Successful Tech Founder Shares the Simple Secret to Identifying Untapped Business Opportunities
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that dares to bring the no nonsense insight to those who have the coverage to start, grow, and scale a business. Here's your host, entrepreneur, investor and best selling author Susan Sly. Well Hey, what is up Raw and Real entrepreneurs, wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And you know, the show, we talk about all sorts of topics, the courage to start a business, the courage to stay in business. And recently, one of the listeners stopped being, we were having this conversation and they just thanked me because it has given Thank you so much for that lovely introduction. Thank you. them the courage to stay the course, stay in business. And I
just want to say a shout out to miss Tony, who I saw at a wedding in Dallas. And I really appreciated that. So my guest today and I are going to have a lot of fun talking about all sorts of different topics from entrepreneurship to tech, the future of tech. Is the world ending because of AI? And so I would say a couple of things. One, I know some of you are on the treadmill running, you may want to replay this one and take some notes. Number two, I always love a great review. And if I do
read your review on the show, then you can get a $50 amazon gift card. So How fun is that? So and by all means if you want to take that gift card and donate it to a charity of your choice, you can do that too. But let's get the party started. My guest today is the founder of Tetra noodle technologies. Now, it doesn't get cooler than that name, I'm sorry. He's a business mentor. He's a leading authority on AI and machine learning. And he's has four patents, and Radius, where we have patents and I'm very familiar with patent applications. But we're
not going to talk about that today. Don't worry. He's an author, and he is a podcast host. He started his career at the age of 15 working in a factory and earning $2 a day. Well, he had no contacts or resources. He was determined to improve his life with hard work, and his insatiable curiosity. I love that insatiable curiosity. To learn new concepts, he
continued to make stellar progress. Today, he is a entrepreneurial leader and his company TetraNoodle Technologies is a premium data science and AI consulting company. He has been listed amongst the world's AI leaders by the Miami Dade College. He's also a board advisor to many startups,
accelerators and entrepreneurship circles. And in his career, which you know, if you see him in person, I don't know how he's done this much when he looks like he's about 25. In his, in his life with over 25 plus years of industry experience, he has built a valuations of over half a billion dollars. And he, he's just nonstop but most
importantly, to everything, in addition to being a great human, he's a dad to two sons. So Manuj Agrawal, welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. I'm so excited to have you here. So Manuj, I want to just jump right in. And first question off
the bat, what was your first business and how did you start it? Alright, it's gonna sound a little bit embarrassing, but this, this, this happened in grade 10. This was like, more than three decades ago. I always had, like, you know, this, this notion that I could look at people's problems and try to solve it. And back then, in grade 10, I was super skinny,
very, very skinny, to the extent that I couldn't even find like, you know, good fitting clothes. And I looked around and number of my friends had the same problem. So I said, Okay, you know, there must be a good way to, you know, gain some weight quickly. And I found a sketchy, sketchy, you know, like, homemade kind of remedy to gain weight. At that time, I didn't
realize it was like, it could have gone really wrong, but it was something some, some, you know, some natural occurring substance that increases the amount of water that your body absorbs, and you just let balloon up within, you know, weeks. And so I bought that and I sold it my friends. You know, a few people tried it, but then you know, as quickly as you gain the weight, you lose the weight, like right away. So that was my first business. You know, I think I broke even but after I saw what happens to the body, you know, I just stopped right away. So that, that's one.
You know, it's so funny. We've had, you know one of the founders I interviewed, his first business was selling watermelons and he sang the song watermelon man and the watermelon man and we've had so many different stories. Some have repeated, that is the first time I've ever heard that story.
And, and entrepreneurship, like he said, it's about seeing a problem, figuring out a way to solve a problem and having the courage to go and take that action. So what was your second business? Second business. So I've tried many, you know, as I was getting into the internet age, like I was looking at how people are making money online. So I started dating websites. And I started an eBay store for selling sporting goods. Because I belong to a city in India where, which is well known the, you know, the world over for very, very high quality sporting goods. So I used to import them. And I used to sell them on eBay, that was like a decent business, it did well for a couple of years. But then, as you know, you know, unless you are in
retail, you know how to manage the inventory costs and things like that, you know, I got priced out by people who are selling way, way cheaper. And so you learn these lessons as you go through these multiple businesses about different industries. And, you know, it's very easy to get in, but it's kind of difficult to sustain. What, so going, you know, thinking about like online business, I had an online business in 1995, when the Internet is just kind of burgeoning. So I was one of the first health and wellness coaches with a paid online sites, and a recurring membership fee in '95. What year was your first internet business? Around 2001? Around that timeframe.
