Change in the Coalfields: A Podcast by Coalfield Development

Collin Meadows

September 08, 2022 Coalfield Development Season 2 Episode 12
Change in the Coalfields: A Podcast by Coalfield Development
Collin Meadows
Show Notes Transcript

Original intro/outro music: 
"'Till I See Stars" by The Parachute Brigade

John F. Kennedy:

The sun does not always shine in West Virginia but the people always do and I'm delighted to be here.

Brandon Intro:

These are historic times in Appalachia. A lot has changed. A lot is changing now and a lot still needs to change. In our podcast we talk with change makers right square in the middle of all of this, working to ensure the change is for the good. You're listening to Change in the Coalfields, a podcast by Coalfield Development. I'm your host, Brandon Dennison.

Brandon Dennison:

Welcome to Change in the Coalfields, my name is Brandon Dennison, I'm your host. This is a podcast by Coalfield Development. And this week, we have my fellow entrepreneur in residence here at the Marshall University iCenter, Collin Meadows, who is the founder and owner of Tech304.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. Happy to be here.

Brandon Dennison:

Thanks for coming on the podcast. Colin. So you grew up in the area? Same as me, right?

Collin Meadows:

Yep. I was born and raised in Huntington, I was here until I went to Marshall and then moved a little bit outside of Huntington, but I've been here my whole life.

Brandon Dennison:

Pretty connected to the place? What did your parents do?

Collin Meadows:

My mom was a nurse here at Cabell Huntington Hospital and then my dad worked at RiverPark hospital.

Brandon Dennison:

Gotcha, and where'd you go to high school?

Collin Meadows:

Cabell Midland.

Brandon Dennison:

Same as me. And you're an athlete. Is that right? If I remember?

Collin Meadows:

Yep. Yeah. So I ran cross country and played soccer pretty much my whole life. And then once I went into college, I ended up competing in American Ninja Warrior. I rock climbed and then pretty much...

Brandon Dennison:

Collin, timeout timeout here. You're a ninja?

Collin Meadows:

I am a ninja.

Brandon Dennison:

What? What gets one into the ninja business?

Collin Meadows:

Just having an insane amount of, I guess energy and willing to put your life at risk.

Brandon Dennison:

I mean, literally, like how do you even get interested? You just?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah. So not to jump ahead, because I'm sure you'd get into it...

Brandon Dennison:

We will jump around.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah. So I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when I was a senior in college, and then or, yeah, senior in college. So then whenever I was kind of coming around, and finally be able to come back to the gym, things like that, because I had four treatments of chemotherapy. I wasn't allowed at the gym at that time. So it was like after that kind of

Brandon Dennison:

Because you might get sick?

Collin Meadows:

Because I could get sick more easily. Yeah. So once that kind of lifted was right when American Ninja Warrior Season Four or Season Three was coming out and I was watching it. And I was like, You know what, I'm gonna do this. So I started rock climbing, came down here to the Marshall Rec Center. Started rock climbing, made a lot of friends that went out to the Red River Gorge and things like that rock climbing, so got into that. And that's how I started to train and got on, not that season, but the following season, I ended up on American Ninja Warrior and competing down to Daytona.

Brandon Dennison:

So you went, I did not know this about you. So you went from having chemo treatments not allowed into a gym, to ninja warrior rock climber in like a period of?

Collin Meadows:

I don't know, eight to 10 months. And then I competed about a year later.

Brandon Dennison:

You're clearly, we're gonna get into your business in a little bit. Yeah, you know, I'll make sure we have a chance to talk about that. I mean, you're clearly just a very driven person you want to get the most and I've seen this even just in like, meetings or like we help teach a class. It's like, you just want to get the most out of every experience that you have. What is it that drives you like that?

Collin Meadows:

I don't know, I it's interesting. My mom always said I was either gonna be the CEO of a massive company, or the leader of a gang in prison, and it didn't matter which one but...

Brandon Dennison:

Trending in the right direction.

