April 18, 2022

Abhi Maran | On Making a Career in Venture Capital

Abhi Maran | On Making a Career in Venture Capital

Abhi Maran is an Investment Analyst @ Folklore Ventures.

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Content
00:00 Intro
00:55 Abhi's University Experience
07:32 What different strategies do VC funds have?
10:40 The difference startup experience makes as a VC
13:06 Skills You Need to Be a VC in Australia
18:03 How does Abhi upskill himself as a VC
21:14 What is Deep Tech?
23:05 Where does Abhi go to learn about new technologies?
24:18 What is Abhi's advice for people thinking about learning in public?
26:56 Abhi on DAO Under
30:59 Where does DAO Meet Community?
33:48 Advice for people discovering web3?
37:34 Who does Abhi look up to?
39:17 Abhi's advice for Graduates
42:23 Where to connect with Abhi
43:24 Outro

Transcript
Abhi:

I think that's, that's super important and that's like a lifelong journey, to be honest, it's just always reading, finding people's perspectives on things, challenging perspectives on things and like challenging your own perspective on things as well.

James:

hello and welcome to graduate theory. My guest today is an investment analyst at folklore ventures and out of hours. He's a co-founder of web three group called Dow under he's the co-founder of brown baddies. She is an NFT collection representing a south Asian women. In the metaverse and he's also a writer it's super fluid, which is his tech newsletter focus on web three and deep tech. Please. Welcome to the show Abbey.

Abhi:

thanks, James.

James:

Thanks so much for coming on the show today, man. I'm excited to dive into your experience. Three university often university and all this different, interesting stuff that you're working on outside of work. But I'd love to start with your university experience and kind of, you mentioned a storyteller. Before we spoke about kind of your thoughts as you were going through university, kind of, what was your, what did you study when you first started at Dawn to union and kind of, what was your process as you went through your degree?

Abhi:

Yeah. Well firstly, thanks for having me. It's an absolute privilege to be on your podcast. I'm a massive fan of your work and really awesome to see what, what you'll do in the future. And hopefully I can play a small part in that, but yeah, I mean, I mean, I started uni back in 2015. So started off. Bachelor actuarial studies did that for a couple of years and honestly was pretty bored by it. It was like pretty stats heavy. And like, even though I really loved mats, it just sort of like always felt like an arm's length away from like practical applications. And so I ended up just dropping that and sticking with my applied finance degree and ended up graduating. Mid 2018. While, so I was at uni, I ran like a small tutoring company was president of the student society and did like a few leadership things here and there, but always sort of had like an entrepreneurial itch. Even from when I was like a kids, I did like the paper on when I was like 10 or something like that and saved up and invested that money into McQuarry group shares and started like always into investing and like starting random side businesses. And that's what. And so straight off to uni, I really wanted to get into startups, but at the time, to be honest with you, and this is like mid 2018, so not too long ago, but the startup ecosystem in Australia was like pretty underdeveloped from like a entry role perspective. Like I think they were like, Senior Trish roles or like, roles for people who, who had been in the ecosystem for like a couple of years, but from like just people pure straight out of uni, I felt it, it was harder to get in. And so I ended up going down the corporate route for a couple of years, working for a company called Cambridge associates. And so there, I effectively just worked with Institutional investors. So like super funds, family offices, endowments foundations to structure their investment portfolios. So these are portfolios with about, you know, anywhere from a hundred mils. To about two, 3 billion in AUM. And so it was just investing those assets across all asset classes. And so whilst I was that, got to know that a lot more about the funds management industry and asset management as a whole. And so. One of my favorite things in that role was just meeting different fund managers and meeting people and, and understanding how they see the world. And especially the VC ones were always interesting. And so that's actually where I met my boss at the moment Alice Coleman. And so he, he, he came to Cambridge one day when I just started, actually, it was like, really. And he came in, pitched a 10th as partners was, was the fund name before folklore. And so really liked what he had to say then. But unfortunately, like we didn't invest in the fund at the time and that's like one of the things that I didn't really like about that role was like, we'd meet a lot of people, but not make a lot of investments. And these were people doing like some really interesting strategies, but the problem there is like, if you try something new, then you're almost penalized. If it doesn't work out It was just like a mindset that I didn't really appreciate. Just coming from like an entrepreneurial background or just even mindset really. And so did that for two and a half years. And then at the start of 2021, I was just like really disillusioned with it. And ended up just And so just before I quit, I spoke to about 30 startup founders just to sort of see if they had a role because I saw the startup ecosystem was a lot more developed now. Easier to get into. And so just sort of took that route. But before I did that, I actually had an interview with the folklore for an investment associate role. And the feedback from that interview was like, you know, you're really enthusiastic about this stuff. You understand what VC is, but you don't have startup experience or figure out a way to get that and would happy to w we'd love to sort of have you as part of the folklore team, That's sort of like spurred me to go and meet these startup founders and talk to them and understand like what I could potentially do for them. So I talked to 30 people few few were just sort of like me reaching out and understanding like where I might play in the ecosystem broadly. And then a couple were sort of like very targeted in terms of like, oh, I really want to work for this company. And so one of those was a it was a company called. Which is an early stage FinTech business based in Sydney. And so what they do is. It's kind of like cash rewards, but instead of getting cash back, every time you purchase something, you get a shares in the business that you purchased with. So for example, if you buy something that Willy's, you get X percent of your order back in really stock, which is I think a pretty novel way of sort of getting on the investing ladder. And it helps people become more financially literate, which is something that's you know, I think. Close to my heart in terms of helping people do that. I think it's really important to be in control of your finances. And this is like one way that I saw could that could do it. And so work there in like a pretty. A wide ranging role. So did anything from product to B2B sales and everything in between. And so I was there for about five months. But during that time, the folklore team reached out and said, Hey, we've got like a more entry entry level role into VC if you'd be keen. And so that was the investment analyst position. And sort of, I just sort of jumped at that since working in VC was, was the logical for, for a while, but yeah. That, that was like a joint joined the team mid mid June, 2021. And so I've been a part of folklore. 10 months. We're an early stage VC investor investing for the long run. We've got a team of about 18 people, eight of them investors, 10 operators. And so we really love to partner with businesses early and partner with them for the long run. So supporting, supporting them with whatever they need, really. So we've got a portfolio for about 18 companies now and looking to deploy our third fund, which is Yeah, like pretty, pretty exciting time. So we've made a fair few investments out of that recently. And so I've been involved in that process and it's been an awesome start to my career in VC, I guess. Yeah. That's where we are today.

