Transcription Episode 42

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. New year, new vibes. So we are talking to Ajit Khurana today.

He is the founder of Reflexicle. Reflexicle is a brand new startup, but Ajit has been in the space for a really long time. He has been a mentor to several startups, including mine.

And, you know, he’s just overall somebody who has a great mind and really insightful advice and opinions about how the space moves. So I can’t wait for you guys to hear this. Let’s deep dive right in.

Hi Ajit, thank you so much for taking out the time to speak to me today. How are you? I’m doing very well. How are you? I’m wonderful.

I’m actually very surprised that it took us so long considering we’ve known each other for ages to actually get you on this podcast. You’re one of the OGs in this space. So for our listeners, please tell us about your journey into Reflexicle.

So the word OG itself, by the way, has become a little offensive. Why? I like it. In principle, it is good, but it has become one of those like, you know, there are a lot of these political slogans now we have around the world which intrinsically are very nice, calming, peaceful, but they are used in a way which makes you wonder like what the hell.

For example, I know people who have been in the crypto market for like two years. And probably the only thing to their credit might be that they have, let’s say, fundraised once. Now they’re OGs.

So I’m like, if basically that is the bar, the bar that is set for being an OG now, that is my problem with OG. But having said that. Let me clarify, you are not the OG with just like, you know, this.

I consider people an OG who have been around like two, three cycles and you’ve been around forever. I think we started almost at the same time in this space. So that is like the OG.

And I don’t call everybody an OG, but now that you’ve pointed it out, it has been misused quite a bit, especially on Twitter. Everybody is an OG there. That’s correct.

So you are saying that I’m not just, are you calling me an OG? You are calling me an OG by Tarusha standards. Yes, very high standards. So that is great.

Yeah. So what is your question about your journey into Web3? How did you get into the space? So pretty much like everybody else, one fine day we decided to start using the word Web3 instead of the other words we were using in its place. But having said that, let’s go back to September of 16.

Actually, for me, that was a very clear starting point. And I think my first conversation with you about the topic also, was probably in September or October of 16. Actually, if you don’t mind, I’ll go back like really way back to 1998.

How about that? Does that seem like a good point to discuss Web3, a starting point? Absolutely. Absolutely. Let’s go as far back as possible.

Great. Now I’m going to 1988. Then since you said as far back as possible.

Now, what happened in 1990? By the way, it’s not irrelevant. And I’m not joking. You’ll be surprised.

There’s a connection. In 1988, the world’s first microcomputer virus, which we used to at that point called C-Brain, though C was really the copyright symbol, came into the world. And things became like so panicky because people didn’t understand computers to begin with.

Most people had not seen a computer, let alone touched one. This is the year 1988. And then a computer virus comes and people hear about the fact that planes will fall from the sky and all sorts of crazy things will happen.

I was a second year student of computer engineering. And while in hindsight, I would like to sound like, what is that? OG or visionary or any of those positive terms, but largely serendipitously, I found a mechanism to vaccinate a disk, which at that point meant a five and a quarter inch floppy disk against this virus, which means I found a way, let’s call it hocus pocus for, you know, not taking up too much time, which if I do to the floppy disk, it will prevent the floppy disk from catching the virus. How does this relate to that question on Web3? Well, that is just the first proven incident on my track record, which proves that I’ve always been attracted to everything new, like the shiny object syndrome, I’m its poster child.

So both in the finance world, where there is a new investment opportunity. So I’ve invested in wine, I’ve invested in exotic birds, I’ve invested in trading cards, comic books. I’ve invested in all of these exotic things on the one hand, and on technology also, other than the fact that I can’t afford it, I am always one of the first to adopt new technology.

So my interest in crypto actually first came in the year 2014, but that was driven more by the financial phenomenon than by the technological phenomenon. And I was like, what is this graph? This looks like there might be some money to be made. I spent somewhere between five to 10 minutes reading about it.

And I said, this is complete nonsense. So this is money that nobody makes, or rather anybody makes. This has value because people attribute it to it.

And I was like, what is this? This is nothing. So I basically, my first reaction in 2014 was to brush it aside. Then, there’s something about it.

You hear people talking about this blockchain, about how everything will be on the blockchain. Blockchain will solve everything. And while those things seem, even then and now, to be exaggerated statements, it was enough to keep picking my interest.

And over time, I did all the available education that was possible in the 14 to 16 period. Today, there are unlimited videos and courses online. At that point, the only thing I found which seemed creditable was a Coursera course by Princeton University on cryptocurrency.

I did that very boring, but very informative course. And then in September of 16, I purchased my small fraction of a Bitcoin worth 1,000 rupees. Bitcoin was roughly around 40,000 rupees at that point of time, maybe one or 2,000 more.