Collin Meadows:

But it was the fact that I was going to be leading and I always kind of been drawn to, like, you know, helping people and leading and kind of managing and mentoring, that kind of thing. So I've always enjoyed that I've always helped teaching and you know, helping out where I can. So I think it just kind of is natural for me to keep pushing myself and saying like, what I can get to, and then sometimes to a fault. Like I get somewhere that I've tried to get to and it's like okay, what's next? Like, what else can I do?

Brandon Dennison:

Hard to enjoy every moment. Did you ever get experience at Marshall?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, yeah, I love Marshall. I got a double degree. So that was interesting. I decided that with a year and a half left, my four year degree and I was like, I'm not staying for another year. So I ended up busting out the second degree.

Brandon Dennison:

Speaking of driven.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah. So I ended up busting out the two degrees in the four year program under my Computer Science Degree, but I loved it here. I was an RA, I was in my fraternity here I got involved as much as I could. And I loved every second of it.

Brandon Dennison:

For folks who are listening that maybe are not from the area can you just say a little bit about like what Marshall means to this community?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, so Marshall was really the backbone of really Huntington and all of the surrounding areas and really even beyond anytime we travel out you see someone with a Marshall shirt, and immediately you hear, "Go herd!" or "We Are!", it doesn't matter where you are like Marshall stays with everyone in this community. And you really become part of that whenever you're here. And then for me it was special to actually become part of Marshall by being an RA helping the students out in a more meaningful way than just being a fellow student.

Brandon Dennison:

And now you're back as a entrepreneur in residence, mentoring future entrepreneurs.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. Yeah. And I was, as soon as I talked to Dr. Eng about that, I was like, Yes, any, anything I can do, and then the entrepreneur in residence came up, and it was like, Oh, this is a no brainer, I'll definitely do it.

Brandon Dennison:

So walk us through, you graduate Marshall, and then you launch your own company. Right? So walk us through how you get from that to there.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah. So while I was here at Marshall, I have a degree in computer science. So I started learning how to develop mobile apps and do various other things. That wasn't necessarily in the curriculum, but I was just interested in as being a technologist. So I started doing that freelance getting paid to learn, which is fantastic. And then continuing that I ended up moving into a role with Dell with their security team at Dell. Now, it is Secure Works, but worked there for several years. And then we went to explore.

Brandon Dennison:

Like remotely?

Collin Meadows:

Remotely, yes, I've actually, fun fact I have never worked in an office, ever. But after Dell was...

Brandon Dennison:

Such a technologist to say.

Collin Meadows:

During COVID, and everything I had people reaching out, like, I don't know how you've done this for so long. And I'm like, Well, don't worry. One day, I'll need advice on how to go to an office every day. I'm sure.

Brandon Dennison:

You sit down and just start freaking out. Yeah, exactly.

Collin Meadows:

But yeah, so after Dell, we were exploring, potentially working with startups or acquiring startups, and I just got the chance to go to a startup in DC that we were looking into. And once I got there, I loved the company, loved the people working there, Dell decided to not go with them. And I left Dell and went to the startup to work there. So that was my introduction into like startup tech, and then it just kind of blew up from there, I don't know that I could go back to like a fully corporate job again, or at least not for a while.

Brandon Dennison:

Too much fun?

Collin Meadows:

Too much fun. There's like the fast pivot, you can have a conversation with a with a client, and they're like, "Hey, we want this and literally everything you've been working on for two months, it's like, okay, everyone stop, we're gonna work on this one thing this client wants, because they're gonna sign this deal next week, and we have to have it next week. So it's just a lot different, like you have more flexibility, you have more ownership. And it's just a faster pace.

Brandon Dennison:

It's a little bit more pressure to though, right?

Collin Meadows:

It's a lot more pressure. Yeah, and you, you really feel like you're giving back to the company and the product and the customer. So it's like every single day you're working. In my opinion, you have more of a reason to really push to get something done, while in a bigger setting, like when I was at Dell, it was like, "Yeah, we want this thing, but nothing's gonna happen. Because we're this behemoth of a tech company, they're not gonna leave us." But a startup, you lose that one deal, like you don't know, necessarily when the next big deal is going to come.

Brandon Dennison:

Could literally end the company?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah it could just destroy the company, so.