James:

Yeah. Cool coats. Yeah. That's a pretty extensive background than yourself. It's nasty. Like, it was good to hear all that different stuff that you up on it. Yeah. A lot of questions yeah. What you do and things like that. I mean, Some are just books start off kind of randomly, but just around the VC space generally. I've a few questions. So some of them, you kind of, I'm just going to ask you that what differentiates some of the VC funds and you kind of answered that a little bit and yours is more like really early stage for the long run. I mean, what are some alternative strategies that like a VC company might have.

Abhi:

Yeah, sir. So there are a fair few different strategies that people employ. So for us, like we, we like to partner really early on sometimes at ideation stage and, and really support entrepreneurs in their goal. Other people like to play in the latest stages, so maybe series beyond woods. And so, what they do, they're more maybe latest stage investors slash growth equity investors. And so, they've launched, they've probably got bigger fund sizes, can deploy a lot more capital, but More risk of us. And so don't play in the early stages where it's a lot more riskier. So that's one strategy. Another strategy is sort of like spreading your bets really wide and investing in a lot of startups are, like I said, we've got 18 companies in our portfolio. Our funds tend to be fairly concentrated, but we take pretty hefty bets in all of, all of our companies. And so we have high conviction. These are the right companies to back. Other funds might spread their bets, invest in 30 to 50 to maybe a hundred, a hundred companies in the portfolios. And so those funds sort of, go for an optionality strategy. So do a small investment at the start and then try and follow on in subsequent rounds to maintain their ownership, stake, or scale it up as the startup starts hitting milestones and things like that. And then some funds are just like pure investment funds. And so we'll just have investors in their tamp. Others, like, like folklore will be, we'll have more of a service model and we'll have like a large ops team to support the startups. So for example, we've got a head of people in culture, so she helps our early stage startups sort of. The HR systems and programs and that sort of thing whilst also looking after our internal ones as well, but it's just like a nice value add that we can sort of give to us startups. We've also got like a financial controller, head of growth community and marketing associate. PIs or like we've got a fair few number of people who are all really talented in that individual fields who are literally that to help support a portfolio companies in whatever they need, as well as internal, but largely for portfolio companies.

James:

Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, I'd add, I didn't know that about VC companies and kind of yeah. That, even that ops side of things yeah, I thought it was mostly just the, just like, you know, invest in Ron kind of thing, but no, that's, that's good to hear that there's that collaboration as well.

Abhi:

Yeah. It's like an interesting shift that's happening in VC now is to sort of like pursue this full service model. So like, I think for people who aren't of an investing background, you should definitely consider like the other parts of VC. To look into that might be interesting. It's sort of like semi sort of consulting style, I guess, because you're working with different portfolio companies, but you're also, you also have like your main company to sort of support as well. And so I think it's like an interesting, like, those are all really interesting roles where you get a bit of variety, but also a lot of stability that you might not find at a startup that's like continually growing. But yeah, like it's, it's it, th those are all like, really amazing roles and they're all like super high impact as well.

