Podcast Episode 30

Bold Innovation: Building Disruptive Tech Companies with Shashank Tiwari

Discover the secrets of building disruptive tech companies in this captivating episode featuring seasoned tech entrepreneur Shashank Tiwari. With two decades of experience in the ever-evolving tech landscape, Shashank shares invaluable insights on innovation and navigating change. He unveils a three-dimensional approach to disruption, emphasizing the importance of new possibilities, useful applications, and market economics. Join us as we explore the transformative power of simplicity, the art of ruthless prioritization, and actionable strategies to thrive in the dynamic world of tech startups. Tune in for a compelling exploration of bold innovation and the principles that drive success in the tech entrepreneurship space.

Shashank Tiwari

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Shashank’s Journey and Approach to Innovation

Ryan Davies: Welcome everyone to the Tech Business Roundtable podcast show. This is a podcast show dedicated to shining a spotlight on tech innovators, entrepreneurs, founders, and the compelling narratives behind the movements they’ve established. I’m your host, Ryan Davies, and I’m hosting today’s discussion, Bold Innovation: Building Disruptive Tech Companies with Shashank Tiwari. Shashank, thanks so much for joining us here today.

Shashank:  Well, thank you for having me. I’ve heard your podcasts and other episodes, Ryan, and they’re wonderful. So I’m really glad to be part of this journey. So, thanks for having me on it.

Ryan Davies:   Well, thank you. Thank you for the kind words. You know what, this is definitely the honor is all ours here. I think when we were talking about our audience and having people on that are just great, key opinion leaders, thought leaders, and people who have done the trail before, and sometimes it’s blazed the trail, sometimes it’s been kind of burned the trail a little bit. It’s a little of both to be able to get through it, but Shashank, you’re fantastic for having us here. A bit of background. Shashank is passionate about building highly disruptive tech companies and products that are simple, bold, again, break the mold, break the path, and believe in the possibilities, and thrive on what individuals can do here. Company building is ingrained in his DNA and has been part of many exciting journeys in the past. algorithmic systems on Wall Street to build Silicon Valley startups. So again, somebody who has absolutely run the gauntlet, if you will, over the past couple of decades and has had excellent runs at everything as an engineer, a product leader, a CEO, a founder helping with scalability, managing high-performance teams, and really spans a really wide variety from cybersecurity to AI and mathematics and investment analysis, marketing, accounting. This is Shashank, our guy, you know, this is the guy that’s going to be able to answer a lot of questions for us and provide a lot of insight for our audience. With that, color up the background a bit more, introduce yourself more from beyond my introduction there, and a little bit about your background in the tech industry.

Shashank: Absolutely. Well, firstly, again, thank you for the kind words. The way I like to tell my story, really, is I’ve just been on multiple exciting, interesting journeys. It’s all about that. Company building, bold innovations, even having good success and also scars along the way are all just part of the journey. As you go through many journeys and take on adventures, these things happen to everyone, and they have happened to me, too. My adventure started typically like most folks who are deep in sort of technology and trying to figure out what technology can do for us really was the starting point for me. This happened almost a couple of decades ago, just about the time when the internet was coming together as a more meaningful piece, as a more meaningful infrastructure beyond just the hype and the initial euphoria we all had, right, with the emergence of that in the late 90s and then so I was in that era getting started with my career. Because there was so much happening in technology, just so much innovation, so many new things just occurring every single day, it got me excited. My mission became, well, I got to go and learn these things and got to figure out where this can take us. That’s what led me down the path, right? And then, of course, as you mentioned, I think that has transitioned into a lot of very interesting category-defining companies. Many of them weren’t really category-defining companies when we were when I became part of those companies because those were ideas, those were very interesting mission statements out there that teams kind of rallied behind and made happen. So I think that’s what kind of reinforced in me over and over again, the concept of building, taking on bold ideas, taking on these adventurous things that sometimes look impossible, sometimes look very difficult to accomplish in finite amounts of time with limited resources that most startups and early-stage companies have. But each of these journeys really came through, not only with success but also with a ton of learning. That’s what got me excited even more, so every time I jumped onto the next journey, the next leg. And here I am two decades fast forward, building something at the intersection of AI and cyber, which is yet another bold play in that area. I must mention that if you think about company building at large, from when I started a couple of decades back to where we are today, it has become incredibly exciting. The reason for that is that so much more tech innovation has occurred in the last two decades. The pace and momentum we have around many of these technologies are just unbelievable, and they range across the board, from multiple different spectrums, from AI on one side, which I’m very close to, to Web3 kind of stuff on the other, to the fintech revolution going on, to the infrastructure being rethought to even the consumer behavior kind of transitioning with mobile and then now sort of the post-mobile era, if you may. And then also, of course, even software delivery, packaging, and how we build things, everything has transitioned. And then, beyond software, there’s also a ton of innovation going on in core tech areas, space, renewables, and just food, health tech, and genomics. There’s something that looked like science fiction two decades ago. It’s becoming more real today. So plenty is happening there, and this is the moment. This is the opportunity for not only folks like me who are deep in this, I live and breathe this, but also for just about everybody else to start getting deeper and deeper into this tech innovation and company-building puzzle because that’s where a lot of the next generation of exciting journeys will be charted, that’s how I think about this.

