10.14.19 | Ep. 314 – Brian Weaver, Torch.AI

Brian Weaver

Kansas City: Brian Weaver Torch.Ai CEO is today's guest and heĀ has more than 20 years of experience leading mission driven, high growth, technology-focused companies. Torch.AI helps leading organizations leverage artificial intelligence in a unique way via a proprietary enterprise data management software solution. Clients include the Department of Defense and companies like Microsoft and H&R BlockĀ 

Prior to Torch.AI, Brian launched or acquired several companies all focused on technology enabled services and data connectivity. His companies serve nearly 1,300 clients and have been recognized as Small Business of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.


Joel Goldberg: Welcome into Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg. My guest today is Brian Weaver, CEO of Torch AI based in Kansas City.

Joel Goldberg: Brian, thank you so much for joining the podcast. I think nowadays if someone sees AI, they know artificial intelligence, which we could not have said however many years ago. But, I still don't think most of us understand it. Certainly, you I'm sure are asked all the time to explain, what in the world is Torch AI? I'm sure you're getting very used to doing that, so what in the world is Torch AI?

Brian Weaver: Yeah, thanks Joel, and thanks for having me on the show. It's a privilege and an honor. I appreciate it. It's been an interesting journey for us. We certainly started out this business kind of evangelizing the use of machines to automate and provide sort of judgment solutions. But really if you think about it, and you break it down, you use AI every day. Your phone has it. My thermostats have it. My lighting system in my home has it. My car has it.

Brian Weaver: It really is a way to break down tasks that can be repeated, figure out what the optimal path would be, and then applying a machine to sort of help replace some of that repeatable work done by humans, but done in a way that evolves so that every instance or every iteration of that event that a machine is driving is improved. What we do here is kind of a really interesting thing.

Brian Weaver: We enable AI here. There's a lot of companies that are out there that hang their hat on developing models and algorithms, and we certainly have that. We've got applications that do really, really cool things in really cool areas. But really where we are focused primarily is on solving these massive problems with companies that really want to enable the application of artificial intelligence at scale.

Brian Weaver: We typically focus on themes of trust. I've got to make a decision, so I've got to decide do I trust a human being? Do I trust the data I'm looking at? Do I trust the system that I'm on? We've got a framework and a methodology that we apply to these situations that allow us to kind of solve these problems for these big organizations. It's been super fun.

Brian Weaver: Working to defend America with AI

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, when you talk about big organizations, it doesn't get any bigger than the Department of Defense. We're talking about national security. We're talking about certainly a lot of things that the average person like me has never thought of. How big of an honor is it to have the Department of Defense?

Brian Weaver: I think with that aspect, maybe if I could speak to that first, it's a huge honor obviously. We do feel that we have a patriotic duty. We've sort of seen a way that we can apply what we do to solve some of these really big problems that are there obviously for the workforce that exists globally for the Department of Defense, but also just helping to secure the country.

Brian Weaver: We've got this obligation to our nation to try and solve some of these problems. That is rewarding. It's a little self-serving, but it is really a nice thing. We don't do small things at this company. We do really big, important things that really matter, and the employees here. That, again, has helped us create a bit of a culture here that's really mission-oriented, and it's a super unique thing.

Brian Weaver: I think back on the first question, the customers, we've been very fortunate to work with very, very important customers, very large companies like Microsoft. They were our very first client of Torch. H&R Block here locally is also a very large customer of ours. We do important work for them, but we've been very fortunate in... In the early days, your sort of looking for traction, looking for opportunities to leverage what you've built or what you see as the big problem statement, what your thesis is.

Brian Weaver: I think we, like any normal business in its formative years, have had some hits and some misses there in trying to find that market fit. As we've matured, really a lot of its emotional maturity as much as product maturity, but as we've matured as an organization and as a team, we have this luxury of actually picking areas where we really want to focus on. We've got a technology and a methodology that can be broadly applied to lots of problems, but we really focus on a couple of key things.

Brian Weaver: That's been very rewarding. Because of that, I think it's helped the customers that we're engaged with. They really enjoy working with us, and vice versa. It's been a good problem to have.