James:

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And you mentioned that like, when you were applying for this position, you're in now, like they kind of said, Hey, you don't have SOC experience. That would be really helpful in doing this. Do you think now that you have that, can you say the difference between, so like someone that perhaps wouldn't have that experience, but as is having.

Abhi:

Yeah, it's a, it's a really good question. And so there's a bit of debate around this in terms of like, whether you're a better investor, if you've had that experience. So whether you're a better investor, if you haven't done it. And like, I really don't know the right answer, but for me, like how. Experience at ups street has really helped one from like an empathy perspective. So like, I can understand the struggles set in early stage founder would be going through, but also to just being able to sort of see like the product management approaches that were taken like the B2B sales side, like these sorts of like little tidbits or insights really help when sort of making decisions on whether you should back a company. So for example, like at ups trade, some of the sales pro sale sales cycles were really long and we were dealing with like large, large companies to come onto the platform. And so what that sort of taught me, like it really gave me firsthand experience that, you know, dealing with these large companies is like an uphill battle for a startup. Like they're not going to be willing to sort of just. You know, sign the contract and then help you do whatever you want. You're going to have to sell to them for like three, four or five months. And it's going to be like a pretty arduous battle to get them over the line. But when you do, like, it's a really good thing, but to get there is like really tough. And so like, you know, when, when. Portfolio companies undergo that same struggle then like, I can say, Hey, like, you can do this, you can do that. Like try this sort of approach. Or even when I'm looking at a new company, then it's like easier for me to understand what are the uncertainties with their business? Like who, who is their core customer persona? And like, what would the sales cycles look like? And so there's like a few like little insights and tidbits that working at a startup sort of like gave me an insight into. And so like it's helped me analyze other businesses, businesses, and then also like help help our own portfolio companies or anyone really in the. Like we do office hours, people sort of come up and say, Hey, like, I'm really struggling with this. And they're not portfolio companies. They're just found this out in the wild. And we just like to help wherever possible. And so it's like, come in handy that like a few times it's kinda surprising, but yeah, it was a good experience for me to go through.

James:

Yeah, that's good to hear that. It was well worth it. I think I could do that. You've got some application out of it. I'm curious to like, kind of extend that question and then say, yeah, that was a really great experience. Like what other traits and skills perhaps do you think would really benefit that will like someone going into VC at, in these kinds of roles that kind of would be nice to have essential perhaps.

Abhi:

Yeah. Yeah. So I think what people don't realize is that being a VC is kind of like a sales. You're like prospecting for companies. You're nurturing leads like it's very sales focused. Like you have to sell. The firm that you're working at. So like, I, I have to sort of like, you know, when when I'm whenever I'm talking to founders, like we sort of like sell ourselves as like really good investors. And my sales pitch is like pretty similar to what I said before. Like, we've got 18 stuff. Like we love partnering with companies like really early on. And so like, that's my pitch to founders. And I think that's like a pretty, pretty compelling offering. But you sort of have to like talk to a lot of people. Not everyone will want that. And so it's, it's like talking to a lot of people and so, you know, like I think people in sales roles. Would would probably do pretty well in BC. If you've got a bit of investing knowledge or now S that that definitely helps. So I think that's one thing that people probably miss out being in VC. And especially if you're not at one of the brand name VCs, then it's even harder to sort of get people to come and take your money. And so, like being a really good sales person is super important. I think another thing. That people don't necessarily think of is probably just like a building, like a public presence of being like super accessible for people to like come up to you and ask you for help. And so this was like one of the first things I'll told me when I, when I joined folklore and he was kinda like, you know, you have to be really accessible to people. And I was like, oh, what does that mean? It's like, well, you've got to have a public presence. You've got to, you've got a. You know, like right in public, you, you've got to tweet, you've got to like talk to people, like just be at events and things like that. And so like, it can get a bit overwhelming if you're like a private person. Like, I was a pretty private person before all of this, but I've sort of had to push that away and like embrace being in public and being like super accessible for literally anyone to sort of get in contact with me and ask me stuff, or like, you know, pick my brain about something or even just approach me to. You know, brainstorm stuff like being accessible is super important as a VC. And, you know, you, you want to be as I've been in the ecosystem as possible. And so I think that's something that can be done without being a VC as well. Like you can talk to. On LinkedIn on Twitter or wherever it is, right. You can go to events, you can build your own name in the ecosystem. And I think that's something that people can get started with literally today, if they go to the next event or even if they start tweeting about stuff, to be honest, like that's a really easy, low barrier way to get in to the startup ecosystem. And then I think besides that maybe more on the investing side is just constructing your own investment thesis. And, and sort of like thinking critically about companies, either ones that have raised haven't raised, like, I mean, you do your own digging, like use Crunchbase to sort of like find up and coming startups in Australia and think about, you know, What's going good for this business where the specifics could go and like, where could it fail? And it's even better if you sort of like DM the founder and just be like, Hey, I'd really love to chat about your business with 30 minutes. And then you get the firsthand input and then you can construct your own sort of investment memo. And it's even better if you publish that publicly. Like if you've got like a pretty, pretty robust memory, like publish that publicly and that's, that's like the start of your content journey as well. So. Like, I think those are a few different things that people could sort of implement today. And, and get started if they're interested in becoming an analyst at a VC fund.

