Catch Russ Krajec on the #PirateBroadcast - russjohns

Catch Russ Krajec on the #PirateBroadcast

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​Russ Johns 0:00
Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast where We interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings where you can expand your connections, your community. #Kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let's get this party started.

Hey, it's another day for the #piratebroadcast. #Interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. We are excited for this show today. I just want to thank everyone for being here. If you're in the comments, leave a little note. Let us know where you're coming from. If you're joining after the fact, let us know what your questions are, and see if we can get back to you and answer some of those questions for you. If you want to ask questions in the future episode, drop me a direct message in LinkedIn. Connect with me. Today we have Russ in the room. We got the two Russ' in the #piratebroadcast. Thank you so much for being here, Russ. And Being a pirate now.

Russ Krajec 1:01
I'm happy to be here.

Russ Johns 1:03
Yeah hurt status.

Russ Krajec 1:05
Oh Runkle. Russ

Russ Johns 1:09
It's nice to to see your face today. I know you're up in Colorado and you shared a couple pictures is amazing scenery. How's Colorado today?

Russ Krajec 1:21
It's beautiful, you know, 330 days of sunshine. it's kind of tedious. It's glorious that Yeah, really. I grew up in Connecticut and move my way. West. I spent three years in St. Louis and then and then got out here and, man, it's just a great place to live in the people here. A lot of most of the people here moved from somewhere else. It's a pretty open and and friendly environment. Just to live just to go to the coffee shop and people are engaging with each other nice to each other and all that it's really a pleasant place to be.

Russ Johns 2:12
That's awesome. I think that since we're working on the second half of 2020, the first half has been kind of challenging for a lot of folks. I suspect that you're doing okay, and you're safe and sane and everything else is good going.

Russ Krajec 2:30
I don't know about sane, but yeah, We're all good.

Russ Johns 2:33
Oh, good. Good. I want to dig in a little bit. You got a kind of interesting history here. We were talking before the show and you're recovering patent attorney. Tell us what that means and how you got here, where you are doing what you're doing today, because kind of give us some background story on how this evolved because this is a fascinating subject to talk about.

Russ Krajec 2:58
Yeah, some reason Covering patent attorney that. I was an engineer for a bunch of years and went through the patent process a few times when I was part of a big company and somebody else did all the patent work and I just did what I'm supposed to do. Then I had an invention that I wanted to sell and license and so I went to a patent attorney who was on my hockey team. I got terrible, terrible advice. Like he just felt like the meter was running all the time.

Russ Johns 3:39

Russ Krajec 3:40
I paid five $5,000 to do two searches that were terrible. I was so disappointed with that interaction in the way it worked that I took the patent bar and became a patent agent. Then it worked isn't and they kind of transition from being an engineer with a salary to being a Patent Agent where I was working for myself more or less that I went to law school when I was older] in my late 30s and hung up my shingle went solo and been solo for now 15 16 17 years now.

Well, the recovering patent attorney part about it is that as a patent attorney, I have to do whatever you tell me. If you want a patent on that crazy perpetual motion machine, that's never gonna make money. I have a legal moral and ethical obligation to do all that work for you like, Okay, do you want this? I've got to go do it. I'm kind of a hired gun.

Russ Johns 4:50

Russ Krajec 4:52
What I do now is I finance the patents and I do them on a leaseback model I treat the patents as collateral. I have this financial, this financing relationship, I only do patents that have value because I might get stuck with them. If I get stuck with them then I have to go sell the patent. I have to create the patents that are going to have value. So it actually aligns my interests with the client.

Russ Johns 5:30
When they win, you win.

Russ Krajec 5:32

Russ Johns 5:33
That's fascinating model. I love the idea. I love the concept of this. I do that with startups. I do sweat equity and I invest in helping them get to a certain point. In exchange for some equity in their business.

Russ Krajec 5:54

Russ Johns 5:54
If they do well, and they, they grow into a business and then that's a revenue stream. The model is is not unfamiliar to me, if I can speak. I think it's fascinating the way it's applied in the patents cycle. I mean, there's a lot of people that think they need patents. However, you mentioned that earlier that there's not a high percentage that make a lot of money. You have to be very selective in your process.

Russ Krajec 6:27
Yeah. The patent office says that only 2% of the patents make money.

Russ Johns 6:36
That's crazy

Russ Krajec 6:37
Maybe it's 95% of the patents are worthless 5% are good 20 to one odds that you're gonna miss on this. The one, the one thing about attorneys is that they're not allowed to take equity in the company. Like as marketing or your engineering work, that's perfectly fine with with attorneys, there's this heightened conflict of interest.