Brandon Dennison:

Say a little bit more. So for folks who've maybe not been part of a startup, just the culture of a startup and the like, the camaraderie.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, it's just, it's a lot more fun. Like everyone knows. I mean, whenever I started, the name of the company was Group Sense that I ended up going to. I was the first full time employee hired. So it was me and three founders, and a few like contractors, or part time employees. And then we started hiring people, I had a huge part in hiring the rest of my team at that time. It's just like, I knew every single person in the company, and not just like, knew their name, like I knew their entire story.

Brandon Dennison:

Who they are and what they care about.

Collin Meadows:

Their kids. Like, I would ask, 'Hey, how's this, you know, this thing going on with your wife, or like your kid,' or whatever, and we knew everything going on with everyone. So really, I don't like when companies say like, we're a big family. Because a lot of times, it's not actually meant like that. It's more of a lot of times you hear that, and it's almost pressure to be involved more like they're using it almost as a weight to get you to...

Brandon Dennison:

An excuse to make you work all day Sunday.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, exactly. But in a startup setting, or at least a small startup setting, you really are a lot more of like a tight knit group of friends, where everyone knows so much about you. Like they, in most cases, they really do care about what's going on. And for both reasons, one personal and then one professional. If you something goes on with you and you're not there, there's going to be an impact. So it's just it's a lot different.

Brandon Dennison:

You have a value that I've seen you speak to about your business that I wonder if it came from this business, which is that everyone takes out the trash.

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

Could you speak to that?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, I don't know if it was this one. I think it was the one I went to next after Group Sense, I went to a company out of Baltimore called Terbium Labs. And the CEO there was fantastic. He always talked about wanting to build a company that he always wanted to work for. And he said he did that he finally built a company that he would love to work for, but due to investor relations, being the CEO, all the stuff that he didn't get to work for the company that he built to achieve that goal. But he always said, you know, no one's too good to take out the trash and all of that. And it really comes down to just, you know, everyone willing to help out, do whatever it is, there's no, 'Oh, that's not my job,' kind of thing. And, you know, 'oh, you know, the intern should take care of that,' like, none of that kind of sentiment was really part of the culture there and oftentimes, you'll see that throughout startups, like that is a common feeling I never had heard it said, quite like he had said it. But that is a very common feeling that is like, oh, anything happens, you're gonna go help, like, I am in the technical side. But there's plenty of times I helped out marketing with, you know, something with the website or, you know, helped out sales with something going on with their email or whatever it might be. And it's, I'm not IT. So it's not something that I actually do day in and day out. But it's something that I am probably more knowledgeable about than that individual at that time.

Brandon Dennison:

And that makes you better at what you do.

Collin Meadows:

Exactly. Yeah.

Brandon Dennison:

So you went from Marshall to Dell?

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

To DC, to Baltimore.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. And then after that was whenever I started Tech304, so that was in 2019, started the company to really bring everything that I learned from the startup space, which the whole time I was contracting, or, you know, advising different companies that I had come into contact with, or helping in whatever way to learn as much as I could, I often say, I want to know as much as I can about as much as I can in the tech space, which is a very large statement in the tech space.

Brandon Dennison:

Tech space is like, that's a space.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, it's a space and it doesn't stop growing. But I then started my own company to really bring back that whole startup field that I had learned and experienced in these other areas, whether it be Seattle, or Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, all these places that I visited, and we don't necessarily have here in West Virginia. So I wanted to bring all that back and find a way to either "A" help startups, technical startups grow in the state, or "B" find a way to hire people in the state to help other startups grow. And specifically focusing on startups just because that was an area that I had seen a lot of technology that was almost thrown together. And then it either didn't go well, or founders lost a lot of money because of the way they built it or, you know, just different scenarios that I thought that I'd find a way to help.

Brandon Dennison:

Stereotypically. And I don't know, I haven't done the research to say if this is accurate or not. But two words that many people would probably not associate with West Virginia would be startup and technology.

Collin Meadows:

That is true.

Brandon Dennison:

So how's it going for you?

