PODCAST: People of America - CEO of Nectir
We're back with a new podcast episode with our CEO Kavitta Ghai! This week she sits down with an old friend and host of the People of America podcast, Nikola Atanackovic, to give you the inside scoop on how their public school education led to the birth of Nectir. Check out the podcast here!
Podcast at a glance:
- Intro and Kavitta’s Background
- What is Nectir, how Nectir was developed, and potential use cases
- One moment where you realized Nectir might work
- One moment where you realized Nectir might not work
- Advice for those looking to start their own company
- How do you effectively balance your time and prioritize your mental health
- Quote of the episode and outro
- And much more...
Hi everyone and welcome back to People of America. Podcasts dedicated to interviewing everyday Americans as we discuss everything from their upbringing to their future dreams and aspirations. Before we kick off the show today, a couple of things I wanted to go over. If you haven't checked out the website already, what are you doing? PeopleofAmericapod.com Has our recent episodes has an entire episode library on there. So if you missed the show, or want to go back and maybe re listen to something that you may have missed peopleofAmericapod.com is your one stop shop for all that. Also, you'll find on there some more information about myself. I have a little book club. So any books that I'm currently reading or have read in the past, so if you are a reader like myself, I think you'll enjoy to see some some some books that I've read. I think that's it pretty much for all the administrative duties. Very excited for today's episode, a near and dear friend of mine who actually I haven't talked to in probably eight years. So it was awesome catching up with her and seeing everything that she's been up to. Kavitta Ghai. Kavitta, thank you so much for joining the show.
Yeah, thanks for having me, man. I'm excited to be here. And so glad that we got to catch up and do this. It's so fun to see eight years later, from high school to now post college, how far we've come where life is. So really excited to be here and talk about all of that. For everyone listening, thank you for being here with us. My name is Kavitta Ghai, I am the co founder and CEO of Nectir, which is basically slack for schools, we build communication infrastructure for learning communities around the world. I started Nectir when I was a junior in college at UC Santa Barbara, and for the last four and a half years been doing it with my best friend and co founder Jordan Long. And yeah, that's been my life and hopefully what we'll be doing for the next few decades to come.
It's amazing stuff. So for, I guess before we dive into more of the specifics of Nectir, which I definitely want to do, because I know when we were catching up, and it was actually funny, because I had told you that you know, I keep up with you on LinkedIn, and seeing all of the stuff that you've been able to do with Nectir, with your team and your co founder, really, really impressive. And I personally love the idea. And I love you know the problem that you're trying to solve. And I'm sure we'll get into more of the nitty gritty details. But before we get there, I want to talk about your upbringing, high school, like you said, we both know each other from high school, which I want to say we had a different experience than maybe most Americans. But I'll let you maybe you touch on that a little bit more.
Yeah, definitely. I think for anyone that doesn't know, Nick, and I grew up in the bay area in Fremont. And we were lucky enough to go to one of the best public schools in the nation. Which is saying a lot, because I think when we say that you think of this, like private school. So education, where it's these, like incredible buildings and super funded, that was not the case at all. It like, did not look or feel like it was one of the best public schools in the nation.
It was designed by a prison architects, I think that was the story.
And like, just, again, I'm gonna go back to it was not what you would imagine when you think this is one of the best public schools in the nation. And, you know, just, this is the top tier of public education. And I think that speaks a lot to why I went and started Nectir. Because for the amount of resources that we have in this country, to just put it plainly, we should be doing a lot better. We owe students in this country a lot more than what we're giving them. And when you really look at the budgets behind the scenes, we have the money and the resources to do it. So it has always been this question for me of like, God, if this is the best, then first of all, what do much less privileged schools and communities look like? And why are we not putting more effort and energy into what is the precursor to every major innovation that we've ever had in the world? Education comes before anything that we do in this world to make it better. It has been since the start of humanity. I mean, the way that we learned to build a fire and communicate it to other communities and help them survive, like, education is at the core of all of us. It's why we're here. I truly believe that the purpose of human life is Learn, I think it's the only explanation as to why you good things happen or why do bad things happen. Because the purpose is simply to learn. That's why we do everything that we do it is to simply get a little bit better to have a little bit more knowledge each and every day. And so for one of the fundamental cores of being a human being to be one of the last priorities that we have on the list in this country is just something that has never sat well with me. And to touch on what Nick was saying of our background and where we came from. Growing up in the Bay Area and the Silicon Valley. It's just a pressure cooker. You from the youngest age, I mean, probably from like kindergarten, you start getting compared to the kids around you. Your reading levels are compared all the parents are always talking after a class of it was your kid in GATE? Did they? Did you get into the accelerated reading program? Because mine did? Right, right. Like you already, like we're having flashbacks I know. So I just to set the tone, I guess for me going into a space where I'm trying to rebuild education at its core, and on a global level. It's coming from a place of knowing that the way that we were raised and the way that we learned, if that's the best, we have a lot of improvement to do.