Ryan: It’s so expansive. That’s part of what we do here. We pillar a lot of this, and we talk about it. I remember when we started ideating about the podcast show and the roundtable and everything else. How many categories can we divide this into? All of a sudden, it was like, there’s like 60 on this list of just areas that are tech-based alone that touch, like you said, retail to med tech to education to government. It just didn’t matter. It’s so expansive, and it’s so crazy how quickly it’s growing. We had a lot of family time recently, and we sat around a table. Of course, we were talking about the podcast a little bit. I was telling people about different episodes and guests and things to come and all of this. We were talking about this same idea that we had people at the table who were in their 90s. They’re like, well, do you understand where it was when I was a kid for like their great grandkids who are in the room and what that curve looked like and then even for the grandparents and what 60 years and then for me, what 40 years has looked like. And even for, you know, the kids that are like, well, five years ago, this didn’t exist. Now, we can do this. It’s like it is this rapidly changing landscape. And this is why this is such a great discussion. It is talking about disruption, right? That’s really what brings changes when you recognize it. How to disrupt the industry, bring something new to the forefront, and change the way people traditionally do things or don’t know what could be done and take advantage of what’s out there and upscale it into something that’s, again, building a company around that. So give me your definition of disruption in the tech industry, and really like, how does someone embody that concept of disruptive technology?

Shashank: Yeah, absolutely. Well, in my worldview, if you start thinking about disruption per se, firstly, it’s very much thought of in the single dimension. At least the industry likes to put it primarily as a tech innovation in the sense that something that we haven’t seen before, something that we couldn’t conceive before, has now become true and possible. But if you start looking at more realistically what disruption means, this is something that I have lived through multiple companies and now multiple decades is that really a mixture of three different vectors or three different things coming together? And that’s what leads to real disruption. Because if you really think about it and parse that, what exactly is disruption? Well, disruption is, one, new things becoming possible that weren’t possible yesterday. In the past, we couldn’t do it. And now we can do it. So, for example, you could say, once, as a society, we were able to do space travel and land on the moon. Well, that was definitely a new technology or a new thing that we unearthed that we hadn’t done before, having done that the very first time. Therefore, we’ve created possibilities with the new technology. Similar stuff is now happening across the board, from AI to mobile to Web3 to cloud to infrared to what have you. Right. There are so many different pieces that we are able to do today that we could not do yesterday. But having said that, there’s a second piece, or the second vector, that becomes equally important with disruption, which is that there is something useful from a humankind standpoint that can be accomplished with this new technology. So you could have a technology that was not possible yesterday that you can do today, but if it is in no way that we, as humans, we as a society can relate to or take advantage of, then I think it becomes a nice novel idea. Which also kind of dies its death as soon as it becomes possible because nobody sees an interest in pursuing it or doing anything with it, but if it creates certain behavioral changes or new possibilities in terms of how we could capture value out of it or do things with it, then I think that’s where the disruption really starts becoming possible. A classic example of that is the internet. I mean, prior to that, communication, if you just look at communication as one of the forms that was really, really disrupted by the internet, was very slow. We did over letters and added the best phone calls, synchronous phone calls.