Collin Meadows:

So it's going pretty good. We did pivot a little bit for exactly what you just said is that there's not a lot of startups or at least technical startups, we have a lot of sweaty startups as I know you're familiar with. So like, a lot of trade based startups that are doing well, in my opinion, that I've talked to a lot of people there. But when you get to technology-based startups, there isn't a huge group of people here. And if there are I have probably talked to them, or you know, been in contact with them in some way, just because there's not too many of us that are doing very, like complicated technology-based things. So we ended up pivoting a little bit. And actually, this past March, I don't even know if you've heard of this. But this past March, I started a company called RevLabs, LLC, with a partner that I met through Tech304. So that kind of spans it out a little bit more. So we're tech304 would focus on startups and building helping build technology for startups, RevLabs is really focused on helping businesses build custom software to deliver what you know, like almost like an operating system for their business, which we our first client was here in West Virginia, which was fantastic. But basically, we go in and there's these large platform as a service platforms that you can get, like, say Salesforce, that's just massive, like it can probably do what you want, but it's gonna be you know, a headache, you're gonna have to hire people just to learn how to do it, you can kind of wiggle around it, but you have no flexibility. It's exactly what it is. And that's it. And then you have the niche solutions, where it's like, you can do one or two things you want, you might need two or three of these solutions. But it's much more focused on like your exact industry, things like that. So what we do is we're kind of in that middle ground of providing you all the flexibility of that big platform as a service. We're giving you all the customization of the niche service while bringing those all together. And it's very much developed for your business. So we go in, we learn your business we taught we have extensively time on how to actually learn about what it is you're doing so we can build a product and prototype with you as we go to build what it is that you're looking for to help, you know grow revenues or cut costs or just become more efficient across the board. There's a lot of aspects to it when we go to build.

Brandon Dennison:

So if folks want to learn more about either?

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

Where can I go?

Collin Meadows:

So Tech304, you can email me at Collin.Meadows@Tech304.com and on RevLabs, the website might be up by the time this is up. So you can go to RevLabs.io or you can email me at Collin@RevLabson.io.

Brandon Dennison:

Startup bug never fades.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. Yep, that's true. Yeah, just constantly involved with a ton of things here.

Brandon Dennison:

You must have a supportive family.

Collin Meadows:

Yep, yeah. And of course, almost my whole family. So I am one of four. I've two older brothers, one younger sister, everyone, but my oldest brother is local. My oldest brother lives up in New York, but tries to travel down as much as he can. And then everyone else is here, we generally get together with my side of my family once a week. So my daughter's and like my nephew, or my nieces can all get together and have like dinner together. And then same thing on my wife's side, her whole family is local. So we pretty much do the same thing with both of them where we're kind of all together. Everyone knows what's going on. Or you know, if you need anything, they're there.

Brandon Dennison:

Tight knit.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. Exactly.

Brandon Dennison:

How keyed in are you on the broadband conversation in West Virginia? And what are your thoughts about broadband?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, I go in and out. Just because I'm not, there's some things I don't...

Brandon Dennison:

Like in the headlines. Every other day, it's sort of hard to follow, like, what's actually going to lead to something and what's actually just a chatter?

Collin Meadows:

I have a lot of conversations with people about it, some of which I don't know, are accurate or not, like just because where it is in the legislative system and everything like I'm not keen on that part. But it is very clear that our broadband is not where it needs to be, like, we need more speed, we need more, you know, availability across the state. Like there's a ton of issues with the internet here and just bring businesses in, like, especially today, we need internet, like if you if I were to do anything, and it's like, oh, well, the internet is, you know, 25, or even 50 Meg's up, which is what people would probably love to have around here. In some cases, you can't even get that, the business isn't going to come like it's just not going to be what the that business need. So I haven't stayed up with it inside of, you know, the legislative system. But on the outside, I've talked to a lot of people about it.

Brandon Dennison:

The results that are not there yet.

Collin Meadows:

Right, exactly.

Brandon Dennison:

So I think it's cool you call yourself a technologist. It's just that's a cool word. And I wonder, like, if somebody's listening, technology can be intimidating. Especially if you don't grow up, or I mean, we talked about broadband, and there's some parts of the state. We don't have like cell phone service, let alone broadband internet. Yep. You know, and then if you want to talk about like, Meta, augmented reality, like, you literally might as well be on Mars, you know, what's your advice to someone who maybe feels uncomfortable with technology, but knows they need to learn more about it? What do you say?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, there's a lot of different resources in the state. Actually, last year, I was doing a, I was a guest on WSAZ studio 3 to just kind of give insights on...

