not even sure if it's something that can be patented,
[00:45:45] Greg Mills: okay.
[00:45:46] Julie Austin: um, so that's, that's a good question for my patent agent and, uh, it's, it's a daunting task to, to invent a product and see it through to the manufacturing and distribution and all of that. So I'm kind of waiting until the dust settles a little bit, and I have more time to work on it.
[00:46:08] Greg Mills: So with the, potential product, is it, you think you'll manufacture it or do you think you'll try to license.
[00:46:17] Julie Austin: I think I will probably manufacture it. Yeah.
[00:46:23] Greg Mills: Okay.
[00:46:24] Julie Austin: Like I didn't really learn my lesson the first time.
[00:46:28] Greg Mills: There's nothing wrong with manufacturing. I've heard good things about licensing as well, though. So,
[00:46:34] Julie Austin: Oh yeah. I have to. And, um, I really actually, what happened was I originally was had someone that I was licensing my product to, and that was back when I had my original patent and I was getting ready to, uh, you know, it took about a year and all of everyone's attorneys was calling everyone else's attorney that had died, just went around the table 50 million times and we're finally ready to do it.
[00:47:05] Julie Austin: And the company that we were going to work with. Went bankrupt.
[00:47:08] Greg Mills: oh, ouch. All that work.
[00:47:13] Julie Austin: So I said, you know what? I don't have time to mess around with this for another year. I'm just going to go make it myself. And that's why I did it in the first place, because I just didn't have the patience to keep waiting. And in licensing is, uh, is so time consuming, you know, I don't know how many people you've had on who do have licensed products, But,
[00:47:39] Greg Mills: But,
[00:47:42] Julie Austin: yeah, I mean, it's great if you can get one quickly, but otherwise it's a slow process.
[00:47:48] Greg Mills: yeah, that's what that is what I've heard. So you're also an author and a keynote speaker, or how are you finding the time to do all of these things at a high level?
[00:47:59] Julie Austin: Well, um, I just don't sleep a lot. Um, I have always worked 12 to 14, 16 hours a day, always as just, I mean, I can't imagine the thing is, and, and you know, the people that are listening, you know, to this, uh, podcast, if you're looking to become an entrepreneur and start your own business, do something you love because you're going to be married to.
[00:48:33] Julie Austin: For a long, long time. And sometimes people start businesses and they just go, well, I just want to make some money. We'll do something that you really are gonna, you know, jump out of bed and go, wow, I can't wait to get started. So that's how I feel about writing. And I've written three nonfiction books.
[00:48:54] Julie Austin: I've got eight TV and film scripts. Um, reality shows TV, a TV pilot. Um, and the speaking is also something I love doing and I love inventing. So I mean, you know, I really, really like what I do. So I don't know if I would ever be able to return.
[00:49:18] Greg Mills: Yeah. Now you mentioned the money yard, and then I know that you've got another, another book. I wasn't aware that you have had a third out.
[00:49:28] Julie Austin: Uh, the third book is not for sale. It's just for a, sort of a calling card to get speaking work, but the first two, uh, the money garden. Um, and then the second book is on, um, PE art patronage. So patronage of the arts, and it's a history book, which is, it took me four years to write that book. It was very intensive research on that.
[00:49:58] Julie Austin: It's called from the Kings court to Kickstarter patronage in the modern era.
[00:50:02] Greg Mills: We've almost gone back to a patronage model. In some cases, podcasting is as well with, you know, like Patrion and, other services
[00:50:13] Greg Mills: What book do you currently recommend to move someone to either start their business or start an invention?
[00:50:22] Julie Austin: Well, um, Hm. I don't know the name of it, but it was a, uh, the rich dad, poor dad series and yeah. And it was the one where he has, he talks about the quadrant. Do you know which one that was?
[00:50:44] Greg Mills: I think it might've been rich dad, poor dad. And you're talking about the cashflow quadrant.
