Instacart

If you don’t already know, Instacart is a same day grocery delivery service operating in multiple cities in the United States. Founded in 2012 by Apurva Mehta, this startup is one of the major players in the 1099 economy (on demand employees) after Uber and Lyft. With a Series C funding round of $220 million, Instacart joined the unicorn list in December last year with a valuation of $2 billion.

Instacarrot :)

This is all good, but you must be thinking why Instacart, and why now. Well I watched this video last night; it is 23 mins long, and is from the Startup School NY 2014 event hosted by Y Combinator. If you want to watch the video you can skip reading further and watch it below. But if you don’t the time, let me summarize its content.

Apurva Mehta shares his story on he went on from working as a Fulfillment Optimization SDE (supply chain engineer ?) at Amazon to founding Instacart. Well the story goes like this… he was working at Amazon, but wanted to start a company, so he quit his job, left Seattle, moved to San Fransciso, couchsurfed at his friends, and kept building product after product until he created Instacart, and later got it incubated and accelerated with Y Combinator. Cool story ah? I like it. I think it resonates well with the pattern of the current generation entrepreneurs. So here’s the video… and I hope that you like it too.

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A. R. Rahman, live

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a A.R. Rahman’s event, in live. Yeah I know, it was super amazing. I was psyched the whole day before, and planned really well to be there on time. Considering this event was early in the morning, I did have to plan :).

ARR Q&A

This was mostly a Q&A with Rahman and in the end, he performed. Yay! And it was not Jai Ho. Yay, yay! (I don’t think it was his best score). He performed the title score of Bombay. Yay^3! This tune is one of my all time favorites. I find this tune very soothing. If you don’t remember it or want to hear it again, here you go…

He did look tired though (he had a concert the night before and mentioned he slept at 4.30 am), but was calm, fuuny, talked about how comes up with his tunes, the school he founded in Chennai, his inspiration, and he also mentioned that while did know how to sing in Hindi, he couldn’t speak the language. Surprised?

ARR performing

Overall the event was pretty mellow, and I was super excited just to be able to see him live. Him performing was a bonus. My excitement was actually palpable, and it took me took me non-trivial amount of time to shake off that buzz after the event.

If you are interested you can watch the entire talk here. Have fun!

Product Hunt

Did you ever visit the site Product Hunt? I don’t exactly remember when, but I discovered this site 3-4 months ago, and right now I visit it everyday. This site is basically a platform where the best new products are surfaced every day. A user here can create collections of his favorite products or categorize them. Now one of things I really like about this site is that the developers/makers of the site interact with the users, and more often than not there are some very interesting conversations happening around.

Now not all users can comment on the site. You need to be really active on social media discussing about the products on this platform or be a maker of a product to get commenting access. I still don’t have commenting access, but if you do and could send me an invite, when we meet the first round of beer is on me :).

Product Hunt

This company was founded in November, 2013 by Ryan Hoover. Its been around for 18 months now, and has received $7.5 million in funding. It is backed up Y-Combinator, Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, the famous ones from a big list of investors. It has a very good Alexa ranking (3836) too.

I discovered some interesting products from first time founders on this site, and I also have seen products from the big firms surface on here as well. For instance I found out about WhatsApp for the web, and Facebook’s Messenger for the web on this platform first.

That’s all I have to say, so why don’t you go hunt for some good products now.

Meeting the worlds happiest man

This week I attended a talk by Matthieu Ricard, widely known as the worlds happiest man (also he is a Buddhist Monk with around 60 thousand hours of meditation under his belt). So the story goes like this… Matthieu participated in a study conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison on happiness, and he happened to score significantly above the average of hundreds of other volunteers.

Coming back, this talk was around the topic Altruism, and he is touring currently promoting the book with the same name.

Altruism

The talk was nice and from what I remember he never mentioned his book. He mostly talked about how being nice to people around you is the easiest way to achieve happiness, and most of his slides were test results from different studies backing up what he was saying. Fun fact, Matthieu has the record for spending most time meditating under an MRI.

After the talk he guided us through a 30 minute meditation session, and later held a brief Q&A session. After this I bought his book, and later got it signed. We had a brief conversation which went something like this…

him: Hello.

me: Hello. Could you please sign your book?

him: Sure. Your name?

me: I show him my name on my id.

him: Sundeep! Which part of India are you from?

me: Hyderabad, down south.

him: . Here you go.

to Sundeep with heart - Matthieu

to Sundeep with heart – Matthieu

me: Can I also take a picture with you?

him: Sure.

with Matthieu

me: Thank you. can I get a hug too?

Hugging him was nice; I had this feeling of calm. After that I started walking back, when I ran into Meng. Now Meng is a super awesome guy, and I always wanted to meet him. To those of you who don’t know Meng, he is the writer of the book Search Inside Yourself.

Search Inside Yourself

So I say hi to him, introduce myself and tell him that I attended his SIY classes. I hug him too, and then got a picture.

with Meng

To summarize it was a pretty fun day. Walking in I wasn’t sure what to expect. The idea of meeting the worlds happiest man was very exciting. And when we did meet him, it was a pleasant surprise to see that he did talk the same language as we did (science and logic). And at the end of it all, I walked away smiling, with a new book and story to write.

Edit (June 15, 2015): This talk is on Youtube now. Please find the link below to the talk, and the guided meditation that followed it.

Talk

Guided Meditation

Okay Google, who is the God of …

Today I discovered something exciting on Google now. I was talking about Google’s NLP and Voice search libraries with a few of my co-workers when one of them asked me to try this query on Google Now, and so I did.

The query was

Who is the God of cricket?

And if you already haven’t guessed this was the result.

God of cricket

Don’t trust me? Why don’t you give it a try.