What is the main focus for Torch.AI when working with big name clients?

Joel Goldberg: What are, and I don't know how specific you can get, but what are those key things that you guys are focusing on?

Brian Weaver: We really are serving large enterprise customers with big significant problems. The first thing we do is, is a decision critical? Is there a life at stake? Is the company's financial quality at stake? How critical is this decision? We are not typically focused on sort of nice to know analytics types of insights. There's certainly a lot of benefit to that, where you can apply a machine learning model to a dataset and discover that there's a pattern, for example.

Brian Weaver: We certainly, again, do some of that in our work. But where we're really focused is on critical decisioning. So, are lives at stake, or something more significant. That'd be maybe the first test. The second would be, are these decisions difficult to make because they're at scale? Where the global or the volume of decisions are such that it makes it really, really difficult to implement some type of solution. That's where we've found we're a best fit.

Brian Weaver: We have a very lightweight elegant solution that's really easy to install, and has fun, but where we focus is really on those critical components of that trust at scale issue. I've got a human being on the other end. I'm making a decision that's going to impact somebody. I've got data sourced from the field. I've got to trust that data. Where's the data been? Is it transparent? Can I share attribution of that data with everybody?

Brian Weaver: Then ultimately, what system is it sitting on? Can I trust that it's secure? Things like that are where we identify some areas where we know that we've got a very unique capability that does solve a pretty significant problem that's out there. Again, this is a little geeky, and I apologize for your listeners, but those are the hard things. If I've got to try and figure out how to help improve a workflow to improve say the quality of a workforce, I'm talking about say security clearances that we deal with today, that's a very complex, very large dataset, the largest in the world.

Brian Weaver: It's massive. You've got more than 50,000 investigators, tens of millions of entities that you're studying with a machine in any given day. It's a massive challenge, and you have to approach that with kind of a unique perspective.

Relationships & Trust in Artificial Intelligence

Joel Goldberg: How much of this involves trust or is about relationships in terms of what you guys do?

Brian Weaver: As we get deeper with a customer, we kind of teach them our way of seeing the world. We're much more of the kind of organization that believes we're all part of a big complex ecosystem. If I have the ability to view that complex ecosystem in its entirety and compute against that, I've got a much better opportunity to actually solve the problem I'm trying to solve.

Brian Weaver: Let's say you're looking at buying a car. If I'm just looking at you and say, "Your current bank balance or your credit worthiness," and I'm not taking into consideration any of the other factors external to you, you could have lost your job today, but I can't catch that data point. But if I collect all of the data around you, for example the quality of your employer, the quality of the relationships you have maybe with family members, with other people in your social network, with the economy that you might sit in, with the industry that your employer might be in, and you look at some of the past history stuff, and then maybe even things like what your interests are, all of a sudden I start getting a bigger, better picture.

Brian Weaver: The problem today is that there are lacks of technology, there are lacks of framework for a company or an organization to be able to take all that data and process it. You've got computing limitations. You've got the actual data limitation itself. Sometimes you've got legal limitations. The reality is, that would allow me to make a better decision on whether or not I want to loan you money to buy a car.

Brian Weaver: That happens today all the time. Banks, an increasingly the way loans are unwritten, and the rise in non-bank lending is massive over the last decade. They do that because they're able to beat banks at their traditional underwriting strategy, and they're doing it by doing things like looking at your bank balances, and pulling in data about you and your pattern of life.

Brian Weaver: It's not dissimilar. Marketers have actually created this opportunity, because in the race to sell ads, they have create a bit of a framework to be able to sort of predict what buying behaviors look like. There're all kinds of interesting technologies and interesting methodologies that if you really pay attention, you can learn from those and apply them in really interesting ways elsewhere.

Joel Goldberg: It's really interesting. When I hear all of this, and so much of what I do goes back to baseball, but there's been this debate for so many years now about analytics not just in baseball, certainly not just in sports either. There's this constant debate in baseball between the "analytics" people and the old school baseball scouts.

