Duncan of Gainesville Dev Academy | James of Phalanx Defense Systems | WHOA GNV Podcast E14


– You are listening to WHOA podcast, coming to you from Gainesville, Florida. Hello, everybody, and
welcome to another episode of the WHOA GNV Podcast, the podcast bringing you
businesses and individuals that make you go whoa! Good morning. (laughs) Ty, how’re you doing? – Good, man.
– Good. Hey, we got a couple of awesome guests, let me give them a quick intro. Duncan, I don’t ever know
how to say your last name so you just say it. – It’s whoa Kabinu. (all laughing) – We have Duncan, the founder
of Gainesville Dev Academy, a web and app development academy designed to fill in the
gap between the students that are learning and, or wait… That are learning and the
job-ready skills companies need. Right, my man? Did I say that right?
– That’s right. Teaching folks how to become
web or mobile developers, so they can get that first
job in the tech industry. – Yeah baby, yeah baby.
– Yeah. – So and then we have
James Coats, Tony Stark of Gainesville himself,
right here in the studio. He is the CEO of Phalanx Defense Systems, an organization dedicated to providing personal protective equipment to both the first responders
and the general public. And there’s a really cool
part about his business, that they are the mission
partner of Superheroes for Hope, which I definitely wanna get into, which is just an incredible organization that creates opportunities
for brave children that are battling those
childhood diseases, with the chance to immerse themselves in some pure childhood fun. So I am like excited to dive into that because, quick story, the first time… Well I knew James ’cause we serve on the board of directors together at the chamber of commerce, right? And then my buddy hits me up, he sends me a Craigslist
posting, he’s like… And it’s of this giant
Albert the Alligator. And he’s like… And actually it’s my
brother-in-law, Austin, and he goes, “Hey man, I saw this, I just
feel like it’s something “that fits New Scooters 4 less so well. “You should get this.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, yes,
we have to get that thing.” So I send an email, I
didn’t know he had it. I send an email and I’m like, “Man, would you consider trade? “I own a scooter dealership,
I think this thing “would be great, out
front, and I would love “to incorporate it into
our business somehow.” And then he responded, and he was like, “Yeah, anything for you, man.” And once I realized who
it was, I go over there… I had never been over there, like, guys… We gotta make sure that
we get some really cool B-roll of your place to
put over-top this podcast, because, man I went over there and there are just superheroes,
and like, you know, vehicles, like superhero
vehicles everywhere. And I dunno, it was just one
of the coolest experiences, like the coolest tours I’ve ever been on at a business here in Gainesville, so… – Do you know how I got that alligator? – I think… I mean, I know that you told
me Brad had something to do– – Mutual friend of ours
owns UF River Guys, very cool cat, Brad, and he’s like, “James, I know you like
these life-size figures, “are you interested in this
nine-foot tall alligator?” And I was like, “Uh,
it’s not a superhero.” But I was like, “You know
what, I could carve this–” – [Collin] It’s a superhero to me, James. (all laughing) – It depends on what year it is, Collin. So I looked at this thing, I was like, I put a little thing
out there on Facebook, should I restore it or
should I turn it into the hulk-buster, because
it’s this huge thing, right? And I was leaning toward the hulk-buster until I got an overwhelming,
“Please do not carve it up, “because it’s a real
piece of UF memorabilia “that came up missing
from the Reitz Union.” And I was like, “Uh-oh.” – What happens when they
find out we have it? Am I gonna be in some….? How did it come up missing? – Well apparently there was
a remodel at Reitz Union. And it was relocated to
some outdoor sports complex, and they remodeled the
outdoor sports complex and they gave it to one of
the maintenance men there, and he had it in his front
yard for nine or 10 years and people kept trying to steal it, so that’s how the arm got broken off and then tail got broken
off, all these things. I mean, hey, it’s– – [Collin] Well it’s kinda styrofoam-ish, the whole thing.
– Yeah, it’s a huge carved styrofoam piece, and at 16, I would’ve wanted to take
the thing, too, right? So I ended up restoring the
thing, putting it back together after Brad connected me with the guy. And thanks to you, we actually
had a really cool bike that we ended up auctioning off and raising money for the charity. So it worked out fantastic. – That was what we traded. We traded the bike for the alligator.
– Really cool yellow. I like yellow, by the way. – Yeah well and then, we had a video… I don’t even know what vlog it was, but we recorded the
thing on one of our vlogs and we had this thing on the trailer, we’re trailering it over here. I wanted to leave it out front,
but I had the same worry, it’s like, overnight someone’s
gonna go and snap off the arm or snap off the tail, so we
tried to create something to make it mobile, move it
from the back to the front, and that just started
to wear on it too much, like we fixed it a bunch of times, so now we have it in our back warehouse, but I hope to do something
to where we can like… Well we’ll definitely expose
it on the movie night. Duncan’s helping us up
with the movie night, but this episode will air
after the movie night, so I’m just gonna… Hey, Duncan, thanks for helping us on that movie night a few weeks ago. (all laughing) – It was a great movie. – Even though it’s coming
up in a couple weeks. – Now I’m gonna put the
challenges out to your listeners. You’re gonna hate me. So I think that the gator
needs to be borrowed, and you need to see how
covertly in can come up missing, and you have to pay a
ransom to get it back, but they can’t injure it. They can’t hurt it, there’s
some rules and regulations here. So I think the ransom
should be like 150 bucks and it goes toward my charity, so… I challenge all your
listeners to take the gator. But bring it back in one piece. – This thing is giant, this thing is… Oh my gosh, man, this
thing is giant, though. To move it, it’ll fall
apart if you keep moving it, that’s the only thing. – [Duncan] Try putting
that thing in your pocket. – He can put it back together, it’s fine. – We repainted some of it, we
repainted the F back on it, and then we like glossed it with like the clear spray or whatever, and it looks awesome.
– It looks amazing, yeah. – So that was when I
really got to know James, and then got the full tour of the place, and this place is incredible, so we’ll try to make sure we incorporate
a little bit of the B-roll of all the characters… I mean, how many characters
do you have over there? – [James] You know I… – [Duncan] Including
yourself, sir, please. – [James] Well I’m the largest character. I probably have 50 different pieces now. But I’ve just rotated some out, so… I got hall of armor from Ironman, so that’s now fully
functional, operational. But I kinda moved out Star
Wars section to do that, to raise money for the charity, so… – That’s awesome. I definitely want to
dive in way more on that. I have a lot of questions revolving around superheroes and stuff today. But before we do like… Ty, I meant to check in with you, man, is there anything going on? Best of Gainesville World? Now this episode’s gonna be
airing in August, like we’re… Back-to-school time’s gonna be… – Yeah. – It’s gonna be crazy. – Yeah, we’re getting
ready to drop our magazine, Best of Gainesville magazine, August 1st. It’s our first issue, print
and digital, 48 pages. So we’re working hard, getting ready. – Who’s the audience for the magazine? Everybody? – Yeah, so it’s gonna be
distributed mostly on campus, like 80 locations on campus,
midtown, and downtown, but we’re gonna press
it outwards a little bit to the other sides of
Gainesville, Micanopy, Alachua. – You have to make it happen… This is what’s so great about the podcast being far in advance,
like you have to make sure that it’s out before
this episode. (laughs) So they’re at locations
everywhere right now, is what you’re telling me? – Locations everywhere, yeah.
