Chapter 14 — My last 15 years for my lifetime — Preseed, Chattodo, its feature MyIdealist & education disruption.
Where Chattodo is a digital community, Preseed is its philosophy and MyIdealist, a substantial feature on Chattodo. Chattodo is how I want to get to my exact audience of interest. And to grow Chattodo, MyIdealist is how I want to get to my exact audience of interest. Why, how and where?
Moonshots, by their very definition, need to be hurtled till something big is identified. The innovation after that identification might take time, in some cases, a very long time.
Some innovations really do require many years of philosophical dabbling as compared to the build measure learn loop kind of iterative building of simpler e-commerce products to chase quick metrics and money.
My vision is about disruption of the archaic education system. It ought to take time. I could have, like many others, imagined (in-fact I did) to build a (relatively less inspiring) ecommerce/marketplace business, just to be rich by selling fashion goods, but I wanted to build something meaningful to feed the soul of society instead, regardless of how long it was going to take me to succeed at such a moonshot. So, I decided to spend all of my time in just imagining the flawless solution as a design of a product, to a point that design and vision wise I leave no stones unturned for the probable success of that product in disrupting the education system. Hence it was built to perfection in my imagination much before its first line of code was written. I wanted to see the vision in its completeness in my eye through design before investing it with lines of code, so I could with honest conviction vouch for it to one and all before it was ready.
I know, I know, we all know this, still very few of us want to do our part in fixing this.
Steve Jobs dropped out of college so he could drop in to the classes that looked more interesting. Reed College offered the best calligraphy course in the country. In those classes Jobs learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, something with no practical application to his life at the time.
“But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”
Not once in Jobs’ famous Stanford commencement address did he tell the students that the previous four years was a complete waste of time. Instead he offered this advice: “Do what you love. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” None of this is incompatible with attending college. On the contrary, college opens up a world of people, places, and possibilities that lead to transformative, world-changing ideas and innovations.
I repeat — On the contrary, college opens up a world of people, places, and possibilities that lead to transformative, world-changing ideas and innovations.
So what do you do if your college doesn’t seem to be opening up a world of people, possibilities that lead to transformative world-changing ideas and innovations; YOU DROP OUT
Here is a set of screenshots exchanged between me and two people from my team of collaborators exactly around the same time. One is a fresh graduate, who doesn’t believe in sitting for competition. He is building a real startup. He has managed to raise over $150,000 already for his startup. And the other is also a very talented kid, still in college, but unaware of what is real and what is not. I will express my chat, with the one who inspired me lesser during that same night over facebook chats:
Then we had a call with another person who was doing the real thing and discussed about what he thought the problem was with his product, hence his next step. He thought the problem was customer acquisition. He thought he needed more. While the real problem was customer retention. That day he learnt something new and far more mature than the guy above was trying to learn.
Every thing I am saying below I first practiced for closed to a decade through my first company in 2009 that failed, then my second company in 2014 as a mere community of seekers helping each other to chase whims at www.preseed.in until last year. It is thriving as a culture.
Why am I building a social network of action?
My last 15 years could be summed up as an original inquiry into the impact, innovation and incredible possibilities created out of the free information via social internet, chat, commerce and collaboration tools. However, that is the brief sum of that knowledge I have collected so far. The journey did not start from here. It starts from 3 decades prior: The start of the personal computers and laptop. IBM, Intel, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. Then ….
Sometime in the middle of that 3 decade period, Google happened and it made all the free information searchable.
People started coming to the web. People started discovering information. Then soon after people started discovering each other.
Then they started talking to each other about each other. Basically, started expressing themselves socially. This was the opportunity I set out to attack as a fresh dropout from college in 2007. I managed to raise Rs. 40 lakhs to attempt it after 2 years of imagining it in 2009. I worked with that for 6 months, then Facebook happened to the whole world, including my world in India in ways that it was almost untouchable by any other ambitious human being other than Mark Zuckerberg . Facebook nailed it. And with that my dream of building a social network like that, were nailed in the coffin too.
The social network of talks and connections was won by Facebook.
I, in the meanwhile, pivoted my first company into a consulting company with a team of 10 people from mostly IIT, Delhi and Delhi College of Engineering.
I was troubled by the non-entrepreneurial spirit of the youth within college walls.
I started addressing large audiences about my views on entrepreneurship, education, simplicity and ideas.
Anyway, it took me 5 years thereafter to understand the problem I was now after, to its deepest, in context of the free information and communication tools that surround us.