Joel Goldberg: I've always felt, as long as I've thought about this, that it all matters, that you need to take all of it in there. You get the analytics folks that'll say they're just trusting their eyes, and they're ignoring the data. Then, you have the old school people saying, "Well, they never played the game." But I've always thought about you get a guy in baseball say that has a bad year. Suddenly, the analytics people say, "Wait a minute, the numbers never suggested this."

Joel Goldberg: Then a year later it's, "Boy, he was going through that tough divorce," or, "Such and such was going on at home." Well, that doesn't show up in stats or numbers. I'm thinking about this, and I guess my question is, how important when you're dealing with a new client, or an existing one, is transparency? Back to that trust question, how tough or not is it to convince them, "Hey, the more you give us, the better of a solution we have."

Brian Weaver: Yeah, I think it's really interesting. In fact, a good friend of mine, a guy named Mark Johnson, a Princeton mathematician, he was kind of one of the original Moneyball guys, kind of an interesting... He invented or developed the first algorithms for Netflix to predict what movies you might want to watch. He was a baseball guy.

Brian Weaver: I think when you think back and you think about baseball and the application of analytics, it's certainly obviously got a lot of media attention. Brad Pitt's in the movie, and all that kind of fun stuff. But I think you have a couple of phenomenon that are happening. The trade craft of those old talent scouts does not exist today. Those old guys that would sit in bleachers and do that for a career, they don't exist.

Brian Weaver: Somebody that maybe had done that for 30 years, they've developed the ability to ingest data. They've got their little sensors out there that are ingesting data about posture, attitude, how they're eating maybe when they see them outside the park at a bar or a restaurant afterward. They're picking up all that context just intuitively. That trade craft from those talent scouts just doesn't exist.

Brian Weaver: You've got people that are doing talent scouting now that are not these 30, 40, 50 year veterans of the game.

Joel Goldberg: Certainly gone away, yeah.

Brian Weaver: It's gone away. We find that true in even the work that we do. When you think about the workforce and how transient it is, and that phenomenon, it's pervasive everywhere. Then you have the opportunity to have a machine just process more data than a human can actually deal with. Even if you're only taking limited data sources, the machine itself can still process more than a human can accommodate.

Brian Weaver: At the end of the day, you're exactly right, it's the context that really you're trying to get at. We are of the mindset that a human being should always and will always be in the loop when it comes to decisioning. We're going to use a machine to surface anomalies, a lot of context around a particular problem area, but we're the kind of business that hard wires a human being into the loop to ingest that data and then supervise the machine as it moves through the process.

Brian Weaver's career start in the newspaper

Joel Goldberg: I understand that you got your career start in the newspaper industry.

Brian Weaver: Mm-hmm.

Joel Goldberg: What were the goals back then for you? What were the career aspirations? What were you doing?

Brian Weaver: I'm only 46. I say "only" because I still feel like I'm a kid. I now have employees whose parents are younger than me, which is scary-

Joel Goldberg: I know.

Brian Weaver: Scary to me. But yeah, when I was just barely, barely 21 years old, I started working in the advertising business. I was really fascinated by it because it started with the problem statement. I was always, even as a kid, very curious, studied a lot, and was always just really an inquisitive kind of person. That part of it, I really enjoyed, learning about lots and lots of businesses, thousands of them.

Brian Weaver: When I showed up, and again I say this because I say I'm 46.

Joel Goldberg: So this would have been in mid-90s, right?

Brian Weaver: Yeah, mid-90s.

Joel Goldberg: I'm a year older than you, so I can put all that together.

Brian Weaver: I showed up, and you got Yellow Pages, White Pages, and a Green Bar Report, a big printout on a dot matrix printer, and a phone. That was it. I started doing my thing, and I was selling fundamentally. I still love that today. I bought an IBM Thinkpad with a keyboard that flipped out, if you remember that. I still love that thing today. It was a cool little thing, and I bought a CRM piece of software, and I ended up having the largest number of customers of anybody in the company within a year.