So I purchased that. And as soon as I got it, I sold it again to see whether I can get the money back. And luckily, though, this entire process of buying plus selling took about three days because, you know, there was any money you have to clear.

So this is 2000. But at the end of it, I said, okay, I know how to do it now. At least I’m like, you know, before that, where I did not even know how I would store a Bitcoin if I found one.

From there, looking back, I explored mining. It turned out to not be my cup of tea, to be fair. Then I explored, you know, trading.

Well, trading in any asset has not been my cup of tea. So crypto was no different. But luckily, I did invest some money and that did well.

So that was my beginning into crypto. And if you are splitting here, not necessarily splitting here, but distinguishing between crypto and Web3, subsequent to me seizing to be the CEO of Zeppe, which was in March of 20, shortly thereafter I went to some friends who were doing some work in Web3 and I started helping them out with non-Web3 related business issues. So I became an advisor to them, but not on Web3 issues.

But in doing so, because they were deeply into Web3, I picked up some of the things in Web3. So Web3 per se would be 2020. Crypto would be 2016.

But orientation to crypto would be 2014. Okay. Wow.

That’s been quite a journey. So, you know, over the years, you advised us, you advised a couple of other startups as well. You know, how do you perceive this particular bear market? So very interestingly, when a stock market has a bear market, and then the bear market goes, as all bear markets do, and then a bull market comes back, it is the same projects.

There will be some new additions, but the same projects, which are again in the limelight. So for instance, in the international space, it will be like, you know, the same Google will do well, and Microsoft will do well, and Facebook will do well, etc. In the Indian context, it will be like Asian Paints will do well, and HDFC Bank will do well, and Larsen and DuGroo will do well, etc.

That means the new bull market looks like the old bull market. I think that at least as of this point, probably because the crypto market is not as mature as the stock market, each bear market is unique, and each bull market is unique. Well, even stock bull and bear markets are unique, but not to the same level of differentiation as in crypto markets.

So for instance, if we just try to ask ourselves, which projects have been doing very well in more than one bull market? The answer is Bitcoin and Ethereum, none. It’s literally Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bull market that just went away had at least 20 great projects, maybe even 30, 40 great projects, but they were not there in the previous bull market.

They were all the product of the time since then. So I think that the way I see this bear market is three. Number one, in the coming bull market, there will be several projects that will be very successful, which were also successful in the previous bull market.

So that will be for the first time ever, other than with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Second, a lot of founders that became successful in the previous bull market had one common characteristic, that they were wildly risk-taking. Wildly risk-taking to the extent that at least the non-conventional business It was almost crazy.

Yeah. So non-conventional business would call them reckless, right? Now what happens is that suppose you go to Las Vegas or you get into gambling situations, where a large number of people are taking reckless bets, somebody does succeed. Somebody does win.

And in hindsight, that person might look like a visionary founder or something which is positive as opposed to a mere gambler. I think that even towards the end of the bull market that just ended, we started seeing more of the conventional startup entrepreneur. The one who is relatively more mature, the one who is relatively less wild in terms of risk-taking.

Being wild otherwise is fine. I think that this bear market has probably, maybe there’s some wishful thinking here, but they’ve probably dealt a death knell to the completely wild, wild west kind of crypto entrepreneur. And we will see a better and more mature breed of entrepreneurs coming in the next bull market.

Yeah. So that is hopeful, I think. And I think we were talking about this earlier as well.

I feel a little hopeful as well that I think sound business models and strong entrepreneurs would survive. And I think with every cycle, every bear cycle, I believe that the market and the sector matures a little bit more. Would you agree? Well, that goes absolutely without saying.

And despite the fact that bear cycles do lead to several innocent bystanders getting hurt and my heart goes out to them, my sympathy goes out to them. There’s no doubt about it. But without any doubt, the bear markets are the only thing that come and cleanse the market.

Right. So yeah, that is true. Even the supposed crisis, the Terra Luna, FTX, or whatever else would not occur in the bull market.

So those things get tested in bear markets and get weeded out. So I think on the whole, huge fan of bear market, despite the pain it inflicts on me. And despite the fact that it does tend to have collateral damage.

Yeah, but it is good for the market as a whole. And it’s a cycle. There is always going to be a bear market, there is always going to be a bull market.

That is just the way things go. That is correct. Absolutely.

When I meet some people now who are like, I’m not sure I believe in Web3 anymore. Or making very dire, ultimate kind of statements. Like, I’m out of crypto now.

Yeah, I’m done. I tell them that, listen, you know why you are saying this? Because 10 months ago, you were saying exactly the opposite. You were saying, oh, crypto is everything.