James:

Yeah. Cool. Yeah. I think that's interesting, right? It's good to hear, you know, that there's plenty of things that you can do,

Abhi:

Yeah.

James:

to, you know, get involved, whether it's, like you said, content creation, Twitter, like events, all this kind of stuff. Like you can, you can get quite involved by the challenge without having to actually be involved. If that makes sense.

Abhi:

Yeah. But the, but the thing there is like, there's a lot of things to do. So pick the ones that you like doing because that's what will stick over time. Like if you really liked people and sorry, if you really like meeting people, that's like the best thing you could do. Just go out there, go to networking events, just go and talk to people, be in places where founders congregate and just, and just get to know that like from a personal level to maybe a business level, I don't know. Best thing you could do is like, just get to know these people. Yeah. Like you shouldn't feel intimidated at all. But yeah, just like pick, pick something that, that comes naturally to you and just do it is my advice usually

James:

Yeah. Great. That's good. That should be easy, easy to fake what to do, hopefully. How do you, how do you think about like upskilling yourself in this environment? Like what kind of things are you like? You know, there's all these skills that you need and skills that you have already kind of, what are some things that you like, how really want to improve in this particular thing? And then how do you. Like, what is your method for doing that? Like, is it just, just get experienced and do it that way? Or are you like seeking external things to kind of do that as well?

Abhi:

Yeah, it's a really, it's a really good question. And, and like I sorta said, VC has like, Verticals to your skillset, I guess like this, like the community building side, this like the, you know, public facing side. There's also like the investment thinking side, I guess. And so like if I think about it in that perspective, like, Thinking about investments. Like I really love reading other people's writings and, and sort of like picking out the mental models there and like trying to apply that to the companies that I meet. I think that's, that's super important and that's like a lifelong journey, to be honest, it's just always reading, finding people's perspectives on things, challenging perspectives on things and like challenging your own perspective on things as well. I think that's, that's super important. Unlike the public presence side. I think a lot of it is just like doing and trialing things out. So to be honest, like, like I always wanted to write like about. And I did a lot of it. I did a lot of writing for my tutoring start-up back at uni. Like I wrote blogs about HSE topics and that sort of thing. But this is like a different style of writing. This is sort of like my opinion on something. And so it's super fluid. What I sort of do is try to like unpack like complicated things. And so like, naturally it's sort of got like a web three tilt because that's like a really big interest of mine, but there's also like some deep tech stuff. And deep tech is something that I'm like super new to, but I find really, really fascinating. And so I tried to. Breakdown. Some of these really cool deep tech topics into digestible pieces for people. And so that's like me, one learning about something new, which sort of fits in the investment column, but also to writing about it, getting better clarity of thought, and then also like building a public presence and then. The community side, it's like me helping other founders with whatever they need or like connecting different people to each other, just being present and accessible. And so, like, that's something that I'm also like improving upon, like how do I deliver feedback or how do I, how, how can I get better at like giving advice? Or like, where can I learn about something that would help someone else? Like, that's also like a continuous journey. A lot of it is like in reading and doing I would say. You also need to like talk to people, get their perspectives on things. So like there isn't like some like, cos I guess that you could do, unless you did one for like, let's say if you wanted to be a better writer, you could do a course on that. Or if you wanted to get better at Twitter, I guess is like closest to that, that sort of thing. But a lot of it is like, self-driven just like a lot of reading. A lot of just thinking like, I'll just like sit there and think about stuff. Like where could this possibly go or you know, What, what, what sort of logically makes sense in terms of next steps for this industry, like where the tailwinds are, like just doing research like that, I guess, and just thinking about it.

James:

Oh, yeah. Well, I'm curious now, like get a deep tech, obviously like why, but there is, it's like people kind of across what that is. What is the state tech is like the best one I've heard about it and like, how is it different? How does it connect into that stuff?

