CEO of Photon Marine: Marcelino Alvarez
Marcelino is a savvy digital pioneer and a lifelong boater who grew up fishing and scuba diving in South Florida. He began his career in advertising, producing digital campaigns at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Wieden + Kennedy. His passion for creative and compelling digital solutions quickly drove him to cutting edge product solutions.
Afterwards, he founded Uncorked Studios, a product design firm that helped companies such as Samsung, Nike, Google, Intel, and Adidas bring innovative software and hardware products to market. Uncorked was acquired by Fresh Consulting in 2019.
He sits on the board of The Freshwater Trust, and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Duke University.
Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Marcelino, welcome to the show. I'm very excited. This is very unique. In fact, we got connected online through a mutual contact. But really today, what we're gonna be talking about is your company that you've been kind of scaling on Photon Marine. So I'm pretty excited about this because it's very new and I got an opportunity to kind of hear about it briefly at Pitch Latinx, but unfortunately, you are unable to make it. So I'm really excited to be able to have this opportunity. So please, first, who are you give the world a little family education and career path?
Marcelino Alvarez 0:45
Sure, absolutely. First off, thanks for having me really excited to be here and share share my story and my background and and how I got here. I don't think it was a direct path. And so I think that's maybe the important thing to kind of impart with folks is that the path to where we get to it's not always a direct line, and those little kind of terms and crooks along the way are just as important as the destination. So Marcelino Alvarez, I grew up in South Florida, son of a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, I was born from the Republic, I like to joke that my childhood was straight out of a Jimmy Buffett songs, I spent my summers in the Florida Keys above and below the water, and really just kind of grew up with, with a fond appreciation of the ocean. And, and really just, you know, an appreciation for the respect and treatment of the ocean, I think, I think back then, conservation was a really simple principle, it was sort of this idea of, you know, throw back the small fish today, so they can become bigger fish tomorrow, you know, treat the coral reefs with respect today so that they can, you know, provide for those fish tomorrow and respect the ocean space that might pass you know, for, I'd go around for for future generations tomorrow. And as I think about what we're building at build time, really, like I'd love to believe that it's just as much about scaling up those principles that as is as it is, you know, decarbonizing marine propulsion, which we'll get to, academically, I thought I was going to be an ophthalmologist, I, you know, I think I came home when I was eight years old, from the eye doctor, so I need my first pair of glasses and pull my dad, I'm going to be a doctor, and he's like, great, I don't have to worry about you. And just kind of, you know, basically, like, avoided the Eye of Sauron for like the next, you know, 14 or so years, and went to school thinking I was going to be, you know, an ophthalmologist, I thought I'd study engineering, biomedical engineering, specifically to kind of get there and I found myself hitting a wall, my freshman year of college at Duke University that was taking some math classes, I probably shouldn't have been as a freshman and just kind of got my butt kicked. Left the engineering program, I just kind of said, you know, what, engineering is a really kind of strange path to get to becoming a doctor just to stick to the pre med track and, and did that and wound up majoring in political science and was pretty much done with all my pre med requirements. When a startup at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called Zoom culture kind of said, Hey, we're doing video, you know, on the internet, would you like to shoot video and I'd always enjoyed kind of shooting and editing video. So they got it sounds fun. And it's close out to the Sundance Film Festival. And, you know, in 2001, I was like, obviously, it's great. It's gonna be a filmmaker. Forget prevents. So I dropped my last second, maybe second to last pre med class from Park City, Utah. And that was the first time that my dad was like, wait, what? And, yeah, that's the long story short, I graduated 2002 and kept working for that company. obviously.com Bubble hit, startup ran out of money. And I found myself actually stumbled into advertising. I had a resume on monster.com some ad agency that was like a regional office of the regional office of a big ad agency, found my resume and online said, Hey, looks like we can manage, you know, video production and maybe some radio production. Would you like to do this? And so I got, I cut my teeth at an ad agency called J. Walter Thompson. In Miami doing really bad. Really bad TV commercials for Ford Motor Company, the ones that you would see in between, you know, innings of a baseball game or you know, commercials in a basketball game. No, no, no, not the ones with a lot of budget isms. Like Hurry up, no. Deal. 2000 get a Ford Focus. European 10 suspension. Yeah, they were. It worked. There you go. There you go. There you go. You know, so did radio that was a thing back then, you know, the precursor to podcasts, and learned a lot about advertising and found that there was a really cool ad agency down the street that had a bunch of young people working out and we're doing really cool things on the Internet called person point of investigation. So I had some friends that you know, mutual friends of friends that kind of work there and I spent the better half of the year trying to figure out how to get in and they finally hired me as a An integrated producer. So kind of started between, you know, TV production and web production, which is sort of a blossoming discipline and did some really cool things there, worked on