That’s what our forms of communication were, apart from, of course, meeting people in person. But with the internet, that communication disruption has just accelerated to a point where today, we can do things like this. You and I are sitting far away in different places, and we can record video online. So this was not possible two or three decades back and seemed like science fiction. Today, this is most people’s everyday life. That’s how they exist. That’s how they work. That’s how they communicate. So I think that is a disruption in terms of new value that can be captured by humans and new things that become possible. Then, the third vector, and the equally important vector, I think, is that there needs to be a certain level of market economics and possibilities around it. And why I think that is also important because at the lab level or the academic level, many ideas get built out because that’s their job. Most of the time, the research labs have, as a part of their mission, explicitly stated that they look for new things. So, they are very actively trying to conduct experiments and create new things, but nine out of ten things that get created in that kind of fashion actually never see the light of the day because there are no tangible, substantial commercial ramifications or market economics around that stuff that gets built out. For example, somebody builds out a very fancy automobile that does a lot of different things, uses a new kind of fuel, goes at 10x the speed that one could think of, and does a few other fancy things, but then it also costs the moon. It’s not something that anybody can reasonably manufacture at a reasonable cost in a reasonable time. Then nobody can even buy it, or they’re only like three buyers on the planet.

Well, there is no market economics around it. Therefore, that kind of innovation kind of fizzles off, right? Because nobody’s incentivized, nobody’s excited enough to pursue it. So when these three things come together, awesome technology possibilities, science fiction becomes real, right? Like the first part of that puzzle, the second one, of course, you know, has a huge impact on value capture and human behavior. You know, some new things can be done. And then the third party is market economics. And so the three things come together. That’s when we start seeing real disruption. And this has been my learning as well with company building because, you know, sometimes, when we start building companies in deep tech. We may have just one of these three important access points. We may be very enamored, very enthused about this new technology because, you know, as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, as doctors, as you know, whoever, researchers of any form, we are very excited about the possibility. Science fiction becoming real is what takes over our consciousness, and we feel like, oh, this is really cool. And I want to make it happen. But then, sometimes, the other two vectors don’t align with it. And so, therefore, you don’t have meaningful adoption and, therefore, no meaningful disruption. It becomes an interesting experiment that fizzles off quickly. But if the other two come through, that’s when you start seeing sort of industries being online video calls, cloud computing, the new generation of AI, the emergence of technologies that are now revolutionizing FinTech to MarTech to consumer choices to what have you. So that’s the way I parse and think about disruption at large.

Importance of Simplicity in Innovation

Ryan Davies:  I mean, what an incredible overview there to be able to divide it. Like you said, just kind of compartmentalize into how to define it, and sort of what it is, what it means from that perspective. The key principles, I guess, are values that define disruption, right? So I mean, with all of that, I guess, the approach behind it, I know your approach with Uno.ai and with other things that you’ve done before has been around, be bold, but be simplistic, right? That’s a very key element to success in terms of being disruptive, but it doesn’t mean revolutionizing every aspect. It means being simplistic and defined in your approach for that. Maybe speak to us a little bit about that philosophy as well about, you know, how to be both of those things. That’s quite a line to walk, but I think that’s what you’ve sort of mastered at this stage, like you said, over two decades of being able to rein in the expectations but still be enough to challenge the status quo and really accomplish something.

