Don’t Make the Mistake AhaGuru Made With Its Logo

I saw the billboard advertisement for this IIT-JEE coaching center on my way to the coffee shop. I was waiting at the signal and saw the billboard at the back of a bus. The ad said plenty of things about the coaching center—100% attendance, the best teachers, amazing results and so on. But, one thing I couldn’t figure out from the ad was the name of the coaching center. The way the logo was designed was confusing.

I saw the billboard advertisement for this IIT-JEE coaching center on my way to the coffee shop. I was waiting at the signal and saw the billboard at the back of a bus. The ad said plenty of things about the coaching center—100% attendance, the best teachers, amazing results and so on. But, one thing I couldn’t figure out from the ad was the name of the coaching center. The way the logo was designed was confusing.

Brand name or a puzzle?

When I first saw this logo, I felt like I was looking at one of those Cicada 3301 riddles. I thought solving the riddle and guessing the name of the coaching center would be the first step to getting admission into the coaching center. After all, if you’re going to prepare for IIT, you’ll have to be smart, right?

At the first glance, I thought I figured it out.

The first letter of the logo was the symbol “Pi” (π) followed by the characters “haGuru”.

So, I read it as “PihaGuru”. But, it didn’t make sense.

I then thought, “The symbol pi looks like the letters T and H combined. In that case, the name of the coaching center is PythaGuru. Like Pythagoras Theorem. How smart?”

When I showed the logo to my wife, she omitted the pi and read it as. “ThaGuru”.

We already have three different interpretations for the brand name. But, the most surprising part about this story is all three interpretations of the brand name were wrong.

My “Aha” moment with AhaGuru

When I Googled “Pytha Guru”, I saw another coaching center in the results. The logo wasn’t the same, and they clearly called themselves “Pythagurus”, an MBA admission consultancy.

After a few minutes of Googling, I came to know that the actual name of the brand I was looking for was “AhaGuru”. The first letter of the logo was “A” masked as the pi symbol.

I was disappointed. The name didn’t make any sense. Why the name “AhaGuru”? What does it mean? I was so confused.

At that point, the name PythaGuru made more sense.

Now, let’s analyze what is wrong with this logo:

The major flaw is replacing the first letter of the brand name with a symbol, which I presume is the logo of the brand. This creates a lot of confusion.

If someone sees the advertisement for this brand, how would they describe it to another person? One might say “ThaGuru” and another might say “PythaGuru” (I seriously wonder if anyone would say “AhaGuru”). The brand name creates a lot of confusion, as it provides an opportunity for people can have different interpretations of the logo. This reduces brand recollection.

They should’ve kept the logo as a variant of the Pi symbol and could’ve added the word “AhaGuru” next to it. What was more baffling about all this was, the coaching center has so many brilliant students and teachers. And none of them thought that the logo looked weird?


Key Takeaways

There are two key takeaways from AhaGuru’s logo design. First, if you’re designing a logo, don’t make it look like a riddle. And, second, if you’re a founder, don’t design the logo yourself or use your relative’s kid to design it for you (I guess that’s what’s happened here). Hire a designer, or use an AI tool. Don’t do it yourself to save some money.

Liked what you read? Have a look at my analysis of Google Pay and Amazon.

A Restaurant That Traded Its Customer Experience for $15

Takeaway: Most times, customer experience comes as a result of common sense. I realized it last week while sitting at a restaurant.

The Story: It’s been a while since I and Suba went on a dinner date. Pregnancy and the kid kept us busy for the last six months. Also, after my daughter was born, we were always too tired to sneak out and get some dinner even if we had the chance. All we had the energy for was a short walk and a cup of tea.

So it is natural for us to get excited when we heard about the new seafood restaurant that opened in the vicinity. We decided to do a proper dinner this time. So, we made careful planning two weeks in advance to squeeze 90 minutes of our time for a quick dinner. We were looking for the right moment and it came in on a Friday evening. We got buy-in from my mom who agreed to watch the kid while we were out.

As we entered the restaurant, a Tamil guy opened the door and said “namaste”. I don’t understand why! (Because ‘namaste’ is a Hindi word and we no way look like people from the North). But that’s not important in this story.\

The restaurant was a fine dining place and it looked the part. Fancy lights, a large seating area, props on the wall fitting the beach vibe, etc. Even the waiters wore bright floral shirts to fit into the theme.

The experience was great right from the beginning. A waitress saw us walking in, opened the door, and walked us to our table. She pulled the chairs for us to sit on and even suggested the best items on the menu. The food came in and it was great. The speakers were playing M.S. Viswanathan hits, which gave the place a different vibe. The classic playlist was effortless to listen to and we were having a good time. Everything was on point until I heard the ad.

I felt like I was snapped back to reality. Everything I was vibing to until then came to a standstill. The playlist was from YouTube and it started playing ads in the middle of the song. I only thought I had in my at that moment was “How much will it cost the restaurant to buy a YouTube premium subscription?

It’s ₹1250 (~$15 USD) for a whole year. I know it because I have a subscription.

That’s the average bill amount in the restaurant for a party of two. Even with all the math, we can certainly say $15 a year is not a huge expense for the restaurant.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to listen to YouTube ads on a fine set of speakers while I’m having dinner at a fancy restaurant. Probably the restaurant management would’ve thought “When we don’t have live music, let’s play songs from YouTube. It’s free anyway!