[00:50:49] Julie Austin: Yes. Cashflow quadrant.
[00:50:51] Greg Mills: Okay.
[00:50:52] Julie Austin: Um, and I'll tell you why it was so good for me to see that because my grandmother who, you know, she was an entrepreneur, she started her own business, but she had one store, one source of income, um, or two sources really. I mean, she sold gas, but, and she's whole food, but she never even imagined to, um, start opening new stores.
[00:51:21] Julie Austin: And, you know, that's how a lot of it was mom and pops are the big, big companies that you think are now started as a little mom and pop store like that. So, but she didn't have that, you know, I don't know. I don't want to say ambition. She just, she just said, you know what? I don't ever have to work for anybody.
[00:51:41] Julie Austin: My house is attached to my store, my business. I wake up in the morning and I see all of my friends, my customers who were my friends and I make a good living and that's it. And I'm happy. And she literally did it until the day she died. So she passed out behind the counter with a brain aneurysm. So, but so she didn't have.
[00:52:06] Julie Austin: You know, kind of I'm going to do multiple businesses or franchise or anything, but what, um, the quadrant book talks about is the different levels of you could either just run a little business and just stay there and make your living and that's it. And that's great. Or you can figure out how to expand that and have multiple streams and either franchise it or do other things.
[00:52:33] Julie Austin: You know what I mean? So that really kind of that book stuck with me. Um, I have not really branched out into the franchising or anything like that, but I've made a very decent living over the past 20 years, um, with my product and my business. And I started other businesses. I have a sponsorship business and.
[00:53:00] Julie Austin: Um, you know, I, um, kind of have a quasi speaker bureau business, so I do other things, but, um, yeah, so I would highly recommend that book.
[00:53:11] Greg Mills: Okay. That was so
[00:53:14] Julie Austin: And of course the money garden.
[00:53:15] Greg Mills: of course the money garden. Yes. I was waiting for you to plug that.
[00:53:19] Julie Austin: Yeah. I mean the money garden is, is tells you step-by-step how to run, start and run multiple businesses.
[00:53:27] Greg Mills: What's your preferred social media.
[00:53:31] Julie Austin: LinkedIn because it's more geared towards business.
[00:53:35] Greg Mills: Okay. What's the best way for someone to contact you or check you out?
[00:53:41] Julie Austin: Well, you can go to my, kind of my catch all, uh, website, which is create for cash and that's create F O R create for cash.com. and then you could also go to dot com S w I G G I E s.com. That's the invention. And, uh, those, those are two. I mean, I have a bunch of websites, but they're all plugged on, on create for cash.
[00:54:11] Julie Austin: So you'll see them on.
[00:54:12] Greg Mills: Okay. Lastly, what's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners?
[00:54:20] Julie Austin: Just to never give up, um, do something you love and, and never give up, um, keep your day job as long as you can. So you can, uh, you have money coming in. You won't be stressed out until you get to the point That you can jump off the cliff. Completely. Just keep doing that. And you know, um, a lot of people are gonna say, you can't do it and don't listen to that.
[00:54:46] Greg Mills: That sounds like great advice.
[00:54:48] Julie Austin: I mean, I've heard it a million times.
[00:54:51] Greg Mills: Well, that's a wrap. Thank you, Julie, for being a guest on entrepreneurs over 40.
[00:54:56] Julie Austin: Thank you so much.
Author / Inventor / CEO
Julie Austin is an award-winning author, inventor, futurist, and innovation keynote speaker. She’s an internationally known thought leader on the topic of innovation, and CEO of the consulting firm Creative Innovation Group. She’s been an innovation keynote speaker for corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Northrop Grumman, and Cognizant Technology Solutions. She’s also been featured in the books “Patently Female” and “Girls Think of Everything”.
Her patented product, swiggies, wrist water bottles, have been a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. Julie and her products have appeared on The Today Show, The Queen Latifa Show, HGTV, Lifetime, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, Inc. magazine, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world.