Hunters & Gatherers: Mehak Vohra

Mehak Vohra is an agency founder…and rapper. I cracked up when I heard her startup hip hop track, and then I got crazy into it. she’s a hustler, and I respect that. Folks, this is an interview with a founder, an entrepreneur and someone who knows how to get what she wants, while giving people what they need. As always, my comments are in italics. — Jon

Okay, talk to me about your hip hop hustle — your track Startups In My DNA is awesome, hilarious and spot on. And I want to know what’s up with it, where it came from?

Thank you so much! I’ve always been a rapper at heart. When I was little my dad used to blast “Without Me” in the car by Eminem and I was hooked.

I’m fairly confident that I can rap every rap song in the Billboard Yearly Top 100 in the last 10 years. It’s easy for me to memorize things to a beat.

Throughout High School I used to love rapping for my class projects. I also rapped my graduation speech in front of my graduating class.

Being able to tell a story or relay a thought through rap has always been really enticing to me.

Best grad speech ever — Jon

I discovered you through the Bad Ass Marketers and Founders group where we got to hear about your cold approach, networking method to getting traction. Walk me through that?

I live by the motto that if you don’t try you’ll never know. Sometimes it puts me in really awkward positions, but most of the time it works out in my favor. You’ve always got to ask or just go for it.

When I first moved to San Francisco, it was June 2016. I had just dropped out of school, I was 19 years old, and I realized that I was at a clear disadvantage on a few things.

  1. I was under 21, so all of the networking happy hours were something I couldn’t get into.
  2. I didn’t know anyone that was part of the startup scene.
  3. I didn’t really have a set path. I just knew that the Bay area was the place to be.

I realized that if I was going to get anywhere that summer I needed to be around people that did have it somewhat figured out.

So I jumped on Facebook and started looking around. Who was influential in the city? Who was working on something that I thought was interesting?

I found those people and sent them messages or emails. I also hit up people in their circles. If they didn’t respond it took a few times of following up and majority of the people got back to me.

The thing to keep in mind is no one gives a care about you and what you’re working on. All people want to know is if you can help them. So I emailed people that I wanted to connect with by telling them I wanted to help them and their startup with my agency.

Even if things didn’t work out, just having that value on my side helped me. — I also snuck into VC events.

I’d just show up to events I’d come across on Facebook or hear through the grapevine. Being young I was able to get away with a lot. I used my age to my advantage.

Who is the first person you think of when you talk about Role Models?

Personally, my mom. She’s not only been my biggest supporter since day one, but she is also one of the hardest working people I have ever met.

She’s been with me throughout this whole entrepreneurial rollercoaster. If things don’t go according to plan, I’m lucky to have her right by my side, to talk me through the hard stuff, and celebrate the good.

She’s actually going back to school this fall, and I couldn’t be more proud. Professionally, I really look up to Anjula Acharia Bath. She is the founder of DesiHits, a partner at Trinity Ventures, and currently manages the international star Priyanka Chopra!

What she’s been able to accomplish and do is so incredibly inspiring to me. The entertainment industry has become the beast that I someday want to work in, and I think Anjula Bath has done a really good job of figuring out that mix between tech and entertainment.

Can you walk us through one thing you do that helps your productivity?

Working out. I love starting my mornings off with a run. It puts me in this mindset of “If I ran 4 miles this morning, what else could I get done today?” I work best when I’m hyped up, and running does that for me.

What is the story of your journey as a writer?

I used to be a terrible writer, and I honestly still think I am when it comes to writing long things, like essays. But when it comes to platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, and Facebook, it’s more about tapping into people’s emotions and making readable content.

My first thought when writing a post is “How can I draw their attention?” What is going to make someone stop and read my post on their newsfeed?”

I started off writing on Quora in October 2016 and, within a month I gained 100k views. I studied how everyone else was creating content and started to emulate it. Then, the posts that did well, I moved those posts over to Facebook and LinkedIn.

I’ve made Quora a place for me to find a prompt, and what the Quora community veterans as a good piece of content will make it over to my other platforms.