– Great. – Yeah it’ll be fun. – Sure hope they are. (laughs) Excellent. Well, guys, I want… So every podcast we like to
start with the origin stories, like just what led you to Gainesville, what led you to doing what
you’re doing right now and just why you’re doing it? So Duncan, why don’t we
start with you, my man? – Start with me. What brought me to Gainesville
was University of Florida, actually, college of engineering. Funny thing is, I went to school in a very small town in Kansas, and I think the population
there was probably about 5,000, the whole city really small, single light. I had a full grant to
go there, don’t ask me. That’s the only reason I went there. And after two years of being
in this super desolate place, I was like, “I gotta get outta this town.” This is from moving
from New York to Kansas. Anyway, while I was looking for a college, I was looking for something
that was top engineering school, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. There was a lot of them,
but there were very few that had a computer engineering program. And University of Florida
ended up being my top 10 list, and the weather made it
the number one college for me to go to, so I left. My last winter in Kansas,
I believe, on the news it said, “It feels like
negative 52 today,” and I was like, “That’s it, I’m done.” So I moved to Florida, and the first year I moved to Florida it snowed. (all laughing) It snowed. I’m like, are you serious right now? But that’s why I came
here, to go to college, to engineering school at UF. But yeah. – And what year did you finish? – ’92. That dates me, right? And then ironically I had a young family, so I actually started working in sales. I did sales for a while, and
then kinda got tired of that and realized, wait,
you just went to school to do engineering, why are we doing sales? You know, if anything I should’ve been sales engineering role. I did sales. It was a great experience. Then I started working
for the state of Florida running a whole computer section, and did that for 19 years. And then got tired of
working for the state for many reasons, and ended up going to work in a private company
called Register Patient, which many people probably have heard of if you live in Gainesville. Which is a health IT company. Helped run as a program
coordinator over there. Basically helping get the application certified by the government
for all kinds of stuff, like meeting for use
and that kind of stuff. They eventually moved their
headquarters to Nashville and I stayed in Gainesville. And after a while decided
I wanna be my own boss and start my own thing. Pretty much I’ve been a entrepreneur since I think I was 16, like always hustling, trying to sell people stuff, I’d be in charge of things all the time. So I was like, “You know what?
“Let’s just do this.” Actually when I was in college
at UF I actually had a job… Well, not a job, but I
actually had a career or whatever you wanna call it and I actually did commercial cleaning. I would do construction clean-up, and that helped pay my bills. So I decided that I wanted
to start my own thing. And what I realized was
that throughout my life I’ve had a lot of people help me get to where I wanted
to be, doing what I did, so I decided it’s time to pay back, like give back to community,
help other people become great. Especially in the tech industry,
’cause that’s what I know. And so I decided to start
a bootcamp, to teach people how to become software developers so they can get their foot
into the tech industry. And I know it’s difficult,
but it’s also a very growing industry, so we were like, “Hey, let’s do something.” And besides, every time I turned around I had somebody in the tech
industry, especially start-ups are always looking for developers. And they’re always asking you, like, “Hey, you know any iPhone developers?” I’m like, “No, but if I do,
I’ll tell them to contact you.” Right? Nine months later they’re
still looking for that person. Well guess what? In my eyes, if you found
anybody that’s competent enough, you know, well-educated, and essentially you put them in front of a
computer, or in front of a book and tell them, “I need you to study “how to become an iPhone developer,” within nine months that person should be pretty darn good, right? And so that’s where it came from. Was like, we can do this. I can take anybody and teach
you how to become a developer. And so we’ve done that
now and had, I don’t know, little over 100 people have graduated from Gainesville Dev Academy. – That’s awesome. And so how long you been doing that now? – Three years. – Three years. And did it… I know you had started it
with Josh, Josh Greenberg for everybody who’s listening. He’s not with us anymore,
but was just such a impactful person on Gainesville, so… For some reason I remember
like Grooveshark had like Grooveshark University and stuff. – [Duncan] They did. – Did it kinda stem from that,
or am I just thinking that… I just remembered they were trying to always find people as well. I think it’s actually a common issue, especially with tech companies. Everybody’s trying to find talent. Like I hear this all the time. And I even see boards trying to be created to constantly recruit talent for all the growing
organizations that we have here. Is that what kinda led to the
development of this company? I mean I know like you said, it did, yeah, there’s always that… – It was a big part of it. So when I was thinking about
this, I realized that… One thing we do with Dev
Academy is not try to be the answer to everything. Like we try to create this ecosystem. So we have other people
that we partner with to do certain things so we can just focus on the educational part. And so, when I was thinking
about doing Dev Academy, I approached Josh because
of Grooveshark University. Grooveshark University was
an internal training program for their recruiting purposes. What was fascinating,
talking to Josh, was that they would get about 300 applicants every single time, or more. And out of that they would pick 12 people, and out of that they
would hire one or two. – [Collin] Dang. – So this is me. I go home and I sit,
I’m thinking about this, and I’m like, “Wait, you
turned away 288 people.” There’s 288 people that are
motivated to want to learn how to become programmers. I’m like, “Wait. “There’s gotta be a market in here. There’s gotta be a way we
can help these people.” And so I approached Josh and I said, “Hey, can we take this from just being “an internal training program and make it “a community-based program?” And he loved the idea,
and so we got together and we were working on… It was essentially gonna start off as Grooveshark University, run by, operated by
Gainesville Dev Academy. Eventually it ended up being
Gainesville Dev Academy and Grooveshark University
kinda disappears out the way. And that was the whole concept behind it. But as you mentioned, Josh
passed away six months after we got started, but yeah…
– Sorry about that. But yeah, he was an incredible
individual as well, so… – Yeah, totally amazing guy. I mean, I have never
met a person that young that had accomplished so much and had such a huge impact in community. Which, ironically, I think is… I have this theory. That if you’re that amazing,
like super, super amazing, and you extend every ounce
of energy and intelligence and all that, you tend to expire early. So I’m living a mediocre life
just so I can live forever. Not to say about anything about anybody that’s super intelligent, but… – I remember running into him at some… It was one of those networking
events, you know, and I… And this was right after they
had started going through like all the, I think it was
like billion-dollar lawsuits. With a lot of those music leaders. And he was just so cool. So cool, calm, and collected. And it was like it never phased him. I’m thinking, I’m like, dude, I would be freaking out right now, you know? – [Duncan] He was cool about it. – But he was always so
giving of his time, too. Like even just… I reached out to him one time, I’m like, I know this guy is busy as heck. And I reached out to him, was like, “Hey man, everybody in
Gainesville tells me “that I just need to have
lunch with you one day, “and so I would like to
invite you out to lunch.” And he was like, “Yes, come,
but you don’t take me out. “Come over to Grooveshark,
let me show you the place, “and let’s eat lunch at the cafe.” ‘Cause they had this cafe. So he treated me to lunch
after I invited him to lunch. You know, it was just like… He was just a stand-up dude. – I tell you… Something that he did every
day, I think it was twice a day, he had a room inside Grooveshark
where he just went in and meditated for 50
minutes every single day. And as you mentioned, for
a guy that’s that busy would find the time to meet
with just about anybody, that’s one thing I’ll
say about Gainesville. Most of the CEOs, founders,
and anybody that’s just great in my mind, I have never had
a time where they said no. They always make time for you. Even with the busy schedules. So I really appreciate
that about this town, that’s for sure. – Yeah I agree with that 100%. So my question to you is,
has it worked really well? Are the people that are
coming out of the Dev Academy finding jobs with these
tech companies here and staying here or… I would hope so, but I
mean, are a lot of them getting opportunities outside
of Gainesville as well? – You know, when we
started, my idea was that… Everybody’s always on this kick
on retaining talent in town, and that’s really,
really hard to do, right? ‘Cause how can you blame a kid
leaving University of Florida and getting a job at Amazon or Facebook? Like, dude, go.