some campaigns for VW worked on some campaigns for ConAgra, coke, you name it, and honestly could have probably stayed in South Florida for quite a bit longer, if not for some hurricanes that hit in 2006. And the guy whose name was on the door said, You know what, we're moving to Boulder, Colorado. And for me, as a lifelong, you know, Floridian the idea of moving to a landlocked state stressed me out. And so I reached out to some friends who had previously worked with me, and I moved out to Portland, Oregon, and I said, Hey, I'm doing this agency called widening Kennedy. What are y'all doing on the digital side of things? What are you doing on the website and and they were, admittedly at the very early stages of figuring out like, where, where the web would go for the brands and a friend of mine, and I kind of have submitted a cover letter and a resume and said, hey, we'll, we'll help you build out that interactive production department. We've done a lot of work here in Miami last couple of years, and we think we can help you, you know, build upon that and kind of catch up to where the industry was going. And I think we got Lucky that a couple of the folks that we interviewed with, thought our our approach to building an interactive department was was endearing, we based it on the book Moneyball, which, which was still book, not a movie, and they're like, Sure, let's give these kids a shot. cannot afford them. 2006. You know, really, really quickly learned that this was a, you know, an organizational design project, in addition to building out capacity and goals to put white on the map digitally and spent, you know, difficult three and a half years trying to figure out what that meant. And as a general principle, a general principle, I'm a sort of prove it by doing it kind of person. And we had to when we worked on some cool projects, got some opportunities with some trusted clients. And I would say that my claim to fame over that period of time was building a graffiti writing robot that we took to the Tour de France in 2009, called the Nike Chatbot. And that was, you know, both the coolest thing I've ever worked on, and then also the most difficult thing I've ever worked on, and we had a blast, it realized, you know, that I could spend the rest of my career in advertising and I would never recreate that moment. And so got back from that production and said, you know, what, I think I'm ready for something else, kind of kind of quit quit on a high note. And around that time, you know, we had just started to see mobile applications, you know, kind of come come into for into the into existence, the app store had just come out. And I was like, and I think there's something here. And so, really started thinking through what that might look like to build apps and setting you up. I bet you that we could build a company around this. So I quit my day job. And I joined what was was called the Portland incubator experiment type. So it's still around and Rick throws is basically downstairs in the basement of of Wyden Kennedy for score one candy and said, Hey, we're gonna build up. So that's that's where uncork studios launched. That was my product design company, and did that for about 10 years, started out as mobile app design and development apps got commoditized, we moved to, to, you know, designing interfaces for anything with the screen, we started doing hardware projects. And yeah, went through some ups went through some downs and ultimately sold that to a bigger consultancy, called Fresh consulting, back in 2019. And then, you know, found myself on the other side of acquisition about three months later, staring at a pandemic, and the world's truthfully just sort of, you know, flipped upside down. And I think, I think like many of us, you know, just kind of struggle a little bit to kind of find purpose and meaning and sort of this new reality of, you know, mid mid pandemic sort of life, like, you know, I spent most of my time on a zoom. My little children, you know, who going into the pandemic, where, you know, three and two respectively, would see me with air pods and my ears and be like, Oh, Dad's working, you know, or if I didn't have air pods in my ear, Dad's not working and, you know, it's there, this ring light all day long, and kind of just, you know, talk myself and just realize, like, you know, what, I don't know what's next yet, but whatever it is, like needs to have, you know, more more presence in in the physical form and be more than just, you know, digital needs, it needs to be physical. And so I reached out to a buddy of mine, Trump Steinbach, who had been an entrepreneur in residence at our space, and his background is fisheries, nonprofits, and was like, hey, Charles, what, what, what are you doing that, you know, Mike might benefit from some technology and, you know, talked about a bunch of things. And he kind of mentioned he's like, you know, we don't build electric boats, like there's just no amount of conservation that can keep up. I was like, oh, that's an interesting problem. I'm a lifelong voter. I grew up in South Florida. I've been voting here in Portland since 2012. Like, why don't we why don't we just go buy some Torqeedo motors as a competitor of ours, and we'll just put on the back of a Jamaican fishing boat and very quickly realized that the motors that were out there weren't powerful enough to move those boats and certainly needed some charging infrastructure just kind of went down this rabbit hole. And so one thing led to another and before you know it, we we started photon burning components building electric outboard motors for commercial booklets.
Gabriel Flores 10:18
You know, it's kind of crazy, because you started out wanting to be an eye doctor, and now you're completely and you've done everything in between the different direction. But you know, what's interesting is, at the end of the day, you kind of found, you know, something you're passionate about, as well that you're working on. What how, how has had that passion for boating, you kind of mentioned that you've been voting for some time, how has that helped create the photon marine brand?
