Dinesh is a founder, mentor, speaker and — above all else — entrepreneur. He encourages founders to ask the right questions, navigate challenging decisions, and find those tough answers that are sometimes difficult to face. He has built, bought, sold, led, and/or invested in over 13 companies, and he knows what it takes to transform a business. Currently, he’s the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Patriot One Technologies, a concealed weapons detection system that promises a safer world.
Tell me about your early career.
I’m from a family of immigrants, which meant I had two career options. I could become a doctor or an engineer, that’s it. My fascination for science lead me down the medical path, but I always had a gut feeling it was the wrong choice. It wasn’t until I was studying for my MCAT when I made the decision to quit school. It was the best decision of my life.
My leap to business began in software development, at a time when spelling “HTML” could qualify you for a tech job. While I was stuck behind a computer, I noticed the sales guys driving Jaguars and Porsches, and I wanted in. So, I made the leap from coding to selling and became hooked on making big deals. Tech sales turned into entrepreneurship, and throughout the boom and bust cycle of the tech bubble, I was able to create a company, make an exit, and find my passion for entrepreneurship.
How did the concept for Patriot One Technologies come about?
All you have to do is turn on the news to learn the world is a scary place. Every day, there are acts of violence, but there are limited solutions in response. Determined to put an end to mass shootings, researchers at McMaster University developed a concealed weapon detection system, which later became commercialized as Patriot One Technologies.
What was your marketing strategy?
Nobody wants to walk through a metal detector every time they go into a store, nor do we want safety to be pushed in our face on a day-to-day basis. This is why we’ve positioned Patriot as a security solution that doesn’t throw out our piece of mind. Unlike at an airport, our technology is completely concealable and is able to detect if a weapon is concealed on a body in a fraction of a second. Our goal is to prevent the unlawful use of weapons by giving security professionals tools to keep us safer. It’s been a little over a year since bringing the product to market and we’re making great progress. I firmly believe this technology can end school shooting and violence in the world.
How do you define success?
When I was young, I put a monetary value on success. The more money I made, the more successful I was. As I got older, I learned success actually comes from the value you create for the people and the community around you. Eventually, material accumulation stops giving you emotional juice. Doing something meaningful means so much more. This is exactly why I invested in Patriot.
What is the key to success?
Success is doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The only way to get over your fear of failure is to fail more. Support from loved ones combined with self-motivating dialogue makes it hurt less each time you fail. Once you get over this fear, you have the potential to achieve anything you set your mind to. I’d have to say this is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
“If you’re an entrepreneur sleeping peacefully at night, you’re doing something wrong.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
When the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to quit my job to start my own business — until I got sued for patent infringement. Sparing you the details, I lost the legal battle. It left my wife and I broke and living in my parent’s basement during a period when us techies were unemployable. In this case, I had two choices: call it quits, or climb back to the top. You can read this blog post to learn how I fought my way back to the top and came back with vengeance.
When faved with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Life is unfair. A big challenge around adversity is expecting things to go well. When you stop expecting things to go well, it makes life a lot easier. For example, don’t release a product thinking it’s going to be a huge success. Instead, control your expectations and prepare yourself for it not to go well. This way, when things go wrong, you can get back to work and plow through the tough times. Expecting things will go wrong will also prevent emotional swings when it actually does.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
1. Just because someone tells you it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s true for you.
2. Success will always take longer than you think.
3. Anything is possible. It doesn’t mean it will happen the way you thought it will, so be prepared to pivot on your core idea.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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