Companies should realize that even the smallest things matter when it comes to customer experience. I wrote about this a couple of years back, an incident where cutting a chole bhature in half before frying it gave us a memorable customer experience.

I can recall another personal experience from 2014. A bunch of friends visited a barbeque restaurant for lunch on a rainy day and our clothes got wet. The restaurant gave us T-shirts and took our clothes for drying. After our lunch, we got back our clothes neat and dry. The restaurant didn’t have to do that. But, they did, because they want us to feel comfortable right from the beginning. That is the key to a good customer experience.

The size of the brand doesn’t matter when it comes to customer experience. It is the mindset of the people who are running it that matters. The people behind the best brands understand how the little things matter and execute them in order to deliver an exceptional customer experience. I wish more brands understand the importance of customer experience and work towards it.

AI has become the MSG of software

I’m not against AI. AI is amazing. I know this because I work for an AI company, and I’ve seen the impact it delivers to businesses of all sizes. AI is changing things for good and it will continue to do so.

I’m also not afraid of AI taking my job someday (I know it will eventually happen, and I’m fine

 with it. But that discussion is for another day). But, it is frustrating when I come across apps that come up with AI use cases that add no real value to end users.

I came across a tweet from a growing developer blogging platform about their latest AI feature. A writing assistant that helps users write content. Do you realize how dangerous that is, for the company and the users?

Let me explain. The whole idea of a blogging platform is for people to share their ideas on various topics, and learn from one another. It is a medium for learning from different people. If the majority uses AI-generated content for views and likes, then what benefit does it add for a reader like you and me? Instead of reading content from many individuals, we’ll be reading content that is created with a help of a single AI engine.

Why do I need a blogging platform for this? I can sign up for my own ChatGPT account and ask it to generate personalized blog content on any topic I want. It’s going to be the same. Why do I even have to visit the blogging platform then?

Another area I’m worried about is the signal-to-noise ratio of content. Introducing an AI-powered writing assistant removes the barrier to creativity altogether, resulting in a boatload of spam. The platform will see a thousand articles each day, all sounding very similar.

Lately, it looks like companies in the productivity and note-taking space are launching writing assistants only to compete with each other. But except for a few, most companies are not thinking about what value these features would add to the end users.

A writing assistant can help helpful in summarising or translating content and even in correcting grammar errors in content. But writing an entire piece of content? It doesn’t help the writer as well as the reader (should we even call them a writer? Or a writing orchestrator?)

Technology companies have a responsibility to make conscious decisions on how they’d want to use new technology. It should empower people to become better thinkers and creators. It shouldn’t provide them an option to outsource their thinking and creativity. I’m afraid of this scenario because I know we’re lazy and given a choice we wouldn’t think twice before taking up that option.

Liabilities are good in low doses

I recently attended a financial planning workshop and the hosts kept talking about "liabilities" and how they're bad for us. There are two misconceptions about the word "liability". One is they’re always mapped to loans and other financial commitments. Second? Liabilities are considered bad and are asked to be kept out of one’s life.

I don't think it's that black and white. Liabilities fall in the grey area. So, I let my thoughts run their course and see what I think about "liabilities" in life. I ended up with two opinions. 

First, it is not a liability if it gives us immense happiness and fulfillment. I have my own example. 

A year after I got a decent job, I went out and took a car loan. The EMI was a quarter of my monthly salary, and the fuel costs took some more from my tight monthly budget. 

From the perspective of a financial planner, it would’ve made no sense for someone to pay a quarter of their salary on a "depreciating asset". But it made sense to me. I explored new places, met amazing people, and drove around the city at random times irrespective of the weather. I enjoyed every moment with my car. Was it a liability? Yes. Was it a depreciating asset? Yes. Was it a wise decision? No. But was it all worth it? Absolutely!

For some people, it is their lifelong dream to own a car or buy a house. They work hard to get to a point where they can afford to get a loan to buy their dream car or house. For them, it's more than numbers. They share an emotional connection with the goal. Those people won't see the loan as a liability, but will see it as their path to "getting settled in life". 

My second opinion is, liabilities are constantly changing. Let's say you finish off all your loans and start your own company. Does that mean you're free of all liability? Not really. You're now liable to your customers, investors, and the welfare of your employees (and you’re always liable for the welfare of your family members who’re dependent on you). The only thing that changes is that once you become a founder, you’ll be liable for different things. 

I personally feel that we need low-dose liabilities to keep us on track. In my case, I would quit my job any day to start something if I had no liabilities. I’ve done that twice in the past. And it didn’t go well for me. So, I always make sure I have a small loan on the side to keep me at my job. Whatever ideas I have, I experiment with them on the side. 

So, take any advice on liability with a pinch of salt. It’s not a framework that works for everyone. Analyze your priorities and decide what you need and what you don’t. 

The ’30-day plan’ if you’re starting as a marketer in a SaaS company

When you’re interviewing for a marketing role in a SaaS company and when you’re in the final stages of the interview process, it is common for your hiring manager or the CEO to ask for a ’30-day, 60-day, or a 90-day plan’ to know what you’ll accomplish soon after you join the company.