That’s what I would say. So we were targeting more of people that are already residents
here, so you either have a home or you’re
married, so these people are already like sold on staying here. It’s like, hey, let me turn
you into a great developer. You’re not going anywhere, at least you create more
value out of that person. To answer your question, we’ve had… I can name at least one
person, actually several, but at least one person that
was a cook for several years, and they essentially told me that… The dream was always to
go to Chiang Mai, Thailand. And they figured… Ironically they actually worked
for Grooveshark’s cafeteria. So they were always
surrounded by developers and they thought, this is a great thing. And so they started… They tried to teach themselves
how to do some coding, so that kinda helped. But they said that it
would’ve taken them four years to save up for two weeks worth of vacation to go to Chiang Mai at the
rate that they were working. Come to Dev Academy,
graduates, calls me two months after they graduate and tells me, “I have three job offers. “The lowest one is 60 grand, “the highest is 80 working remotely.” So I don’t know if that shows anything, in terms of does it produce, sure. And I will tell you this: there is no magic to what we do. We teach you a skill, but you
have to come with the drive and the passion and wanna be somebody. It’s not just me coming there and expecting Duncan’s
gonna get you a job. I can’t do that. You’re the only one that can do that. So people like that who
go through this process and a prescription that I sort of give on things that you should do to put you in a better position, that’s who ends up being successful. And sure, we’ve had tons of people. One of the large companies
in town in SharpSpring hires a lot of folks from Dev Academy ’cause they’re constantly
growing and needing developers. But yeah, several people
have gotten hired. A big challenge of Dev Academy in terms of keeping track of students is keeping track of students,
just like any university. It’s hard to keep up with the alumni, where are you, what are you doing? But the ones that I do know of
are doing exceptionally well. – Excellent.
That’s what I love to hear. I have so many more questions for you, but James, I want to hear
your origin story, man . – So I was expecting
to hear about a tornado and a witch on a bicycle and
tin-man and all that stuff, but he just let me down. There was… I got a full-ride to Kansas. The end. Wow. So my story, I’m gonna… Since we kinda got brought
down a little bit… I traveled around homeless. (all laughing) Yeah, now he’s laughing at me. Yeah here we go. At age nine I became homeless and I lived in Naples, Florida. My father was a pretty heavy-handed guy and so we traveled for
two and a half years out of a back of a Dodson B210, and landed in Interlochen, Florida, which
is about 20 miles yay-yonder. And so I graduated
Interlochen High School, class of ’92, voted least
likely to succeed, go Rams. – [Collin] Is that true? – That is very true, and I got a story about hosting my 25th high
school reunion last summer at my new location. (all laugh) – That’s classy. – So I basically fell in
love with Gainesville, man. I mean, the Oaks Mall was the place… When I was 16 years old
I became the lead singer of a band and when big
bands would come to Florida, I would be an opening for the openers. And so I got to do a lot
of really cool stuff. I knew three songs, whoa. And so the end result
for me is that I just fell in love with Gainesville. It’s awesome. Really cool place, the
university was awesome. I was given not a full free-ride, but I was given a
free-ride to microbiology. Hated it, realized that
wanting to become a doctor to sleep with nurses
and drive a sports car was not the correct thing to do, right? Hey, you said no filter. This is what you get. – [Collin] No this is great. – And so I had an
academic advisor who said, “Look, how dare you take up a place “for a student that actually
wants to save a life?” So I said, “You know you’re right.” So I dropped out, emptied
my entire student account and bought a stormtrooper
costume from Star Wars. That’s the first piece I ever collected. And then I became a professional TV magician– – You’re being serious right now? – I would not do anything
other than being serious. Yeah. Yeah, so I–
– ‘Cause I know you joke a lot. It almost sounds like a joke. – That’s a serious story. Yeah I was standing there
in this guy’s office and he said, “How dare
you have that attitude “toward becoming a doctor?” And I said, “You know, you’re right.” ‘Cause my father was
very stern, and I didn’t get the logical understanding of life, but here’s this person, Doctor Ockey, in case you’re listening, who basically said, “Get
your shit straight, son. “You don’t have a good attitude.” And I was like, “You know, you’re right. “I’m gonna be…I’m an action.” Being a CEO means action. Being an entrepreneur means action. Action started at me for 18 years old. And I walked out of that office and I just said goodbye to UF, and basically, for lack of a better thing,
became a professional magician, to piss my parents off even more. If you’re gonna do it, do it 100%. That’s what my father said, right? – True commitment. – And within six weeks of
becoming a professional magician I started my first company,
called Coats Magic Productions. And I hired the people
that were in my classes to build these magic
tricks that I invented. And I sold that company six months later for a high six-figure
deal and moved to Chicago to become a TV personality
for Discovery Channel. – Wait, wait, wait, I have… I’ve got so many questions. So, but like, why did
you buy the stormtrooper suit? That seems… – The question should be,
“Why wouldn’t you want “to buy a stormtrooper
costume from Star Wars?” – No, no, like I get that part, but I just–
– Well, it was available. And I just so happened… It was weird. I always wanted one. So there was two things
in life, when I was a kid I always wanted: a stormtrooper costume and the chrome cylon from
Battlestar Galactica. I’ve owned both, and trust
me, once you own them you don’t want them anymore. (all laugh) The end result was that
it was serendipitous because the exact amount of money I had in my student account at
UF was the exact amount of money to buy the stormtrooper costume. – [Collin] So you just
knew it was meant to be. – I was like, this is going to happen. And my wife at the time
thought I was just nuts. She’s like, “Okay.” And I’ve been on that
crazy train ever since. – Okay so and then you
had this magic business. Like, what was the magic, what did you do? – Sure, so–
– You performed or what? – Well no, god no. Performing’s for… Billy’s birthday party, but no. I basically just have a natural
understanding of materials and how to configure things. And I genuinely think it comes
from being homeless as a kid. I would take parts and pieces of toys people would throw away
and reconfigure them to make my own toys because
we couldn’t have anything. So I can look at different things and just understand how they work. And so I was able to
understand how magic worked without having to read the instructions. And so I made very simple
transition from science to magic, which is nothing
more than psychology and physics and science, so I had a natural understanding of it. My first company actually
for $29.95 I would teach you how to bend a spoon with
the power of your mind. My total cost into it was 56 cents. And I sold hundreds and hundreds
a week in trade magazines. And I just realized, wow,
there’s manufacturing, there’s something there. And it’s one of the
reasons I like Gainesville because we have some pretty
cool high-end manufacturing. So my first manufacturing business was in Mt. Vernon
apartments on Archer Road. Yeah. Making spoons that bent
with the power of your mind. – Nice.