Brian Weaver: I got promoted into a much bigger area, and from there, same thing. The volume increased, and I kept doing well. I actually wrote a software program finally. Back then, you would call in orders to a central area, and that took me too long because I had too many orders. So, I actually wrote a software program that would organize all the orders so that they could be transmitted to the downtown [inaudible 00:15:55] office faster, without a bunch of latency for me.

Brian Weaver: Again, I certainly wouldn't call myself an engineer, but that was-

Joel Goldberg: Well, you were solving problems back then, or wanting to.

Brian Weaver: Yeah, for myself even. I really enjoyed that. It set me up for success in a way I think that's yielded some benefits even today.

Joel Goldberg: I'm guessing that that data on fan experience and engagement at NASCAR 20 years ago was fairly groundbreaking or unusual. Nowadays, everybody would use it.

Brian Weaver: Yeah, yeah. There was nobody doing what I was doing at the time, for sure. Today, you've got all of the digital exhaust, and all kinds of great ways to collect engagement data, both at a stadium, or at home, or watching TV. A lot of things, if you think about it, like your background in broadcasting, Nielsen, it's still an old school data collection methodology, and it's still the king.

Brian Weaver: Nielsen's a dumb box, and it's a small dataset, limited sample size, but that drives most of the ecosystem around television.

Joel Goldberg: It does. All the ad revenue.

Brian Weaver: Yeah, think about that. That's the problem, really. Nielsen is sort of the problem, because you still, even today, you have the capability to ingest a digital exhaust. We've got a device signature on every single one of our phones and devices. You don't need to have PII. Google does not need my name or address to know who I am when I show up with a device somewhere on a particular website. They've got that digital signature.

Baseball Themed Questions from Joel

Joel Goldberg: Skip to my baseball themed questions, the first one professionally amidst this long journey, one that I know is still going, what's the biggest home run that you have hit professionally in your career?

Brian Weaver: I'm not the kind of guy that pat himself on the back. I never think that sort of I've arrived. I think that's a blessing and a curse. I have this sort of bit of Eastern philosophy kind of thing where life is suffering and the pleasurable moments are fleeting. I think that's maybe a safe excuse.

Brian Weaver: I have to say, I think this business, even though this is a small business, it's very successful and it's in high demand, and it's growing very fast. I would predict the team will double in size within the next nine months very easily, especially as we continue to grow the team in the beltway. But I think what that's created is probably what I would be, today anyway, this minute, the proudest of, we've got this opportunity that I've sort of discovered in selling Kansas City to the beltway.

Brian Weaver: In doing that, I've had to learn over the last three or four years how to position Kansas City to some of these customers as this benefit. The reality is, it's not marketing, it's true. Kansas City is a really interesting market. With a high school in Saint Louis, the Saint Louis market is very interesting. Saint Louis actually has a much better federal footprint than we do.

Brian Weaver: My father ran an aviation program out of Saint Louis there, and there's always been a kind of a bit of a footprint in Saint Louis, but the workforce is a lot different than Kansas City. I find the workforce in Kansas City, especially being a business owner and having invested in a company in Saint Louis that failed, I find the workforce in Kansas City to be far superior, believe it or not.

Brian Weaver: I'm still a fan of Saint Louis, of course, but I think the work ethic here is no question substantially better. At the same time, in the Midwest, you have this opportunity where there's this shortage of cleared workers. In the Midwest, it's interesting. It's very important for someone that's seeking a security clearance. It's easier to get a security clearance if you have them out of the country, for example.

Brian Weaver: Believe it or not, there's a lot of people in this market and in the surrounding states that have not been out of the country. That's a very positive thing. At the same time, they're also very patriotic, and they believe in being mission oriented. What I think is, really fascinating, is that I found myself advancing this opportunity for the market, not just our company. Certainly, we would benefit from it, but we're a small business and the follow-on will not be as substantial.

Brian Weaver: I've been fortunate to work with our Senators, local economic development folks, and some city planning guys to try and think about how do we improve the infrastructure here to be able to accommodate more cleared work so that we can actually have a workforce here that is doing classified work for our country.