Russ Johns 7:13

Russ Krajec 7:14
If I have a conflict of interest as your attorney, and let's say the company's getting ready to sell, and an offer comes in and I'm your attorney, and I have a one share of equity. I have to recuse myself of any decision relating to that because I can't do what's right for the company and still have skin skill was gonna say skin of game but still have some kind of equity in there, right? Because you don't know if I'm telling you Oh, yeah, let's take this deal because\ I'm behind on my boat payment and I really need the cash today,

Russ Johns 7:59
Right! Right!

Russ Krajec 8:00
If it's the right thing for the business, you can never separate those two. That's why attorneys can't take equity. But everybody else can, which is that's the way it is. That's just the rules and like it or not, that's where it is.

Russ Johns 8:19
Well, it's one of those things where once you understand the rules, then you can learn where you can work outside the box, right?

Russ Krajec 8:27
Well, yeah

Russ Johns 8:29
If you're financing and your working to help the business grow in a different way in a unique way, then that affords you the opportunity to help them and be motivated, same side selling idea where they win, you win, everybody wins.

Russ Krajec 8:50
Yeah. If I don't actually deal with their decisions of whether or not they want to buy or sell the company.

Russ Johns 9:04

Russ Krajec 9:04
I'moutside here's the product, here's the payout, boom, you can do what you want with it, that's your decision. I don't have a part of that.

Russ Johns 9:17
I know that there's so many products and so many people out there creating new things. I mean, Russ, we're living in a an age where you can actually start a business with a phone easy.

Russ Krajec 9:34

Russ Johns 9:35
What is your experience in in a product in a patent versus bringing it to fruition versus intellectual property. Where it's a concept or a sales process or a certain business process, like, let's say like an Uber or Airbnb or something along those lines. What are Some of the things business owners need to think about when they're promoting one idea versus a product. Like you were a patent attorney for the original OtterBox. How many cases have they sold? How many phones have they saved in their duration? My son was a huge fan of OtterBox and had one on his phone all the time. He worked production and it was, it was in was indestructible. Talk a little bit about ideas and products.

Russ Krajec 10:37
Patents have value when somebody puts something to use. Just having a, the idea of hey, I'd like to have a case that protects my phone. I'd like the idea of I don't want my phone to break.

Russ Johns 10:56

Russ Krajec 10:57
You put it in some kind of tangent form, like a real case on a real phone. Then that that idea turns tangible for software stuff. If something sits on it on a user interface on your phone, and I can detect it well that's a super valuable. That's the right way to protect your quote, idea. The most valuable patent in the world. One of them is Apple's slide to unlock feature on their phone. That's what they use to sue Samsung. If you think about it, what they did with that invention was they actually saw a problem that nobody else had seen before.

Think about before iPhone, every single cell phone had a green button and a red button. Not everyone the old bag phones. The car phones, the brick phones, flip phone, everything had a green button and red button. What they said with this is I'm going to make it so that we have no buttons. They're walking into this field that nobody else had seen before and they had the opportunity to say what's the best solution for that the most elegant solution for that is this slide unlock thing.

Russ Johns 12:30

Russ Krajec 12:32
Those are the valuable patents. Okay, and then slide unlock that's a software patent. People derived that but it's a software patent but it's something it's a problem that nobody has seen before.

Russ Johns 12:47
Well, nobody had seen a phone without buttons.

Russ Krajec 12:52

Russ Johns 12:53
It's like a Greenfield opportunity where it's like, okay, we have an opportunity Here we're going to change the dynamics of how phones are being used and manipulated in your hand. We have to protect ourselves in the nuances of how that feature works.

Russ Krajec 13:14
Yeah, but think about a lot of people have inventions that are just another solution to a known problem.

Russ Johns 13:22

Russ Krajec 13:22
I have a different way of my headphones have a different swivel thing to them, like, okay,

Russ Johns 13:29
headphones, ultimately, are headphones, right? You're not next level, thinking about solving the problem.

Russ Krajec 13:39
Your not solving a new problem.You're solving an old problem in a new way, which is way different from solving a new problem that nobody else has seen. That's where the real that when somebody is at that point, where they're seeing that Greenfield that nobody has seen before. Then you get a really valuable patent.

Russ Johns 14:03
That's how Uber has changed the industry, or Airbnb has changed the industry, or Groupon made a huge splash in the market with that changing the way something was delivered or something has been changed in the dynamics of the market substantially, and I think was big ideas. There are a lot of big ideas that come to people from time to time, like OtterBox. The gentleman was I think a toolmaker.