Abhi:

Yeah. So like deep tech is literally you know, anything that's like. Really scientific or like advance. And I think at face value, people sort of get like turned off by it if they're not like scientific themselves. So not like really curious. But it's actually really interesting. So a few like deep tech topics that I've written about in the past was one about longevity tech, which is like very biomedical specific stuff. So like effectively, what are the technologies that are pushing people to live with? And healthier lives. And so that was like a really interesting deep dive. Another one was just like about space tech and like what's sort of happening there. So there's more to space than just sort of like sending rockets up into space to the moon or to Mars or whatever it is. Right. So there's like different soundbites that there's like, a whole bunch of stuff. That's, that's sort of like intricate in that sort of realm. And then another one that I've written about is this thing called metadata. And they're effectively just like taking existing materials that exist today, putting it, putting them in unique structures. And then that gives that like end product, like unique sort of properties. And so it was just like different things like that, which you know, like sometimes hard to believe, but people are attempting it and it's something that's like really interesting to me as someone who's like really curious about this stuff. Like it's like fascinating to read. I read about all of this. Like it's a bit like magic, I guess. But I think people, people get turned off by like the deep tech Monica because it just sounds hard to understand. And so like people just sort of shut off. But for me, that's like when I start to like, get more interested in it, to be honest,

James:

Yeah, no, that's cool. And I'm curious to know too, you know, these kinds of trends that come up where places that you go to kind of have your finger on the pulse of kind of the trending technologies, kind of where the world.

Abhi:

Yeah, that's a good one. You know, honestly, it's like reading other people's sub stacks. It's like listening to podcasts, it's reading news articles. So like the metamaterials, for example, like where I found that was listening to another podcast which featured one of the founders of Lux capital, which is a deep tech VC over in the U S so his name's Josh Wolf Wolf, and he's like an incredibly clear thinker really good at explaining. Complex concepts. And so he was like telling me about middle materials and like in a really brief, like two liner. And I was like, damn, that, that sounds like super, super interesting. Let me do a deep dive into that because. 99% of people don't even know what this thing is. So I may as well write about it. One firm, from my perspective, I'm learning about it, but then two, I can educate other people about it. And so like that specific article, like quite a few people have like come up to me and said like, oh, that was like super interesting. I had no clue that this existed which is, which is cool as a writer, like for people to do that. But also like, it just, yeah. You know, for me, like if I learn about something that's always like really good.

James:

yeah, definitely. Yeah. I think that's just, that's super cool. And then kind of, what would you say to someone. One thing here about doing something like that, you know, being more public in the environment, posting things that they're learning about, reading about kind of let's, you know, I was like that back in the day, you know, where I was kind of on the fence, like, is like risky in some sense, like what people are gonna, like, I'm gonna have to like really put myself out there to do this. Like yeah. What would you advice you, what'd you say? What would you say to someone that's in that position?

Abhi:

Yeah, it's a, it's a good question. I think. For me, like as like semi intimidated by it, but the fact that I'd done it before sort of help. And back then, it was like in the context of building a business, which is like completely different. And in this case, I'm like giving my opinion about things. And like, to be honest with you, like 99% of the reception has been like super, super positive. Like I doubt people are going to call you out on LinkedIn. If, unlike your opinion or something like that, they might just do like a friendly debate or whatever it is. So like pose a question, but they're not gonna be. You're stupid or you're wrong, blah, blah, blah. I have actually had negative feedback for one of my articles, which I think was like, because I clicked beta did a little and it was like, just like a piece on like whether 10 minute grocery delivery services were sustainable and whether they were actually like good for the workers and that sort of thing. And so like, I dunno, some people had like really biased views on that. And so, you know, it just opens up a can of worms and in a nice, healthy debate. But to be honest with you, like. I think a lot of people are just like, happy to read what you put out, like happy to learn alongside you. And, and I think like the west thing to do is sort of like obsessive with the views. I think it's that those are always a nice to have, but I think the best part about it is like, if you can get something out of writing that article, like. Like for the longevity tech one, I learnt a lot about longevity tech. I was able to sort of distill it into like, you know, a couple thousand words and that was like me fleshing out, like, I guess like a market landscape sort of piece where I was kind of like, okay, these are like the different parts of the value chain. These are some interesting companies in that. Like, and so now, like if I come across a longevity tech company, I can sort of like go back to my article, look at what I was reading before. Look at if there were competitors in the space, or if these guys are doing something interesting, I'm able to sort of like come up to speed with what they're doing a lot quicker. Like it helps from that perspective, if that makes sense. So, like, I always say like do things that you like doing. So if you really like writing about or talking about something, then just do that because it will make it easier to stick to that sort of consistent schedule. And you're more likely to sort of follow it through

James:

Yeah, I agree with that. Absolutely. I think that's it. That's really important. One of the things that you, that you're really into as well as obviously web three, and it's a space that you like was saying trending tech, obviously web three is kind of like one of the vein main. Trigger points of this, of this space are one of the main things that's going on. And it's something that you're involved with as well through things that you're doing outside of work. You doubt on that. Could you, I'd love to hear more about kind of how the sort of origin story and then even more balanced kind of what it actually is and kind of what, what, what you sort of see it growing into in the future.

