Tryst with reality – TIA SG 2017

An opportunity to meet and talk with Alexis Ohanian founder of Reddit

My second moment of truth came, during the fire chat session with Alexis Ohanian. Startup community is always vibrant with young overachievers who look a problem differently and come with a novel solution to it. Alexis by age is younger to me, so the jolt of realizing where I stand in the tech food chain (which I feel is way lower down the order than I initially thought).

His words resonate a lot with me and he comes out to be a very normal, natural, genuine guy who seem to made right choices at the right time of his career and most of it due to the right company of people he had & still maintains. He chose to discuss a case different than his own during the fireside chat, which was more focused on how to identify right people to be with.

His case was for Coinbase’s Founder & Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong. Brian was working with Airbnb on Anti-Fraud, when he jumped over to start Coinbase with his friend Fred Ehrsam. What Alexis described, that stood Brian apart from the rest in the Bitcoin noise during 2009 (when no one was taking Bitcoin seriously) was that Brian left Airbnb which was at a high Market Cap gain moment and started Coinbase, which was totally new and untested.

He & Fred gave his name to Coinbase to create a creditability of Coinbase and their conviction influenced investors as well as community to believe that the venture holds promise and integrity and not a scam. A lesson for anyone to take away is to remain true to your dream and don’t feel scared of shy of wearing it up your sleeve.

Another interesting point Alexis mentioned was to keep a good inventory of friends that add value and those who challenge you when you are in doubt to clear your mind. Yay-sayers or drinking buddies are good to have but identify the real friends and mentors who will take you progress in your life, career and other goals and contribute to them as much as you expect their contribution to your life.

Next thing Alexis mentioned was quite interesting. On the broad difference on the companies that were formed before and after the social media era, Alexis did highlighted that the companies that came along post social media storm are better aware of their own service offerings and are more connected and engaged with the end users.

The trend of product teams following their twitter feeds to identify the issues customers / users facing and resolving them on a real time basis gives a user experience that exceeds the expectations and delights the customers. Things to note are that the social channels are utilized not only for product propaganda but to actually reach the pulse of the user experience was a good revelation.

Last thing that Alexis mentioned and which raise a few alarm bells to all incumbents including Banks & Insurance firms was the relative ease of starting a new business. The days have changed when laborious paperwork and bank guarantees were the norm and to start a business collateral was needed. Now anyone with a good idea and some decent programming skills can start a venture that may turn out to be the next challenger in the market.

To counter that incumbents, have to be on top of their game as well as keep an eye on ever changing competition and start-ups. Collaborating with startups is a great strategy as long as it is understood that how new product will integrate with the existing data bank of the incumbent.

The dynamics of the tech space are changing at a rapid click and it will take a mammoth effort from everyone to keep pace with it. Collaboration is the only way ahead. Choose the right partners and move to a better future together is the message that resonated with all.

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