Marcelino Alvarez 10:49
Absolutely, I mean, it's a great insight, it is something that I'm incredibly passionate about. And I think generally, you know, kind of conveying something that as a very little, you know, kid was, was sort of imparted upon me, and now translating that into a career, or the next chapter of my career, it just, it, it removes so many of the unknowns of stepping into a new thing, because it seems so familiar. You know, I spent part of my week, you know, working on on the boat, or in the shop around the boat. And these are, these are things that, you know, for me, were part of my childhood, and I would, you know, weekends would go down, you know, to go, you know, to our boat and do work on the voter in the winter in between sort of the summer and the spring and in Florida, you know, we would work on the boat. And that is not part of my job. And it doesn't seem like a job, which doesn't seem like doesn't seem fair to be perfectly honest with you. And so I think parlaying something that. Yeah, that one is passionate about into career is it, I feel like it gives me an unfair advantage, if I can be perfectly honest with you, because this doesn't feel like work. And that's not to say there aren't hard aspects to it, but it just doesn't feel like work. So the hard challenges are worth solving and the effort to complete them are worth solving. And I would also say that, like for me, part of that reset in the pandemic was about understanding purpose, and legacy and impact. And I think there was very, you know, sort of visceral and tangible fragility that we all went through the pandemic were realized, like, Wait, is this thing gonna, like, wipe this out? Like, like, you know, like, like, mortality, I think, sort of, was put into the forefront in ways. But I don't think as a as a society, you know, we've had sort of this level of collective reckoning. And to be fair, I would argue that the vast majority, maybe a third of our society still hasn't had the reckoning of what the last year. So I don't think it's, it's necessarily pervasive, but I think for me, it's just understanding that if I'm going to spend, you know, 40 5060 hours a week, doing a thing, that that thing, better leave the world in a much better place, and what I found it and, and again, through that lens, this doesn't seem like work, either. It feels like I'm fulfilling a life's mission. And I've, you know, I've, I've talked to people who have, you know, had sort of this like, Eureka moment, aha, like a calling for like a, like a purpose bigger than oneself. I've never been that person, like, I've never, you know, someone has come with a calling, like, I haven't been there. I haven't heard doorbell ring. And I would say that this is perhaps the first time that I have felt this is this is why I'm here. And this is the thing that I need to solve, because if I don't do it, I don't think anybody else can. And that might be a combination of like entrepreneurship, naivete, complete ignorance. stupidity, you label it, right. But that is generally
Gabriel Flores 13:52
in regards to this talk about how the how the process actually gets going. How did you, you mentioned you're trying to solve the problem for future generations? How are you solving the problem? How did you find out to use this battery that can go in the water? And particularly, how did you find one that's strong enough to push a boat? Yeah,
Marcelino Alvarez 14:08
that's a great question. So one of the things that we started looking at, we're looking at electrification of boats is sort of the the limits of physics, right? You can only you can only push so much juice into a motor from a battery. And it is five times as difficult to push a boat for the water as it is a car through the air. And so we recognize quickly that there were some limitations to what you could do in an electric outboard motor propelled boat. And I would say that for a lot of other people, they probably got there and said, This is too hard or this is too difficult, or there's not a big enough, you know, audience, you know, we're out. I think for me, that became a bit of more of a focusing point, like what are these are the limitations Right? Like you can't, you might not be able to go 40 miles off the coast of Oregon or off the coast of Florida at full throttle. and get back, you know, with with a battery of reasonable size and you know, you can always throw as many batteries into vocal cords. But, you know, there are applications that are much shorter distances that we kind of started focusing in. And, and I would say that one of the things that we started researching around around that time as your qualifying opportunities for electrification was what was just working in electrification broadly, like, what were some of the case studies that that that had demonstrated success. And, you know, I think everyone talks about Tesla sort of that automotive success, but we actually honed in on electric buses and the electrification of school buses and electrification of municipal buses and said, you know, this is an interesting reference point for us, a bus leaves, you know, the the depot, it goes on an established route, it has repeated stops along the way, and it comes back to that depot at the end of the day, the way that those buses are financed the way that they you know, have, you know, sort of their, their cap acts like the way that you know, their cost structure, like it all looks really, you know, pretty optimal for electrification, they use the buses a lot, they've got opportunity to kind of recharge overnight. And so we kind of asked ourselves, what looks like an electric bus on the water? And I'll say that that's different from some of our competitors, who may have started with the question, how do we build an electric Yama on electric mercury? And I think those two questions lead to two very different places. And so we said, okay, here are applications in marine that look like an electric bus. Obviously, water taxis look like an electric bus, because it's literally a bus in the water. But there are also, you know, shore excursions that you might do if you take a you know, cruise vacation somewhere in the Caribbean, and you get off the big cruise ship, you get kind of removed from the cruise ship to the port, or on a tender boat, which is the maybe like a boat that moves 150 or 200 people and then once you're there, you know, you're signing up for the scuba, scuba class or the snorkel trip or the fishing trip. Those are you know, trips where the operator leaves that same spot goes to that reef and then kind of comes back. And that trip takes about two and a half hours, because the cruise company wants to move as many people through a trip throughout the day. So that became sort of our reference point. And we said, Well, what else looks like this? Oh, a lot of seaweed, farming, aquaculture miracles or operations, operator leaves the dock goes to the same spot does an activity there comes back. And so we just honed in on those and said, is this big enough to electrify? And can we get around some of the constraints of you know, distance, if we pair it with shoreside infrastructure sources. shoreside charging. The good news is, is that a lot of marinas already have access to electricity at the dock, because you have to charge the batteries that are already on a boat that are used to turn on the motor or run your equipment when you're anchored on a reef to do it during the fishing. And in some cases, we might need something closer to like a Tesla supercharged level three charger, we've got a partner that does that builds up those those charging stations. So that's kind of what we honed in on and admittedly, I think we've established enough customer interest from prospective customers who are like, okay, there, there's a there there. Let's get after some pilots. And that's that's where, sort of, you know, we're at. So we finished our first prototype earlier this spring. That was for 100 horsepower prototype motor. Now we're working on our 300 horsepower prototype motor goal is to debut that at the Miami International Boat Show in February of next year. That's that's the world's biggest boat show. But I think a personal point of point of pride is that's also my hometown boat show that I went to growing up as a kid. And, and yeah, from there, start delivering on some pilots and really understand sort of the opportunity capability, potential for electrification for these industries that
Gabriel Flores 18:47
you know, so you've you've kind of worked in various industries, and you've kind of done different entrepreneurial endeavors, some from you know, why didn't Kennedy kind of working more with an organization kind of a corporate entrepreneur than others as an individual? What are what are like creating photon marine currently and scaling it? What are some of the skills and traits that you're so glad to learn back in the past? Like, man, I'm so glad actually, even though that is very difficult. I'm glad I went through it, because now it's helping me out with this.