Abhi:

Yeah, sure. Yeah. I mean, so Dow and I literally started off as like me and my friend Jack. We were just chatting about, about crypto and web three and that sort of thing. And we were kind of like, oh, you know, like, it'd be awesome to do this with more people. And so we sort of reached out to 10 people that we thought would be interested. They all sort of said yes. And so we just joined this group where like every, every Tuesday night at 8:00 PM, we would just talk about this stuff for like an hour, two hours, something like that. And so we started this back in November. And, and then that sort of snowballed and like people would invite their friends or friends of friends and things like that. And so we grew that group to about 50 people or so, and it, and it was like crazy, like, like, so we were on slack back then. And so we got to like, there's like a slack limit of like 10,000 messages has got to that in like two weeks time. Like, it was kind of nuts. We had. 80%, weekly active users or something crazy. And so like that, that was really awesome. And so like over, over Christmas, what we were thinking about was like, okay, how do we sort of scale this up beyond just our friend group or like our like close, close circles, I guess. And so that's sort of where Dow under was. What sort of like apex first web three community where, you know, new entrance builders, participants can all sort of congregate and, and learn from each other and build together. And so like why this sort of came across, it came up was just because like, All the people in our initial group was kind of like, this is amazing because everything happens in our time zone. So we sort of like, and this is something that I've seen for a long time, but it didn't like fully click that this was like a huge pain point until a lot of people sort of set, set it to me was like everything in, in web three or crypto usually happens in the U S or in Europe. So it's always. 3:00 AM our time, like different calls or different events, always in the U S and so like Australia and APAC more broadly is just always left out. And so we were like, okay, how do we bring that experience? Here in our times where we don't have to sacrifice our sleep to get involved in this sort of stuff. Like how can we sort of like help each other, build our own projects and that sort of thing, without having to go over that to the U S to build. And so that's effectively what we're doing. And so we've sort of like one deployed three or four projects building a couple of more at the at the moment, like incubating them, sorry. Effectively, what that means is like cross-pollinating teams with different talent. Like if, if an artist needs engineering talent, helping them there, if like dev needs, artists talent, helping them there. And so we're just sort of like building this, like. Community from the ground up. And so we've got about 250 people or 260 people actually, I think in the, in the community. And we've got like 350 on our wait list. And so if like intentionally gated it for now, but where we're hoping to open it up more broadly. Yeah, that's sort of where we're at today, where we want to go is a, is a bigger, bigger vision. And sir, at the end of the we want to be able to deliver a four-day conference called Keith down under where two days are sort of like panel speakers or like just sort of build this, talking about their project, showcasing their projects, that sort of thing. And then two days of hackathons. And so sort of bring that packer style, Silicon valley sort of. To Sydney. And so that, that, that's sort of the goal. It's a big vision. But, but I think we, we have the team and the right resources to sort of get it done. So that's the goal there. Yeah.

James:

Cool. That's exciting. Certainly. Where do you see the Dow is like, you know, this decentralized autonomous organization idea, like where do you see the actual, that, that side of things coming in and joining the kind of community.

Abhi:

Yeah. So we've already sort of kicked out at that. So within our community, we've got this thing called pods, so we've got an art pod research, pot design part develop a pot marketing pod and a community pod. And so all six of these pods, what we've sort of done is like instituted pod leaders that sort of put their hand up and effectively what the pod leaders are going to do. Or what they've already started doing is sort of like getting people are interested in those. Like segments I'm working on something. So for example, where like, we've, we've sort of let the design pod sort of. Takeover our initial design efforts. So in terms of like branding guidelines, our logo, like what our collateral should look like, what our much should look like. That's sort of in charge of that now. So we've like handed away control, control of that to them. And it's sort of on them to sort of like work away on it. And so that's like the first step to decentralization like me and my core team is sort of like built this. But like, how do we sort of disperse like, duties or tasks to like other people to sort of like, let them run with it and let the community build what they actually want. And so they're sort of doing that. We've got a developer, pod pods working on like a decentralized jobs protocol and things like that. So these are just ideas that have come out from the. As well. So we've got like a long list. Like our research pod wants to sort of start writing, writing more about gamefied different sort of like advent advances in this space. And so we sort of given them like, you know, like the, the ability to go into that. We've enabled them to do that. Like, You know, by providing them the resources or connections wherever possible to, to go into that. And sir, you know, that's, that's sort of how we sort of make this a bit more decentralized than it is now. I think some sort of centralization is not about. Like otherwise nothing will likely get done. What we've sort of seen with other dials in the spaces. Like either they're not really that organized or, you know, that it's sort of lacking like a larger vision. And so, like, I think there is always going to be like a central nucleus, but what we're hoping is like, we can get the community's input into all of that. And as much as possible, we will hand over to the community and then just sort of like build together with. It is sort of the goal, but I think it's something that was still fleshing out. Like what is the right balance of decentralized versus centralized is like a big debate in my eyes. And so like, I don't know what the right answer is, but it's something that we're very conscious of and want to sort of, yeah. Doing a distributed fashion Fisher.

James:

Yeah. Cool. That's exciting. Certainly. And what, what advice, I mean, let's say someone is kind of discovering web three, know there's all these different communities, things like, like yours and there are many others across the world. What are some like if you had to kind of restart and web. What would be, that would be sort of some places or some things that you would really like to kind of upskill yourself in this area as quickly as possible.

Abhi:

Yeah, sir. There's a really good guide from, I think it's like another doubt called crypto or crypto culture society. And so they've got like an intro to web three guide. I think that's really good, but. If we were sort of picking away at one of the verticals that, that we have three is split into, sir, if you think about it from like a, a vertical perspective. So there's like NFTs, defy, normal tokens as, as like three main verticals and maybe game fires like a fourth vertical, but that's sort of like under an FDS. And FDA's might be the easiest one for people to wrap their heads around. Just because it seems a bit more tangible than, than the others. I think that's an easy one or defy might be another easy one. If you go through apps like Josh, Joshua is his Minky app, which I think Josh, you had Josh on, on the podcast a while ago. And so like, things like that are like easy ways to get involved and understand what's causing. In the ecosystem, but I think largely it's just sort of like jumping in headfirst into. And just sort of reading different people's threads, like understanding who you should follow in the space, like just reading different people's writing is the easiest way to go about it. And talking to people in person as well is a really good way of learning. Like, I think there's only so much you can rate, but if you talk to people in person online, like in discord or wherever the community sort of based, I think that's a really good way of getting involved and learning more about the space. I think it was just like all about practical application. So like, if you read about NFTs, go and buy an NFT. If you read about DFI, get stuck into a defined protocol and just like stake, a few tokens and things I thought like you just have to give it a go. Like, it seems pretty daunting. So do it with like a little bit of money. Nothing that can ruin you, but like that's how I got started. It was probably early 2017. I just bought a bit of a theory and just did a bit of reading, like read the white paper and that sort of thing. And it just like opened a larger world for me to just like keep diving deeper down the rabbit hole. Really.

James:

Yeah, cool. That's that's exciting. And I think I liked now, you know, now it's maturing as a thing slightly, you know, and now there is a lot of those like places where you can kind of get the low down or things that can explain. More simple terms now than perhaps they were

Abhi:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, I think this space is still finding product market fit. Like it's still incredibly alley. Despite how long it's been around for like 10 years or like even longer actually for Bitcoin. But yeah, like it's been around for awhile, but it's still maturing. It's still growing. It's still really early on in, in, in its journey and certainly. You know, even, I don't know where it's going to be in like six months time. Like no one really knows we're all learning together. And so like, hopefully it's not too intimidating for someone to just like, come in. One of the good things I think about what three is, like, everyone understands that. And so it was always enthusiastic to help more people get in. So like, just reach out to me or someone else like that you see who's posting about web three or like talking about it and just. Like, I'm always willing to help people get involved and finding where they might fit within the whole, whole ecosystem. But yeah, like I think anyone in this space is always willing to help people learn, which is, which is really awesome.

James:

no, definitely. It's nice to have that in his space for sure. I wanna know. Take this conversation to a bit more of a macro level of, of yourself and your career. I'm curious to hear, you know, as someone that's in VC and in all these different areas, are there any people that you really look up to and say, that guy does well, that guy go does something I really admire them for this thing, or, you know, someone that you really want to emulate and, and what would be a reason why you'd want to do why you look up to them?