And I am all in, man. And you were attending every meet there was. And you were all in without necessarily applying your full mind, which now is happening in the opposite direction.

So, yeah, I’m glad that this time comes to cleanse up a little bit. But I must say there is collateral damage. I do know, I mean, if I say bull market is great, then I’m also being a little insensitive to people who have suffered for no fault of their own.

Fault of their own. Yeah, absolutely. No, but like, as you said, all our sympathies are with them.

I mean, everybody has gotten impacted directly, indirectly. But because of all of these little ripples that happen, which would be like ripples in perhaps a bull market, but in a bear, it’s like all of these ripples cause a tsunami. So, yeah, but it is a sign of maturity, I believe.

Now on to happier things. This conversation is, you know, it’s all about the bear market. Let’s talk about what you’re building with Reflexicle.

I think it’s super exciting. And I would love for our listeners to know what you’re building. And especially because it’s you who’s building it.

And, you know, you have a great track record. So that’s something that really instills my faith that it’s going to be big. Oh, so I also have a lot of faith it’s going to be.

But let me begin at the beginning. So what happened is, very simply, if I were to look at my entire career post my education, there was six and a half years of entrepreneurship, four years of doing a variety of things, including offering my first book, traveling, being a consultant, et cetera. Another six and a half years of entrepreneurship.

The second time around, I did raise equity capital. Then there was four years of being a full-time entrepreneur, sorry, full-time angel investor, followed by my getting employed for the first time in my life at the age of 44. This was a CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator.

Moved ahead to three, four more different roles. The fourth one being Zeppe, which was India’s largest crypto exchange at that time. Why I gave you this background for the context of Reflexicle is that having this, you know, unending stint really now, like what, 25 years long in the startup space, in various positions, entrepreneur, investor, advisor, whatever.

I have developed my set of beliefs about what causes organizations to succeed, what causes them to grow. And it is not necessarily the same factors as, let us say a venture capitalist would use to say, what causes startup investments to succeed? Because a venture capitalist is taking a portfolio approach, but an entrepreneur has this one startup that they need to succeed. So having gone through a lot of myths, having gone through a lot of falsehoods, some of them unfortunate, some of them deliberate.

I realized that you can distill down success in the startup space to very, very few pillars that need to work. Some of these are evergreen, such as the economic model. Some of them might be industry specific, such as the protocol and the tokenomics design in Web3.

So what I did is I brought together all of this experience of mine and I set up Reflexicle with the help of helping Web3 startups succeed. Now this happens in one of two ways. Either they meet my criteria and I meet their criteria and I come on completely economically aligned to them.

By that I mean I don’t charge them any fee, but if they do well, then I also do well. If they don’t do well, I get nothing out of it. On the other hand, in me, I’m reaching this space not from being a banker, like I was not a VC or a banker who then became an advisor.

I was always an entrepreneur, so I will operate in this space. So I also have this need to run, to create ventures of my own. So the second part of Reflexicle, the first part is an advisory which we call the fellowship program.

And the second part is the studio where we create our own projects, where we launch our own, set up our own companies which are subsidiaries of Reflexicle. So all of what I do, its value accrues into Reflexicle through one of these two ways. Either the fellowship program or the studio.

Okay. So when you’re talking about a fellowship program and a studio, what is the process for somebody from the outside? You talked about how it will be like a venture studio model, right? That you’re creating your own startups and you’re perhaps appointing people who can scale that forward. Is that correct? That is correct.

For the studio, that is. So now what will be the process? Let’s take the case of the venture studio since you started with that. We expect to do a very small number, one or two projects per year, right? Actually, the long-term prospect is only about one project per year.

Because we are new and there was a lot of pent-up energy, we have already initiated three. The idea is that the business idea of this venture is Reflexicle. The need for doing this business and the belief in it is Reflexicle.

Then we go out and look for a founder. Now, this is exceedingly difficult. The reason we are going to do one venture a year is because we expect to be able to land one person who checks all the boxes.

So that is how when we come across people who we have known for a prolonged period of time, we have developed a rapport, we have developed faith, trust. We have talked about this for a long time. That is where we onboard an entrepreneur-in-residence for the studio.

The fellowship program is different. Here, people have their own startup. And those startups have some strength.

They have their own team, they have their own founders. They may sometimes have fundraised before they came to us, etc. And what we do is that we see, okay, what do they have? Whatever they have, is it impressive enough for us to choose them? And likewise, what we can offer, is it impressive enough for them to choose us? If this marriage works, then we take a part of their economic units.