– Go team. – So yeah–
– So this is the business that you sold? – That’s the business that I sold to one of the largest toy
manufacturing companies. And then they moved me
to Chicago to create toys for people like Milton Bradley, even Cracker Jack, McDonald’s, but that’s how I get introduced
to professional TV magicians like Criss Angel, David Copperfield, and that’s when I was first
kind of exposed to TV. And I do have a personality, sort of. – [Collin] Understatement. – So I was offered my own
TV show from Discovery and that started my TV career. I did professional TV with Discovery, A&E, and History Channel
for a handful of years. And then went through
just a horrible divorce. Because, here’s entrepreneurial, sorry to bring it back
down, ups and downs. Success is one thing, but
don’t forget the people that are part of your life. And I went through this… Where I was making a lot of money, had a lot of rental properties in Chicago, doing a lot of great things, endorsed by a lot of big companies, but I forgot the person
that I was married to. And so she left the
relationship for someone else, and so this was a
defining moment in my life to go, “Hey, wait a minute. “What is success?” And let’s go back to being voted least likely to succeed in class of ’92. Maybe censor with us,
little beeps here and there. But what is success when
you’re 17 or 18 years old? Well it’s getting laid, having
a car, and having a job. And that’s the mentality of a teenager. Well I didn’t have any of it. So I guess I wasn’t very
successful when I was 18. Now that I’m a 44 year old, successful, good-looking, broad-shouldered,
confident CEO, success is watching my little dude grow up and appreciating the
amazing wife that I have. And watching a culture for business that I’ve created from nothing. So it’s kind of a cool thing. – Wait I thought I was
part of that success. You didn’t mention me. (all laugh) – That was a dark moment in my past that we just try to forget, Duncan. – Okay so… Yeah we’re just gonna move on (laughs). So what led to what you’re doing now? – So very interesting transition. So as I mentioned, I was
doing professional TV. And I was the guy, when I
started telling people this, Discovery Channel paid me a lot of money to assemble a team of magicians, and it was our job, over the series, to basically show the
vulnerability of our society through pick-pocketing and scams, and entering buildings
without supposed to be there and things like this. So I basically hand-picked
an amazing team of people and we tested the security
of airports after 9/11. And basically Discovery Channel made a lot of money off of it. I received the call
from a government agency that I can’t mention in public,
it’s an alphabet agency, asking me, can I really do
these things in real life? And I said, “Sure.” So I disappeared for about 18 months and I graduated
intelligence analyst school. And was basically attached to DEVGRU, which is a special operations
team for the Navy SEALs to teach them magic. Yeah.
Right. And you’re probably asking… Do you wanna see an example of some of the things I would teach them? – [Collin] Sure. – Alright. Now Collin’s like, “Why did I
invite this guy on my show?” I’ll show you guys. This is very simple.
– [Collin] I thought I knew a lot about you, and now I’m like, wow. – [Duncan] You had no idea. – So this is gonna be
an interactive piece. So everyone go like this. And make sure–
– [Collin] If you’re listening, you’re gonna have to like go watch the video.
– So hands facing up. Now turn your hands so
the thumbs are down. And then cross over your hands
and interlock your fingers like this.
Don’t hit your microphone, Duncan. Alright, close them. Now everyone move their pinky. See how that pinky’s like this? Now everyone watch my hands. Now do the next step. – So magic is–
– Wait, what just happened? (all laughing) – Thank you. And that’ll be eight bucks. So magic is a series of
being three or four steps ahead of what’s going on presently. So it teaches hand-eye
coordination and forward-thinking. So what I would do is I would
teach hand-eye coordination to sniper teams and SEAL teams. I then had an opportunity
to watch how they trained, and I started noticing a vulnerability. A lot of people don’t know,
but the average Navy SEAL takes about two million
dollars of training before they become operational. And the last thing you
want is one of those guys to get wounded and taken out of warfare. So I created my first set of armor. But I couldn’t do it traditionally. I had to do it James Coats-style. And this is how a magician transitions to a defense contractor. I invented a technology– – Which just sounds crazy to me. You like listen to that,
you’re like, “What?” – My wife said I should write
a book, but I’m not done yet. So as a magician, one of the
claim to fame that I have is that I invented a
technology that allowed a very famous magician to become invisible surrounded by people. And I have a patent on this technology. It was Electronic scrimming,
for those of you who are in the TV industry or
something along those lines. But I built it in the clothing, and it made someone appear invisible. So this person, whose initials are DC on national TV live, faded invisible, fully surrounded by people. I decided to build that technology
into a set of body armor. It was featured on the military channel as the Chameleon Project. And now I’m sitting
right here in your booth. So I received a call from a company called British Aerospace
Engineering Systems. Now please understand, I’m
still a college dropout. “That we hear that you’ve
created a technology “that allows people to become invisible “and blend into multiple color
spectrums like a chameleon.” “Why yes, yes I did.” I was given some clearance into a closed military trade show, and
I’ll never forget it. Because there’s lots of defining
moments as an entrepreneur that we come across these walls, and we can choose to let that wall stop us or we can climb over it or we can understand why it’s
there and negotiate it, right? So I go into this booth of
a 59 billion dollar a year defense contracting
company called BAE Systems or British Aerospace Engineering Systems. And I’m sitting with this
guy, first name is Dan, complete a-hole. He says, “I don’t know why you’re here, “but you’ve got the government
saying you need to be here. “I built that armor.
“You’re wasting my time.” Okay. “You wanna see what my armor does?” So I turn it on, it goes
from black to green. And all of a sudden he clears
the booth, kicks everyone out. The booth is about larger
than your building. And basically said, “How much?” “Oh, okay.” So I said, “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.” I leave what is now considered
a classified technology in their booth and I just
walk away for 20 minutes. I’m going to do other things, and I’m like, “Oh my god.” So I come up with a number, I come back and they say, “Alright.” I gave them the number and they said, “Okay, that’s your salary.” I said, “What do you
mean that’s my salary? “I didn’t say I’m working for you.” “Oh you do now.” So they created a
special department for me called the Advanced
Development Department. The Advanced Development Department was the skunk works
department for our government. And so basically I got
to create technologies that didn’t exist for
people that don’t exist. Yeah. – [Duncan] This is like a movie, isn’t it? It’s crazy. – Like my brain is spinning. – Yeah, sorry about that. You asked. I had to give the truth and
the answers associated to it. Shortly afterwards, to
make a long story short, I went through a variety
of trials and tribulations. I earned my bachelors degree
in less than 13 months. And went through a variety of training, sniper training, EOD training,
hostage negotiation training. Emerged a person with more
confidence than you see today and physically able to
know what was happening in the engineering and
special operations community. What I realized, and
why Phalanx was created and why Gainesville was chosen, now let’s bring it back to why we’re here. Is you got two segmented groups of people: engineers and what we call operators. Or special operations groups. They don’t speak the same language. I don’t speak the language that he does when it comes to app development. He doesn’t speak body armor. So we need a translator. I became a translator. I then created a group of special people that became translators
because we went through the same training that
special operations groups went through, and they went through some of the engineering training so we could speak the same language. So in the claim to fame,
basically understanding the end user allowed me to create gear that was pretty special for
some pretty special people that I can’t really go too in-depth into. But that’s the basics. And why Gainesville is
because the amazing talent that Gainesville has from
the University of Florida, all my engineers come from UF. Every single one of them. Because they’re cool cats
that don’t know what no means. No just means I’ve
established communication. Now tell me why it’s no. So that’s kind of why I chose Gainesville and instead of doing cocaine and hookers with the money from my fame… You said you could beep this out. I decided to start a company
called Phalanx Defense Systems, and I left British Aerospace in 2012 and started Phalanx out of my garage and now it’s grown to
be a 30,000 square-foot manufacturing business that
has saved countless lives of people that exist and don’t exist. – Isn’t it in, you said, an old military armory or something? – Yeah, so I– – [Collin] I mean I
think that’s kinda cool, given the type of business. – It is pretty spiffy. I had the opportunity of
negotiating with the city. I offered them a dollar for
the building and they laughed and so I made it $2. And so through a 14-month
negotiation process I purchased the old armory on
the east side of Gainesville and rehabbed it, stuck
a ton of money into it and created a Google culture
that centers around the hero, which is the first responder for us, and then I put my private collection, ’cause the stormtrooper turned into a lot. I still have that stormtrooper.