Marcelino Alvarez 19:19
Absolutely. I think one of the key things is that each chapter of my career has exposed me to different types of creativity. I think when I was in advertising, that creativity typically meant off the wall ideas for, you know, an ad campaign or, you know, something to support a product, which fundamentally, you know, regardless of how off the wall that idea was came down to storytelling. How do we tell a compelling story story in 30 seconds, 60 seconds or on a website where you might even have less time to convey that intent. I also had an opportunity to work alongside him alongside some really cool Double designers are really incredible thinkers. And I just, you know, be part of a creative culture that that was sticky. You know, both Crispin Porter Bogusky. And certainly, Wyden and Kennedy had cultures that, you know, the founders established that really took a life of their own. And so I would say that working in a hyper creative culture that was just fun, they're just they're both really fun places to work. That that and intense, right, there was certainly an intensity to that really just helped me understand the potential for what creativity could mean, you know, starting my own company, you know, uncorked, I think, what I learned was that creativity wasn't just limited to those who had the word creative in their title, art director, copywriter, that inherently there was a level of creativity to the technical implementation of a thing, that there was creativity to the methodology by which you bring something to life and how you understand potential customers needs, and that the product development process is incredibly iterative, you don't have, you know, perfect is the enemy of good is true. But there's also a limit to that, that, you know, if you ship something that's completely flawed, or doesn't look good enough, you're never gonna get you know, enough traction, you know, you still only have one, one chance for that first impression. And so, balancing out the storytelling aspects with the iterative, iterative product development cycle, I think came, you know, became part of that. And I think, you know, hardware software development, so, you know, processes are different. But fundamentally, there is quite a bit of overlap in that process and understanding again, what's the problem that you're solving? How do you make sure that that you are testing throughout the the product design process to ensure that you're meeting your customers needs? And then as you as you do get things in front of your customers? How are you, you know, separating your own bias, or what you think that things should do from what it needs to do? And I would say that, as I looked about, you know, how we're going to build hardware motors, you know, the hardware, the motors and the software platform to support our efforts. And how do we tell that story in a way that that differentiates us from others might be building an electric boat, or an electric motor and a different horsepower profile, all those things are our, you know, part of what I do every single day from the investor pitches to the recruitment of talent to the explaining, you know, the value proposition to a prospective customer, to even this conversation that we're having here. And so I honestly believe that we kind of talked about this at the front, that if I hadn't taken those turns into advertising, then product design, I couldn't have landed here, I certainly couldn't have started here. This is a culmination of everything else that I have done. And so I am stronger at what I'm doing today, because of the diversity of what I did before.
Gabriel Flores 23:02
Nice. And you know, when one of the things too, you mentioned previously is you're you're kind of going through the prototypes, creating various prototypes. So you're still scaling this business. So it's still relatively new. Now, you're kind of going what what is the financing? Are you kind of going through like venture capital? Are you going through that piece right now? And how is that process?
Marcelino Alvarez 23:23
Yes, the process? answer's yes, we are. We're a venture backed company, obviously, building hardware, very capital intensive. And while I wish I could sell finance that I certainly don't have those resources to do so. So we were fortunate to have received the backing of a number of local investors in Portland to kind of get on the way get underway and as well as some institutional VCs that came on early and saw the potential of our founding team. You know, I talked a little bit about Charles, who, you know, came from a fisheries background, has spent his whole lifetime and that world that has deep connections, but my other two co founders are equally as knowledgeable about each of their domain expertise. And so my Chief Strategy Officer Tara Russell, comes from a career in cruise, built a cruise line for Carnival Corp has and was also chief impact officer and our chief technical officer Nick shops comes from electric motorcycles and built three out of man winning motorcycles for team bonuses. And so I think the, the pitch to investors was early on was here's an incredibly experienced founding team for whom this was not the first rodeo. And let's let's give them enough money to build that first prototype and you know, and then ask for more money. And so we did that and achieved that first prototype in the spring. And then we said great, now we need more money. And now we're raising our you know, our seed round right now and have some some notable commitments for that. I would say that the process for that you know, it is both inspiring, frustrating and You know, something to learn from at the same time, right? Because, you know, I had been on the other side as like a, you know, startup judge for a number of things over the years, I've mentored startups that were venture backed and, and translate something you have to go through to really understand, you know, sort of the challenges. I mean, it's it's storyteller, right, you have to nail a pitch within a certain amount of time, and you have to be able to anticipate the questions that you're going to get from investors, you have to create a compelling vision for where it can go, that is not to detached from reality, right, because you need to certainly follow through with that. But that also isn't anchored, you know, by reality, or perhaps, you know, overly anchored by reality, right? It needs to kind of float between where you are today, and where you want to go tomorrow and be equal parts between the reality of where you're at today, and where you want to be tomorrow. And yeah, it's, you know, it's what I spent, probably the bulk of my time doing is reaching out with investors going to conferences, and summits and pitching things, you know, like the pitch Latino, that, as well as other regional conferences, and then, you know, getting connected to a network of institutional VCs. And, you know, I like people, I like networking, and I like meeting new folks, and I've enjoyed, I've enjoyed aspects of it, right, I've kind of creating a new network that I didn't have before, because I had, you know, some regional networks, and that helped, but I certainly didn't have the deep connections into into a number of, you know, these other areas. And so, you know, working with allies, or others that are adjacent to you, or in this space, that could make a warm intro been really beneficial. You know, we've got a buddy of ours, to beat recursion centers got a, a revenue based financing platform called engineering planet, and we're not a good candidate for his platform. He's just plugged into the same people we're going after. And so, you know, he made a lot of intros that lead to investors and a warm intro is infinitely better than a cold intro. And and, you know, there's all sorts of complexities and biases