Economic units is a non-technical term, which could mean equity, tokens, both, or whatever other fancy structuring the startup has done. And in return, we start providing the value that we promised we would. This includes helping them with things, making connections, exposing them to our investor base, which is about 90 in number.

Being a sounding board, etc. And the objective is that in doing so, you add value to them substantially, as a multiple of what they would in your absence. And thereby, you take part of their economic future.

Okay, all right. So what is the process for somebody to apply for the fellowship? Okay, so this is one of the ways in which we are a little different from any of the other programs that sound a little like this. There is no way anybody can apply to Reflexible.

There is no form, there is no email address. We only take, and this is part of the business model, we only take people through references. So there is a set of people who can refer startups to us.

We call them scouts. So only when these scouts send it to us, do we take it. And the reason is that the process of curating these deals itself is a very significant process.

While we have simplified to some extent, based on what we over-synthesize on and what we under-emphasize on. But even then, it is a very big process. So we like some of it to be done by our scouts who have an economic interest in this entire process.

So the short answer is, you have to be referred. Okay, all right. So there is no way that you are taking in these direct applications.

So who are these scouts? Do you have these names public? Yeah, so should we use this occasion, Tarusha, to invite you as a scout? I’m just kidding. Because that would be the first time we would go public on this podcast. Yeah, so I think that there are two ways, because the number of scouts is actually very large.

So there are two ways in which people can know who they are. Number one, is people who are investors in Reflexify, are by definition scouts. So like I said, there’s 90 of them.

So while only about 15 of them actively scout, but all 90 of them are welcome to scout. Second is, several of the people who are in leadership position in the industry, well, several of them are already investors in Reflexify, but even if they were not, they are also often our referrals, though we don’t necessarily use the word scout for them, but it is the same thing. So I think that if somebody really wanted to kind of be part of Reflexify, it would not be too difficult.

They would just go online, see who is interacting with us and say, can you refer me? And they would find somebody to refer them. Okay. All right.

Awesome. So that’s pretty straightforward. But tell me about the USP.

So there are a lot of accelerator programs, you’ve mentioned them yourself, like in Web3, who are trying to add value, right? So what is different about Reflexify? Good point. Again, I’ll take a step back when I say this not to boast, but the fact is that I’m the author of eight books, all of them published by McGraw Hill. And why I say this is that despite having authored eight books, the first one of which started writing in 1998 and finished in 2001, my most read piece, my writing, which has been read most, actually has been translated to at least seven languages.

The real number might be greater than that, because seven took permission from me to translate. Some may not have taken permission and translated. The second book I started with is actually an article I wrote called incubators, accelerators, and mentors are epic fail.

So interesting, right? So having spent so much of my time in the startup space, one of the things that used to bug me was whether it is accelerators, incubators, mentors, advisors, whatever word you use, basically the ecosystem participants who try to help a startup succeed usually have negligible or zero positive impact on the startup. And this is despite the fact that the startup is sincere, the accelerator is sincere. It is not that the accelerator is bogus.

The mentor is sincere. The advisor is sincere. Despite that being sincerity on both sides, positive results do not occur.

And that is why even if globally I’m not restricted to just Web3, but if you would look at everything, what we now in hindsight are choosing to call Web2 also, like, you know, the Y Combinator and the Techstars, you look at all of them and you, if you really know somebody who is an alum who would give you the inner scoop and stuff, mostly this was very, very over sold as in it was just hyped. And the only thing that came out of it was I met a few good people, right? That is very common to hear, even with the world’s best and most successful accelerators. Now this does not sound attractive to me.

This does not, I mean, I cannot get into a career, having written that article, which became so famous, having been in this space for the longest time, being part of very many incubators, accelerators. I used to be the CEO of IIT Bombay’s incubator. I was part of NASCAR’s incubator, you know, 10,000 startups.

I’ve done a lot of those. Now I cannot be the one who goes and does get another setup, which adds no value. So what I did, and by the way, I encourage your listeners to go to my LinkedIn and there are very few articles, not posts, articles I’ve written on LinkedIn.

So finding this will be very, very easy. And what I’ve done is I’ve identified why this problem, what causes good intention, well-meaning people on both sides to still come together and not add value. And what may be done about it.

So I have actually used those principles and I will list some of them while you grab your snack and tell you more about what causes some of them to, as in what is some of our USPs. Number one is that usually if you look at good mentor and mentee arrangements, they are non-commercial. There is a pre-existing relation between these two.

And the mentor is actually doing it out of the goodness of their heart and the genuine desire for the mentee to succeed. This is pretty much like career counseling. Like if you want good career counseling, usually the best career counseling comes from your friends, father or those kinds of people who are not in the business of career counseling.