– So was that just a natural… I mean, have you always been
obsessed with like superheroes and stuff?
– When you say obsessed… I don’t take pictures of him
through the window anymore. We’re done with that. – [Collin] He’s pointing at Duncan. – That’s that dark moment.
– To everybody who’s listening. – That medication has kicked in for him. Repeat your question. ‘Cause I’m just enamored
by this awesomeness that’s just exuding off
of Duncan over here. – I love that both of you
guys are here together. – [James] Good touch, bad
touch, good touch, bad touch. – Just the… A lot of times people ask me, like, “Hey, were you always
passionate about scooters?” And I’m like, “No, I saw an opportunity.” So were you passionate about superheroes or was it just kind of this, alright, now we’re doing… I was doing this stuff with the military, this is armor, and then that hobby of collecting these
things came into place? Or were you just like, “Screw it. “I am Tony Stark of Gainesville. “I should have every
Iron Man suit there is.” – That too. The life of James Coats, dot dot dot. So to go back before I became homeless. One of the reasons I became homeless was the medical bills that I
personally caused my family. So I was born allergic to everything. I had an autoimmune disease
that made me allergic to pretty much everything, and the only thing I
could have in the hospital at times when I had to be
segmented out was comic books. So imagine… Dr. Cade, which is an amazing coincidence, the inventor of Gatorade,
created a medical Gatorade for me and other kids like myself so that we could have some nutrition, ’cause I couldn’t have a
lot of stuff, a lot of food. I couldn’t even… I was in a plastic room for three and a half months at a time. And so to make a long story short, I didn’t have a reaction to comic books, so I surrounded myself with
what made me comfortable. Now, right now, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are kinda the comic book
people I look up to. But when I was a little
kid it was Spider-Man. And reason being is because Peter Parker got stung by a spider. Well, when I was a kid, I
had to go through bee-sting immuno therapy, which is
basically where they sting you with a bee to build your immune system. So I kinda identified with Peter Parker. And then I got my own Spider-Man suit and the rest is history. So ultimately it came
from, that’s the only thing I could have in the hospital. – Dang, I mean it’s… Knowing you, now I’m looking back and it’s cool to kinda
see how all these pieces have clicked together. Because that’s ultimately what has led to Superheroes for Hope. – Absolutely. Superheroes for Hope is
something that I started about two and a half
years ago that is actually now becoming a national charity, which is just humbling for me. It started with a little
dude named Sam Hersom who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and his father found out that I had this amazing collection of stuff and I… My wife said get it out of the house. So I took it to my office. Next thing I know, people are… ‘Cause we’re a closed facility. We’re not open to the public. And so this little dude, who battles more in the first two hours of his day than most of us do in a month, basically came to my facility,
but me being James Coats, I can’t just do something half-assed. So I was involved in a
lawsuit with a company that I had create a
stealth operations vehicle for the SEAL teams. They took my design and gave it to some people in Saudi Arabia. So they took a classified
technology that I created and basically made one for
some prince in Saudi Arabia or something like that, so I was like, “You can’t do that.” But the big guy upstairs,
I’m sitting here, about to, this kid to come in in two days, and something told me to
call these people and say, “Hey, do you have a Batmobile?” And they said, “Maybe.” I said, “I will drop the lawsuit
if you can make a Batmobile “show up…”
This was on like a Thursday, “on a Saturday, this coming up Saturday.” And the guy says, “We’ll
see you Saturday.” Now I don’t know why I
decided to call this guy. My lawyer still yells at
me going, “Are you nuts?” Yes, apparently I am. And as I was… This little kid is facing me and… You never saw my old location, it was inside the Gainesville airport. And I’m facing him, and
I wear sunglasses… They’re gone. I wear sunglasses because one, I’m cool, but two, it gives me a
barrier between people. Because basically if I’m in a bad mood, I’m wearing sunglasses,
just don’t talk to me, that’s my little defense mechanism. So I’m wearing these sunglasses and I look and I see on Waldo Road a
semi-truck with the tumbler from Batman Begins and
I’m like, “Oh my god.” I start crying. Real men cry. If you can’t handle that, sorry. It’s what you do when
you cry that defines you. Then I don’t see the truck, I
don’t see the tumbler anymore. Then all of a sudden I
hear the roar of an engine starting up and the next thing I know, the tumbler from Batman
Begins pulls up to my gate. And I am bawling now. And what had ended up
to be a private event for a little kid ended
up gathering 150 people. And it was an incredible event, but it showed me that I
can use this unique brand known as James Coats to help other people. But I had to wrap something around it. That’s where Superheroes for Hope came. Now I do have three Batmobiles. Well, technically two now. I gave the tumbler, ’cause
I have my own version of the tumbler created
by a tremendous artist here in Gainesville. I gave it to a little boy’s parents who lost his battle with cancer. So they could basically keep… Oh must be me. – His phone’s ringing,
for everybody listening. – Now I’ll put it in my
pocket, put it on vibrate. You can call me, Duncan. – Oh god. (all laughing) – Just remember, you invited us. – It’s too early. – So to make a long story short, I donated a Batmobile to
these pretty cool folks in Dallas, Texas, who lost
their little boy to cancer. And that Batmobile was special for me and it’s special to them
because when they chose to have their child taken off
of the experimental therapies, they said, “We want him
to play with your son.” Who’s the same age as Sawyer. And to make a long story
short, we ended up doing that, and so now it’s up there in Texas and helping raise awareness
for kids with cancer. So it’s grown. I know I’ve been sporadic,
all over the place, but… – No it’s awesome.
– Yeah, it’s amazing. – We need to introduce him to Taylor. Taylor Williams.
– Yeah. – It’s a good story,
his storytelling, man. Do you know Taylor Williams? From Guts and Glory GNV? – I haven’t the slightest
clue who that is. – Is that who was on your show last time? – Yeah, and she does like
improv, storytelling stuff. – [Duncan] Oh Taylor, Taylor. – James, you’ve worked with
Bobby White Basketball Cop a little bit too, correct? – [James] Yeah.