Brian Weaver: I think that's probably the thing that I find that I'm most proud of today, is the group of people that I've got around me, people from Deloitte, ex-cabinet secretaries, again both Kansas Senators and a big cadre of folks from Kansas City and some surrounding areas, even some of the universities that are all interested in contributing to this idea of creating a bit of an economic flywheel here to create and help support businesses that might also be able to serve some of these missions.

Brian Weaver: Kind of do what we did. There's an opportunity for that. I'm pretty proud of that right now.

Brian Weaver's Swing and Miss

Joel Goldberg: What's the biggest swing and miss you've taken, and what did you learn from it?

Brian Weaver: I think that's a very interesting question. I have missed a lot. I've made so many mistakes, I swear, it's even hard to count, and I make them all the time. My joke, I always said I should write a book, and the title of my book was, There Was No Brochure, because there's nobody there kind of whispering in your ear, "Hey, don't do that." You have to kind of learn.

Brian Weaver: Even when you're getting good advice, you're still not processing it, because you've got to just get those war wounds yourself. I've had businesses fail. I've never declared bankruptcy or anywhere close to that, but I've kind of seen it on the horizon, and your brain goes to bad spots sometimes there. You're thinking to yourself, "Well, what am I doing this for? This is over. Look at all the risk I'm putting my family through. Is it worth it?"

Brian Weaver: The good thing for me is those moments were always kind of relatively short. It wasn't prolonged. But I had no reason not to be confident, even in the kind of the darkest times of building a business, a startup, that is on the brink of failure every day during it's birth. When I had lost confidence, and I would make bad decisions, I would not feel like I should have the best people around me. I would settle for maybe some third or fourth tier advice or whatever.

Brian Weaver: Those are all things that, again, if I could go back and sort of whisper in my ear, the younger me, it would be, "Have confidence. Wait for the better thing. Just don't do anything. Wait for better advice. Wait for better counsel. Wait for a better team. Save up some money and go find something different or pivot. It's not as bad as you think it's going to be."

Joel Goldberg: Wow, the human nature there.

Brian Weaver: Yeah.

Joel Goldberg: I think most people could relate to that, not just entrepreneurs. Every entrepreneur goes through that for sure, but I think in some fashion or another we all do, so there's a lot to learn with that. The last baseball themed question, my small ball question, what are the little things that add up to the big things at Torch in terms of culture?

Brian Weaver - Culture at Torch.AI

Brian Weaver: That's very interesting. I think culture, you can certainly help to create a bit of a culture by things you spend money on, an environment: food, employee benefits, and things like that. What I find really interesting is as an entrepreneur, which is radically different than a normal business, I founded this company, I funded the company, and I built it. Because of that, and I have a big personality and I live a big life, and because of that, that can actually negatively influence culture because it could be, if you let it persist, it could be about me and not about the team.

Brian Weaver: I think the biggest thing, the advice I'd give, is to let that team shine, because it's more about them than you. I've never had my name on a building for that reason. It's kind of a weird quirky thing, but I've never wanted to name a business after myself for that reason. Not that there's a problem with it, but it's not about that. It's really about the team that you can build.

Brian Weaver: I think if you can cultivate a group of leaders inside the organization, they will raise their hand and take over at some point, and encouraging to do that, I think is the critical thing, identifying that talent early. Even times where you're not sure they're ready for it, but identifying that talent early and cultivating that, and allowing them to create the culture, and create a bit of a reflection of themselves in the culture. I think that's everything.

Joel Goldberg: It goes a long way.

Brian Weaver: It's huge, because otherwise it's not real.

Rounding the Bases Questions for Brian Weaver

Joel Goldberg: Four final questions as we round the bases. First one, what were the biggest lessons that you took away, or influences of bouncing around the world and being a Military kid?

Brian Weaver: Oh man, I actually enjoyed it a lot. I'm an introvert. My brother's an extrovert, complete opposite. I was always okay with moving every three years. I was okay with making new friends. It was not easy every time, but it taught you to be resilient, I think, and independent, more importantly. And a bit of self confidence, because sometimes I was in kind of the cool crowd, and sometimes I wasn't. It just depended on what city you were in, and what stage of your life you were in, and how that place kind of worked out.