It is kind of a tricky question. Since you only know about the company from what you’ve read and heard, most of your knowledge would be surface level. You won’t know their actual problems. So, candidates usually go with vanilla answers like ‘I’d revamp the website, write more blogs, be more active on social media, etc.’ But, the truth is, you can’t actually make a solid plan until you join the company.

But, after joining the company, there are a few things you can do to gather data on existing challenges, prioritize them and execute some of them (at least one) within the first 30 days of your employment.

Here’s an actionable 30-day roadmap of what you should do if you’re starting your career as a marketer in a SaaS company.

Week 1 and 2

You might think two weeks is long, but if you exclude weekends, you’ll only have 10 working days during the first two weeks. Use this time to get adjusted to the new environment and lay the groundwork for the upcoming weeks.

Connect with your peers

Introduce yourself to the team and set individual 1:1 meetings with every member of your team (people with whom you’ll be working closely). During these 1:1 meetings following the 60:40 rule. Spend 60% of the conversation talking about common topics and interests and the remaining 40% of the conversation understanding their role, experience, etc.

Understand their strengths to get a sense of where you can get their help in the future. On the other hand, tell them about your experience, skills, and what you’re good at, and tell them you’re happy to help whenever needed. This will give them a chance to reach out to you during future projects.

Meet the decision-makers

If you’re a marketer, it is a given that you’ll be working with multiple teams within your company. This will include the design, product, customer success, support, and sales teams.

So, during your first week, identify key decision makers in each team (by talking to your teammates) and set up 30-minute meetings to say “Hi!”. This will come in handy when you’re working on large projects that might involve these decision-makers.

If you’re new, you might think you’re wasting their time. Don’t worry. From my experience, people are happy to meet new people and even happier to talk about their experiences. So get to know the decision-makers during the first two weeks.

Pro tip: Set regular meetings (at least once a month) with decision-makers to get insights on new challenges and to avoid surprises.

Understand the product

As a marketer, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your product. So get familiar with the product. Watch product demos and read the help documentation to get started. Reading the help documentation is a great way to understand the nuances within the product and also helps you learn its limitations (what the product is or isn’t capable of).

If you get a chance, be a silent spectator on a couple of sales calls to see how the product is being demoed to a prospect. It will also give you an idea about the characteristics of your target persona.

Another great way to get familiar with the product is by answering support tickets. When I joined Zoho as a technical writer in 2015, I spent the first month answering support tickets. It helped me learn the product in and out. Even after that, we had the practice of handling support tickets once a week. It helped us stay updated on the latest issues. If your company doesn’t allow you to answer tickets, at least add yourself as a watcher to interesting tickets and go through support tickets every now and then.

Set up Google Alerts for keywords

This is an important step to stay on top of what’s happening in the market and with your competitors. Set up google alerts for your competitors and specific keywords related to the domain in which your product operates. You can also set up an alert of your own product to see who talks about your product.

Get access to the right tools

Get access to the tools that you’ll be using frequently. This can include Google Analytics, access to your company’s YouTube channel, access to social media scheduling tools, Adwords account, etc.

Week 3 and 4

This is where you get into action. These two weeks are your window to make the best first impression. The reputation you build during this time will go a long way.

Identifying the problem

Talk to your manager and other key stakeholders in the team to understand problem areas and challenges. For example, if you’re a product marketer, you need to speak to your sales team to understand what kind of collateral they need to close more deals. If you’re a content marketer, talk to the SEO and web performance teams to understand problem areas.

List down the challenges and see which section of the marketing/sales funnel they affect.

Prioritizing the problem

The problem you’re trying to solve should check the following boxes:

High impact - should have a significant impact on conversion, revenue, or team satisfaction.

Low dependency - You should be able to solve 80-90% of the problem on your own (with your skills). Shouldn’t rely too much on engineering or design teams. Don’t take up large projects in your first month as it can be a project management nightmare (especially if it involves multiple teams)

Time to completion - Can you complete it within 2-3 weeks?

After choosing the right problem, make a list of key stakeholders who will be involved in the process.


A few pointers to keep in mind while executing your first project.

Get buy-in from key stakeholders - Convince them by pitching the value. Set expectations on what you need from them and how long will it take to see results. Don’t commit to hard deadlines. Give them an approximate timeline.

Keep key people in the loop - While executing the project, keep your team and other key stakeholders in the loop.

Don’t panic - When you’re executing a project, things will go wrong (irrespective of the project size). Don’t panic. Everybody on your team would’ve faced such moments. Communicate the problem. Learn from them and move on. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.

Pro tip: Don’t launch anything on a Friday. If things break, you might ruin the whole weekend for you and your team.

Show your work

Apart from marketing the product, you should also market yourself. So, success or failure, don’t forget to show your work.

If you succeed, people will appreciate you. If you fail, your team will know that you’ve put in your best efforts and also understand what you learned from things that went wrong.

Be open to feedback and learn from your peers’ experiences. Don’t be too stubborn to change your opinion. It wouldn’t let you learn anything new.

And, Keep a work journal. Keep a month-wise note of what you’ve worked on and add a tag ‘milestone’ next to important projects where you think you’ve done really well.