Brandon Dennison:

I saw it, that was great. You're a natural.

Collin Meadows:

It was pretty much to give insights on like, the security side of things of like, you know, don't just put your credit card anywhere and don't do this. So, you know, there are different groups that was WSAZ's they were trying to get help out to, you know, their viewers. And there are places all through West Virginia, and Marshall and RCBI, you know, all these places that do have resources that can help you with those. So if you are comfortable getting online, sometimes that can be actually more dangerous if you're not super familiar with things. So it's probably better to go to even like a local library or something like to start learning from someone else that might have a little bit more experienced than you just because unfortunately, there are a lot of scams and scammers online. And if you're not comfortable with it right now...

Brandon Dennison:

Be careful.

Collin Meadows:

Be careful. Yeah.

Brandon Dennison:

What about for a business owner who maybe feels behind the technology curve knows that's a disadvantage economically, wants to try and catch up short of like, call Tech304, sign here...

Collin Meadows:

So there are actually several initiatives inside of the government that here in West Virginia that are helping with that. So RCBI is a good resource depending on what you're doing, they might be able to help and if not, they would be happy to connect you with people that can help. There's the West Virginia High Tech Foundation, they do a lot. I actually just had a conversation with someone today that is working with them. And there are just different groups of people that are truly just trying to help businesses get online or maybe start an e-commerce site or, you know, get online scheduling if you do like in home services, all of those kinds of things. There are actually a lot of West Virginia government-based agencies and groups that are trying to help businesses kind of come in to the more modern age of like the internet and how we use it.

Brandon Dennison:

You're sort of uniquely positioned to observe business trends in the state of given your business, being a business person yourself, where what are some areas of our state's economy that you're seeing some movement and feeling hopeful about?

Collin Meadows:

We really do see a lot more on the tech side now. So two years ago, whenever I started Tech304, there was, it was kind of hard to find a whole lot going on here, there just wasn't a lot happening. And then really, with COVID, a lot of these people that had jobs that were rooted here originally came from here, and then left for the jobs, they can now work remotely. So a lot of people are coming back for different reasons. You know, we do still have work to do on like the overall migration, but COVID definitely helped people come back to our state, that if they had the choice, I could have my job from New York, and then live in West Virginia, a lot of people like that. So I am seeing more and more of those people who have pretty much left the state, gotten exposed to different things and then come back, you see a lot of them kind of trying to build something and move things forward and trying to keep it in the state. So one, he didn't leave. But one project that I'm working on is Analytica-legalis. It's a legal technology software, we're actually going to be in D.C. at a...

Brandon Dennison:

Sweet name.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, it's legal analytics. That's what it stands for. But we're gonna be in D.C. next week for ILTACON, which is a legal tech conference. But that's actually founded by...

Brandon Dennison:

That's a crazy name, it is like the Matrix.

Collin Meadows:

I am trying to remember what the I is, maybe International Legal Tech Association. I think ILTA. But Luke Yingling is the as my co-founder, he was the originator of the idea, and is basically analyzing judges on why they make certain decisions, not necessarily what decisions they made in the past or like any trends there. It's really trying to understand the judge from an artificial intelligence point of view and understanding what it is that they're likely to make a decision on based off of different characteristics and indicators. But his whole thing, one reason that I jumped on board, as soon as I heard about it is he was like, 'I want to build this thing. And I want to keep it in West Virginia.' And he graduated from WVU Law, he is based around here, he went to Cabell Midland, and he just has that connection of wanting to keep that business here. And I'm seeing more and more of that some of those people might have left and now came back. But a lot of people do kind of have those roots here, and they want to help as much as they can, even if they're not necessarily living here. I'm seeing a lot more of that happening.

Brandon Dennison:

It is exciting.

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

Technology in Education, both k-12. and higher ed.