Cool cat. – Yeah, I saw that maybe
back in like March or April, the kid he helped start the lawn service and you were his first contract, correct? Or one of his first contracts. – [James] Lemme give you
a Bobby White story first. – And I sit on the board of directors at the Basketball Cop Foundation, so I’ve worked with him, too. – So just like here at Collin’s place, you have a very unique culture. Well at Phalanx we have a
very cool culture as well. So basically I decided to
shut the business down one day and bring in professional laser tag. And myself going through some training and I have a variety of former operators, I decided to pick a team
with all the good people and basically we decided
to shut Phalanx down. Well what I didn’t know
is that we’re stacked on the outside of Phalanx
and the cops get called that there’s an active shooter. – [Collin] Oh no. – Tactical engagement
happening at Phalanx. And I was like, “Yes.” And the responding officer was Bobby. And Bobby’s sending me a text, he goes, “James, what in the beep are you doing?” I said, “Laser tag for my team.” He said, “Yeah, I know,
that’s why I’m not… “Cancel the call.” So Bobby’s a cool cat. Matter of fact I was just
talking to him yesterday. So Bobby introduced us to a young man. To answer your question. And we… Lemme just be open and transparent. We tried to help that young man, but his parental unit got in the way. And that’s the sad part. Because we have lots of obstacles, but when those obstacles
are associated to addiction, it gives you a skewed version of life. So here’s this young man who is… He’s hustling it, man. He’s out there doing some
of the hardest things, which is manual labor in summer. And his parental unit is just
taking everything from him. And it’s sad. So we just kinda walked away. Now I’m helping Te’yah with the lemonade, which is completely awesome. Yeah, she’s a cool cat. And the lemonade actually is phenomenal. It’s not made up.
It’s like good. Buy some lemonade, Duncan. – Yeah, yeah. So remember how I talked
about cool CEOs and founders? That’s how I met this guy. I saw him in the paper and I was like, I gotta meet this dude. And I think I just sent
you an email or something, I don’t even know, and he’s
like, “Yeah, come on down.” And I went out there and
heard stories for days and I was just like,
“This guy is unbelievable. “Unbelievable.” – I think when people, when
you think of Gainesville, you look at Gainesville, you’re like… I mean that’s the whole point
of why we’re doing this. ‘Cause you just don’t realize
that there’s individuals like yourselves here
doing incredible things. And when we get to sit down
and hear these stories, and me, like I know a lot of stories from a lot of entrepreneurs,
like I’m friends with you guys, but when I even get to
dive in deeper with them, I mean, I learn something new every time I sit down with somebody. And that’s… I don’t know, man, that’s
just really, really cool. What’s your favorite superhero, James? Is it Spider-Man because of
those early days, or is it…? – I’m an Ant-Man guy. – You’re a what? – Ant-Man. – Are you really? That’s interesting. – Someone’s gotta be an Ant-Man. – Better pick something from Wakanda man. – Wakanda forever.
– Wakanda forever, brother. – So in all actuality, I am a fan of the Christian Bale Batman. And the reason being is
because me being who I am, I actually built a true
functional suit like that. And I also own his stunt suits. So I’m really connected to it. But it was just believable enough to say, “This is possible.” Where Tony Stark, no, you
can’t get in an Iron Man suit and fly.
You just can’t do that. But darn sure if I can’t build a real suit like Christian Bale’s. So I’d say Batman, not
the Ben Affleck version. – He has a very specific… – The Michael Keaton and
the Christian Bale Batman. – [Collin] Duncan, what’s
your favorite superhero, man? – Wonder Woman. (Collin laughing) – [Duncan] What’s wrong with that? – [James] Nothing.
She’s hot. – I think it’s great that
he chose that for you. I just think it’s great
that he chose that for you. There’s nothing wrong with Wonder Woman, I just think it’s great
that he chose that for you. – I’d take that, I’d take it. No, I think Batman, too. – Copycat.
– Copycat. – I know.
Got to. Can’t be the odd man out here, right? – So when can we set up this laser tag? – Yeah, when can we come? – I think Collin and I both
wrote that in our notes. It’s like, laser tag, fall, set it up. – Well what’s funny,
is ’cause he’s talking about culture and everything, and we… Like when we bought this property… I think it’s got a 4500 square
foot warehouse back here and we filled it, when
all the scooters came in in July, a year or two ago we filled it, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, check this out. “We have our own laser tag arena.” And we bought these laser tag guns and then of course laser tag guns came in, we got busy, and we have yet to use them. But if you walk into our warehouse, there’s laser tag guns
racked up on the wall. – I’m already thinking
Corporate Laser Tag League. Let’s do it.
– We could have challenges. – We got all these awesome
people on the podcast, Gainesville Dev Academy
against New Scooters 4 Less next Friday night, let’s do it. – [James] And Phalanx against all y’all. – Ooh. – [Ty] I’ll be on that team. – Of course you would. – What’s a… I mean, how often… Sorry I didn’t mean to just
sprint out of laser tag. (laughs) I’m like looking at time, I’m like, man we’re getting
short on time really quick. How often are you doing
events with the charity? ‘Cause I know, you do
them pretty often, right? – We do. So I have a great
connection with Make-a-Wish, Dreams Come True, and Shands, and also the sheriff’s department, so
whenever we find a young person who needs just some love and some escape from what they’re going through. However, July 23rd through the 27th, we’re having an all-week
event from 11 to 2 for all law enforcement. So we’re feeding them, and
that’s through the charity as well because once again, my heroes are first responders and law enforcement. – And that’s of this month, of July? Everybody who’s listening to this episode will air in August, so,
it was in July, but cool. – We just experienced time travel, Duncan. How do you feel?
– That fast. – Doc, Doc! – Tripping. – [James] You’re speechless now, Collin. – Yes, seriously. I don’t know if I’ve been this speechless, ’cause I’m like trying to figure… I’m listening and I’m like, man, what direction do I want to go with? – I just wanna say, invite Duncan to your house-warming party. He brings the best liqueur. – Is this true?
– It is. I had a house-warming party
’cause I just got my dream house and my man here was invited
’cause he’s always like, “You never invite me to your stuff.” Well he’s the first guy I invited. Didn’t even invite Collin, you know? But he’s like, “What do you want?” I was like, “Rum is always
a gift,” hint, hint. – Any kinda rum. – You guys actually have it here. – Always bring the rum. – And he brought preferred stock. And I’m just like… Whoa, my man. And thank you. I just wanna say thank you, I love you. – Love you back, buddy.
Yeah. – This is gonna be the
most random podcast, like so many different directions, which I’m totally cool
with, that makes them great. – I wanted to cycle back
on one thing with Duncan. So with the code academy… I’ve done some work with
a non-profit code academy based out of Albuquerque,
called Cultivating Coders. And they do some like, reach
out to native New Mexicans and some stuff. Are you guys getting
into some scholarships and things with kids
through the coding academies where people can do it for free? Or is it more tuition-based at this point? – So it’s all tuition-based,
but we do work… When I talk about the residents
that we’re working with, there’s a good portion,
probably about 40, 50% in the last, about a year ago that we worked through Career Source, which is a workforce board over here, where the workforce board had
a grant that they were able to actually give scholarships
away to a lot of people. And that helped a lot of
people, because classes are not, by any means, cheap, but they’re also, I don’t think, that expensive. We’re probably half, almost half of what the national average is. And then we also do a
summer camp every year for the last three years for kids, between the ages of eight and 14. This year we partnered
up with Cade Museum and we registered 125
kids and out of those, 25 we give away scholarships. – Awesome. And those are… I was actually looking
at this the other day when I was at the Cade. There’s summer camps
almost every week there that you guys are kind of
running or co-sanctioned camps over there at the Cade? – Mm-hm.