This journal will come in handy when you’re filling up your performance appraisal form. You can exactly point out what you’ve done and the impact you’ve had on the growth of the company.

Next steps…

Based on your learnings, make a plan for the next month or quarter. The periodic 1:1 meetings you had set with key stakeholders will keep giving you new and interesting challenges.

If you’ve come this far, it means whatever I’ve written so far has made sense. I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog. Please share this blog with your friends and colleagues who’re early in their marketing careers or is an aspiring marketers.

How much AI is 'too much' AI?

Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash

Today, AI can do pretty much anything. It can write stories, create images, mimic your voice in a video or a podcast, generate summaries, etc. You name it and AI can do it. AI tools made life easy for so many content creators and businesses. Apart from being used in businesses, AI has also found its way into our day-to-day lives.

We're increasingly becoming dependent on AI for all our tasks. AI completes our emails, recommends us movies and music based on our likes, provides suggestions while we write our masterpieces, and sometimes co-writes our masterpieces.

When you look beyond the awe of what it does, you can see that AI is slowly taking over our ability to make decisions. Now, some of you might argue that "I don't want to waste my brain power by making all these small decisions in my day-to-day life. I'm destined for bigger things."

Think about it for a second. Making these small decisions each day, throughout your life defines your taste, shapes your consciousness, and makes you who you are.

I guess it all started with spell-check software. Sometime in August this year, I came across a paragraph in David Perell's weekly newsletter where he talks about software has made writing more sterile these days. He says, 'The rise of homogenous writing began with Microsoft Word. First, spell check corrected our spelling and grammar. Then, as it became more advanced it started correcting our sentence structure, suggesting certain words. Now, with recommendations in Gmail and Google Docs, the age of prediction has arrived.'

Another thing is that using too much AI might take away change and serendipity from our lives. Let's take an example of an app that summarizes books for easy understanding. It reads every line of a 50,000-word book and gives you all the important takeaways in less than 3,000 words. Sounds amazing, right? But what you're missing out here is a chance to stumble upon that one sentence that could change your life. An AI algorithm may summarize a book based on readers' highlights, quotes shared on social media, and its own summarization algorithm. But, what if you find abundant meaning and perspective from a single sentence or paragraph that depicts the personal life of the author (which was ignored by the AI considering that it was not important)?

Those surprise moments make our lives interesting. That's also how our brain works. It thrives on serendipity. We stumble upon new stuff and our brain takes a completely new route to puts in the effort to develop our taste toward it. And outsourcing that and giving control of that serendipity to a machine learning model doesn't sound right to me.

A lot of people today blame the education system saying it was a scheme created by the governments of the past to make people think alike and it is dangerous for independent thinking. How is that different from the AI tools that try to control every decision in our lives? Not to mention that these AI engines are governed by a few large tech corporations. I'm not saying these companies are forcing us to use AI. It is a choice, but a tempting one. So, being lazy beings, we choose the path that makes our lives easy.

I'm not against using AI. The applications of AI are mindblowing. I work for an AI company. I believe that AI absolutely necessary to solve problems in business, logistics, governance, healthcare, power, agriculture, and defense sectors. It is empowering millions of content creators across the world to run their businesses. My only concern is the limit to which one uses AI to perform their personal tasks.

For example, if you're a blogger or an online writer, you can use AI to generate research-based ideas for your blog, generate images for your blog posts, convert your content into image and video formats, etc. But, you can't write entire blog posts using AI. Because the reader who subscribed to your blog did so because they enjoyed your writing style. Handing it off to a machine won't do justice to all those subscribers.

Enjoy the benefits of AI, but be on the watch for how much decision-making you give off to it. It is still uncharted territory.

Web3 Doesn’t Have a Future Unless It Excites People Like You and Me

Image generated with Midjourney

The success of any technology lies in its adoption numbers. For that to happen people should see value in it - even from the initial days. Also, the excitement of the early adopters should be contagious to the people who come after them, and the crucial part is the people who come after should also feel the same excitement for a technology to succeed. This happened with the internet, smartphones, WiFi, AI, and every other piece of technology we use in our day-to-day lives. But, unfortunately, this is not happening for web3. 

Why Web3 isn’t able to cross the early adoption barrier?

When countries started laying lines for the internet, people were excited about the possibility. Because they knew they can use the internet to shop, watch movies, send emails and attachments, interact with their friends, and search web pages from across the globe - all without spending money. Thanks to the advertisement model, the internet became a major phenomenon. Today, we can’t imagine a world without the internet. Right to internet access is deeply tied to freedom of expression today. 

The same happened with AI. People are excited about the possibilities and are reaping the benefits of the technology like driverless cars, low bandwidth video calls, computer-generated images, personalized movie and music recommendations, etc. 

But, people aren’t seeing such possibilities with web3. A small group of enthusiasts are really vocal about the benefits of web3 and are building some phenomenal solutions on the blockchain. 

But, when I tried some of these services, I couldn’t feel the same excitement. Instead, I found web3 to be even more confusing. Since all web3 services are built on a token infrastructure, they have a steep learning curve, confusing terminologies, and a discord server that is too overwhelming for anyone. 