associated with the fact that you need to have a network to kind of do that. And I both acknowledge that and recognize that I didn't have that network. And so, you know, my next thing is like, Who do I know that does have that network? And how might, you know, I worked through them to get connected. And so there's, you know, there's a constant amount of hustling to, to be able to get into those networks. And then at some point, you're either doing what you say that you knew you were going to do, and then it becomes a little bit easier. And so I think once we had a prototype in the water, became a little bit easier to go back to some of those early investors that said, Well, I don't know about you all, like, Can you do it? Like, hey, we did it? Are you in? Yes or no? Let's talk. And we had a couple of folks that are like, yeah, absolutely. Congratulations, you've actually done quite a bit. Amusingly, we've recently had a few folks that are like, shoot, now you're too late, you're asking for too much. And it's like, well, he missed he missed your opportunity should have, you should have written a check. You know, six months ago, we said, this is what we're going to do. So yeah, you can't, you can't take it personally, I would say that, you know, similar to running a company or, you know, being a parent or you know, anything where you're sort of both vulnerable and also hidden sort of leadership position. You kind of have to, yeah, to develop a little bit of a tough skin, because you are, you're gonna get way more rejections than yeses. And until that changes, you know, and, and you have to just, you know, for every No, there's an opportunity for a new Yes, and have to kind of get up to that.
Gabriel Flores 28:21
So you've you've done one, you mentioned, you've kind of done mentoring for some time, you've, you know, created us, you know, pitch ideas for some time, really give some give the audience a little bit of kind of, you know, knowledge and your job, some job, some knowledge on us, like, what, what goes into a pitch, what goes into maybe a successful pitch, you know, what are those venture capitalists looking for? So, if somebody's listening, and they're trying to scale as well, what are some, you know, what's some advice you would give to them?
Marcelino Alvarez 28:52
Sure, I think I think the first advice that I would impart even before you get to particular VC is make sure you're talking to the right person, you know, there, there are VCs that write checks at every stage of the game. And if you're talking to someone that you know, writes later stage checks, and you're looking for your first check, you're you're going to be, you know, a mismatch right out the gate. So, first piece of advice is just to do some research. The second is, is that you will eventually get to that stage where that investor that was too later of a stage might write you a check. And so keeping notes about people that you've reached out to or have come in contact with, you know, using a CRM, like a customer relationship management tool, makes a lot of sense. And so think through the BC research pitch process the same way you would think about a sales process. And so we use a tool called Pipedrive, where we manage the various funnels, the various stages of the funnel, from outreach to inbound interest, and we are very diligent about what are the next action items who has the ball and who's communicating And then kind of standardizing that, because it gets to a an unwieldly scale very quickly, like you might be talking to several 100 VCs over the course of a year. And it is impossible to remember every single detail of those conversations and what they are. So first good advice is get organized, and go from there. And then I think having a consistent and quickly able to send a set of materials is the next part of it. And, you know, truthfully, you will find all sorts of advice for like, what the optimal size, duration length of the pitch deck is, you've got people that prescribed to be no more than 10 pages, and then people will say, 12 pages, there's some that are 15. And some say no more than, you know, 18, whatever the math is, you know, we I think ours right now is maybe a 17 page, you know, teaser deck that is written to be self guided. And so that is to say, you're not delivering it, there's, you know, more text on there than I as a previously designed centric individual would feel comfortable with, for any client presentation that needs to be self guided, right. So there's words, I, you know, and so explaining what the problem is, what your solution is, what your differentiation is how you make money, your team, the strength of your team, and what your strategy to get more customers, right, the revenue model, like having that narrative really easily baked in quickly enough to kind of capture someone's attention is really critical for that you're not, you're not sending a 50 page deck out of the gate, you're not sending a ton of fluff, it needs to be short and succinct. And if you need to, you can do it in 10 pages great, you need 12 Go for it, you need to Team Five. And then I think there's just a version of the deck that you present live that, you know, when you do have someone in person and they want to they want you to see it, that one does have a lot less words on on the screen, because you don't want them to get bogged down on a zoom or if you're in a physical room on the tiny text. So you need to have your script. And so one of the things that one of our advisors who went early investors worked on was write the script, what's what's what's the story that you're going to tell and write that out and memorize that. And that's really valuable insight, because you don't want to be fumbling through your slides and reordering things like you need to, you need to be able to give your pitch, you know, the eight minute version, the five minute version, the 12 minute version, I need to know the difference between all of those without even having a slide behind you. And you just have muscle memory of like when you hit click, and you're not even seeing it right, you're just click, and you got to practice that. And and you practice it by locking yourself in a closet in a room in a quiet space, and you record it and then you play it back and you're like, oh, that doesn't sound right, that's a, that's a hard sequence of words to kind of release and you know, this amount of time, and you edit and you re edit and you pitch and you present and and you keep practicing. Because you know, month over month, aspects of that story are going to change, you're gonna get more insights from customers, you're gonna get more in touch to investors, you keep adjusting it, but you need to have that script. And so I'd say that there's probably, you know, three, three assets that you're constantly dealing with. One is the narrative, that's the word doc, that's your story. There's the teaser deck, that's the thing that you send over. And it's not a lot of words, a lot of those words are in your story. So that kind of forms, yeah, then there's a very beautiful visual, simple, five words on a, on a slide kind of thing that explain the story, the vision, and then you have to have some charts and graphs to kind of explain that that potential as well. That would accompany you for live pitched. And then, you know, if that captured enough attention, then ultimately then you're entering into diligence with VCs where they want to do want to see the spreadsheets and the financials and the applications and all that other stuff. And, and that, you know, you can make that as pretty as you want, you know, organize it is my advice. We like Google Drive for that. But others might want to use something like notion or carta that have like dealroom data and type stuff, keep things get organized, do your research, and show up prepared to your pitches.