– Very cool. – Yeah, so half the day
is spent, in the mornings, the first four hours in the
morning are spent doing coding, and so we are focused
on HTML, using Scratch, Python, programming. And the idea is not really to turn kids into these power geniuses in coding or become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but the idea is to get you
excited about technology. And so that’s what we’ll do as well. Like with the Scratch week we’ll teach you how to make video games,
simple video games. So kids will learn
passively about collision and how to tech collisions and stuff with objects as you’re
building this stuff. And we hope that when they leave there, that they will go and continue this at home or something else. And what’s happened is,
actually I talked to a parent a couple weeks ago and I asked them how their child enjoyed the
class, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I cannot
get them off Scratch. “They’re on it all day long.” I’m like, “Success!” That’s success to me. I got you excited about it. And everything we teach is all… ‘Cause again, remember, we’re
giving away scholarships, but we try and make it where
the technologies that we pick is something that’s either cloud-based so you don’t have to own a computer, you don’t need to buy any special license, you can go to the library
and do this for all we care. And the idea is to be able to
reach everybody by doing that. – [Ty] That’s awesome. – I know that we always
finish up the last few minutes with some Gainesville questions and stuff, but I think I wanna save
that for the side hustle. So anybody who’s listening,
go check out the side hustle, which is a little after the
podcast Q&A that we’ll do. We’ll just, really, really quick. But I want to kind of dive
into the future of technology businesses and that
thing for a little bit. And I know, Duncan, you
are pretty well-educated with the crypto currency stuff. Like I’ve seen you speak on it before. I mean, like blockchain is something that you constantly hear
about, being talked about. For everybody listening, like my mom. Hi mom. (laughs) And a lot of people out there, like I’ll be honest, even
myself, for a long time… You know, I’ve googled the
word blockchain several times trying to make sure like I understand. I mean could you give us
the third grade version of what is blockchain and why should we even be concerned with it? – Yeah. Blockchain is amazing technology. First of all I just wanna plug two things. I do have an article in the
Business Greater Gainesville magazine, there’s an article on
blockchain, it’s basically the de-mystify blockchain– – [Collin] For July?
What month was that? – Yeah, July.
– Okay, cool. – And also, I just did a video podcast with the ITPro for CompTIA’s AITP, which is the Association for International Technical Professionals, I
believe is what it stands for, on blockchain.
– That’s where your location is at now? – That’s where our location
is, which is by ITPro, which is off of Tower Road. But yeah it was specifically on blockchain and these two events
that I participated in I was asked to because
a lot of professionals and other people will
hear all these stories about blockchain, blockchain
this, blockchain that. Everything you hear is about
use cases of blockchain but nobody understood
well what is this thing that’s called blockchain,
what does it mean? And ironically you’ll find
that there’s a lot of companies that are trading or have
used, have added the word blockchain to their business
and their business has grown even though they’re not using blockchain. But basically blockchain
is most commonly associated with crypto currencies,
Bitcoin specifically. ‘Cause that’s where it
was actually originated by this pseudonym person
that we don’t know. A person called Sitoshi
Nakamoto, who wrote a white paper that basically outlaid
what a crypto currency, digital currency, and how
blockchain was invented as a way to create technological framework that allows you to trade between people or exchange money
between people digitally. So you can think of it
as an accounting ledger, but it’s completely digital. It’s decentralized.
Nobody owns it. Well everybody owns it, so to speak. Everybody has a copy of it. So if you put a transaction
in there, I get a copy of that transaction, Ty gets
a copy, James gets a copy, we all have one. If Collin decides that he’s
gonna modify his transaction because he’s just being a bad dude, it will not allow it,
because it’s gonna go validate it against Ty’s,
against mine, against James’ and see, wait, these guys’ don’t match up with what you just did so
you’re gonna get rejected. And the idea behind that is
it avoids this whole idea of like double-entry errors
that you have from human factor. So blockchain basically
keeps everything level and keeps everybody in trusted mode in a trustless system because, again, there’s nobody behind this. It’s all computer-based. So blockchain is
essentially the technology that people should be focused on. When we talk about crypto currency everybody gets excited
about it, yeah, yeah, yeah, and then you hear about the crash and all this other stuff. Crypto currency’s great,
but I remember watching Richard Branson, and he
said that Bitcoin, Ethereum, all these guys, in terms
of currencies, these we should look at them as betas of a technology that’s
gonna be great one day. So yeah, crypto currency came
out, Bitcoin was awesome. It crashed. It’s probably not the best thing yet, but one day we’re gonna be there. And I think that just the whole idea of digital transaction, digital currency is gonna be the wave of the future. I mean I can’t remember the last time I wrote a check, honestly. And we all use ATM cards,
and so anybody that feels like it’s creepy, you’re
already doing it right now when you’re using your debit
card or whatever, Apple Pay. What’s the difference, you know? In terms of investment,
which is what most people are going for, it’s like anything else. Only invest what you can
afford to lose anyway, right? So that’s the advice that
I would give with that. But blockchain essentially is what’s gonna solve a lot of our problems. When you talk about
looking into the future, I think one of the things to
realize is, it can change. Technology changes very fast. And so there’s now this move
towards quantum computing which could completely change
what we know about blockchain. We may not need it. But at the moment this is where we’re at. Blockchain is the technology to look for, especially if you’re
trying to improve a system that requires interaction
between lots of people. And one of the things that, did on that, on these particular talks was give an idea of how and when you should use
blockchain in your business. ‘Cause most people think,
“I’ll just add blockchain.” But it has to make sense. I can’t tell you how much I hate when people over-engineer something that does not need stuff. So you think about a
good place for blockchain is if you have a network of people that just don’t trust each other. Or maybe you have an
intermediary in between that you rely on to do everything. And maybe you don’t trust them at all or have no reason to trust them. Those are some of the things
that you would look for in order to determine, does it fit? Should we use it?
That kinda stuff. – It’s just a whole level of transparency that’s being added. – Absolutely. And that’s why I love it, among
other things in technology. Anything that creates
transparency and accountability, to me is like, phenomenal.
Do it. – Okay so what’s… Kind of switching subjects a little bit. What’s in the future for
Gainesville Dev Academy? – Oh jeez Gainesville Dev Academy, yeah. Well we’ll always continue
to try and help people become better at what they do. And so we’re always… When we talk in business
world about pivoting up, Our pivot’s always trying to keep
up with current technology that’s most sought-after for folks. And so I stay in touch with
recruiters and businesses to find out what technologies
they’re looking for. It would be nice to hit up
every technology in the world, but we just kind of stay with
the most highly sought-after and so typically it’s like
front-end development. Java script especially is something that’s grown and matured so much. It’s like in everything. Problem is there’s like
a million frameworks. We don’t go through all those frameworks. We just teach you some
basic ones, basically. But we also partner with ITPro and have a section under
ITProTV called DevProTV. So you have to subscribe
to ITPro and you’d find DevPro underneath there,
which is essentially what we do in class, software
development, but online. So you can actually go on
there for a subscription, a monthly fee, and just
learn whatever you got. I mean there’s Python, React, Node, just about any major framework that you wanna learn is available online. And that was our way of scaling out. And I think in terms of Dev Academy, logistically, it’s almost
crazy to create more locations, which is essentially
what you would need to do in order to grow it. The best way to grow is online. There’s still a portion
of people like myself who prefer to be offline,
like in a classroom, ’cause I wanna be able
to be around other people that are struggling like I am. You wanna be able to ask
questions and have a mentor there, in front of you, which works
for a lot of people, actually. So a classroom is not dead. I still believe in it. And the people that we
get are those people that really get true value out of it. I think the bonus for being in a classroom as opposed to just going to
learn any of this online, which you can do, by the way, you can pick up any
number of places for like 20 bucks a month or even Free Code Camp, which is completely free, but being in a classroom
allows you to network with a group of folks just like yourself, and you realize, just like
when you were in college and you’re in a frat or
whatever the case may be, the people that graduate with you, somebody’s gonna end up
getting a bang-ass job, if I can say ass.