Let me give you an example. But, before that, let’s see a bit about what is web3

What is Web3?

Web3 refers to a decentralized internet powered by the blockchain and token economy. The information and services are not centralized i.e. no single organization has control over the data. The information is hosted in a network of computers owned by users who’re part of the web3 ecosystem. The incentive for those who host and manage this information is provided in the form of tokens like Bitcoins, Ethereum, etc. 

You can learn more about Web3 from here. A three-part podcast series on Freakonomics radio is also a great listen if you’re new to Web3. Now, let’s get back to that example. 

I almost paid a $163 USD transaction fee for a $5 product

During the beginning of this year, I saw a lot of Twitter profiles with names ending with “.eth”. When I dug deeper, I found out that you can get your decentralized website domain (they call it “ENS”), from a website called ENS a.k.a Ethereum Name Service. If you have an ENS address, you can use it instead of the lengthy wallet address to send and receive money. I also read that I can use such domains to host a webpage on the blockchain using IPFS. It was a really cool idea. It still is. But, how’s the experience for an end user like you and me? Let’s look into it. 

I tried to buy an ENS address in my name and the website said it would cost me $5 USD per year. It was affordable. I was excited. But, when I tried to buy it, I realized there were so many restrictions. You’ll have to have a set amount of Ethereum to complete the transaction. You might think that it can be $10 or 20. But, the total price came to $168 USD. It said $5 for the domain and $163 was the gas fees. A gas fee is the transaction fee required to execute a contract on the blockchain. That was crazy! When I looked for answers, many mentioned that since the price of tokens keeps changing the gas fees will too. One has to look for the right time to execute the contract at a nominal rate. Since the price of ETH has dropped 2/3rd of its value, the total cost comes down to $13 dollars (as on August 9, 2022).

Everything costs you money on web3. Loading tokens, withdrawing tokens, swapping tokens - you can see the numbers decreasing in front of your eyes. I loaded $50 into my wallet and I paid $20 in transaction charges for a failed transaction. It was crazy and painful to watch. 

My point is that things like this are a huge barrier for early adopters. When the cost, terminologies, and process scares them off, the chance of them coming back are really slim. That’s what happened to me. Another confusing thing I’ve come across in web3 was DAOs. 

DAOs or chaos?

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations a.k.a DAOs are communities of like-minded people with a shared bank account. The members get voting rights on important decisions of the community, which makes it a community powered by decentralized governance. But, I don’t see anything significant coming out of DAOs, at least for the moment. I came across a couple of DAOs which made me ask “Why? What’s the point?”. 

Nation3 - Nation3 is a sovereign cloud nation. They are building a community of like-minded people by creating a nation on the cloud. To become a citizen you’ll need to have 2 $veNATION tokens (~$2126 USD). If I am a citizen I can mint an NFT passport. But, what will I do with it? To even be part of a community, I’ll have to spend $2126 USD. There’s no trial. There is no sneak peek of what I’ll get, and most importantly, what if I don’t like being a citizen? So many questions. 

Constitution DAO - A group of people came together and raised $42 million dollars to buy one of the original copies of the American constitution. They lost the bid, but the question I had on my mind was “Why buy it in the first place?”  

I also came across DAOs with meaningful applications like the Ukraine DAO which managed to donate $7 million to Ukraine during the war and they help in fact-checking and documenting the events of the war. They could’ve done it in web2 (the current version of the internet), but the decentralization concept works here because it prevents them from getting shut down by any government. Kinda makes sense. 

Despite all the improvements, DAOs have to go a long way in order for them to be used by the general public. 

Services that excite me about web3

Sia Coin - The decentralized data storage service is one of the most practical web3 uses I’ve come across. Their file upload service Skynet (name kinda scares me) is fast and easy to use, it makes you wonder if it’s really part of web3. The data you upload is stored as chunks among a network of computers and can be accessed by the user whenever required. Those who maintain data on their computers will be rewarded with Sia coins. This is similar to Limewire - a software I used to use in the early 2000s to download movies and music. To put it simply it is similar to downloading files via torrents. 

Arweave - A web3 version of the Wayback machine. You can store documents and applications on a blockchain permanently. They also offer free credits for you to start using the service. Something that every other web3 service should start doing. 

Unstoppable domains - You can buy crypto domains for a one-time fee. The prices of the domains start from as low as $20 and you can buy them using your credit card or using tokens. The practical applications are quite nice too. You can map your wallet addresses to your domain, you can upload your personal web page in IPFS and link it to the domain, and you can also create a private email address to receive and reply to emails from others without revealing your personal information. - A web3 publishing platform where you can write and publish your content on the blockchain. It is fast and easy to use. I’ve tried it myself and its nice.

I tried Audius, the web3 music streaming platform. But, I never got to the listening part. The website was too slow (both the web and the mobile app).

Services like these are a good start. The ecosystem needs more of this. 

What does web3 need?

  • A simplified user experience. People should be able to use it right away and see the magic. Kinda like DALL-E. You don’t need to know about AI or machine learning. Type what’s on your mind and you’ll see a computer-generated image. Web3 should build that kind of experience. 

