When It Rains, It Pours | Ahnaaf's 21st Update | October 2022
It's a bit dry right now, but we'll be great soon.
Written on a park bench overlooking Lake Ontario, surrounded by autumn leaves and the autumn breeze. it’s cold here.
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 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
When it rains, it pours.
Up until recently, I never really understood what that quote meant. I used to believe that it referred to a long string of rainy days after an even longer string of sunny days. “It doesn’t rain much, but when it does rain, it sucks quite a bit.”
Now I’m learning that the true meaning of that proverb is that rain is seen as a good thing, it waters our crops, is necessary for basically every living organism, and provides great vibes. “Even though our crops may have been dry for many months, when it rains, it pours.”
I’ve been keeping this in my mind every day for the past couple of months as I try to get past challenges with NeuraDAO and school. So far I’m doing well, but now I’m really understanding what it means to build something and be really attached to it, while also struggling to build it at the same time.
A friend of mine told me that these are the climaxes in my biography and that I should enjoy these chapters in my life. That helped me push through a little bit, maybe it helps you too.
My life over the past couple of months:
Raised 6k from Gitcoin’s GR15. We were one of the top fundraisers in the DeSci round.
Got invited to speak at W3B in Toronto
Got invited a podcast w/ Adam Draper from BoostVC
Started my Senior year of high school
This newsletter is a bit shorter as I just want to let you guys know that I’m alive and building. There’s a lot coming together in the next month, stay tuned.
I am Neura-DAOing.
NeuraDAO has been heads down for the past couple of months trying to get out our MVP, raise funds, and get customers.
The eng team (nick & anush) ran into several roadblocks yet they’ve persevered like the great engineers they are. Earlier this month, we met at Ryerson university for a weekend to grind out the MVP.
The ops team (christian & ahnaaf) raised 6k from GR15, and another 5k from TalentKick (a grant program for Ph.Ds in ETH Zurich, thanks Ines!). After being broke, it’s been so great to have funding from the community all in such a short burst of time. When it rains, it pours.
VCs on the other hand are a bit trickier. . It feels like everyone is waiting on everyone else to make the first move. The art of fundraising in web3 is something that I’m new to, and it’s honestly hilarious how similar it is to getting a girlfriend in high school. People rarely invest based on conviction, but rather on FOMO and all these signals.
In other words, if nobody else wants to date you, then people who want to date you simply won’t as you aren’t wanted. Again, when it rains, it pours.
Growing as a founder
This is the first year in which I don’t have TKS along with school. All I have to do is school and NeuraDAO.
In my mind, the theme of this year is focus. There’s so much to learn as a founder, and I’m just in the beginning of my journey.
With my newfound time, I fell into the trap of losing intentionality. I was wishy-washy about how I used my time, and as a result, I wasted most of it. I had to remember my training at TKS Activate. Two things drilled into me at TKS were intentionality, and going 2 layers deep.
Bringing back intentionality into my life was as simple as asking myself “how are you spending your time in a way that brings you closer to your goals?” It was at that point that I realized that I didn’t have any concrete goals, nor was I working towards anything. Of course, I was building NeuraDAO, and we had our goals internally, but I had no personal goals for my own growth.
NeuraDAO requires certain roles to be filled, and I will fill them. However, as I’m so young, I find it to be counter-productive to my own growth if I only focus on what NeuraDAO needs rather than growing in other areas. Currently, I fill a CEO-like role at NeuraDAO, meaning that I rarely touch anything engineering related. In a conversation w/ Anush @ Eaton Centre, I realized that I am barely hireable outside of startup land and that my other skills need improvement. I went to Hack the North at UWaterloo and was straight-up useless as my skills are mainly project management and strategy.
I wasn’t intentional about my personal growth post-TKS, and that led to stagnation, and a waste of time. Now, I’m getting back into the groove of an intentional life:
Becoming technical again, starting by freshening up my personal brand (website, portfolio, etc) w/ Next.Js
Cleaning up my information diet
An hour of podcasts most days, sometimes more.
Reading a book bimonthly
Actually using Twitter Lists
Tracking my time more diligently
s/o to Ahmed Hassan for showing me toggl.com
Creating more than I consume.
A blog post a week would be nice, but not with school in the way.
I’ll report back to you in a month to see if I held up to these (albeit unspecific) goals.
Regarding going 2 layers deep, I found that for fear of seeming dumb, I asked less questions than I used to. Hilariously, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy that I’m learning about the hard way. Michael always told me to “go two layers deep, keep asking why.” I found that when I started to do so again, not only did my curiosity start to grow but my knowledge with it.
I have other stories that I want to tell later on, but I’ll write about them on the other section on my substack. For now, I just want to thank Charlie Feng, Michael Raspuzzi, and Christian Graves for being such great mentors.
Other NeuraDAO Updates
I got invited to a podcast w/ Adam Draper from BoostVC. Ideally once it’s published its the proclamation to all the VCs that I am dateable in startup land.
I also got invited to speak at W3B, which is a conference run by the Blockchain Research Institute. I’m on the Young Innovators panel and (hopefully) building a DeSci panel there.
I’m looking for intros to any academics working with neuroimaging data. I would greatly appreciate it if you have any.
Regarding the rest of my life.
As I write this newsletter, I’m sitting in quite chilly weather, and my hands are freezing. I’m doing this to introduce bit of discomfort into my work schedule, and get outside a bit. More importantly, I’m doing this to force myself to write this newsletter and not put it off.
It’s been months since my previous newsletter, and the last draft of this that I had was sitting in my drafts for months as I didn’t like it. I find that I have a lot of negative self-talk in my newsletters than I like, so I’m trying to get it all out with this one.
Moving forward, I’ll be writing more, building more, creating more. It’s genuinely fun to write, and I hope to have a lot of fun in the coming months. NeuraDAO should launch their MVP, I’ll be speaking at W3B, and demonstrating thought leadership at NeuraDAO.
The next newsletter will be a lot longer as it should be quite exciting. I will keep you guys posted, check my Twitter for more updates.
If you’re still reading, I appreciate you! Send me an email, we should catch up.
As a TKS student building in the blockchain space, this was a great read. Keep building + writing!