But at first in those 5 years, from 2009 to 2014, I was just trying to understand and create a culture of a handful of intelligent youth. Less than 10. From anywhere in the world. To speak with, in the language of inspiration. And as a result I hope to teach/learn with them while building stuff with them, before we learn, earn or burn. And that stuff was lots of my ideas. I was confident that a journey of building upon ideas was going to be a greater learning than college can ever be. This is result oriented education filled with freedom, where the result is-entrepreneurs. I created some such results in those 5 years at Preseed. Along the way, through my imagination, I learnt about that world of entrepreneurs that I want to facilitate on a global scale.
These few years of imagination and hustle here and there, most importantly on social web suggested to me that, now it is time, for action. Enough of talk Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter users.
For after talk, a category of people get together and build upon their ideas. That is what succeeds ‘talks’ — Action. Such people are called entrepreneurs. The new age entrepreneur is who I am surrendered to serve.
And before this user is an entrepreneur, he is a potential entrepreneur. He is often a student while being a potential entrepreneur.
Let’s tell him, like I told my neighbourhood men and women, that there is immense knowledge in collective action. There is not only knowledge but also inspiration in that. Such will be a wonderful life. An inspired life.
Because I want to give this world, better thinking and result oriented leaders. Not merely talk oriented leaders. That is the mission I am on. My inquiry into this curiosity has lead me to imagine a social network of action. That is why I am building a social network of action.
May the thinking students of the world, our lovers, brothers, sisters, parents and children, build, before they learn, earn or burn.
I often imagine the world where anyone from anywhere can imagine an idea, and plant that seed into MyIdealist, take care of it, and see it grow.
Men and women of ideas of today are the leaders of the future. I want to work on easing their journey to live in an environment where their idea is nurtured. I believe if the leaders of the future are wise and bright, the future of humanity will thrive. Thus, I decided to serve the purpose of making brighter leaders of tomorrow, through my social network of action, upon ideas.
The mission of giving the world more effective leaders is at the centre of Preseed. Everything we do here is for that reason.
Soon after, like how everything in our society trickles down to the masses initiated by the choices of the leaders, so will it happen here. That which is chosen by the leaders of tomorrow, today, is what will be chosen by the masses of tomorrow. Implying, the lifestyle choice that the leader breed student makes today, will be imitated by others too, someday. So we will first be the products for the potential leaders of the future, and then it will trickle down to the masses and will be the product of all the collaborative masses.
Looking back at the time of origin of Preseed. (2012–2015)
All the lessons of the last 3 years of running Preseed + the first 2 years of imagining social web from my perspective + every experience in between, I am product-ifying now with my team at Preseed, as a social network of action upon ideas.
I started Preseed to build upon my many ideas across my lifetime, to live this wonderful life. as you can see in nishchal.preseed.in.
I told myself sometime in 2012 that if I have to live the kind of life I love. I must create that environment around me which is conducive to that life, bottom up.
The kind of life I love, is a life of inspiration and creativity, upon beautiful visions. If all of us could live that life, this world will make far more progress towards liberation and mindful novelty. A world where everyone is rather building upon an altruistic idea.
I told myself, that, to live a that life of extreme inspiration and creativity, for my type of a mind, I must create a machinery that can shape all my ideas. Because my ideas are extremely important. (So must be yours). Just dreaming them and not shaping them, would be a loss to the world. Let alone me.
So I imagined, deeply, this machinery made up of closely bonded humans, called Preseed, to shape my many ideas. I incorporated it into a company in 2014 and stopped talking and started building and imagining and building further. I found my team soon after. I run this loop of action with this team several times in a week since 2014.
These loops originate from various topics that interest me. I dig really deep into these topics. I meditate upon them. That is what I do, in most of my day. My day, every day, is a journey into an original inquiry on those topics. Un-influenced by what is and what has been. Then I lay it out into the system of Preseed, for that inquiry to take a shape as a product, or a a mere dialogue.
Now all day, I do just this, I imagine, I build. That is the life I wanted to offer myself first from where I was.
However, out of different product ideas I used to think about mention randomly, I used to think about 1 obsessively with a central purpose — Human resource development, which is what Preseed is about now, so I can give that same life to others, as I wanted for myself. A life of creativity and freedom.
At Preseed ideas for creating better human resource for the world are woked on. At it’s core Preseed is first, a Social network of action, Chattodo and then a social network of action upon ideas (Chattodo+MyIdealist), then an AI mechanism on top to measure their education degrees out of collaboration, thus disrupting the education system.
I first realized the need for seamless productivity out of communication. I imagined a productivity tool within a communication tool, therefore. Precisely making communication, actionable for human resource.
But, Chattodo merely being the first social network of action, in the world was not going to be enough. It had to power action upon ideas. Because Chattodo has to be the tool on which the companies of the future are built. It has to be the tool where people discuss their idea and move along within it, to build that idea into a startup.