  • User education. The early adopters should simplify concepts and terminologies. And, token ecosystems should come up with uniform terminologies to promote better understanding among potential users. User education should answer questions about the loss of data, consequences of losing funds, data privacy, the possibility of retrieval of funds in case of losing it, seeking support, and more. 

  • A sneak peek. Most web3 services are just a website and you don’t get to see or experience how they work. Every user should get at least a few token credits for them to experience the service. If they love it, they’ll definitely be part of your DAO or service. 

  • Better real-life use cases. Web3 builders should think beyond NFT marketplaces, virtual real estate, and DAOs. They can solve a lot of problems like censor-free newspapers, bring transparency to traditional government processes, and even elections. 

  • Support. People should move out of Discord servers for support. I don’t want answers from squeakyboss4567 when I’m panicked about my missing tokens. 

Internet for all vs. Internet for few

The cost aspect of the technology will definitely be a barrier. It will bring the benefits of web3 to a selected few instead of everyone. Sometimes, it makes me wonder “has decentralization, data ownership, and privacy got more expensive with web3?”. But, that’s a topic for another time. 

Web3 is great on paper. It is. And, it has got potential. But, it doesn’t excite end users like you and me. And, it won’t become a thing until it does.

How to Sound Smart on Twitter? 6 Proven Lessons From Top Twitter Profiles

"How to sound smart on Twitter?" - the question popped in my head when I talking to a friend who lives in the US. We had an interesting conversation about building side projects and the conversation quickly delved into influencer Twitter.

He told me how a lot of influencers these days use content to build a Twitter following and later leverage the followers to amplify their products (which is a different form of the same content they've tweeting) and make money. But, in order to gain those followers, the content they share should be smart (or should at least look like it is). 

To find answers I followed a bunch of influencers to understand their strategy. I observed a lot of patterns - some brilliant and some silly. In fact, I was surprised to see the number of followers some influencers get and the amount of money they're making through strategies that I assumed wouldn't work! It was not that difficult to get this data as they themselves post screenshots of their payment dashboards 😜

But, that was not the most interesting thing.

The biggest finding of all is that all these influencers follow a similar formula when it comes to tweets. They use the same set of syntax/format to create their tweets to grab the attention of their followers.

But, before taking a look at this syntax, let's take a look at the 4-step approach these influencers employ to make money out of their Twitter followers:

The 4-step Twitter influencer formula

  • Become the journey - You set out to do something big. Build your own one-person SaaS app; Become a productivity master; Become financially independent by 30, or even gain 2000 Twitter followers every month.

  • Document your journey on Twitter - As you're progressing, document your process in the form of tweets and generously blog about your experience.

  • Position yourself as the Expert - Become the go-to person for those who are setting out on a similar journey as yours. This comes with time. This way, you become the influencer in the space. People who are interested in doing what you do or are looking for guidance will follow you on social media.

  • Sell stuff! - Create useful content and products for the niche audience. It can be books, consultations, a paid newsletter, a video course, and so on.

Note: These are NOT something I deciphered after going through thousands of tweets. Most of these things are posted by the influencers themselves. Again, they all follow a similar approach in terms of their monetization strategy as well.

How to sound smart on Twitter? : The Influencer ‘Tweet’ Formula

Now, let's come to the juicy part.

What do all these Twitter influencers have in common? The answer is the way they construct their tweets. It follows a couple of syntax/formulas that anybody can make use of

To explain this, I’ve picked a few tweets from a couple of famous Twitter influencers: David PerellNaval, and Jack Butcher. 

1. The 50:50 formula

These types of tweets will have two sections to it and each section will contradict the other. A good syntax would be something like this:

"If you're not <action>, then you're not <outcome>"

Add anything here, and it will look like an influencer tweet.

Example 1: If you're not achieving your task, then you're not crazy enough

Example 2: If you're not able to finish your work on time, then you're not productive

Example 2: If you're not able to chew your sandwich, then your bread is not fresh enough

Here are some tweets from real-life influencers.

2. The 'bigger-more' formula

This is another version of the 50-50 tweet formula. This also has two sections, but instead of contradicting the first statement, the second statement will complement the first.

Here's the sample format:

"The bigger <something>, the more it <action or outcome>"
"The more <something>, the better <action or outcome>"

But, it can also be contracting at times. Here are a few examples,

how to sound smart on twitter 05


3. The 'Obvious' Gyaan

This is the most easiest way to sound smart on Twitter. This is where the obvious things that many of us know are posted as tweets. They're short, well-known common sense stuff, yet they are attention-grabbing.

how to sound smart on twitter 07


4. Unpopular opinion

A major part of the influencer game runs on controversial tweets. And, sometimes, to make it deliberate enough, influencers tweet something under the title "unpopular opinion."

Example 1: Unpopular opinion - I love physical hard drive than cloud storage.

Example 2: Unpopular opinion - I love popular opinions.

5. 'Over the head' Tweets

Short tweets that make us go "Wait...what!"

how to sound smart on twitter 11

6. Threaded Advice

Professional or self-improvement advice in the form of tweet threads is also something that worked really great for these influencers. It keeps the audience engaged and serves as a great tool for engagement and reach

A few examples of threaded advice:

How to Get Rich (without getting lucky):

How to create your personal monopoly:

I'm sure the above-mentioned techniques would've given you enough ideas on how to sound smart on Twitter. Try these out and see if you’re getting more traction than usual.