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

Thoughts on that and how to do it? Well, yeah, I think and as add a background on that, like some of our crew members in Coalfields training program, you know, most enrolled in community college and really struggle with online, right, they just on par on balance, most do way better in a classroom setting. And I just wonder what it is that we're uncomfortable with technology is that the instructors aren't really equipped to make that work?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, I think it's kind of a big group of factors. I know, I never took one online class for you know, my entire time here at Marshall. I didn't take a single one.

Brandon Dennison:

Because you didn't want to or what?

Collin Meadows:

Because I didn't want to because I knew if it was up to me to do all my coursework without having to go to a specific place, it was very unlikely that it would have happened.

Brandon Dennison:

Know thyself.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, exactly. So it's like I might have, you know, gotten things done. But I wouldn't have had the same experience that I got. Now, I wouldn't have sat next to the people I ended up making friends with and ended up pushing ourselves forward, if I was at home by myself, or even, you know, at the library with other students, but not in the same mindset as everyone in the same room. So I think that's one big thing whenever you're going to remote learning. And even now, there's a lot of stuff going on in the remote learning space, as COVID has kind of pushed us into it a lot harder. But if it's just like online classes, I don't think we do it nearly as well as we could. Udemy is a big one, they have a few, like sponsored college courses. I think there's, they have a whole program through Georgia Tech University. And there's different things like that, that they are trying to do better on. But whenever you get into like, I can't speak to what Marshall does now. But then whenever I was in school Marshall would pretty much put up like PowerPoints. It's like, okay, here, you know, here it is. And then you do you kind of go through it, and then you do the assignment. Sometimes you'd get on there, watch a video of the instructor things like that, but it's still not. It's not really interactive. It's all on your own...

Brandon Dennison:

It is static.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, it's very static. And if you don't follow it, like then you have to send an email. It's not, it's not the conversation you would have in a classroom because I know several times I would go up to the professor after class or talk to other students in my class, but just because they were right there. If they weren't there, I had to send an email or even like a message in some other capacity. It's like now I have to wait for them to be able to respond and then like, you know, it becomes asynchronous conversation and like, how long does it take for you to get the answer, you need all of that. So I think that's one big problem is, the way we go about teaching online is not even remotely close to how we teach in person. So we need to get those closer together. And then the other side is whenever people present technology in like elementary schools, middle schools, like their big go to is, 'Oh, we're just gonna give everyone an iPad, we're gonna give everyone a computer.' And it's like, well, that's great.

Brandon Dennison:

So you can watch cat videos on YouTube.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, it's like, that's a great solution to give them the technology, but that doesn't actually help them with their learning. It just allows them to access the learning. And that that's a whole nother gap is like, that's not enough is like just giving them the tech isn't enough to actually help them learn, with that technology.

Brandon Dennison:

Rapid fire. I know for a fact a lot of people who listen are business owners themselves or in management. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna needle you for some free advice. And if you don't want to answer because it's billable then just feel free to cut me off. Website advice, how to have an actually good, valuable website?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, web designers are great, you can find designers that will, you know, build a website for, you know, several thousand dollars. And a lot of times, that's really valuable if you're doing a more complicated website. But if you're doing a you know, some mostly static landing page like website, where they go to, they see information about what you're doing phone number, email, maybe a contact us form, don't really need to spend that much on it. If you want to hire someone else, if you don't want to hire someone else, you have wordpress.com, square.com. Um, you know, there's several kinds of drag and drop solutions that you can actually do it yourself.

Brandon Dennison:

Save a lot of money.

Collin Meadows:

Save a lot of money, at least get something up, like you definitely want a website, especially today, you want to do a Google My Business Profile. So they just changed that as Google Business Profile. You want one of those, because that's what's going to help people find you online. If you're a local service. If you're like a plumber, like and you're doing a certain service area, you want to be in there with the right details. And that's going to help you when people search on Google for, 'plumber near me,' or you know, something like that.

Brandon Dennison:

CRM advice?

Collin Meadows:

CRMs is a big one. So if you have a lot of customers and want to automate communication with them, or anything like that CRMs are invaluable. But you just want to make sure you don't break the bank using them. There's a lot that cost a lot of money. And then there's some that don't cost a lot of money, but don't give you a lot of functionality. So it's really just evaluating it. I love HubSpot, I'm a big fan of HubSpot, don't know anything about their pricing. If it's too expensive, then you know, don't do it. But you know, there are different things you can do. Even just initially, just like having a spreadsheet of your, a secure spreadsheet of your...