So early? What did you, so I'm sure that you had some critics. And maybe your family is saying, you know, what, what are you doing? What is this internet thing? What did you see? Because one of the things you're known for is being a bit of a futurist, especially when it comes to technology. So what did you see about the internet that maybe other people weren't seeing at the time? Um, you know, the, the thing is that, at some level, I didn't realize it, but I had a hunch that business is all about networking, business is all about communication. How, how do you find those people who have the problem? How do you find the solutions? How do you like sort of, you know, utilize technology to create a, some sort of automated systems supply chain, or whatever. And all of these things were coming together, you know, you could find people on eBay, who were looking for a particular item, and you can source that item through the internet from the manufacturer. You can, you know, get it
shipped to a warehouse, and then you can ship it one by one in a package, all of those things, all those components were there. So I just had to figure out a sustainable cycle that continues and, you know, feeds the profit back into the business, because I knew that is basic definition of a business. And the idea was to create a passive income so that I can sort of, you know, free up my time to spend first with my family, second, on more like, you know, futuristic ideas, which I knew would change the game for a lot of other people. So that was, that has been my sort of quest to, to create a system to generate passive income, and then utilize my time on more, you know, futuristic sort of endeavors.
I love it. And that, and thinking about too, I mean, in Radius, we have an office in Bangalore, right. So I get to work with amazing people from India, we also have an office in Turkey, and you know, people from different areas where the internet wasn't, you know, where it was, say, in America, it was still behind. And I want to commend you, Manuj, because you saw something that other people didn't see. So let me ask you this, what are some of the problems you're seeing now that if someone was listening to the show, wherever they are in the world, whether it's India or Nigeria, that you would say these are problems that someone could begin to solve and begin to create money, but maybe with not a lot of startup capital? What are some things you're seeing? Yeah, see, right now there are there are a lot of people losing hope. They're in despair, you know, a lot of sort of negative feelings towards certain group of people, LGBTQ, you know, female entrepreneurs. People are not listening to each other
that's why we have so much conflict in the world. And if you go on a website like Fiverr, you can actually earn hundreds of dollars per hour just listening to people. You just don't have to do anything, just log into zoom and people will just like spill out their guts and you know, they want somebody to talk to. So the environment is changing. We have gone
through a huge sort of upheaval in the, at a global level. And now people are settling down. So I won't say there is anything complicated other than just trying to observe what people are yearning for. They may not even say it out loud that I need somebody to talk to, but you know, what are they yearning for and then try to empathize with their needs. And you'll find so many opportunities, so many opportunities. The second thing is, second thing is like, with so many opportunities, a lot of people make the mistake of following other people's paths.
Meaning they say, oh, you know, that person, he did this business, ecommerce, Amazon, whatever, whatever that business is, and he bought a Mercedes, he bought a BMW in like, six months, I'm going to do that. Whereas they don't realize their heart and soul is not in it. So they keep going in circles, trying to find that next big thing, rather than focusing on Okay, these are the 10 options in front of me, what resonates with me the most, what fulfills me, that's what I want to get into. Because entrepreneurship, as you know, is difficult. It's
challenging. Everyday, there's a new challenge. Unless and until you're really into it, you're like, This is what you're meant to be, you're gonna give up very quickly. So so that's one thing I always say that you know, really learn to listen to other people also listen to yourself. That's beautiful. Listen to what people are yearning for. And to your point, I agree wholeheartedly, there's this, this such a disconnect, where people have stopped, not everyone but, and there's a certain sense that people have stopped having empathy, they've stopped listening to others. And
it's, it's become a bit of a screaming match. It's like, hear me, hear me, hear me. And what I hear you saying is that there's always opportunity if you're willing to pause and listen, right? Even look at Jay Shetty as an example. He's built, you know, an amazing podcast, best selling author, and really just listening to what people are saying in terms of feeling hopeless, feeling frustrated. And so I love, I love that. I think that's, that's a phenomenal idea. From your
vantage point now that we're living in very interesting times. And so let's go in the time machine. So you're on the internet in 2001. And then 2008, Facebook hits hard. So we, you know, people could do you know, one post on Facebook, and they could get a bunch of sales in their business, or they could run dollar a day Facebook ads, and they can, you know, get this massive traction. And then it went from a blue ocean, where there were, you know, there was a small amount of content and a large amount of voracious people looking at that content to a significant amount of content, significant amount of people.