Why Readwise is a great example of user-centric product design?

Apps with great User Experiences (UX) aren't talked about a lot. Reason? One, the number of apps with great UX is quite scarce. And two, the UX in some of the apps is so good, that it misses our radar. Readwise is one such app.

I came across Readwise a year back through my friend Sanjeev. Until I came across it, I had no idea I'd want such an app. I tried it out for a week and have been a paid user since then.

What is Readwise?

For those who don't know, Readwise helps you bring all your book and article highlights from various tools and sources into one single location and helps you revisit them frequently.

How Readwise changed my thinking process?

Before getting to the design part, let's take a quick look at how Readwise helps unify your knowledge consumption process.

Before Readwise

My knowledge consumption workflow was siloed. I used to read a lot on Kindle and the iBooks app on my phone and make highlights whenever I come across something interesting. Apart from books, I read a bunch of articles each day which I usually discover through Reddit, Hacker News, and publications I subscribed to via Substack. Whenever I come across an interesting article, instead of highlighting portions of it, I bookmark the entire article on Raindrop and add a tag to it.

And, being part of the startup ecosystem, I also spend a lot of time on Twitter. So I bookmark tweets and tweet threads.

So, I read and I highlight what I think is important and I save them for future use. Sounds good, right?

But, there is one problem. I don't revisit my highlights. Like never. Reason?

  • All my notes and highlights are siloed.

  • I don't know what I am looking for as I would've forgotten what I had highlighted.

  • The highlights and bookmarks aren't easily accessible - The kindle highlights are buried somewhere in Kindle and the Bookmarks tab on Twitter is not the best place to categorize and find the information you had saved for later.

But, Readwise changed it all.

After Readwise

Readwise helped me bring highlights from all the apps and devices under one roof. Within a few minutes of signing up, I was able to pull in highlights from my Kindle, iBooks app, Medium, Goodreads, etc.

Also, instead of Bookmarking Tweets, all I do now is add a comment to a tweet saying @readwise save and the tweet/thread gets saved into my Readwise account.

And, that is not the best part.

The best part about Readwise is, it collects those highlights and sends them to me via email at frequent intervals (you can set how frequently you'll like to see these emails.)

This way I am exposed to my highlights frequently and it triggers a thought process when I come across a sentence from an article or book I read a while back.

Readwise played a key role in helping come up with topics for my Atomic Essays Project.

The UX of Readwise

Over the past year, I've made a few observations while using Readwise.

In-depth understanding of user persona

The end-user of Readwise is an avid reader. Someone who reads a lot - across multiple devices and services. In order to create an app that provides value to them, the folks at Readwise should really understand their user's habits. 

From what I've seen, they've excelled at learning how users consume knowledge in different forms (books, articles, and podcasts). Here are a few features from Readwise that tells us how well the product team understood their users.

  • Highlights from physical books - The mobile app has an option to scan text from physical books and it lets you snip the portions of highlighted text and save it to your account.

  • My clippings.txt - The highlights on Amazon Kindle get synced only for the books you buy from Amazon. Highlights from epubs you copy into your Kindle device are usually saved in a 'My Clippings.txt' file inside your Kindle. What about those highlights? Readwise has an option where you can upload My Clippings.txt to capture those highlights as well.

  • PDF highlights - Reading and highlighting portions of a PDF file. You can upload the PDF to extract those highlights as well?

  • Browser extension - With the extension, you can highlight portions of articles you come across and save them in your Readwise account.

And not just that! Borrowing ebooks from your local library via Libby? Buying and reading books on your Android device using Play Books? or using an RSS reader like Feedly or Inoreader? Readwise has integrations built for all of them.

Helps you think with Daily Review

An app delivers the best experience when it delivers the value to where the users are instead of making users visit the app or the service often. One of the reasons support through social media and sending updates via Whatsapp became famous among users is because it brings users what they need to where they are.

Readwise does something similar with Daily review. It randomly picks highlights and tweets from your account and sends them to your email or surfaces them in the mobile app. You don't have to log into the app often to go through your highlights.

And since it directly comes to your inbox, it is easy for you to consume, reminisce, and think about why you had highlighted a certain portion. It can help you come up with a new perspective, give you a new idea or it can simply make your day.

Discovery of new apps and services

Apart from storing your highlights, Readwise provides you with an opportunity to get to know about new apps and services that could add more value to your current process. For example, I came to know about apps like AirrInoreader, and Hypothesis through Readwise. The discovery process also helps complementary apps acquire new uses. A win-win for all!

Readwise also enables knowledge discovery by bringing highlights from books you haven't read. The review email contains an additional highlight at the end which is often picked from a book we haven't studied. If we like the highlight, we'd end up reading the book. Here's how it looks on the email: 

Export Your Data (No Strings Attached)

I'm paranoid about my data. I want my apps to provide me with an option to export all my data in a simple, readable format. In fact, this was the reason I stopped using Evernote. Despite all the amazing features, it becomes really hard to migrate all your notes out of Evernote.

The folks at Readwise really understand this. Their export option allows you to sync your highlights with all your favorite note-taking apps - Evernote, Notion, Obsidian, and Roam. (I have synced highlights with all the apps except for Roam)

You can also export all your highlights in markdown format.