Shashank:  Yeah, absolutely. Excellent question. Something that I have kind of slowly learned, I would say, over these two decades of experience. And I’m still learning. I don’t think that you can master that, so to speak. It’s a journey again, something that you sort of keep sharpening until it gets to a point where you’re able to avoid at least some of the mistakes you’ve made in the past and maybe make some new mistakes. So, the way to think about this is anything that needs. Again, value capture, the second axis, if you may, out of the three that I was talking about from a bold disruption standpoint, needs to be approachable, easy to manage, and easy to understand. So if somebody, whatever that thing is, say a video call that we are engaging in, let’s take this as an example. If I needed to read a five-page manual, forget even a 50-page one, but a five-page manual, and I had to go through a little training before I could use this new technology that is available for us to take advantage of, there’s a good chance I might be reluctant actually to do it. As humans, we are generally lazy, right? Also, we are hesitant to change our behavior and habits because, for some reason, they work. The status quo works, which is why the status quo and changing the status quo is so hard for just about anything, right? And so if the friction is higher, if there is complexity in adopting anything or interacting with anything, what you’re really doing is you’re not allowing or giving that particular interesting innovation or interesting piece that you build a chance to even be out there in the wild. Forget whether it is succeeding or failing. Success and failure are still further down the line, but you’re not even enabling it enough to have meaningful experimentation around it. You’re deliberately making it difficult so that fewer and fewer people would want even to sign up to go anywhere. You know, give it a try, right? So that’s the very first piece of the puzzle of keeping things abstractions and Keeping things from a user standpoint. It’s as simple as possible now. Doing that is extremely hard, you know, but it’s important and interesting, and yes, it can be theoretically discussed. But doing that is where I think the biggest challenge comes in because most of these innovations are by design, right by Their very sort of, you know, DNA. The way they are built is complex. They’re just many moving parts of their puzzle. Think about, again, space travel, modern vehicles, or even technology that is enabling us to do business on a daily basis. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. There are multiple pieces of this puzzle. There are multiple points of failure within those pieces of the puzzle. There’s a lot of interdependency. There’s a lot of complexity in terms of the availability of different layers of resources that need to come together in the right way and at the right time. So, there is a lot of entropy. There is a lot of complexity in these complex systems, in this bold sort of innovative systems. The fact is that it needs sort of a simpler abstraction on top of it for it to become widely adopted and for it to have a chance to go out there and succeed and really kind of allow humans and allow people to capture the value out of it. The classic example of this would be, again, online commerce. There’s so much going on behind the scenes, but the shopper doesn’t need to worry about it or even care about it. All they do is, hey, I look through catalogs or search through it and click a button here and click a button there, and I’m able to buy that, and it gets delivered to my house. And so, it has been simplified in terms of usability. It has been simplified in terms of expectations. It has been simplified in terms of expected sort of behavior or different paths that interaction could take. That simplicity is what is allowing people to double down on it trust it, and do more with it. Whereas behind the scenes, there’s so much going on, you know, there’s the complexity of the online commerce systems, there’s the very complex sort of inventory management and warehousing and cataloging and search and what have you, you know, sort of going on behind the scenes. Then there’s a complex logistics that really finally gets that thing procured on one side and then delivered on the other side. So there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes. But again, the users are blind to it, and in fact, nine out of 10 people probably don’t even know about it and don’t care to know about it. And so that’s where the disruption elements being successful has to have an element of simplicity as a very key tenet, as a very important piece of the puzzle. If you make it complex, you’re just sort of killing your own beautiful idea. So that’s where I come in from. And I’ve seen this happen over the last two decades, with my own sort of different, interesting, more enterprise-focused companies. But you certainly have seen this technology evolve over a period of time, and they have been category-defining companies, where simplicity is what allowed those innovations to succeed. And that’s what really clicked with the end user. In these cases, the business users are enterprise users and B2B users, but it was easier, and in fact, most of the time, it was actually easier and simpler than the status quo. Right, they had to do like seven steps to accomplish a certain task, and you know, with this new innovation, Which was bolder, which was taking on, unlocking newer possibilities was actually involving five or sometimes involving even two right and so not only that it was simple. It was actually simpler than the status quo. So now, if you do an apples-to-apples comparison, you’re looking at a new technology that is allowing you to do five new things with three fewer steps. Think of it that way. That’s where the magic happens. That’s where your product really starts getting the right feedback loop. Of course, if your product is something that solves a key problem that the world is struggling with, then you’ve got success out there. You’ve got good companies in the making.

