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What Founders Should Learn from the Fyre Festival

I recently watched the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix and left with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. The documentary is riveting and has something for everyone - shock, drama, emotion, financial fraud, supermodels, and Ja Rule. Most importantly, it was chock full of learnings for early stage entrepreneurs.

Fyre Festival was a massive trainwreck of a "luxury music festival" started by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. Propped up by massive influencers like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski, the festival failed to deliver even basic amenities such as housing and food on the day of the event. Currently, the organizers are the subject of atleast eight major lawsuits for fraud.

What can founders learn from this failed entertainment startup (other than DO NOT COMMIT FRAUD)?



The power of influencer marketing

Fyre Festival's popularity was built on top of a massive influencer marketing campaign. Top supermodels were paid top dollar to post cryptic photos …
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The Problem With Ideas and How to Solve It

As I sit at home suffering through my second day of the flu, I find my mind oscillating between Breaking Bad (watching for the first time!), Lakers trade rumors, and side project ideas.

Today, I counted ~37 unique ideas for side projects, companies, and products. Now, here is the problem with ideas, they are a dime a dozen (maybe even less). While ideation is crucial for innovation, having too many ideas, or overemphasizing ideas can lead to mental paralysis.

Ideation Paralysis When you have too many ideas in your head, you might feel compelled to be 'action-oriented'. You will feel compelled to dive in and start making progress towards one of those ideas. Most likely, you will either pick an idea at random, or pick one which feels the most compelling in the moment.

Now as you start building, more ideas will keep popping in your head. Some of these will be entirely new ideas and others will be ideas on how to implement the idea you are currently working on/thinking about.

This…

Craving Interaction - How livestreaming will take over the world

Recently, I have noticed that I spend a lot of time watching live streams on Twitch. This has replaced the time I used to spend watching videos on Youtube, Instagram, and other social media.

As I spent more time lurking in Twitch Chat, I learned more and more about live streaming and why thousands of people are tuning into Twitch (and other live streaming platforms) and spending a lot of money on content that is available for free!

Active v. Passive viewersđź‘€The first thing you notice when you visit a Twitch channel is the rapidly moving chat (if its a popular channel). However, if you glance over to the number of viewers you would quickly realize that the number of people talking in chat (no matter how fast it is moving) is only a small fraction of the number of active viewers. This becomes clearer when you switch to a smaller stream which might have 5-10 viewers but barely anyone talking in chat.

There are three types of Twitch viewers - The conversation leaders, the active viewers,…

Vanity, Greed, Trivia, and Platforms

Recently I started playing a trivia game called IQ Trivia on Twitter. This game is structurally very similar to the wildly popular HQ Trivia in that it has 12 questions and if you answer all 12 correctly, you split a cash prize with all the other winners. Now, I used to play HQ trivia religiously but gradually lost the drive to tune in every day, despite an upward momentum in their cash prize. I also played Cash Show and several other similar quiz formats to satiate my desire for competition.

However, recently when I restarted playing IQ Trivia, I spent some time thinking deeply about consumer behavior around these trivia games.


First, why do we play these games? There are three forces at play here - the allure of winning cash prizes, the self-imposed sense of smartness, intelligence, or accomplishment, and an elevation of social status due to money/intelligence.

Cash is king. No matter how much money you have in your bank account, you always want to compete hard when there is money …

Stick Figures

Recently, I started reading 'The Back of the Napkin' by Dan Roam. First of all, it looks like a children's book (my uncle thought it was my 8-year-old cousin's book until he saw me reading it). But most importantly it gave me the joys of being a child again - while making real progress with my projects.

The book is about how to use pictures to solve simple and complex problems. I was intrigued, but daunted since I am a terrible artist. But once I was elbows deep in the book, I realized that drawing skills didn't matter at all. What mattered was clarity of thought and simplicity.

I spent the rest of day drawing stick figures for my projects. I drew customer experience workflows, target audience caricatures, industry analysis diagrams, and Venn diagrams.

Doing this not only gave me a break from staring at my computer all day but also gave me meaningful insight into my ideas and projects. It felt like I was peeling back a layer to gain a deeper understanding of the in…

A Calculator in Every Pocket

Yesterday, I was chatting with someone about the evolution of calculators and the importance of mental math. Growing up in India, no calculators were allowed K-12. Even undergrad colleges in India did not allow the use of calculators in classrooms. In comparison, when I came to college here in the US, calculators were common (outside of math classes).

Come to think of it, people have been using calculators for decades. The first portable calculator was launched in the 1970s. Before that, we used pebbles, bones, and an abacus at various points in history. 
While basic calculators were widely used by businesses and academics, their adoption wasn't as widespread as the use of math in daily lives (which would require the use of mental math/calculator). 
When the first mobile phones appeared on the market a lot of them came with a built-in basic calculator - addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (and ability to handle decimals). Now, this gave calculators a new distributi…

What I learned in two weeks running an online startup community

Two weeks ago I launched TwitchVC, an online Discord community for founders, developers, students, and investors. My goal was simple, create a shared ‘third space’ for startup founders and developers. I wanted to provide a space for founders to learn from each other as they build their companies, connect with smart developers and occasionally learn from investors.

Platform Selection — Why Discord?
Today, there are a lot of platforms for building online communities:
DiscordSlackTelegramWhatsappSpectrumGroupMeFacebookLinkedIn
All these platforms were interesting because of their high usage and daily active users. However, I chose Discord for three main reasons:

Role Management
Discord allows you to create and highlight separate roles and categories. These roles are visible in the sidebar and through chat based name colors. This was important for my community since I was trying to create a shared space for similar yet different audiences. Thus, highlighting roles was important to so users c…