Abhi:

That's a good question. There's a lot of people I look up to and there's a lot of people. I have to thank for where I am today as well. And I, and I look up to all of those people. Probably one of the interesting ones. Hmm. Maybe Josh Wolf again, like, so founder of flux capital, like I, I found I found his writing ages and ages ago. When I was back at uni, like it knows like super fascinated by him as a person. Like the way he writes is like really, really clear. And I heard, like, my writing is like 1% as clear as his and, and the way he sort of like speaks on, on podcasts and in presentations and things. It's just like incredible thing. He's just got like high level of clarity in his own mind. And then he's also like a really forward-thinking person. And so like some of the stuff that Lux do is just incredible. So they incubate sometimes some deep tech companies, they back really amazing companies. And so like that, that's always just like fascinated me. And like he's been at the forefront of all of that. And so he's someone that, that really inspires me. Hopefully I can meet him one day, but who knows?

James:

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. No, I think it's nice to have people like that. Certainly. And it's it's interesting that, yeah, he's. Being someone that you've looked up to for so long as well. That's really cool. I want to, you know, you've mentioned university and I'd love to kind of wrap on a question that I ask all the guests and you can take this wherever you'd like, but something I asked the guests is kind of, if you had to wind back the clock to when you were just finishing uni and starting into, into the work world, what things you know now that you. You knew when you would, when you were at that stage.

Abhi:

Yeah. I think I'd probably experiment a lot more with what. For my career, like I think what I should have done back down is probably like talk to a lot of people in the ecosystem and figure out like ways to get involved. Even if it didn't seem like I'd be able to get involved from the outside, I should have sort of like been a bit more proactive, I think. And, and talk to people. Like, I think I was a little bit daunted by the fact that all of the people back then were just like really experienced people. And I was like, oh, who's going to talk. But I think they probably would have been nice enough to talk to me about that then. So like, I probably should have done that. I think I think there's a lot more opportunities for experimentation and, and I say this from like a privileged point of view as well. Like I think some uni students are really privileged in the fact that they still live at home. They don't have to pay rent, they don't have to pay for food, blah, blah, blah. And so for them, like they can. Be pretty like they can take more riskier options in the career so they can work at different startups for like two or three month periods, like intern at different places without really worrying about securing a grad job. But other people also are like, who aren't as, as lucky or in a privileged position. For them, what I think is really important is like to be able to sort of like secure a grad job initially. Secure the gradual and then use that to leverage other opportunities. And so like what I mean by that, and I think this is becoming a bit more accepted now actually, because companies are really desperate for good talent. And so you're able to sort of like negotiate with them, your start date. So like push, push your grad start date back like six months or a year or something like that. And in that time, go and experiment working for a startup or go and experiment with doing something that you've always wanted to do. If that's traveling. All over the world, like go and do that. If that sort of like starting your own business, like go and do that. And, and you've got a bit of security there in that grad job. And you can always like, bring that forward. I'm fairly certain, like if you just talk to people like they're, they're willing to help you help you out as much as possible. But I think, yeah, like talking to people, experimenting is probably like what I should have done a lot earlier in my career.

James:

Yeah, cool. I think that's great advice. Certainly, you know, having those, that wide range of perspectives will really, really help and help you to decide and get more of those views and help you decide what you want to do more as well. I think it's so important.

Abhi:

for sure. And I think, I think like people are open to it more now than they were before. And so like, why not make use of that opportunity? But yeah, it's, it's a, it's a, it's a super important thing is just like talking to people experimenting. I think like, if you're not sure what you want to do that's like the best way to like, But you might not want to do or what you will want to do for the rest of your life.

James:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I think that's so important. And thanks for sharing that today. Where can people go to find out more about yourself? You know, can I do.

Abhi:

Yeah. So, I mean, you can find me on LinkedIn, just search my name, or you can find me on Twitter as well. But for the, some of the other stuff. So if a superfluid I write on sub stack, so I think the subset URL is Abby M dot subsect com for down under, you can find us on Twitter for east down under, you can find us on Twitter as well. For brown patties, you can find us on Twitter. But yeah, and I guess. For, for folklore related items, you can book in office hours with me on, on our website, or just reach out to abby@folklore.vc. Like super happy to chat to anyone who wants to chat.

James:

Great. Well, yeah, we'll have all the links to all those places wherever you're watching or listening to this show. Thanks so much for coming on the show today. It's been really fascinating hearing from you and the things that you're involved with. thanks so much for your time today.

Abhi:

Yeah, no worries. Thanks for having me on really appreciate it. And it was a lot of fun.

James:

Thanks for listening to this episode I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you want to get my takeaways, the things that I learned from this episode, please go to graduate theory.com/subscribe, where you can get my takeaways and all the information about each episode, straight to your inbox. Thanks so much for listening again today, and we're looking forward to seeing you next week.