It's more like a red ocean. So social media is going through a massive, massive upheaval. Changes regulations for TikTok, even, you know, in the news, Zuckerberg is in the news, and Elon Musk is in the news. So as a futurist Manuj, what would you say social media is going to look like five years from now? Yeah, great question. So, you know, whenever you want to look
at the future, and predict, which is kind of impossible, but just project what is going to happen, the best thing to do is look at the past. So if we look at the history of information and communication, it used to be very, very scarce and very expensive to acquire information. Let's even talk about the books. So printing press was invented maybe 700 years ago. Before that, everything, even the Bible used to be written by hand. And you had to employ a person for months to be able to replicate a book. Right? So it was only
affordable by kings and queens. After the printing press, it became a little bit more accessible, but still, you know, not a common person could buy like, you know, in year 2000, I had to pay $50 per book. You know, this is year 2000. And I was not able to afford all the books I wanted. And now today, there is no such thing. Like I can just go to google and type
anything in the world. Like the weirdest thing that I can think of I want to learn, I can type it in on YouTube. So the history of information is that we went from scarce to abundant information. Information is going to exponentially explode. And we have been seeing that. So the format of the information will continue to change. It went from written to digital to now
video is you know, as we are recording it, audio/video, and tomorrow there's going to be, you know, Metaverse and AR/VR. All of. so the format of how we produce and consume information is going to continue to explode as humanity, you know, discovers new and new ways of communicating. The things that will shift is from abundance to quality, because when you have limited quality, even the low, limited quantity, even the low quality stuff will surface, will be visible. But with abundance, you have competition, so high quality will survive, you know, it will no longer be, okay, look at me, I'm so good. It will be like, okay, you know, this is what I can do for you. And this
is how good I do the things that I do for you. And if you are genuine, if you are consistent, then you will be able to stand out otherwise it's going to be really difficult to you know, stand out in that ocean. And what is your sense in terms of this debate with AI driven content? So Google's, it's like this, there is a an AI battle happening where Google's, this is not explaining to you Manuj because you and I would have coffee, and we geek out and talk about this. But for the everyday listener. So Google's AI is being trained to identify content written by AI. And there's a company, Jasper AI, that just got a $1.5 billion valuations, little AI tool that I've used, you know, and you just feed in a little bit of text, and it'll spit out a whole blog post or whatever. So there's an AI battle happening,
as you said, from abundance to quality. So what in your opinion, is going to happen with regard to AI critic content with versus human critic content? Yeah. So let's just step back a little bit and talk about AI as a tool. Before the advent of AI, you know, we have invented so many machines, so many discoveries have been made, everything that has been done technologically has to enhance our physical abilities, meaning the car was invented to make us go faster, the crane was invented to help us lift heavier weights, it's all about our physical abilities. AI is the only invention that is going to increase our cognitive abilities. Not only that, you know, we are, we well are aware that the ad read AI is, is getting smarter and better, it is going to surpass human intelligence very soon. And that
point is called singularity. So once again, if you look at history, even the production of that data was very slow. So as I said, information used to be copied hand by hand. You know,
it used to be passed on from generation to generation in stories, but now machines can produce that data. So, again, I'm nobody to predict this, but I believe that Google is on a shaky ground, because their whole premise is to synthesize the information that was produced by human beings. Right? And now that paradigm is no longer applicable, because information is going to be produced primarily by AI, right? So now, you know, just like you look at the wars, you know, one nation invents one weapon, the other nation has to invent the bigger one. So my prediction is in the next 10, 12 years, you'll see a different way of synthesizing information. And the biggest evidence of this is, you know, a company like Facebook, which had reached about trillion dollar valuation, they changed the name from Facebook to Meta, but that's telling you something that wehre the you know, the people in the know, where do you think the industry is going? Right? So no longer we will consume information in text format, no longer we will consume information in on a blog written somewhere because it takes a lot of time and energy to write it, you know, not everybody can write eloquently. But now with
AI, everybody can become a writer and share their thoughts. And not only that, as a species, we are getting more and more demanding in the richness of the content that we want. You know, we don't no longer want to read the only way is to read but we want experiential, you know, like content where you can literally describe how I felt, how it looks like and I can like be there with you, I mean, that's the future.