Russ Krajec 14:41
Yeah, yeah. He made plastic mold injection molds.

Russ Johns 14:45
Yeah. To sleep from that idea to make an otter case for phones that have a new interface that's a huge stretch and imagination and creativity. I think you mentioned also that we don't run out of creativity.

Russ Krajec 15:04

Russ Johns 15:05
Your ideas start creating other good ideas.

Russ Krajec 15:09
Yeah. That's one of the mistakes that first time inventors or first time entrepreneurs do they like, Oh, I got this great idea, Oh, I got to get it protected.Protect, protect because someone's gonna steal it. If you had one good idea, you're gonna have another.

Russ Johns 15:29

Russ Krajec 15:30
Don't really stress out about getting all kinds of patent protection. If you had that idea, you're gonna have another good one. The next idea, will build on all the knowledge and experience that you have. The next idea is going to be better. Like it has to be better. Don't mortgage your house on this first one. Maybe the next one, but not, not the first one.

Russ Johns 15:58
Well, it's a learning process. You Have to grow through this learning process. Starting a business is not something that is a small undertaking of any kind. Even a small business there are things you don't know, you don't realize you have exposure. That's kind of what the #piratebroadcast is all about is you're talking to people like yourself that are doing these things so that the community can have a resource available. If you're not connected to Russ get connected to Russ. If you have questions, I'm sure you're open to answering questions.

Russ Krajec 16:34
Absolutely. Yeah.

Russ Johns 16:36
I see Warren in the room now he was trying to get in earlier I was trying to answer his question. So I just want to give a shout out to some of the individuals here Russ that are in the room and talking to us so Wendy's here no fuss morning, right. It's a patant attornery look like dinner way that perspective probably helps. I can't disagree with You have Warren's in the room. Hello, Waren. How you doing? Wendy? Now Wendy, Russ is she helps authors produce their books, their children's books, she she does a lot of children's books and she has a podcast

Russ Krajec 17:16

Russ Johns 17:18
Wonderful person that I truly love. She has a patent that tell us awesome, fantastic. This is epic, Warren says. Wendy has a question. How do we straight stretch our creativity SO We see many opportunities from our skills and passions. That's a great question. Would you like to comment on that? Would you like to share some thoughts on that question Russ?

Russ Krajec 17:46
I think that's kind of a skill, that the creativity thing is something that you it's a developed skill, and it's a skill that has that diminishes over time. If you don't use it well, there are a lot of techniques to think about, to deconstruct ideas or think about things in the reverse way or that process of deconstructing an idea and then rebuilding it in a different way or look at each element and say, Well, how can I do that differently? How can I do that different Why is this work and who's affected here? That skill set of tearing apart an idea and rebuilding it leads to incredible amount of insights, but it's something that you have to practice alone and bouncing it around with other you mentioned yesterday, the mastermind idea,

Russ Johns 18:53
Mm hmm.

Russ Krajec 18:54
Bouncing ideas around with other people andwhat's your perspective on this? I was thinking about it completely differently. Oh, yeah, I thought about that.

Russ Johns 19:06
It's amazing to me that I grew up as a musician and I played music a lot. It's almost as if when your creativity, I equate a lot to, to an instrument. The more you practice it, the more it expands in your skill set in your perspective changes over time. It really has an impact on the way that you think about things and how you see different things. I think one way that you can stretch your creativity is also by looking at different industries and then thinking about multiple different applications for different industries.

Russ Krajec 19:58

Russ Johns 20:00
OtterBox is a perfect example of that. It's, it's okay. You're working on a fishing tackle box. All of a sudden you design that for the application of

Russ Krajec 20:13
Yeah, actually, I actually have with the original Otterbox here. This was back in in the 80s or 90s. This is actually one designed for keeping your cigars and stuff. These are still being sold by otter. This is what was called the OtterBox. Kurt Richardson wanted to take his Compaq Ipac and if you remember back the late 90s. He took one of these boxes, cut a hole in it and built this, which was the very first and Scott still has the Otter name on it.

Russ Johns 20:57

Russ Krajec 20:58
It was the very first OtterBox and you put your phone in or your personal digital assistant, this is before they hit home. This was the very first OtterBox. He did a version of this and then he did kind of cleaned it up for linemen people worked out doors and that kind of stuff. he had been in business for a while he had been in business for 20 or 30 years doing tooling and then had this thing around for a few years. Then iPhone showed up. If you remember it was just a piece of junk. You looked at it and it cracked it was terrible. But he had manufacturing, he had design he hadI packaging, he had a brand name, he had distribution Everything was there and the perfect storm came and the rest is history

Russ Johns 22:01

Russ Krajec 22:03
It took them 30 years to get to them

Russ Johns 22:04
right at the intersection.