Gabriel Flores 34:00
Yeah. And you know, I think that's, that's great advice, even for those that aren't, you know, pitching a venture capitalist, if you're presenting any anything, you know, practicing your presentation, if you're, if you're a presentation, if you're using Keynote, or if you're using PowerPoint, whatever it is, if an individual can look at your slides, and really know the story, just looking at your slides, without you having to say anything, then you probably have too much content on your slides. To be honest with you. I keep my slides mostly just photos, a couple of bullet points per slide, keep them very simple. Because the goal is really your your the value, right your story as you're mentioning, you know, much longer the way the way you tell the story the way you present it. That's what's going to kind of create the engagement and I'm talking to my you know, for myself, when I do you know, presentations were the way I kind of engage the audience is I do a create a story. And then when they asked me for the slides when I'm done I'm like sure, but it might not make sense anymore. Because the story was the verbal piece, right? That's, that's to your point, right? You kind of create this beautiful story. But with a little bit of visuals. Now, you've been kind of you're starting to scale, you're starting to build up, what would you say has been pretty difficult about, you're kind of starting a new, a whole new industry, right? I mean, there are electric boats out there, but you're kind of redefining it, what has been difficult?
Marcelino Alvarez 35:26
Excellent, the difficulties are thinking through the supply chain aspects that have certainly plagued every industry over the last two years, and recognizing that, we're not going to be out of the woods for some of those things anytime soon. And so for us, that means, you know, building relationships with battery suppliers, connecting with manufacturers that can make some of the components that we ultimately hope to manufacture at scale. And even if were, you know, say, 16 months from manufacturing anything at scale, but conversations for who is helping us out at what point start now. And so getting into those conversations, really understanding what it looks like to have a plan A and plan B, and a plan C for anything. And that's true of, you know, who's the boat that we're going to show up with, you know, in Miami, to, you know, who's the battery supplier for that boat, who was the backup for that, who's the backup for, you know, X, Y, or Z component, and just having redundancy, which, you know, ultimately, that just takes time, and it takes time and practice and trial and testing out product. So that's how I've been, you know, on the maybe engineering sort of logistics side been been one of hardest part of things, obviously, getting sufficiently capitalized, I think, is, you know, another challenge that we're obviously in progress on that and working on it, we're talking to some really good potential investors, but it is a capital intensive business. And there is always risk that someone comes in with a lot more money, and can get farther with an inferior product. And I would certainly say that, you know, the industry industries are, are plagued with examples of, you know, the, the Nest thermostat wasn't necessarily the best thermostat, it was, you know, maybe the best design one that maybe didn't work as well, but also very well capitalized thermostat, not to say that Honeywell or anyone else building connected thermostats couldn't have won that they just, they just, they just missed the window. So it really thinking through where we can learn from, you know, others in the space to really understand how to win. And I think fundamentally, whether it's nest or you know, the iPod or, you know, the Tesla certainly wasn't the first electric car. But it was the best design electric car had the best software interface, it had the best connectivity. If you think through, you know, the ipod iphone, the the nest, the Tesla, like, these were all examples, where a hardware product that was not the first to market became the incumbent, by beating everybody else with a combination of hardware and software. And we're going to do that for electric outboard motors, because everyone else is just looking at the hardware. And and and they want to solve for that. And we want to build a connected, connected boat for our customers. And ultimately, we think that will win. Because it's, you know, been proven, but that wins in other places, where the incumbents, and even the early entrants are challenged by someone who's looking at it very holistically, and our competitors aren't there. They're very narrowly focused, you know, for for different reasons. You know, I think some are very plausible reasons why they should be narrowly focused, but they're missing out on quite a bit. So trying to get overcome some of those early scale challenges around capitalization, but also recognizing that even as we do try to overcome those challenges, that we can win by thinking about our solution holistically across, you know, hardware, software, and really understanding a user's needs.