And I love how you broke it down because that singularity, that surpassing. And a lot of people are afraid of it. And stepping outside of the conversation for a moment as a co founder of an AI company, these are the conversations we're having every day. And so at Radius we said, Manuj, that we will be human centric AI. And we will use our computer vision AI to empower the humans that want to be there in those locations. And and so
from that vantage point, that we look at it and say, AI has a lot of very useful implications. And we are, they're infinite. That could be like a whole other topic of conversation. But something you brought up about Google is on shaky ground. And we would say, you know, and you also spoke about Meta, and meta is really interesting. So Manuj and I are about to geek out so I
just want everyone to come along with us on this little journey because there are people who use Facebook daily for their social media, and I had a period of time where I had a staff just posting and doing stuff, and then I went back into my Facebook personal page. And there were still all of these avid people, Manuj, like Happy birthday, so and so and this is my new puppy and, and everything. And there's this misperception that that was always Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's endgame goal, which it wasn't because when they acquired Oculus, I believe it was in 2016, or no 2014. They were going into the metaverse and some people have said with the crash of crypto, oh, the metaverse isn't going to happen. But you said the people in the know. So let's take a journey into the metaverse. So in your opinion, is the metaverse still
going to happen? And if so, what is the near future look like with Metaverse technologies? You know, it is going to happen for sure. So, the technology and human existence has have always merged, always merged. We tend to think that oh, you know, these are separate things, human life should exist outside of this technological bubble. But can you imagine your life without wheel? Without a wheel.
There is no life without a wheel today, you know, even though we existed way before the invention of the wheel, you know, life was, you know, progressing. But today it has become part and parcel of our life, we cannot even imagine life without it. Without fire without, you know, a whole bunch of things. So,
when we think about AI, yes, it is going to become more powerful, it is going to do the things that we find boring, or mundane or repetitive. In that environment you know, AI will actually support us to entertain, to connect with each other, to you know, create these virtual worlds. And as explorers, as people who are always curious, you know, we want to see what is out there, you know. How can I experience something even without actually being there, whatever. So in that scenario, yes. Metaverse is going to happen. Now, what will
be the shape and form of the metaverse? I don't know because I think right now we are going through like the VHS version, versus the beta videotape format fight. What Metaverse would look like. In my opinion, if you tell somebody, Hey, you're gonna have to wear this like helmet looking thing for the rest of your life for 24 hours a day to exist in this world, that's not going to really take off. So what we really need is, you know, things like neural language. Elon Musk is working on where, you know, you are directly connecting to the, to the human thoughts and, you know, engaging technology through a common bridge. So, life existence is not something that will need external gadgets.
It's like Wi Fi, it's there. You know, it's just like, whenever you want to hook in this, okay, so that's where I think technology will take us. It's still far from from the truth, maybe 5, 10 years, maybe 20 years. But that's where I think we are going.
Absolutely. I agree with you 100%. And, and what the average non tech person doesn't understand there are all sorts of issues with things like latency, video processing. So right now, for example, if if you're going to process real time video from multiple camera streams, you're going to use an Edge Server and GPUs but I was doing a talk at the AI at The Edge Summit in Santa Clara and one of the other speakers was the head of Metaverse technologies for meta and he does such a beautiful job. His name is Vijay, he did such a
beautiful job talking about connectivity issues. And for everyone you know, thinking about the near future, we are going to wear these glasses. But just like outside your home, you might not have the best Wi Fi connectivity. How would you connect to the metaverse if you can't even connect to the internet? So there are a lot of blockers in this path. And my friend is building, Manuj, the data center for the metaverse, his company is. And so he has shared with me just some different things that he is allowed to share. But you know
that at Meta, they already have meetings internally with their staff in virtual offices in the metaverse. And so and you know, there are all sorts of implications that are going to happen, but it's inevitable. And that people also need to understand that it isn't necessarily about Shiba inu or Doge coin or even bitcoin that the currency of the metaverse is also going to be a Metaverse currency, whatever that looks like. And so it is inevitable. So we started this conversation was problems to solve. Entrepreneurs solve problems. And you're consulting to these companies on AI, and ML, and how AI can empower them, which I love. And that's absolutely awesome. So let me ask you a different question. Now we're in
the time machine from early internet when you started to now. So if you were the age you were then and looking at the metaverse the way you looked at the Internet, what kind of business might you think about starting? Not a weight gainer business in the better verse. Yeah, well, well, I will, I will, here is what I will suggest. Again, you know, if, because I have gained significant experience as well since then. So I will try to,