Now, this is great. What does one do with it? Does that mean that you can’t have a setup, which is, which can add a scale, start mentoring, advising, accelerating incubating. Well, what happens is that people start with these good intentions with one or two of few successful cases, which were probably done without any economic intention in mind.

And then they start scaling. Now the problem with scaling is they will create cohorts. They will create video lectures.

They will create, they will create all of those things, which is good for scaling, but who’s scaling, scaling of the accelerator, not scaling of the startup, the startup is getting an increasingly dying virtue of, you know, having to wait for a program to start. I don’t know how many entrepreneurs really are willing to wait two months or one month. So that a cohort starts having to go through lectures, whether audio, video, live, whatever, when, you know, they are at the stage where they themselves, the founders often are good enough for themselves to be mentors.

Like I have entrepreneurs who are, you know, like, Harvard MBAs and I’ve worked with McKinsey being consultants, the best of the organizations in the world. I shudder to think what would happen if I made them go through some sort of a lecture set up, they would really laugh at me and leave. The reason I managed to get such strong founders to also come into my advisory fellowship program is because I don’t do that.

I don’t give them lectures. I don’t say, Hey, let’s talk about product marketplace. Let’s learn about GTM, go to market, et cetera.

What I have found is that advisors, accelerators, et cetera, should not consider themselves to be Superman. Give me a second. Sure.

Sorry. I actually had a sore throat about a week back when I was in Bangkok for World Blockchain Summit. But yeah, coming back to what I was saying, you know, these accelerators, mentors, advisors should not think of themselves as Superman.

They should know that there’s a limited area and a limited time in which they can provide a lot of value. So what can they provide a value? One, they can be a good sounding board, which means suppose there is more than one founder to a startup. Let’s say there are two founders or three founders.

These founders often get together and have these very deep late night, very long, no topic oriented conversations. And thereby they add value to each other. The advisor should join in.

The advisor should not see themselves as an Oracle where they answer questions which the startup brings because of two reasons. First, the founders themselves are capable. So when they have brought you questions, most likely they are difficult questions.

So you can’t arrogate the right to be able to answer them or, you know, feel compelled to answer them because you are the advisor. And on the other hand, failures in startups don’t occur because startups didn’t find the right answers to the challenges that face them. They occur because startups did not recognize some of the challenges that face them.

So that I think, looking at things which the founders are not looking at is another important role of an accelerator. Third is that, you know, why the second time, third time, fourth time entrepreneurs do so much better than first time is because they have some credibility track record relationships in place. So if you as an advisor or accelerator have faith in a startup, you can lend some of your credibility to it, where you can stand in the market and say, you know, I have evaluated this startup and these are the things I like about it.

And I feel confident it will do well. And if you have yourself built some credibility in the market, that some of it would rub off to the startup to which you are shining it on. So these are some of the things that, you know, you do, which are different.

So first you don’t do anything, which is playbook oriented. Everything has to be customized. Now there can be a challenge as to, you know, if everything is customized, how do you as an accelerator scale? That is, I think that where we have cracked the formula.

And we’ve realized that our scale will not be that in year one, we will have 30 projects in year two, we’ll have 60. And by year 10, we’ll have like thousand, for example, Y Combinator now has close to that many in a year. So that is not the dimension of scale we will choose.

We will instead choose to scale in value. That means of all the startups we took in year one, the cumulative valuation was this much. And we would want to grow at a rapid clip on that.

And the way to do it would be to get increasingly valuable startups into your acceleration program, as opposed to an increasing number of them. That sounds like, you know, you’ve cracked the code. That sounds like an ideal place to be for a startup, because more than anything else, you know, as you mentioned, there can’t be in this time bound environment and time bound frame, you know, everything like one solution fits all.

That kind of approach cannot work. Because every startup is very unique. It’s like a fingerprint, I think.

And they need their, you know, they have their own set of problems, which might be, you know, similar on a macro level, but essentially everybody’s struggling with different things. And they need that kind of hand holding, especially when, you know, a team is scaling. Furthermore, different entrepreneurs have different attitudes.

For example, let us say five different entrepreneurs are in the B2C space. Some of the entrepreneurs are very sales oriented, right from the way they talk to the way they communicate. Some others are not, some others are not very sales oriented.

So if I were to advise both of them identically, one of them succeeds, even then the other one would fail with the same advice, because it is not tailored to this entrepreneur’s way of thinking. Absolutely. That is so correct.

I think that is, that is important. Yeah. No, that is, that is, I have been a part of a lot of accelerators.