Gabriel Flores 38:58
You know, I think I think the listeners understand kind of like you mentioned, you're doing the show in Miami coming up, where you're going to be unveiling the new prototype. And I think the listeners kind of understand a bit, you know, the value of it, but I wanted them to kind of hear it from you. What are what are some of the benefits you see, you know, as being an entrepreneur attending some of these trade shows, what are the benefits you see about doing that?
Marcelino Alvarez 39:22
Trade Shows are captured audience, right. It's also an opportunity to establish a market presence, you know, in particular, the Miami Boat Show for us. It's a bit like the CES, you know, the Consumer Electronics Show of the boating industry. And admittedly, you know, some of our customers might not be there, right, because they're targeting commercial fleets or targeting workboats or targeting mariculture boats, but it is certainly the most covered boating event in our industry. And so there's an opportunity there to establish ourselves as a legitimate force and that is the intent there. Obviously there are networking offers two entities, obviously, you know, being in Miami, a number of our cruise customers are headquartered out of there. So we're hoping to really leverage quite a bit out of that event. But I'll say that, you know, taking a step back, we attended the boat show in Miami in February of this year. And we did an exhibit that we were there, and we were there meeting and greeting and understanding the lay of the land. And, you know, I'd certainly been a boat show that I've attended to many, many times with my, with my dad and my family, you know, as a little kid. But this is the first time where I was there with like, a notebook, right? And really taking notes and understanding, like, how do we enter this? And how do we, how do we win. And we're doing the same with the other boat shows and the other conferences that we intend to exhibit at next year, which is to say, we're attending each of those first, as an attendee with a notebook, you know, maybe talking to suppliers are the partners, but not in the dividend, we're doing our research. So that we may show up at the one that we do exhibit with a with a better product, or better angle or better, you know, approach to customer conversations. And, you know, the hybrid work environment that we have found ourselves in over the last three years has made quite a bit more accessible. At the same time, there's just limitations to what you can do virtually and creating serendipity is one of those things. And so being present at that event and finding yourself, you know, at a happy hour or networking event with some of your counterparts, competitors, investors, that's the sort of thing that you're not going to recreate on a zoom. And so you just have to, you have to show up and get there. And then once you're there, you have to be prepared to exhibit Right? Like, it's not just a matter of saying, look, here's about here's a motor, it's being able to figure out what's the narrative, right, what's what's the, what's the arc of a conversation. And so, you know, we recently attended a wooden boat festival up in Port Townsend, Washington, obviously, our boat is not made out of wood, but it was, it was our debut debut boat show. And it was just really useful for us to understand what types of questions were that people had at a boat show, certainly one where they hadn't seen an electric system like this before, they've seen other various variations on electric. And it was it was great. It was good recon for us good insight for us. And so again, I think, doing the research, getting out there, doing the hard work and creating opportunities for serendipity or things that are important trade shows, and then getting getting coverage, right. So working with local press, to get sort of the write ups that that are gonna allow you to then point back to it the rest of the year and establish yourself as a legitimate contender in a new industry.
Gabriel Flores 42:44
You know, what I love about this whole entire conversation, particularly talking about the Miami event, this is the first time you mentioned that you're going to be having a booth and you're going to unveil your prototype. Getting in the event is not enough. You've been talking you're like no getting in, when we're gonna win. We're gonna I'm like, I'm amped up right now. You got me hyped up talking about it. Like, you know, you're like ready to do this and that you got me behind you, man. So but you're you're also talking about marketing. Right? And you're talking about targeting who who would you say is, you know, photon, Marines, you know, target audience? Is it? Is it the consumer? Is that the commercial? Because you've been kind of talking about both? Who is the target audience?
Marcelino Alvarez 43:23
Yeah, target audience is commercial. So think mom and pop shop that maybe operates a whale watching operation and Juneau, Alaska, think of a small scuba dive shop in Belize. Think about a large cruise company that operates you know, in the Bahamas, or America culture operation that operates in Hawaii, these are businesses for whom the last few years have been really difficult. The cost of marine fuel has made it really prohibitively expensive for them to operate the motor. So you know, gas for Marine is about $1 more per gallon than st fuel because it doesn't have ethanol in it. So gas is their second highest expense, the you know, behind personnel. The supply chain, we talk a little bit about right, it's been impacted to win $100 part breaks on their motor, they have to, you know, wait maybe weeks or months to get that part, but they can't repair. That means that they're off the water. And these are businesses that are generally in the water 567 days a week, and so every day that they're off the water that's lost revenue, you know, whether it's tourism, revenue, miracles, or revenue, or you know, or even just, you know, water taxi, you know, passenger revenue, and, and to compound things, you know, you've got a depressed workforce, you have fewer people traveling, so they're just they're making less money have less resources to kind of meet those needs. That value profit they see an electric is a system that requires less maintenance. So you know, the gas motors require maintenance every 300 hours for you and me as a recreational boater that might be once every three years. The commercial folks are hitting those limits every six weeks. And so that means that every six weeks they're doing an oil change every six weeks they have to take the boat out of the water to do that replace that Delta replaces sparkplug replace the impeller. And that's if they do the entire service, most of them are kind of skipping that, because it's so prohibitively expensive to do that every six weeks. So that means that those motors, they're breaking much sooner for the commercial side than they are for the recreational and it's fundamentally because outboard motors were designed for recreational boaters, they aren't really designed for commercial voters. And so the value prop of electric is, here's the motor that's designed for your needs, here's a motor, that's not going to require you taking it out of the water every six weeks, which means you can just keep going, just keep going. I mean, you're just continue to make revenue, you've got less to worry about less maintenance, plus things that break. And the operators get that it's a reason why we're excited about this as a market segment. Because you know, for them to, you know, if fuel gets really expensive, they can't say, Hey, we're not not going to go out, they have to go out, you know, and so, for them, they see the value of the system, even if it's more expensive, you know, upfront than then an Electric Gas one, because the payback periods are really quickly. And so for a variety of our customers, you know, they see payback between 18 months and maybe 2526 months. That is, you know, going to be way different on the recreational side, if you're only using your boat are 300 hours here. So our customers use their boats 1500 to 1800 hours beer day in day out, they're abusing those systems. They're underwater every day. And so they need something that can withstand that intense level of usage.