Brian Weaver: I found that the discipline that surrounded... My father's Military career, and the people that surrounded him, had a massive impact and positive influence on how I operate. You try to operate with integrity, and you operate with an incredible amount of discipline and motivation, and you're self motivated. I think that's probably the big takeaways. I think that's true of most kids that grew up in that environment.

Joel Goldberg: Question as we round the bases, you talked about living a big life. I assume that running in marathons and Iron Man competitions is part of that. If it's not, I don't know how much bigger it can get than that. For those of us that don't enjoy running anymore than a mile, the marathon runners, the Iron Man competitors, always seem to be in a world that we can't comprehend.

Joel Goldberg: Tell me about your dedication to that, your love of that, if that's describing you correctly.

Brian Weaver: I had this opportunity to invest. Actually, the story to get there was kind of wild. My father had a brain tumor. He was a lifelong runner and Iron Man himself, or a triathlete himself. As a way to deal with that emotionally, I decided that we were going to go do a race together. That's how it started.

Joel Goldberg: Wow.

Brian Weaver: Unfortunately for him, he was not in shape when he came out. He survived his surgery. The only known adult survivor of the tumor that he had, believe it or not. He came out of that okay, and he's alive today. He was just here last week. Because of that, my whole way of dealing with that was to go and do a couple of races with him. Unfortunately, that never materialized, but I started down that path. I was able to apply sort of my interest in problem solving, because that's what that sport really is, and the discipline, and the organizational skills and all that other stuff, and do that a very high level.

Brian Weaver: I was very fortunate to have a great career for a long time. I suffered a couple of injuries late in my big Iron Man career there, but I still enjoy that discipline and the-

Joel Goldberg: You're still doing the Iron Man?

Brian Weaver: I'm not racing Iron Man right now.

Joel Goldberg: Okay, marathons?

Brian Weaver: I do run. Believe or not, I've enjoyed doing Crossfit. There's a kick ass little gym in Martin City called MC Crossfit-

Joel Goldberg: I know exactly where it is.

Joel Goldberg: I think I've probably seen you running down the street at some point.

Brian Weaver: Nilson Goes is one of the owners there, and he's a great guy. I have found that to be super interesting. It's not throwing tires around and all that stuff. It's a little gymnastics and a little weight training, and a lot of high intensity training. I found that to be really, really fun. Now that I'm 46, my body's got some miles on it. I raced all over the world: Europe, South America, the Caribbean, all of the United States. I met some of the most interesting people doing that sport. I think that is part of the bigger life. I think getting out of your comfort zone, trying new things and not being afraid, that's kind of part of the fun.

Joel Goldberg: I drive by that spot all the time, because my dry cleaners, Hangers, which I don't need to mention again, because I've already mentioned in the middle of this. They're a sponsor-

Brian Weaver: They're a big company. They're a great company.

Joel Goldberg: A great company.

Brian Weaver: Believe or not, that gentleman was in the Top 10 Small Businesses of the World. He was one of the Top 10 Businesses when I won that award.

Joel Goldberg: Wow.

Brian Weaver: I can't even tell you what year that was, but the Kansas City Chamber named him one of the Top 10 Businesses. He was in that first class.

Joel Goldberg: He was originally at Spring, and-

Brian Weaver: Yeah, yeah, great guy.

Joel Goldberg: His name came up again last week, because I had Barnett Helzberg on last week, and he was a mentee in the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentorship Program.

Brian Weaver: He's done well.

Joel Goldberg: It's a small world.

Brian Weaver: Yeah, it is.

Joel Goldberg: Third question, you mentioned that original computer, that IBM. I had a word process, by the way, in college. Remember those word processors?

Brian Weaver: Yeah, of course.

Joel Goldberg: It was like -

Brian Weaver: The little LCD screen.

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, with a little LCD screen. The next step up from a typewriter.

Brian Weaver: Yeah.

Joel Goldberg: Although, my first TV job when I was 22 years old, every script we did was on the old school typewriters, because that's what happens when you work at a starter market where your opening salary in 1994 is in the $13,000.00 a year range.