Brandon Dennison:

That was my next question.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, of your customer's details.

Brandon Dennison:

Security? Digital security.

Collin Meadows:

Yep. That's a huge one.

Brandon Dennison:

Well you are a ninja could be like physical building.

Collin Meadows:

What's funny is even in the security space, like hack, or like hackers, a lot of times, there's a similar term for ninja like, so it just, it all comes full circle.

Brandon Dennison:

That's too good.

Collin Meadows:

So yeah, security is obviously extremely important, especially today. Really, the biggest thing is training, if I had to pick anything, is what, because once you understand, like the risks, so a lot of people will click links, not thinking about them in emails. And that's not necessarily great. Using debit card or credit cards just kind of anywhere. It's like, 'Oh, well, it looked right.' So you know, that's putting you in danger, kind of double checking everything. Whenever you come to things on the internet, that's the big one is just like double checking it, you get a email from your boss that says, this is very common, that says, 'Hey, I need you to send me you know, like, $500 of Amazon gift cards for a client that I'm in a meeting with right now can't talk.' And it's like, you know, okay, so they go and do it because their boss just told them to, but then you talk to your boss 30 minutes later, and it wasn't him. It's like, everything just needs double checked I in 99.9% of the cases for that example. They're not going to lose the deal over Amazon giftcards. Like, if you really think through that.

Brandon Dennison:

Take a minute breathe.

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, just think about a little bit. And then like, there are technical security practices you can put in place. But really the biggest thing is just training. Because I think it's like 95, 96% of security incidents are actually caused by social engineering, which is where someone.

Brandon Dennison:

I did not know that this is very interesting, because I've been in a lot of meetings like we need to digital security. And there's like very expensive products, some of which may not be a terrible idea still yet, but if you don't invest in the training and the knowledge, yep. The best software in the world won't fix it.

Collin Meadows:

Yep, exactly. Yeah. If you have MFA, Microsoft came out. I was like an interim CTO for a small MFA company about three years ago. And we built a solution for managed service providers to add MFA, which is multi factor authentication into all these different companies. And we a research study came out from Microsoft that said 99.9% of have security breaches could have been avoided by just turning on MFA. And like, it's just crazy that so many people, they talk about how, I guess how inconvenient it is to do, but it's, it takes an extra 20 seconds. And if you're on the same session, then you know, you can only do it once all this stuff, but it would save so much by just turning that on. So even that like once you really learn it is like the training and then something so simple as like a password policy that's not ridiculous. You don't need 26 characters of all random characters and MFA, it's just like, you know, do a little bit and training and you're probably gonna knock off majority of the people. And that's even saying that you're really at risk, which is a whole nother conversation.

Brandon Dennison:

What's a technology on the horizon that we should all be really excited about? Or that you're excited about?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah. So I'm interested in the whole Metaverse, I don't know what it's gonna be like, it's a little terrifying, because I don't like we're already so committed into technology that you can kind of see it.

Brandon Dennison:

Just in case somebody say a little bit about what that it?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah so it's pretty much like an artificial world that's tied in together with the real world. So there's...

Brandon Dennison:

Sounds pretty creepy.

Collin Meadows:

Exactly, yeah. And you can be someone else you can be yourself, you can, you know, it's just, it's very different. And it's very new. So of course, it sounds ridiculous, like to a lot of people. But there's a lot of people that love it. And like there is a lot of value in it advertising. Like there's a ton of good things that can come out of it. But there's also a lot of bad social impacts that I can foresee happening. And that's the, that's the thing that I'm not sure about. On the other side of it is just like blockchain as a whole is a great technology for decentralizing a lot of things. So, you know, everyone gets up in arms with how large some of these tech companies are, you have Amazon, Facebook, all these people that have just massive amounts of data on all of us. And like what they actually know, there was a, like a book called Before that I read several years ago. It's a little outdated now. But it said Facebook knows more about your friends than you do. Amazon knows more about what you want than you do. Google knows your deepest secrets that you wouldn't even tell a best friend. And then there was there was one more that I can't remember. But it's basically just saying because of the data they have, and the continuous data they have. They know things that really you might not even know about yourself, because you don't think about them. But whenever we take all this data over, say like Amazon, 10 years of purchases, when you purchase them, how you purchase them, how many times you looked at things like there's just a lot of data there, that helps Amazon be Amazon, like they do give you better suggestions, like they are doing a good thing for their service. But like there's a lot that people are worried about with the amount of data they have.