Gabriel Flores 46:26
And you kind of mentioned this earlier, it's environmentally friendly.
Marcelino Alvarez 46:30
Absolutely. No fumes, no oil changes, less noise. You know, there's been plenty of studies done on the impact of noise on on, you know, megafauna, so whales, dolphins and reefs. There's no oil spills. You know, in a lot of places in emerging markets, they're still using two stroke motors that release up to 25% of their fuel, unburned straight into the water. So just imagine that you've built up 100 gallon tank of gas, and you say, You know what, I'm going to take 25 gallons of that, I'm just gonna dump it straight into the ocean. That's what a two stroke motor is. And they are still used because they're easier to repair, or they're easier to find parts for. And so you'll find yourself in an eco tourist report resort in Belize. They're still using two strokes because it's more convenient. And you're like, but you are your entire business is predicated on this beautiful beach still being here. 10 years from now. And you're just dumping 25% of your fuel straight into the water column. Yeah, but it's easier. So yeah, the I think the opportunity is for environmentally, you know, cleaner motor, I would love to tell you that that's the reason why most of our customers are interested. It's not it just it adds up economically, it's got a cheaper total cost of ownership and a lower monthly cost and less maintenance. So that's that's primarily what drives people. I wish it was the other way around. But but it needs to me, you know, we're not running a nonprofit, and certainly our customers aren't either. So it just needs to pencil out. And the fringe benefit is Oh, yeah. And it doesn't destroy the environment, which again, the work to me, if it were up to me, I would leave with that. But for others, it doesn't make sense. They don't. That priority number one.
Gabriel Flores 48:11
So So where's where is it going to be? Where's the next five years? Liggio? Where you see yourself in five years? Where do you see Fulton marina in five years?
Marcelino Alvarez 48:21
Five years is a long way. It's hard to think about? Yeah, so focus on five.
Gabriel Flores 48:28
What's the next year? Where do you see yourself in the next year next
Marcelino Alvarez 48:30
year. I would love by this time next year, to have an absolute clear plan of where our first 500 voters are going to with an understanding of region geography batteries and sort of what the overlapping benefit is to the customer. So we've heard different aspects from from different things. And I think beyond that, it's really about scaling up that operation. You know, we believe that with two perhaps three different motors, we can reach a majority of the commercial customers that use outboard motors. We do set have some ideas for what an entrance might one day look like into the recreational space. And that might be within that five year horizon. We have some cool ideas for some really kind of kind of out there designs for an outboard motor that doesn't look like a traditional outboard motor and we're excited to kind of test those out and prototype. I think for me in five years, I'd love to be able to take my kids to a place where technology has been deployed and not have air pods in my ear. Say hey, this this is this is this is what I'm doing and this is why I'm doing it and let them appreciate those waters and those areas.
Gabriel Flores 49:41
I love it. So for the folks at home how can they get involved if they are interested in learning more maybe in connecting with you how give him some information are you on social media websites?
Marcelino Alvarez 49:51
Yeah, I was gonna say I'm on Twitter, but I'm not sure how much longer that's gonna be. You and me goodness for the for another five. Pass. But yeah, so we're photon Marine, WW photon green.com at photon marine on Instagram at filter hungry and on Twitter same thing on LinkedIn I think that one is perhaps is of the social networks the one that's not run by ego egomaniac at the moment. We'll see the last last one standing. And yeah, you know if you're in Portland is happy to meet up and grab a coffee and if not happy to grab a virtual coffee and chat about all the things you know we're looking for collaborators, investors, customers, partners, you know, advisors, you name it, you know, interesting people just to kind of exchange thoughts and ideas with so please reach out. You'll find us to find us on the Internet somewhere.
Gabriel Flores 50:45
Marcelino Alvarez, the Chief Executive Officer and co founder of photon Marine, thank you so much. This has been a great conversation. I'm not even lying man, you got me amped up about this Miami show. I don't even going I'm gonna you guys are gonna win. Because the way you're talking about it. I'm very excited to see this take off because I really do see it being a huge benefit to our environment, which as you mentioned, I know we don't lead with but we probably should be leading with that. And good luck to you. I wish you guys nothing but the best for those folks. Listen at home. You can follow me at the shades of eon not social sites. Again, you can subscribe to the newsletter. We'll have photon marine information on there for three weeks in a row. So please subscribe so you can get that information. Thank you and have a great night.