And I think the one flaw that what you said, I think that is what I can sum up for a few of them that it was a little overhyped, but obviously met some really great people. And that itself is, you know, it kind of makes the entire thing worth it. But then again, like when the advice or the classroom curriculum is like pulled into these accelerators, because not every entrepreneur is at the same stage in the head space, or even on their entrepreneurial journey, making, keeping it custom is very important because you know, I, I have failed, multiple failed ventures as well and some moderately successful ones.

So if I now get into an accelerator and if they’re talking about something very basic, which might not be basic for, you know, everybody, but it’s basic for me because I’ve been there, done that. Then the value is not really tangible for me. So I see why, you know, this is so important.

Yeah. Fantastic. Let me just actually extend that a moment back.

I told you how we will scale by getting ever increasing value, valuable projects. What that means that if we were to look at the average valuation of our projects, when they come in and let us not get caught up into how would that be measured? Because there are some measures which at least can get a ballpark of what their valuation is. And they’re entering in a few years.

I want to be at 10 X that, which means many of these startups when they’re entering the accelerator program could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, right? Now, when it comes to the present value that most of the good accelerators provide their startups, it is indeed what you just listed. Namely I met a few good people and by the way, I’m not undermining that value, but you know, at what stage are you willing to join an accelerator program and still get satisfied to some extent by that? Maybe when you’re at the pre-seed stage or very much at the seed stage, this makes sense, but let us say you’re at an advanced stage, right? At that point, you would probably not want to participate in an accelerator program and say, I met a few good people. But if you think about incubator, incubator by definition helps you at stage zero because it incubates, but an accelerator should be able to accelerate you regardless of stage, right? You could always be at an advanced stage and still you could go to an accelerator.

And this is one thing that all accelerators have missed out because what they do is that they just come at one stage later than the incubator stage. Sometimes frankly, incubators and accelerators are indistinguishable and they only can take you from, you know, like instead of from zero to one, they can probably take you from 0.1 to one, you know? So that is the difference. While I believe that Reflexicle as an accelerator will help people even at much, much higher evaluations at much later stages also to accelerate.

So would you consider Reflexicle as a community to be like, like a support community for entrepreneurs? Because I feel that that is something that is also lacking, like, you know, just talking to fellow minded entrepreneurs and being a sounding board, do you think, do you like see Reflexicle going in that direction, becoming a community for support and for, you know, just ideas on boarding for entrepreneurs? So the answer is yes, but probably there’s a little difference from the way you are characterizing it. What happens is that a lot of these platforms, and I’m not even calling them accelerators, they may be accelerators, but they could be platforms in general. We have a lot of founders sign up.

And then the expectation or desire is that the founders form a network of founders. And I’ve seen people who have set this up in the form of a Facebook group, a telegram group, a WhatsApp group, a website or whatever. And I do believe there is some value that comes from being in a group of lots of these entrepreneurs.

And that value will come even from being a part of Reflexicle. But I think that is, you know, targeting very, very low because what happens is entrepreneurs have one or two characteristics that when they are in the growth stage and they are almost always in a growth stage, they don’t have too much time, which means they can do a little bit of this community thing, but the entrepreneurs who do this a lot, that means they seem to be spending like 10 hours a week on this actually make me suspect their entrepreneurship to begin with. So entrepreneurs need a community, but they can be a community only to a limited extent.

So what I did a moment back, I told you that, you know, I have 90 shareholders of my own. Why did that happen? Usually people will say, I don’t want so many shareholders. I don’t want to clutter my capital.

The reason I think that is because for me, my shareholders are one of the value propositions to my portfolio companies. So, you know, a moment back, you asked me, who is a scout? I said, all shareholders are scouts, for example. So great.

That is a value prop. Likewise, when I find any of my portfolio companies who are talking to anybody, I connect them. I’ll give you an example.

This does not just mean that the community should be a community of stalwarts. So for example, one of the shareholders of Reflexical is a former employee of mine who used to be in product management. And while I am his first and only angel investment.

So here to figure out what this thing means, you’d be surprised to know that of these 90, at least 20, Reflexical is their first angel investment. So really they kind of are placing their trust in me, but to continue that example. So suppose one of my companies does not seem to be putting together a lot of thought into product.

They are putting a lot of thought into engineering, but it does not even occur to them that product really is a little different than engineering. Then even with this person who may not be known in Web3, but he’s very good in product. I can add value.

So yes, you are right that there has to be, it takes a village. In fact, you’d be very surprised to know when I was putting together names, one of the names I had considered instead of Reflexical was it takes a village. So that would have been quite a mouthful, but it’s true.