Brandon Dennison:

It is a whole other ethical realm we haven't really established.

Collin Meadows:

Exactly. So if we decentralize a lot of those things, not necessarily saying Amazon needs to, or you know, even Facebook or Google need to not getting into that. But just saying, like, the more things like that, that we can decentralize and kind of spread out, gives us less of the concept of this company is evil, this company wants to take over the world mentality, because they're no longer the ones who house that it's much more decentralized. It's spread out across the place.

Brandon Dennison:

Democratic, hopefully.

Collin Meadows:

Exactly. Hopefully.

Brandon Dennison:

Yeah. So my last question that I like to ask everybody, you're, you're an Appalachian, proud of it lifelong. Choose to be here. What are some of the biggest changes that you've seen here in Appalachia? And then what are some of the biggest changes that you still hope to see in the future?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, I've, I feel like there's a lot more movement to of, at least in the Huntington to Charleston corridor, which is where I'm primarily at that you see a lot more of this push towards some of the things that I always felt that West Virginia was a little bit behind, it seems like we're catching up faster. So we've always kind of been a few steps behind on the social aspect and like, different things that we have going on. But it seems like we're catching up a lot quicker in the last, you know, two to four years, or whatever it might be, to kind of enact some of these things we've learned from other cities, whether that be you know, different festivals, or you know, even just some of the things we're allowing inside of cities, and you know, just seems like it's more like those other places. Not as big of course, but it is becoming more, you know, I guess more...

Brandon Dennison:

Would you say, the qualityof life in this area from when you were a kid, and maybe even when you were in college to now has gotten better?

Collin Meadows:

Oh, absolutely. I don't know how many times my wife and I will drive down here. It's like, how awesome would this have been if it was here when we were here.

Brandon Dennison:

The restaurants?

Collin Meadows:

Yeah, restaurants even just like the events that go on, it just seemed like there wasn't a whole lot that if Marshall didn't put it on then it didn't happen. But now that's not the case there. You know, we have 9th street live which is fantastic. It's a lot of fun. I think they should keep it going and longer than they do but I mean there's just a lot more that's happening in the cities and even on the outside. And we do have that huge focus now with the big push to West Virginia tourism, to call out our state parks, things like that, that we did. Like my wife's family loves state parks. So we would go there on a lot of like vacations and everything. But growing up, I didn't, we didn't really go to a lot of those. So it was just like, I don't know if there's more education around them. If I got lucky with my in laws, don't let them listen to this. But or like what it really is that we had that opportunity. And then now there's obviously within the state, there's a big push to get people to come in and visit those places. And I think we're trying to do more at those places to draw those people in.

Brandon Dennison:

And you're doing your part to contribute.

Collin Meadows:

I am trying.

Brandon Dennison:

So thank you for being a creative, persistent entrepreneur and for being engaged here at Marshall as a fellow EIR and for spending some time on the podcast, Collin.

Collin Meadows:

Absolutely.

Brandon Dennison:

Keep it going.

Collin Meadows:

I appreciate it.

Brandon Dennison:

Thank you.

Collin Meadows:

Yep.

Brandon Dennison:

Change in the Coalfields is a podcast created by Coalfield Development in the hills and hollers of West Virginia. This episode was hosted by Brandon Dennison, and produced and edited by JJN Multimedia. Become a part of our mission to rebuild the Appalachian economy by going to our website, coalfield-development.org to make a donation. You can email us anytime at info@coalfield-development.org and subscribe to our newsletter for more information on the podcast. You can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn by searching Coalfield Development. Check back soon for more episodes.