User-Centric Design Philosophy

Ryan: That’s absolutely a perfect product development philosophy and how to look at things. Again, building that simplicity into it where simple is oversimplifying it from a term perspective because, as you said, it’s so incredibly complex, but it needs to portray simplicity. You mentioned in there the prioritization of user-centric design as part of that product development process. When it comes to that, again, you’ve traveled this road before many times. How do you get that feedback that creates that user-centric design process? Is it a lot to start with personal and small-scale testing? Is there a feedback loop that you use and build that in to help with that simplicity and standard? I know, again, that a lot of our listeners may be at an MVP stage approach right now where you really want to test that simplicity and that step and then continuously upscale it. So, tell us a little bit about that from that user-centric side of things.

Shashank:Yeah, absolutely. You make a very good point. In fact, you bring up two ideas that I want to dig a little deeper Into: one is the idea of experimentation, and the other one is, you know, user-centric design and user feedback. I’m actually one of those folks who believe in the school of ruthless prioritization, not just prioritization but ruthless prioritization, and the reason I say that is when you start a company, especially if you’re an early-stage company, the odds in every certain dimension are against you. You have fewer people, you have less time, you have less money, you have less of your history and credibility and in terms of the new company that you’re building. So essentially, you’ve got to make the most out of the limited resources and the limited sort of things that you can really affect, things that you can take advantage of. So in that worldview where you have scarce resources, and you want maximum output, maximum leverage out of those scarce resources. The one philosophy that has worked beautifully for me, and I’ve become a huge believer of that, and that’s how we did it even in the most recent company, the latest one that I’m 24 by 7 on, Uno.ai, is to speak to the users first. So usually, the process is most companies, most founders, most even execs in companies that are expanding onto new product lines, first try to come up with an idea. Then, they would conceive the idea and build a prototype, and then they would talk to the users and say, hey, here’s the prototype. Here’s what we are trying to do. What do you think? The problem with that approach is that you have gone with a solution-first approach. Therefore, you’ve already colored the canvas, if you may. I want to kind of stretch that analogy a little bit more, that metaphor. If you’ve already put blue paint on your canvas, there are only so many different colors that are going to go with it. You’re not allowing the freedom, the creativity of beautiful art to be developed out of it. And you’ve constrained yourself. So that’s where most of the problem starts.