Yes. So that is why I said that the community has to be there, but you know, what a lot of these communities degenerate into is just either socializing or sharing of forwarded communication or just saying, Hey, can somebody help me with hiring? So I think that that serves a purpose and we will definitely serve that purpose. But more than that, I have a bunch of people shareholders, for instance, who have an economic interest in the entrepreneur succeeding, who are still large enough in number to want to get the entrepreneurs to succeed and to contribute to them.

So the answer to your question is very much. Yes. But as you can see, even in this answer that while we are in the same space as other accelerators are, but in every dimension of this, we are doing something which is unique compared to how others are doing.

That’s wonderful. I think this, you know, you’re making quite a case for people to start hunting for your scouts. Well, if there is anybody in this audience who’s listening to this and actually is hunting for the scout, I hereby bestow knighthood.

I don’t know. Hey, can Knights be women also? I don’t even know. The knighthood usually refers to being served, right? Whatever.

Yes. So Tarusha is now Lady Tarusha as of this moment. She’s now official scout of Reflexicle.

All right. Okay. So now you’ll have all of these people come up to me and I think they’re called dames, you know, the female equivalent of knighthood, I think.

So, so do you call it damehood? I mean, do I destroy damehood? No, I think it’s, I am not sure what is it called, but I think knights or dames, like that is what it’s, that’s the opposite, but I’m not sure. It’s a damehood, sounds wrong though. Yeah, it sounds like something you don’t want to restore to somebody.

Yeah, it sounds wrong, but yeah, I think it’s a dame. So I’ll have to check this after this, but okay now. So, you know, because we are running a little short on time, I would like to know about your outlook towards, you know, the very heatly debated CZ and Kevin Leary, the conversation around it.

There are, there are, there seems to be like two different groups supporting both of these, really intelligent fellows. So which side are you on? And what do you think about this heated debate about, you know, whether Binance is about to fail? Yeah. So here’s the thing.

I find it funny that if you’re from the crypto world, you don’t necessarily think Binance is going to fail, but if you’re from the other part of the finance world, you hear about, oh, is Binance next? And on the CZ, which is Kevin O’Leary, regrettable, but both of them were some of my favorite people. And there is no doubt in my mind, however, that I’m completely in the CZ camp. Before this spat, if somebody had to ask me, who do you like more as an individual, it would have been Kevin O’Leary.

But I think he’s not been conducting himself right. When CZ accuses him of being a liar, who knows? But at the same time, that seems to have logic for him to say that he didn’t know that Binance was a shareholder of FTX and Binance was like $2 billion worth of stock or something. I think that I’m completely with CZ on this.

I think that Kevin O’Leary has made a mistake. He, because of his ego cannot tolerate the fact that he’s been pulled up in public, given that he’s a TV figure, you know, he’s not able to deal with the fact that he’s been pulled up and he’s doing whatever it takes to try to escape the situation rather than doing the right thing. So I’m completely on CZ side.

I think Binance, you know, I don’t want to vouch for anybody because I don’t have any inside news, but I have so far not seen anything about Binance that causes me concern. So for example, while I don’t want any assets on Binance, but if I did, I would presently not be withdrawing them. I wouldn’t be withdrawing them.

I haven’t seen no reason to do that. Yeah. I also feel that there is a lot of fear in the market and mostly I think markets everywhere are run by emotion.

So, you know, people start fudding and then it, one thing leads to another. And then there are all of these, you know, videos that are put in the wrong context and then, you know, shared and reshared. Like there is one of CZ, I think where he’s talking in the context of FTX and, you know, somehow it was taken in the larger context of Binance’s liquidity.

So that kind of misinformation is also going around, but I think I am in the same camp as you are. I don’t feel that there is a need to cause further panic. And I also feel that Kevin O’Leary has gotten himself in a bit of a really hard spot with the FTX thing.

So now he’s just trying to get out of it. But hopefully, you know, this will die down too. With crypto there is always something new every day.

And I hope a better conversation, very honestly. This just seems like a lot of mudslinging. Yeah.

And you know what happens? This thing about the emotional market, the market is always emotional. Whether the emotion is a positive emotion or a negative emotion can be challenged. For example, what was it just like four days ago or so, plus or minus one day that the bank of international settlements, BIS in Basel, which is, you know, the common body of all the banks in the world came up with the decision that banks could hold up to 2%.

Please listen carefully. This is like so shocking. Banks can hold up to 2% of their tier one capital in crypto assets.

And those crypto assets, there was an attempt to define what they could invest. And while it is not clear what they can invest in, but certainly Bitcoin classic qualified. Now just imagine Bitcoin on a $0.7 trillion market cap.

The tier one capital of banks is many trillions of dollars. Right. And if truly 2% of their tier one capital came into Bitcoin, then Bitcoin’s market cap would run into like a few trillion.