Areas that need improvement

Better Mobile Experience

The mobile app could be a lot better. For example, the highlights feed in the mobile app doesn't let you filter highlights based on type, time, or source. For now, it is just a barebones list. The app can have a quick capture button to jot down thoughts via text, photo, or voice notes. Right now, the option is hidden behind the Add Highlights section.

Voice notes are a more natural way of adding notes when we're on the move. We already use them on apps like WhatsApp and it feels natural. Readwise can support voice transcription similar to Otter Notes. Imagine someone reading a passage from a book and you can quickly transcribe that and add them to your Readwise account. Or someone giving a speech and you're there taking notes. Voice transcriptions would be really powerful in these scenarios. 

The mobile app could also use speed and performance improvements. 

Better UI for web app

The web app also needs a lot of improvements. 

For example, The moment you log into your web app, you see a screen that has options for import/export, settings, and browsing the highlights. As a user, I am not getting any value from this screen. Everything is either one or two clicks away.

Instead of showing the settings-like screen, there could be a dashboard that has widgets to show the newly saved items, highlights for daily review, new book recommendations, etc. 

But, despite the flaws, Readwise stands out due to its deep understanding of the target persona and designing features to import data from literally any app. The core functionality of the app is so strong it masks all the other flaws. Also, the flaws on the web and the mobile app can be ignored as users hardly log into the app and receive their highlights mostly via email.

But, they'll have to strengthen their app experience and fill in the UX gap because the knowledge management space rapidly expanding with the entry of new apps.

How Arrogance Led Aggregator Startups To Conquer India

How Arrogance Led to the Rise of Aggregator Startups In India

If you're in India, chances are you would've experienced the following at least once

  1. An autorickshaw driver asking "where do you want to go? Pay me the same amount as the app"

  2. A hotel manager requesting "Please cancel the booking on the app, ma'am. We'll give you a discount instead"

  3. A plumber or an electrician saying "There's a lot of work on top of what you had mentioned on the app. Pay the shown amount on the app and pay me the remaining. And, here's my card. Contact me personally if you have any more requirements."

But, the situation wasn't the same five years back.

What Happened?

Autorickshaw drivers charged Rs. 500 for a 10 km ride. Hotels charged us exorbitant amounts for an AC room and plumbers and electricians dodged our calls and came at their own will.

Hospitality, private transport, and home services were huge, unorganized, and independent sectors. They understood the demand. So they made their own rules.

They became arrogant. They decided to get more money from every customer. They never thought about recurring customers or bothered about customer satisfaction. They always thought "Where else are they gonna go?"

Instead of robbing people in broad daylight and causing them frustration, they could've charged the customers a reasonable amount, catered to more customers, and made a lot of money.

The arrogance and mistreatment of customers by a few of these people led to the rise of the aggregator startups.

The Dawn of Aggregator Startups

As the arrogance of independent sectors rose to new heights, a few smart minds watched it all. They saw their parents and neighbors suffer. And, they leveraged the opportunity.

Coming from an engineering and technology background, they were tempted to find a solution. They thought "Why not build services that connect people with genuine service providers!" And they did. The first sector to see such disruption was ride-hailing services.

When Uber and Lyft were becoming trendsetters in the US during the early 2010s, a couple of folks started to replicate a similar model in India. Within a short span of time (2014-2015) there were several such services to choose from. There was Ola, Meru CabsTaxi for Sure, and a few other small players. It came at the right time because India was undergoing a massive technological shift back then. With the influx of affordable smartphones, most people having access to 2G or 3G data, and the interest among various institutional VC firms to invest in India.

The aggregator startup economy started flourishing in India.

Attracting Both Parties

When they started out, these apps offered attractive benefits to both the users and the service providers. This eventually created a landscape where it has become a habit for the users to use only a specific app as a preferred mode of getting services (be it hailing a cab or booking a plumber). On the other hand, service providers started relying on these services for their livelihood. For example, cab drivers stuck to working for ride-hailing services as they get consistent income. Also, cab drivers who operated independently heard what other drivers are making through ride-hailing apps and joined these services eventually. The companies that were closely monitoring this behavior decided to make profits. Result? Service providers had to give a significant portion of their income as commission to these aggregator startups and users had to pay a premium to use the service.

The service providers who once enjoyed seeing so much earnings slowly realized the reality of being part of an aggregator model. But, they couldn't do much. The sectors that were once filled with arrogant service providers are now filled with anxious, helpless people who can't set their prices or take 100% of their earnings home.

The Anomalies

But, a small subset of these sectors tries to stay away from all this. They formed a union and tried to run things on their own. For example, places like Goa still don't allow Ola, Uber, or any other app-based services in their state. They still operate taxi services and the prices are decided among the union. This way they charge fair prices, make enough profits, and take them all. Even places like Jammu and Kashmir do the same.

I'd want to write about this in the first place because the rise of aggregator startups has taught us an important lesson. Never take your customers for granted. Whenever a sector goes rogue without any rules and treats its customers badly, they present a business problem and a market opportunity for new startups. Everything the sector disagreed to implement for decades will be achieved by an app within a couple of years.