On the contrary, if you really went with the intention of exploration, I’m going to learn and this is what we did, by the way, with Uno AI. We have a fantastic solution. We were one of the first few who thought of the cybersecurity copilot, which has become widely popular. This was back in 2021, a year before all this ChatGPT and other stuff that became commonplace. So, it was not in common lingo. People weren’t talking about copilot. But what I must confess, and what I want to share here so that other people also see this, is we didn’t lock ourselves in the room for three days and brainstormed and came out thinking, aha, we’ve got the cybersecurity copilot. This is what we’ve got to build. It didn’t happen like that. Not at all. In fact, it was the opposite of that. What we did was we didn’t know what we wanted to build. We had an inkling of what might be possible with these technologies, but we don’t have it in the shape, form, or in the way that it’s finally manifested. What we did was we said, well, let’s not talk about the solution at all because the solution is going to, again, paint that blue color canvas already. So we wanted to absolutely avoid that because having made that mistake in the past. We said we’d go to all these CISOs and CIOs out there in the wild. Everybody in our network, everybody that we got introduced to, everybody that we had done business with in the past, everybody else who basically gave us an audience, and we said we would go and try to learn about their problems and keep it simple. Because again, it cannot be a problem that is so wide and so complex that the conversations get lost because you need some signal out of it. So keep it simple and ask them some simple questions purely with the intention of learning. Say, hey, where’s the demand? Where’s the white space, really? So we would go and ask those questions. And we would ask them questions by saying, hey, if I give you a magic wand, this is quite literally the question I would ask a lot of the CISOs. So hey, if I give you a magic wand, what is that one thing you would like to do with it? It would be interesting. That would, Alice, set some interesting responses. Most of them would come back by, I would like to solve this problem or that problem. Here is where the biggest puzzle is. I don’t even know if there’s one thing. I’ve got seven things that are broken. Stuff like that. That would help me learn and understand about. What is the priority for them? What are they really struggling with? Where is the gap? Why do they even need something that potentially we are thinking of? And then, you need to do this in small iterations and small cycles and do it in very fast loops, kind of accelerated small cycles, if you may. At some point in time, once you have enough feedback, of course, that cycle needs to be with a prototype. So, that prototype cycle is the fourth phase of the cycle or something or the fifth phase of the cycle. The first one is pure exploration, where you fine-tune that some more gone to either the same audience or some newer audience, and again, check back in terms of, hey, does this make sense? This is what I heard from you. This is what you are telling me. Is this what you’re telling me? So, please confirm. So, if I were to build a model, and I’m trying to build it as we speak, there’s an exploration phase. And there’s a confirmation phase. It’s like, hey, I explored something. Does it sound right? And that’s where the experimentation phase starts off. The experimentation phase is also like three sub-phases, where the first one is concept experimentation. You go back and say, hey, what if I solved it like this? You basically told a story. You see how the story is received. And the sprinkling in the eyes after the story, well, you know your story’s got something. Right now, you’re going to build out the characters and build a whole movie around it, but if nobody took the story, well, you know that it fell flat for whatever reason. The problem is real. The solution isn’t and so then you iterate a bit more on your story. And that’s where you start giving it more, add more meat to it, where you start talking about, OK, here’s a prototype. That’s when you can sign up a design partner, and it takes off. From there on, it’s a journey. Then, you can start looking at an MVP, and you can start looking at tangible customers and then grow the company. So that process is very important. I feel that the whole process of exploration, confirmation, and experimentation is what really allows, I think, the most interesting products to come out, really out of the customers, really out of the users, out of the community, out of the world out there. And so I think that’s something that innovation is highly misunderstood, so I felt because I was like that too. If you asked me this question two decades back, I would have told you the reverse story. I would have said, hey, I need to hire two extremely creative people. Then, we locked ourselves in a room on a mountain and brainstormed for three days, drew a town on the whiteboard, and came out with that aha moment. I would have said that. But over the years, I learned that that’s not the right way to do it. The world has also learned it. That’s where a lot of this user-centric design, a lot of early feedback, becomes more and more real. And then, last but not least, how do you do it in an interesting way? I really mean it quite deliberately when I say that is because the attention spans and the amount of energy that people have to give you is very small. The reason for that is in modern society, and all of us could empathize with it, there’s too much going on for each one of us. In professional and personal lives, there’s just so much going on a daily basis that it’s hard to show the same level of energy to everything. We allocate energy to things that we actually find exciting. Everybody has various reasons to get excited. Some people get excited because of this newer possibility of technology. Some really get excited because there is something that we have been struggling with for a long period of time, and now it’s getting solved. Some people are also very intrigued and excited because the story is compelling. It sounds interesting. We all like interesting things in life. It has the aura and appeal around them. I would encourage everyone to do that. We do that on a daily basis, even today. We’ve come a little further along from when we were doing all of this actively a couple of years back. But even today, that’s the most important piece. This is what really will allow us to iterate and learn and grow and succeed because we want people to be bought into this mission. The way they’re buying into the mission both ways. It doesn’t mean that they all have to be believers, but even people who are skeptical about a certain technology are also excellent people to get involved because they are still excited in a way. They’re curious. They want to challenge it. And sometimes you need them as well. In fact, not sometimes. You need them all the time because then you get both balanced perspectives. So that’s what I would say. That’s been my learning and journey. I encourage everyone to speak to the user today. If you’re thinking of building a company three months out, We’ll speak to the user today.