Right. Which of course is because of huge price slippage, because not that few trillion dollars would be invested into Bitcoin, but then you invest even like few, like a hundred billion or so the price would go up a lot. So this news should have sent Bitcoin prices soaring 20% like overnight, but it didn’t do anything.

Right. So why? Because we are in a very bad sentiment. Otherwise, some part of the banking money being channelized into the crypto market is the biggest news, the biggest news we have heard about crypto.

And yeah, absolutely. I agree. Right.

Yeah. It’s very myopic way in which the media reports about, I think, crypto and Web3. It’s a little like, you know, the bad press gets so much more coverage.

Then perhaps, you know, things that are good or at least very noble. Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah, absolutely.

So now, as I mentioned that, you know, we are coming to a close for this. This is a question that I ask everybody, you know, who comes on the show. If you know somebody who’s like peering in from Web2 and, you know, trying to make their way into Web3 and now are scared because of the bear market, what advice would you give them to start living on blockchain? Just one quick question.

Is this somebody who is an investor in Web2 or an entrepreneur in Web2? So, you know, I think you should give advice for both because, you know, you’ve been there and done that on both ends. Okay, sure. I’ll do that.

So I think that what you need to do is instead of trying to evaluate whether this is pure uncertainty and doubt or whether there is a lot of genuine problems in the space, et cetera, which by the way, is something that nobody can evaluate. Let us ask some basic questions. Whatever is the paradigm of Web3, where some mode of permissionlessness, some mode of on-chain, transparent, distributed, decentralized, and those kinds of things come up.

Otherwise, Web3 is like Web2, as in if you were to remove all of these attributes. So you have to ask yourself, how do you like those new additions to Web2 or new models? Right. and in doing so, so this is point number one, point number two, in doing point number one, do not take extreme positions.

Do not compare centralized with 100% decentralized, right? Think of all of these as journeys, like somewhat decentralized, et cetera. Because if you were to look at completely decentralized or extreme situations, you’d say that’s not even possible. And I would agree with you, at least in the current situation.

If you feel that these paradigms are important, that yes, there is merit to this. And while not necessarily in the same way as we saw in the previous bull market, I think that this has a future. Then you can start taking a bet.

Now, what is this bet? The bet you take as an investor is that solid economic models will always succeed in the long run. So let me find, let me not get swayed by the social media, which is trying to influence my thinking. Let me come up with something which is solid business model and also brings in the flavors of it.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you are thinking is inherently web to like ask yourself, Hey, I don’t have to change my thinking. You know, people are trying to record my DNA. I don’t have to do that, but let me see what is the best that I can get from this new paradigm.

I think those, both for the investor and for the entrepreneur would be a great first step. And I can assure whoever is listening to this and falls in this category, that while I have only guided you on the first step, if you take this first step, the remaining steps will unfold and you will, you will be glad that you took this first step. Yeah, that’s, that’s really good advice and advice that, you know, a lot of people kind of miss to give, usually say that, okay, get started already.

And, you know, perhaps give your hands a little dirty, start investing small amounts or get involved in a project. But I think, you know, just this, this kind of introspective approach is good advice for somebody who’s really trying to make a deal. Absolutely.

So right now, you know, we are short on time. So how, how would you like to wrap this up? Any parting thoughts about 2023? So my parting thoughts about the near future, because I don’t know how market cycles will unfold in 23 or 24 or whatever, is that it is only when we are challenged with something, which is very difficult to understand that we have the opportunity to grow significantly, right? Otherwise, when you go to a restaurant every single time and you order the same dish, but you tweak the level of pies or tweak some minor thing, you can still be happy in life, get the same thing, learn nothing new, just keep tweaking your way through life. If that seems attractive to you, go for it.

But if you want to make a quantum change in your being, your existence, your entrepreneurship, your financial status, et cetera, that quantum change will necessarily come from a quantum change in your thought process. Hence, be open to ideas, open to ideas, doesn’t mean go wild, open to ideas. Innovation does not mean doing the craziest thing because innovation is crazy things, which add value, not just crazy.

Web3, crypto, the blockchain paradigm is actually requires a huge new way of thinking. While I did talk about the step one a moment back, but there are many more steps to it. I have only one parting thought, just keep an open mind.

That’s it. And then whatever conclusion you reach, whether this extreme or that extreme, I’m fine with that. Just keep an open mind.

Wow. That’s good advice. That’s always good advice.

And that’s a wonderful way to start like a new year. So thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me, even with your sore throat. I hope you feel better soon.

And I’m really glad we could do this. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Very nice talking to you and great points that you brought up. Thank you.

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