you know, use that wisdom now. What I will do is, I will say I'm in a particular location in a physical location in the world. I will go out there and experience some physical life and I will digitize it. And I will upload it in a way so that you can also experience the same life sitting at any place that you are. Meaning people are fond of cuisines. I'll go, these different cuisines and if the metaverse can like really be powerful enough, I can transfer over all the emotional things that I'm experiencing, including the taste of the cuisine I'm experiencing, and have you experience the same thing. It's almost like The Matrix thing, remember where, you know, you wanted to learn certain things, and they just pop in a floppy disk. And then you became an expert at that. So something
along those lines, I think that's where we are going to be in few years. Yes. And it's as much as the people fear. One of my good friends is Dr. Brenda Wiederholt and she is the leading expert in using VR technologies to treat people with PTSD and depression. And it's, and it's so beautiful what she's doing. And I think
that, if anything that's, some people react to fear Manuj, and I know you talk about these things on your show, that they get excited and they do it and some people react to fear, and they cower, and my message has always been consistent about the metaverse is it's inevitable. I was doing a keynote for MIT earlier this year. I said if something's inevitable, why don't you embrace it and figure out a way to use it for good? And something I'm excited about. So I'm going to ask you a final question about the metaverse. So I've never been to Singapore. I've been to 35 countries but never Singapore. So Singapore is
creating a digital twin of the city, which would mean that I would get to travel to digital Singapore, check it out and everything and then decide if real Susan and not avatar Susan wants to go to real Singapore. And I'm excited about those possibilities of being I love to travel, but being able to sort of experience before the experience and just feel it and that's just for me something that's awesome. And, and the other thing that I'm also excited about, our people who have what some would call disabilities, and imagine if you've never run being able to run in the metaverse. And I get chills as a mother of a child with a disability. And so those are things I'm excited about. What are you excited about about the metaverse? Yeah, I mean, these are the things see, as I said earlier, like technology helps us do things that was not possible before, right? The problem don't mean that our human mind is always limited to what is, what it is today, and what it used to be in the past, and then maybe 10% more imagination on top of that. So we can say, hey, you know, we can, you know, in case
of people with disability, or you know, the technology exists to help them, you know, be more mobile, like, with certain gadgets, but you can think that we are putting the limitation on our physical abilities. Everything that we experience is right here in our mind. So if we just say, okay, you know, as he said, like, if we can put somebody in a state of mind where they can't even, they can't even like, differentiate between the physical limitations versus what they're experiencing in the mind, I could go to Jupiter and as long as my mind thinks I am on Jupiter, I am going to be on Jupiter. That's just the reality of it. You know, a lot of people, we tend to think, you know, the reality is different than what our imagination is. But truly, you know, as you said, like, somebody who's during PTSD, it's just all a state of mind, and with artificial intelligence and all these technologies, look at it this way, we already live in that world right now. Our
worldview is already formed by the information that we are consuming, and most of the information is controlled by AI algorithms today. Right? So our worldview is already there. We just have to add the experiential component to it. And then we'll be free to experience whatever we want in this in this world. That is beautiful. Well, Manuj, there are so many things I could ask you about. So we'll have to continue this. I know we're
gonna continue this conversation on your show. And speaking of your show, I want everyone to check out Manuj's show, Bootstrapping Your Dreams. And the, so this is my bonus question, Manuj. Since you live in Vancouver, Canada, and I'm originally from Canada, have you been ever to a Tim Hortons? Absolutely absolutely. Okay, what is your favorite tip Timbit flavor? I like the original one without a lot of sweets added on top of it but my kids love the different flavors with the glaze on it, the chocolate and we always get like a little bit of plain Timbit for me and then the rest of the sweet ones for them.
The glaze chocolate ones, delicious. And so this show is not sponsored by Tim Hortons. Anytime that everyone knows it, because you know every, anytime I have somebody who lives in Canada or is from Canada, we are going to have at least one Canadian topic because Canada is the second biggest listening audience in the world for Raw and Real entrepreneurship. So shout out to Timbits. Everyone, if you don't know what a Timbit
is, you can Google it or you can experience it in the metaverse when that happens. With the digital twin of the Tim Horton show, the Tim Horton store. So Manuj, anyway, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you. I would encourage everyone to follow you on Instagram @MANUJAGRO and Manuj's YouTube channel MANUJAGRO and again, it's Bootstrapping Your Dreams. So thank you again, Manuj for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
Thank you so much. Thanks. Well, everyone This has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship and I want to thank you for stopping by. Don't forget to go and leave a review on iTunes. I do read all your reviews. Me and not a staff member. And again, if I read your review on air, I am going to give you a $50 amazon gift card. So with that, God bless, go rock your day, and I will see you in the next episode.