Importance of Validation and Conviction

Ryan: There’s so much to take away here and unpack, and we’re going to have to obviously have you back and maybe even your own podcast at this stage because, holy crow, there is so much that you could shed on, like you’re a perfect guest for our audience being able to break all of this down. I know we’ve already run over time. I’ve already stolen more of your time than I said I would, but at this time, I still want to close off with a little bit more here by looking ahead, right? If you were an aspiring entrepreneur, I’m sure you get this all the time: people ask you for advice or ask you, based on your experiences and what you’ve learned, what would you offer? So, key lessons regarding building these disruptive, scalable companies or advice that you would offer to a founder who’s looking for a little bit more to guide them on the right path.

Shashank:  Thank you. Well, firstly, thanks again for your kind words; they were very generous of you. I’ve also been having a lot of fun in this conversation, and surely, we’ll find time to have more of this. In terms of advice, firstly, I’m very glad to be of help in any and every way because it’s something that I also learned from others. It’s my moment to give back in whatever small way that I can. I come across every entrepreneur, and I come across many, as you mentioned, for various reasons. My advice is usually divided into two categories. The first is about validation. I always ask every entrepreneur to say, hey, if you’re excited about something, spend a little energy validating it. And when I say validation, validate it at multiple levels. Validate whether you will get enough people to go with you on that journey. You’re on a quest to climb a peak. Well, make sure you’ve got a team who’s ready to go with you on that journey. Go and validate where, of course, there’s a market opportunity and you’re solving a real problem. Goes without saying, which will come out of user conversations and customer conversations. The third thing is to validate for yourself. Do you have the conviction? What I mean by that is a lot of us can get excited about a project. It’s always fun to start a new project. I cannot imagine anybody in this world who wouldn’t be excited about a new thing, a new project, or a new beginning. Because that’s just, again, being very human. As humans, we like new beginnings. We like strong beginnings. The problem isn’t this beginning. The problem is the day seven of the journey, or the day 25 of the journey, or the day 257 of the journey. That’s when you’ve got to ask this question one more time. Is, hey, am I still enthused and excited, given that I’ve had some wins, but I’ve also had all these scars that I’ve collected along, and things that I anticipated, but they’re not really coming through? So the way I’ve been able to do try to think about that and help people reason through it. Validate that early on. Now, how will you validate that? Because it’s a tough one. You haven’t seen day 257. How do you know if you’ll be excited then or not? But this is where you can step back as a person because you know yourself best. This is I’m talking to anyone, a new entrepreneur who wants to embark on a journey. Step back and think about what’s important for you. What do you value? Why do you value what you value? What do patience and persistence, grit, and wanting to achieve certain pieces mean for you? How badly do you want it? Why do you want it? What are the motivators? And if the motivators are more superficial, like if the motivator is, hey, I want to become rich overnight, well, it’s a tricky one. Think again because there’s a very high probability you’re not going to become rich overnight. So, if you think of it mathematically, well, you’re embarking on something that you already know at the starting point that your chance is very low. Do something else. If that’s the goal. There are other ways of achieving it. Pursue those because there are higher probabilities there. But if the goal is, I want to go on this mission because I want to accomplish it for myself. I want to learn and make this happen. Well, then it’s a slightly different motivation, but there, again, you have to figure out, is it momentarily? Is it something that you’ll stick with for a longer period of time? Definitely validate at large. Validate all of these. Validate whether you’ve got a team of other people believing in you and your idea. Validate that the idea has got legs and validate in your own conviction. So that is very important, first part. Then, the second part is to break that big puzzle, the big goal you have, into something more tangible for here and now. And this is, again, nothing new. Most people talk about it. It’s important to have a big vision, by the way. If you don’t have a big vision, you’ll get lost. That’s just how it is. It’s, again, taking the analogy of mountain climbing. If you don’t know you have to summit the peak, you could be walking in the wilderness for your life. So you’ve got to have a vision. Like, hey, that’s the peak. The peak is the goal. I’ve got to get there. But having said that, your target has to be the next base camp. You can’t be over worrying about the peak. Because if you over-worry about the peak, you’ll tire yourself out. You’ve got multiple base camps to go through before you can even think about the peak. You don’t see it. It’s far away. It’s up there in the clouds, and so if you go base camp by base camp, saying, well, I need to reach this base camp at this time. Then, of course, use some standard things. I’m a big believer in two concepts: acceleration and momentum. I just love those. The faster you try to go toward the next base camp, the sooner you learn whether you’re ready to go to the further base camps upstream or not. That becomes one of the good validation points. If you pick momentum, if you do your first couple of base camps quickly, well, then it allows you to scale the more treacherous ones with more confidence because now you have built some momentum, some confidence, that your team is also enthused by this positive energy to come along with you. So that’s the key part that you’ve got to build around. Validation is on one front, and the second front is taking the big vision. Be excited about it, but break it down into more here and now. What is it that I want to target, by when, and go fast at it with full conviction?