So it has to be a tool not only for productivity, but real-time collaboration on ideas. Almost like:
##idea — on a note in the productivity tool opens people to a feature that handles their ideas in such a way, that users of Todoed, actually get induced to taking their idea out of isolation. That is the first step towards building their ideas.
That is all, in brief, that lead me to imagine the finest way of collaboration on ideas by starters. For starters communicate on products like whatsapp currently
Chattodo, and MyIdealsit, that future element of MyIdealist which will take it into becoming a communication product best suited for ‘collaboration upon ideas’ and not just usual corporate productivity.
Preseed all the way to education upon curiosity and collaboration.
As I explained earlier, that I wanted to make the men and women of ideas productive, as against the talk for talk sake culture of Twitter and Facebook. The youth is the future of the world. And they are students trapped in the eduction system currently. Leading me to imaging a social network of action upon ideas as the way forward, instead of a mere productivity tool. It is that desire that lead me to imagining education upon curiosity clubbed with education upon collaboration, as the most righteous education methodology.
To sum up, my solution in this light is aimed at 4 walled secondary education system for children of ideas. So, it seems to me that serving men and women of ideas is the way forward towards the disruption of the education system as a whole, for they are the leader breed of the education system.
SO, HOW DO WE GET SECONDARY SCHOOL AND UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TO COLLABORATE UPON IDEAS ON CHATTODO? HOW DO WE HENCE DISRUPT THE SECONDARY EDUCATION SYSTEM?
An improved question is:
What induces people or in this case, what will induce students to collaborate intrinsically?
(Because if it is intrinsic it is in harmony.)
The answer: Ideas — An idea in one's mind can drive forward such collaboration.
So if we can make our collaboration tool for men and women of ideas, we would have built the kind of social network of action we are after. The social network of action upon ideas! That is why MyIdealist on our app Chattodo is so important to our scheme of things.
So now the question becomes how, and where do we collect millions of men and women to collaborate among each other upon ideas?
We launch Chattodo as a seamless communication and collaboration tool integrated with, a platform that has humans of ideas, as a feature, MyIdealist.
This strategy for launching Chatotodo in its most suitable market niche, for humans of ideas, will be responsible for — inducing atleast those students who have ideas, to collaborate — because they are being given a really seamless solution on a platform where they can get educated upon building upon their ideas — via a vis listing their ideas on MyIdealist, and communicating and collaborating on Chattodo — and hence collaborating upon them.
In the absence of this kind of association, a chat app will merely be passed of as a social network of action, not social network of action upon ideas. This association is important for Chattodo also because it’s origin lies not in the purpose of becoming an extraordinary communication collaboration tool for humans of ideas, that tool, for the purpose of disrupting the education system for children of ideas. It is important for MyIdealist because it creates engagement on it. Just like Fb messenger creates unparalleled engagement for users of Facebook.
MyIdealist is where we will find our men and women of ideas. That is where, we intend to orient this chat app, towards humans of ideas.
So who our initial market is, is clear. For facebook it may have been students of ivy league colleges, for snapchat it may have been the teenagers. For us it is the humans of ideas. I want to impact the education system across its length and breadth over the next one decade, but I must start today from somewhere specific. I choose that specific to be humans of ideas. (So, MyIdealist + its communication app is required — I will cover this along the way. Keep reading please).
Respectively together Step 2 and 3 on www.preseed.in, i.e. Chattodo and MyIdealist are like a relationship that can be felt between Facebook and Whatsapp messenger, only that in our case they are both ONE, with a new take on the design of feeds so you don’t mindlessly scroll them anymore.
This also changes the competition for such a tool like Chattodo
Rather then us making a tool for communication alone or collaboration alone — In turn competing with the likes of Facebook, Slack, Evernote etc.
This strategy allows us to apply our tools — Chattodo and its feature MyIdealist — towards disrupting the education system for children of ideas instead, first, someday. To understand this from here in greater detail, go to our website www.preseed.in after going through the words below, only to come back here for a second time read.
The disruptively altruistic FUTURE.
That vision is about giving freedom to humanity — The AI on Chattodo.
The voice of Nishchal in this video is extremely important and so is its description on youtube. It talks exactly about his AI vision for Chattodo. It may not be perfect, but it gives you a good glimpse on what he is thinking, raw. The video has been compiled to give you a glimpse into Nishchal’s life in photos too alongside.
I am responding to it Mr. Nilekani:
We also dream of a physical space — Preseed Ecell. If you understand Preseed is made up of its culture, it will be physically felt at Preseed Ecell and its product Chattodo will look to deliver its essence across the world.