I just did. Woo-hoo! – So proud. He’s so proud of himself. – I know, it’s like, yes. Anyway, so imagine
somebody from your class ends up working for, I
dunno, Google, Facebook, and one day they’re
hiring and they reach out to the people they know
they were in a class with. That’s a bonus. We also have, for, we’ll
call it, our brand, Gainesville Dev Academy,
so when you’re graduating and looking for job and you say, “I went to Gainesville Dev Academy,” that kind of gives you a step up, as opposed to saying,
“Yeah, I learned it online.” At some place that nobody knows
or whatever the case may be. And again, like I said, the
mentor part, that’s huge. That’s really huge. And we also have on, it’s either a weekly or
biweekly, we bring in CTOs and CEOs for companies
because I want folks to hear from the person that hires you and the person that you work for, what is it that they look for? And these are tips for you, as a student, to prepare yourself for that job. Like how should I align myself
so I can get the perfect job? You may not work for that
CTO but he just told you what a CTO’s looking for and
what you should be learning and what you should be preparing yourself. All these things are things
that I don’t think you can get in a classroom, and that’s why we do this. It’s a lot easier this way. – Excellent. And thank you for being here. – [Duncan] Thank you. – James, what’s the future of Phalanx Defense Systems looks like? – First I wanna ask, were
you part of a fraternity? Did I kinda get a little
hint of that, or…? – Never. – You sure? – Yeah.
– Sorority? – They wouldn’t take me.
Wouldn’t take me. Wouldn’t take you, alright. What’s the future of Phalanx? I have no clue. – Do you like that?
– The end. No. – I mean I know a lot of
entrepreneurs are very much like, “Things change so rapidly
that I just go with the flow “and it just seems like one thing uncovers “and I go in a new direction.” A lot of people like that, and
then there’s a lot of people like, “I have this grand vision, “this is what I’m going after.” What is it for you? – I recently brought
in a consulting company to tell me what I’m doing wrong. And you know, it’s amazing. You know what you’re doing wrong but when someone of authority tells you what you’re doing wrong, all of a sudden it just makes sense. And so… Myself and my team have
reinvented the company over the last three months to
the point where we are just, I don’t wanna say taking
off like a rocket, but it’s amazing. There’s no manual to teach you how to start a scooter store, right? You can’t go to Home Depot or the library and say, “Hey, how do I do this?” There’s not the same with the body armor manufacturing company. So we invented processes that
are apparently pretty cool. We invented business systems
that apparently semi-work. And now we’re putting in new ERP systems and new CRM systems and working
with The Selling Factory, just a little kick out
for them, Selling Factory and Brad over there, they’re
gonna be handling 100% of our sales, which is phenomenal. But one of the biggest issues,
just to be honest with you, is the consulting company asks you, “What’s your exit strategy?” I don’t know. I just have no clue. – I actually hate that question. – [James] Yeah it sucks. – As an entrepreneur I’m
like, “I don’t have one. “And I don’t care if
I don’t have one, so.” – Yeah, I have no clue what
that is, thank you for asking, and I’ll take Vanna for a dollar, please. And ultimately I don’t know. We’ve acquired kind of a new company and I think I’m gonna
go into acquisition mode and just buy a few companies I think and bring them to Gainesville. – [Collin] Oh wow. – Why not try? If you fail, you fail, just get up– – He’s trying to give you a high five. Are you trying to give a high five, or…? – No he said he’s acquiring
companies, I’m like, hello. – Oh they have to be successful. (all laughing) – I was looking for my exit. – That was horrible, I’m so sorry. Did not mean to talk about
your thing like that. – He’s talking about the other business, not Gainesville Dev Academy, shh. – He used to be a surgeon, specifically. What do you call those? – Don’t know what he’s talking about. – How many people are working for you? – So we have like 20-ish inside. 115 independents out in the field, and I think I’m bringing
on eight through Brad. – And Brad’s about, I think… Hopefully he doesn’t get
mad about me saying this, I think they’re moving. – He’s moving to Catalyst.
– Moving to Catalyst. – [James] Yeah that’s pretty exciting. – I’m wearing my Selling
Factory shirt today. – Hey Brad, I want a
Selling Factory shirt. I signed a contract, I need them. – There you go. Hey, we ran over, which is like awesome. Because I could honestly go
for another half hour, hour. And so I definitely wanna get you guys to answer a couple more things. So in the side hustle,
just to prep everybody, I’m actually gonna dive a
little bit more into advice for somebody who’s considering
dropping out of college to pursue a job or what they love, or pressure from parents,
that kind of thing. I’m gonna dive a little
bit into that with James, ’cause I think that’s just
such an interesting topic. And I’ve got more, but before we sign off, I definitely wanna make sure
that this gets on the podcast. How can people help with
Superheroes for Hope? How can they donate? Where’s the place to go? – I mean, superheroesforhope.org. You can make a cash donation there. It’s easy but it’s not personal. I like personal touches. If you wanna donate a
weird car, a Batmobile, any superhero stuff. – [Collin] You just got
done with the Ghostbuster. – Yeah, I have a Ghostbuster mobile. It’s a pain in the ass to
have a 22-foot long hearse. But if you have any fetishes
you need to address, there’s a hearse down the road. Just remember, you invited us. If they’d like to help
in any form or fashion, what we do with the money
is we ship our displays, free of charge, all
over the United States, so other hospitals and other
entities can utilize them. Because there’s only ones
of the things I have, so I like to share those
and not keep them to myself. – Dude if you end up doing
a Deadpool something, do you like Deadpool? – [Duncan] He does have Deadpool. – I have a Deadpool stunt suit
if you wanna come wear it. – The red Vespa, the red Vespa. – Comes with unicorn doll and everything. – So final things, just a
shout-out, where to find you guys? – Where do you find me? Like I said, ITPro building,
which is on Tower Road. – [Collin] Website? – Website, gainesvilledevacademy.com – [Collin] Any social media? – Everyone of them,
gainesvilledevacademy.com. GainesvilleDevAcademy, really. – [Collin] And James, you? – Phalanxdefensesystems.com, and you can see us on Facebook, Instagram. We’re doing a lot of
crazy things out there. And also superheroesforhope.org. – Cool.
– Perfect. – Any last things, Ty? – No, this was awesome. Thank you guys for coming on.
– Yeah, thank you guys so much, on the count of
three everybody say bye. One, two, three– – [All] Bye.
– See ya. (upbeat music)

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