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Speaking at Collision | Ahnaaf's 20th Update | July 2022
Started summer off right by speaking at Collision, and making meaningful progress in my projects.
Welcome to my 20th Update
I’ve been procrastinating the writing of this update since I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around this week. There’s so much to talk about, I feel like I’ve been able to talk about it all here.
By the way, I’ve imported all of my older newsletters onto Substack. A lot of them make me cringe, but that’s a testament to how far I’ve come.
If you're new to my update, welcome!
I'm a 17 y/o web2 + web3 + neurotech developer currently trying to build the future of neurotech R&D funding with NeuraDAO
As I go on a journey to try and build the future, I would love to have you be a part of it!
Speaking at Collison + Starting Summer
By far, these past couple of weeks have been some of the best of my life. I met a bunch of cool people, had unique experiences, learned a lot, and developed relationships I feel like I’ll maintain for the rest of my life.
There’s so much to cover in what seems like not enough words.
Rundown of the past couple of weeks:
Spoke at Collision
Heads down on NeuraDAO
Hustling new experiences
Life at Collision
Collision is one of the biggest tech conferences in the world. Over 30,000+ people attended, and there were something like 500+ speakers at the event. Simply attending the conference would’ve been great, but I was there to speak.
The experience at Collision was unlike anything that I’ve done before. I attended as a part of the TKS squad, which was a bunch of people who worked really hard to speak at or attend Collision with their ticket sponsored by TKS. Most people in the TKS squad stayed at a shared AirBNB where we spent the week together.
Our days were mainly spent networking at the conference, with the nights mostly being spent together at the AirBNB. Regardless of where we were, we were making memories 24/7.
It’s insane how close you can get with people from shared experiences, as well as living together for such a short period of time. I lived with these guys for 5 days and had a single conference with them, and now it feels like I’ll know these people for the rest of my life.
To the time that we realized that we have 7 guys to share 2 beds (we got more beds later), to when Ian smelled tap water and bottled water and correctly guessed which was which, the AirBNB was great.
In terms of how the conference was, it went well! I met with a lot of smart people, had interesting conversations, and had unique experiences.
Being a VIP…
Inside Collision, there’s an exclusive speakers/executive lounge called Forum. You’re only allowed into this space if you’re a speaker, media, or you have their chairperson badge (costs around 11k CAD).
Forum was beautiful. They had free breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, candy, and drinks. It’s literally paradise if you’re a kid as you can heavily indulge in your favourite snacks and then network with some of the smartest people in the conference.
Everyone in there was a VIP, so they all got treated as VIPs, including me! It was wild having people pick up my plates for me and clean up after me. There was actually no place for you to put your plates away yourself. So you had to just leave your plates and glasses for a waiter to pick them up.
While Forum was cool, the people inside Forum were much cooler. I met everyone from investors to journalists; all of whom taught me something interesting.
For example, journalists taught me how to tell more compelling stories: I was told to shave my stories down to be as simple as possible. People want to relate, and once they find something that they can’t relate to, then they stop caring. So you have to shave the elements of the story down to be as smooth as possible.
Otherwise, I networked with 100+ people, had a bunch of free food, and then spoke on stage…
Speaking at Collision
Hilariously, the arguably most important part of Collision comes last in my newsletter. The story here isn’t super interesting… but it was a cool moment.
For those who don’t know, I spoke on a panel on the Crypto stage at Collision. Our topic was “Why I should care about Web3 Social Media?” I was onstage with the CEO of Aave as well as the CMO of Award Pool.
From what I know, that was the 2nd largest stage at Collision. It felt like there were 500 people watching us onstage. Surprisingly, it wasn’t really scary or nerve-wracking being on stage. I just had a conversation and tried to illustrate my points as well as possible.
From what I’ve heard, my talk was received well and people liked the information and perspective that I brought to the table.
If you want to see the talk in full, I’ve posted it on Youtube.
There were so many people that made Collision such a great experience. I’ll attempt to list them all, but I might miss some and I apologize in advance if I do!
Thank you to: Tobias for always being such a great person to be around, Zayn for being such a big source of appreciation and camaraderie, Spencer for helping me refine my pitch and introducing me to some cool people, Aryan for keeping up with my 6ix antics, Mo and Khalid for fun people to talk to and jamming about Kanye, Aaron for teaching me about how to tell a compelling story, Ian for helping me pick out my speaking outfit, Damian for his song reccs, Niloo for bringing “we’re not really strangers,” Kim for letting us run to Shopper’s where I got a 24 pack of water, Mia for taking the fall in Mafia and everyone else who made Collision a memorable experience.
Quick NeuraDAO Update
After Collision, it was officially Summer break. No more school, no more homework. That means I’m able to kick it into high gear and fully focus on NeuraDAO.
We’ve formalized our tasking so that it’s very clear what everyone needs to do, brought on a new teammate who’s experienced in the worlds of DAOs, VC, and neuroscience, generated tons of attention towards NeuraDAO, and made leaps of progress towards our MVP.
He’s super cool, and he has his own podcast which he was kind enough to give me a guest feature!
If you want to read more about what’s been going on at NeuraDAO, I suggest you read and subscribe to the NeuraDAO Newsletter!
Reflecting on this past month
If you asked me 2 years ago from now, “what would you be doing the summer of 2022?” I doubt I would’ve said anything interesting, or exciting. That’s not because I’m a boring person, I just didn’t think that the things that I’m doing right now were in my reach.
If there’s anything that these past two years have taught me, it’s that almost anything is in my reach if I want it enough. What’s needed is effort and approach, with the approach being most important.
With NeuraDAO coming very close to being in the real world, there’s a lot of fear on my side with things going wrong and what might happen to my life. We’re going to start a raise soon, and our MVP is going live in a month or so.
Once this thing hits the market and takes off, what happens to school and friends? It feels immature of me to think like this when I potentially have a great product that could help people around the world.
Nevertheless, a part of me wishes it’ll fail so I can be a normal high schooler again. The other part of me wishes it takes off so I can never have to go to high school again.
Ever since going to Collision and having an amazing experience both at the conference and at the AirBNB, I’ve found myself wanting to go back and recreate a similar experience.
I’ve felt this way every time I went to a conference and then had to go back to school a day or two later. The context switch is insane! I went from vibing at a conference, building something cool with my friends, to back at school writing essays.
Anyways, that’s enough from me for now about this. Maybe next update I’ll have some answers for you.
Stepping Down From Electrify Liberia
If you’ve been looking closely you would’ve noticed that I changed my bio slightly and removed the Electrify Liberia project. Sadly, that’s because I left the project.
There isn’t a big story here, I just didn’t want to work on it any longer. Didn’t feel like I was learning much through the project and it was taking up a lot of my time.
I was leading the project so I was responsible for directing the team towards the vision as well as the work that I had normally done as part of the project.
I’m also doing the same thing for NeuraDAO. Earlier, my philosophy was that if Elon Musk can do it, I can do it. I have learned that I am not Elon Musk, that shit is hard.
On the bright side, I’ll be working on something new in the EdTech space. I’ll be telling you guys more on the next update!
I’ll be going heads down on NeuraDAO to try and prep for the MVP release. Also, I’ll be building something in EdTech, and maybe trying to learn something new in the Energy space.
Will keep you guys posted, check my Twitter for more updates!