Russ Krajec 22:06

Russ Johns 22:07
As a patent attorney. That's very cool. Let's go back on things. Wendy was saying, oh, there's so many comments here. Thank you so much for everybody. Don't mortgage your house on the first idea. What are you saying? It's the same for new writers. They worry too much about protecting and not getting coaching. though. It's Arcot is here. Hi pirates. How is everyone today? Very, very well. Thank you for asking.

Russ Krajec 22:47
Russ squared.

Russ Johns 22:48
Yeah, Russ squared. Good morning. Michelle is here in the house. She's in Colorado as well up your way.


Arcot happy morning evening to all. Wendy is saying, I was just gonna tell you Good morning, Wendy. That's the beauty of this, Russ is the community starts getting in here and making conversation so it's awesome to be here. Answer is practice. Wendy knows she's a producer. She's done movies and done a lot of productions. I have a patent for a portable pharma. lockbox due to overdosing on baby aspirin. Russ can relate.

Russ Krajec 23:30

Russ Johns 23:31
I had my stomach pumped when as a child because I was eating candy is happening. Randy Martin, up in Toronto, happy Canada Day, by the way for you people in Canada yesterday. I sent you a message to Randy. Creativity is looking at things in different ways. Absolutely. Wendy squared to. Kon is saying Ahoy Pirates. Kon is a big thinker. He has lots of big ideas and amazing combinations of thoughts. Michel, that is coolest evolution of a product who's right in front of his face, Colorado Springs.

Russ Krajec 24:13
All right.

Russ Johns 24:14
All right there. Russ, I get the sense that there's a lot of people out there that are on the urge in the verge of creating something amazing, and they just don't take the steps because they don't know what to do next. Is there any process that you have or any recommendations we can kind of think about? In terms of, Okay, I have this idea. Do I start a business first, do I sell it? Do I patent it? What are some ideas that you, can share with us that might feed somebody a source of fuel to get their ideas out of their head?

Russ Krajec 24:56
You know what you need to do? You need to do something thing, it really doesn't matter. You need to take a step and get moving. No matter how you get going, you're gonna stub your toe. You're gonna make some mistakes. I can sit here and tell you, Oh, don't do this. Don't do this. And you're like, Oh, yeah. Okay, how many people have told me don't do something? Then I'm like, Oh, well, yeah, that won't happen to me. Then Oh, geez. Now I understand. I think the absolute most important thing is get moving. Just get going.

Russ Johns 25:38

Russ Krajec 25:40
If you think a patent is the right thing to do. If you call me. I'll try to talk you out of it. What I'll try to do is say, find out if the customer really wants this thing. You think it's a great idea, but and then you're going to tell them Oh, well, nobody's doing this. Well, that's a very good data point. That means that 7 billion people don't think that this is a good idea. Go out and figure out if other people like the idea if they think it's important, and what if they do?

Russ Johns 26:18
There's two factors there. Because I've created a lot of things that people say is a good idea. They're unwilling to pay money for it.

Russ Krajec 26:29
Yeah. I'll give a shout out to one of my favorite PDF books online is called the mom test. I've recommended to everybody's How do you ask a question of a customer? How do you ask a question where your mom is going to tell you the truth? You bring home that artwork, and she says, Oh, yeah, that's wonderful. Put it on the refrigerator. How do you ask the customer what that real problem is? You can ask them People all day long. They'll say Oh, yeah, that's really wonderful Russ.

Russ Johns 27:02

Russ Krajec 27:04
Well, did you write a check? No, no, but I think somebody else will. Like, yeah, no, that's not real. somebody writes you a check. It's

Russ Johns 27:12
in line either.

Russ Krajec 27:15

Russ Johns 27:16
A lot of people don't want to be the first one line.

Russ Krajec 27:20

Russ Johns 27:21
It's like, okay, it's a great idea. I think it might work. However, go test it out on it's like Gary, Greece in the minimal viable product deal. The Lean Startup concept is like, make something like you said, Make something that people have an example of, and then if people like it, and they invest in it, and they're willing to use it in some way, shape or form, then you can build on that effort.