Closing Thoughts and Invitation

Ryan:  I mean, there’s so much to unpack there. That is just absolutely wonderful advice. I love that analogy, too. I mean, honestly, I think climbing Mount Everest is probably easier than starting a successful company with the way that it goes and the amount of risk and the amount of beatings you take and everything else. But everything from the preparation, the training, the goal setting, the vision, it’s all such a great analogy. It builds it all together there. That is an unbelievable place to wrap. This episode is up. I don’t think that we’re done. We’re going to have a lot more to talk about here. but for this episode, before we go, Shashank, I want just to have you invite our audience how to get in contact with you a little bit more, maybe about you, Uno.ai as well, just to really kind of tie it all together because our listeners are probably already, you know, scratching to get to get more from you and be able to connect with you. So, how are they able to do so?

Shashank: Absolutely. Well, firstly, thanks again for having me on the show, Ryan. And definitely, we’ll find time to chat more. I’ve enjoyed this and love this as much. The best way to reach out to me is on LinkedIn. I’m most active there. Although I do have a Twitter account, I rarely tweet. So you’ll not see me actively responding there. So you can find my full name, Shashank Tiwari. You can search that up on LinkedIn as well. So you can find me there. Send me a note, connect with me, ask me questions. I’m very happy to be of help if I can. You can also find me via my company’s website, which is uno.ai. That’s a short, easy-to-remember uno.ai. So you can find out more about us there. Thanks again for the opportunity to tell not only our story but also what we have accomplished with Uno.ai. So we’re about a two-year-old company. We started in the fall of 2021. We are the original creators of this idea of a copilot. We, of course, focused on the intersection of AI and cybersecurity. It’s a cybersecurity copilot. And what this really does is it’s a force multiplier. Every cybersecurity team is struggling to increase their skill gap and do more things with less. This is what makes that happen, and if you go on the website, you will be able to dig in and learn a bit more about all the interesting, cool things we are trying to bring together with generative AI and knowledge graphs along with, of course, combining that with a lot of the cyber defense and offense strategies that come into play.

Ryan:  Incredible, that is great. definitely reach out and check out uno.ai as well to get more information. Shashank, thank you again so much for being here for our final minute to thank Shashank for this amazing podcast. It’s a truly amazing podcast episode about bold innovation-building disruptive tech companies. Thank you again for being here. I am indebted to you, and our audience is absolutely going to love and continue to re-listen to this episode as well. So, thank you again for your time today. Really appreciate it.

Shashank:  Thank you very much.

Ryan Davies:  Excellent. And, of course, to our listeners, another genuine thank you. We can’t do what we do without you. So until we meet again with another amazing TBR episode, I’m your host, Ryan Davies. Thanks, everybody, for listening and taking care.

About Our Host and Guest

Director of Marketing – Ekwa.Tech & Ekwa Marketing
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Co-Founder & CEO @ uno.ai
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“Validate whether you will get enough people to go with you on that journey. You’re on a quest to climb a peak.”

– Shashank Tiwari –