Can you identify the turning point of your career?

I don’t think I’ve hit it yet. It’s been a very slow grind so far.

If your audience disappeared tomorrow, would you still write?

To be honest, probably not. Writing is my way of giving back to the people that do follow me. It’s to provide value to those around me. If those people disappeared and I couldn’t build a new audience, I’d probably stop writing. For me writing isn’t really fun, it’s more of a tactic that I’ve figured out the formula to.

What is the one question you’ve always wanted someone to ask you? And what’s your answer?

Why advertising, why not go after starting a startup? I come from a Computer Science background so it would make more sense for me to start a software company.

But, I’m driven by helping people find their voice. That’s what really excites me in the end of the day. How can I bring attention to something that I’m passionate about? Creating an agency was the best way for me to go about doing that.

Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? Why?

Hunter, but I keep the gatherer’s tendencies to heart. I want to chase after my dreams, chase after new clients, and push the bar on what my agency could be. I enjoy finding people to make content with and finding new ways to do it. In running an agency though, it’s important to also be a gatherer and develop your relationships.

Favourite fiction book?

Mastering the VC Game by Jeffrey Bussgang. This was the first book I read when I moved out here and I’ve reread a couple of times since. He breaks down the VC world as if you know nothing and explains everything. This was the book that helped explain everything to me and I highly recommend it to someone looking to learn more about the VC world.

What book would you give to someone who’s at their lowest point?

I could get lost in Sherlock Holmes, for me when I get to a low point I just want to escape for a little while and get out of my head so I can come back harder and stronger. Reading through a good mystery book keeps me on my toes, but also helps me escape.

What is your favourite film?

I love Audrey Hepburn so all of her movies are up there. But, my favorite is Charade. There are so many ups and downs in that movie, it’s great.

What’s one good reason you’d never want to win the lottery?

It takes the fun out of the grind. I’m working to make it big. I NEVER want it be handed to me. I don’t want something else to be the reason for my success other than that I worked hard and made it for myself.

How would you spend $100 to advance your career, business or life?

Facebook ads.

When was the last time you were so obsessed with an idea that you couldn’t sleep?

Probably my rap song that came out a week ago. I was sick in bed when I wrote it actually. Fever and everything. But the idea of creating something like that was so exciting to me. Like a 20 year old Indian girl decides to rap about tech? You never really see that, and whenever I feel like I’ve come up with something different, that’s exciting to me.

What is your Hill to Die On? (IE, the one belief or principle you have that you’d stake everything on)

Be the good guy. Always do what’s good. Not what helps your business, or gets you to the top. I’m never going to play dirty. I’m never going to screw someone over to get to the next stop, and people that do lose respect in my book.

What’s the worst investment you’ve ever made?

I’d actually like to think I’m pretty money savvy, so the worst investment I’ve made hasn’t been with money, but with my time. I spend wayyy too much time planning my life out, when I should be executing. It’s like my own form of procrastination.

What words do you live by?

Keep reaching. Sometimes it sucks to get turned down, sometimes it’s embarrassing. But, I have to keep on reaching, keep trying for those small wins, because all of those together are what makes me successful.

What advice would you give yourself in 10 years?

Never get comfortable. All of the greatest opportunities that have happened to me, have happened because I took a leap. I want to keep growing, and keep learning. Once you start to get comfortable, that stops.

What’s the worst cliche that is just never true?

If you hustle that means you spend every single moment of your life making your dreams come true. I don’t agree with this and I never will. People that put their health at risk to chase their dreams or stop having fun on the side aren’t cool in my opinion. I have more respect for the people that choose their time wisely and make shit happen while still having fun. If you’re constantly pulling all nighters — you aren’t doing the entrepreneurial life correctly in my book.

Do you believe in anything that can’t be scientifically proven?

I believe in a higher being, not sure if it’s a god, there might, or might not be a god ahead of us. But I do believe that there is something bigger and greater than us, that we maybe don’t have the awareness to know about. IE like how an ant probably don’t realize that we exist (or can even come to that realization for the matter).