Russ Krajec 27:52
If people tell you give you say that's a great idea. That take it with a grain of salt If people hand you a check or give you their credit card, then they believe in it. Until they really believe in it, it's possible but just go out and try selling the product. That's the most important piece. Don't worry about all the other nonsense. stubbed your toe on the way learn the process, and plan on doing another product plan on seeing where it leads and spinning out on with OtterBox Kurt built a product this box that he wanted, so you could put fishing tackle in and it wouldn't sink when he was out fishing.

Russ Johns 28:45

Russ Krajec 28:45
Then he's like, well, I want to take my phone with me. Well, wasn't phone at the time, but he said, Well, I'll try this out. That's how things work. You follow that path wherever that path leads. But the the absolute most important thing is start.

Russ Johns 29:04
Start I love that

Russ Krajec 29:05
It doesn't matter what you do just do it and keep moving.

Russ Johns 29:09
So if people want to connect to you and ask you questions or investigate their ideas to take to the next level, how do they what's the best way for them to reach out to you?

Russ Krajec 29:21
LinkedIn is great. Okay. My website is

Russ Johns 29:29

Russ Krajec 29:32

Russ Johns 29:35
Sir, by that name, by the way,

Russ Krajec 29:37
um, yeah, I wouldn't have something with a color and I wanted something that was strong. I don't know, I just found it.

Russ Johns 29:46
I liked it. I like kind of arbitrary. But,

Russ Krajec 29:50
Yeah. I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs. I'm happy to chat about an idea and see if it's going to be good for IP protection. or not, I will tell you the truth. Like I will tell you don't get a patent most of the time, but there's a cut or how to reform the idea in a way that might be protectable or not.

Russ Johns 30:16
your point though, Russ is get started. I mean, you can grow and develop a very productive and profitable business from ideas without a patent.

Russ Krajec 30:30

Russ Johns 30:31
dependent on the other.

Russ Krajec 30:35
one of my clients sells spatulas on Amazon. Okay. spatulas we're not talking about some super nice PhD physics projects he sells spatulas.

Russ Johns 30:49

Russ Krajec 30:50
He does fine with him. It doesn't have to be some whiz bang thing. It can be just imminently practical.

Russ Johns 30:59
Yeah. People need things to work through life.

Russ Krajec 31:04

Russ Johns 31:06
It doesn't have to be sexier. The next big. The next

Russ Krajec 31:10
Tech Crunch. Angel investors, all that stuff. It could be most people just there in their garage, just kind of grinding out a nice little product that makes money for.

Russ Johns 31:23
Yeah, that's fantastic. Well, I truly appreciate the fact that you joined us today and brought some a lot of fun and interest into the product, the #piratebroadcast, it's this patent idea and I've ventured down that path and looked at different things and, and created so many things that just didn't quite develop into what you imagined it would be. The idea that it's not your baby, it's not your child, it's something that can change and evolve and new ideas can be planted. And things can evolve. So, thanks for bringing this to the table. It's a pleasure to meet you.

Russ Krajec 32:06
Oh how do you not like a guy named Russ? I got to work on my beard.

Russ Johns 32:14
Yeah. There, you got it. Well, thank you so much everyone for being in the room. I just love the love to have love the both Russ characters freely sharing knowledge. That's awesome. Robert spur. How about securing a name for a product first? Robert, Bob and I used to work together up in Seattle. So how do you how about securing the name of the product first?

Russ Krajec 32:47
How about how about figuring out if somebody really wants it?

Russ Johns 32:50

Russ Krajec 32:51
Then we're get definitely get the knee figure out your branding and stuff. But make sure that the sings it's gonna be worth further investment.

Russ Johns 33:03
Yeah, this is good. This is good. If it doesn't work, do something else. Like create a snuggles. It's like anything is possible. Right?

Russ Krajec 33:15

Russ Johns 33:17
All right. Well, thank you so much, Russ. I really appreciate it. I just love the fact that we can actually generate some ideas. This is the whole point of the #piratebroadcast community and #thepiratecommunity overall is drop in, ask a question. get an answer. You have a conversation and make sure that you know that #kindnessiscool. #smilesarefree. And you #enjoytheday. Thanks for Russ. Appreciate.

Russ Krajec 33:49
Thank you.

Russ Johns 33:53
Thank you for joining the #piratebroadcast. If you found this content valuable, please like, comment and share. across your social media channels, I would love the opportunity to help others grow in their business. #Thepiratesyndicate is a platform where you show up we produce the show. It's that easy. If you want to be seen, be heard and be talked about. Join #thepiratesyndicate today.

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