Brian Weaver: Yep, yep.

Joel Goldberg: The small market, right?

Brian Weaver: I'm familiar with it, yeah.

Joel Goldberg: Then we'd tape all the scripts together and put them on an overhead projector that was some form of a teleprompter.

Brian Weaver: I love it.

Joel Goldberg: Anyway, I digress. What's a guilty pleasure now in terms of... I mean, if you were getting that first IBM, and you had a little bit of that techie gadget geek in you, what's a gadget that you can't live without now?

Brian Weaver: Man, you know, I'm around so much technology all the time. I really rely on a pretty simple stable of devices. I've got a laptop and a desktop, and a bunch of Apple devices. Maybe the way I'll answer that question is, where I found my guilty pleasure from a technology perspective is a little bit around cars. I have found myself to become very interested in cars that are more analog.

Brian Weaver: One of the benefits of being in the NASCAR business, and I still own a piece of a company down in Daytona, Florida today, one of the benefits of being in that business is you have a little bit of that in your blood, race cars and some of that. I've been fortunate to be able to collect some cars over my career. I find myself really interested in the time period between 2000 and 2010, where the analog cars were sort of at their peak, before all the computers started taking over and introducing slip angles and some of this kind of stuff, the traction control technologies that they've implemented.

Brian Weaver: I think it takes somebody with some skill to drive those cars well. I find myself super fascinated in those. I don't know why.

Joel Goldberg: Final question, the walk off. You already talked about grand scheme, helping out with the ecosystem, being a part of that. I know big picture, that's really important to you. Where do you want to see Torch go in the next 10, 20 years? Or maybe it's something else. What's something you want to do?

Brian Weaver: I've been very fortunate. I'm an entrepreneur. Torch is incredible, and we're having so much fun in this company solving these big problems. I think that Torch itself will continue to grow at an alarming rate. Where I've found my brain kind of drifting to lately, is again, solving problems. Right now, I'm incubating a concept around active shooter/active assailant.

Brian Weaver: I've got folks from the FBI, and Homeland Security, and some psychologists and some folks helping me on the side. I've started investing in building out that capability, because I think it's a problem. My daughter, just a couple of years ago, started going to a school where they had monthly active shooter drills. Then sort of every time I see a news article every day come out on TV or YouTube or whatever, it's this reminder that hey, keep moving forward. Maybe, and again, proof will be in the pudding, but maybe I can have an impact on that problem.

Brian Weaver: I'm really interested to keep investing and incubating that concept. For Torch specifically, this is a business that is really following a bit of a typical curve in the beltway. There's a lot of technology companies that come in. They get anchored in. The government decides that they're a good trusted partner, and it starts sort of proliferating. We are just really focused on doing a good job for the customer, and being really customer focused.

Brian Weaver: We don't respond to RFPs. We really shape opportunities with customers. We're not that kind of normal federal contracting shop. I think if we can just continue to stay true to our mission, and be really focused around the problems that we're solving for, this thing will continue to grow and become something I think Kansas City can be proud of.

Joel Goldberg: If people want to get ahold of you or Torch, they can do so how?

Brian Weaver: LinkedIn is probably the best way. I get a lot of inbound inquiries there, and it's always fun to kind of engage with folks. Yeah, that'd be great.

Joel Goldberg: This has been great, and I could go on and on all day long about where you might be going. So, we'll keep our eye on that. I know that you're a big thinker and a problem solver, which is always a great combination.

Joel Goldberg: Brian, thanks so much for sharing your background, and everything that's going on with Torch. I really appreciate it.

Brian Weaver: Thank you, Joel. I enjoyed it.

Joel Goldberg: That's going to do it for this episode of Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg. I hope to catch you next time.


Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg Podcast was created to share the stories of men and women in business and entrepreneurship that are both well knowing and or hidden gems. Joel believes that everyone has a story and their story matters which is why Joel is eager to connect with individuals that are bringing value to their community through innovation, leadership, entrepreneurial journeys, and developing company culture. If you would like to be a guest on Joel's podcast please email us at joel@joelgoldbergmedia.com.