Yep. And so part of the reason why I'm I was so intrigued when we first talked is some of the points that you just brought up and kind of how your background, how your upbringing, how your experience, you know, at the university level led you to creating Nectir and solving some of the problems that we currently have interior point. You know, we went to one of the best high schools in the nation. And the education was certainly there in terms of, you know, the coursework and the rigor. But if you look at some of the amenities that quote unquote, amenities that we had, right, and our surroundings, i t was kind of like, man, like, what are we doing here? I mean, and so I will say, going back to your point about the Bay Area really quick. I've always told people, I mean, I was my family still lives there. And so I go back there often. In any time, I swear to you, I land either at San Jose or at SFO, I stepped out of that plane, and you just feel this pressure on you. And you and you see, you walk out of the plane, you walk into the terminal. And you see the people with their Allbirds, with their Patagonia. With their Patagonia quarter zips, and you're like you're home? Yeah. And it's to your point, you know, in high school, it was, once again, sad, what was your grade in AP Calculus? What college? Are you going to what are you going to study? What do your parents do? What, you know, what are your plans? What this and that? So, you know, again, our educational background, from the high school level, I again, would say was a lot different. And granted, you know, it did prepare us, in my opinion very well for college. And that's where I kind of want to go to next is your college experience, because mine was when I first started at San Diego State. For me, it was more of a shock, because I didn't realize just how different our high school was from others. And how rigorous how much more rigorous it was from other high schools. And so I will say shout out Irvington, high school, you did prepare us well for college, but I want to learn more about your college experience.
Yeah, I think the first thing I noticed, I remember getting to UCSB, and my parents dropping me off, and my mom like sobbing on the way out. And I was pretty excited to go to college, I was like, I get my independence. I you know, get to be on my own and figure out who I am. But you get there and you realize, oh shit, nobody prepared me from going from a 2000 person high school campus to a 27,000 person college campus. In orientation weekend is not going to prepare you for navigating that space. And then on top of that, you have this pressure of not only where we came from, and the excellence that we saw around us, but you have the pressure of, you know, my parents are immigrants, they came to this country for me to succeed and be even better than them, I have to do well here. There is no other there is no failure. Failure is not an option here. But then on top of that you have this pressure of the world making it seem like this is the moment where you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life. Right now. Pick a major and that's what you're going to do. And for an 18 year old. That's a really, truly a horrible thing to put on them at that point. I I think it's one of the worst things that we do in our education system is to make college seem like the end all be all of the rest of your life, if we framed it more as what it actually is, which is your first experience with adulthood, and a chance for you to figure out who you are and what you actually like, and then at the end of it decide, okay, this is what I want to try first. I think we would see such a different outcome in the happiness of students in their ability to prepare themselves for the workforce, their even their ability to retain information, because you're not going into it with the stressful aspect of, oh, God, what do I need to learn for this one career that I think that I want that I've never even seen before. Instead, you got to go through your classes, simply just learning the material, because it's interesting to you. And then at the end, figuring out, you know, I actually really liked that communications class, or I liked that site class, maybe that's something that I want to go into, I think that would be a much better way to do college.
But for me, that was not the experience that I had. I when you look at the statistics of students in America, one out of every three freshmen drops out before their sophomore year, one out of every three freshmen leaps, they're just gone. That means that 60% of students graduate 40%, almost half of students that go to college in this country, do not graduate, they drop out at some point. And if you look at the reasons why it's most often because they do not think that they have the resources, or the capabilities to get through it. They just don't think that they have what it takes, or that the resources are there to help them get through it. And the sad part is those resources do exist. But we don't do a great job at getting them to those students that really need them, and in a timely manner, some chatbot that tells you that you just failed a test. And now you academic probation is one quarter away. That's not helpful. That's not going to do anything for me. I need people I need a community around me to tell me how to navigate those things, a real human being. And so I went through my freshman year being potentially one of those one out of three students, I really wanted to drop out, I wanted to leave from day one. I just was like these are this is not made for me. I didn't know what it was going to be like, I didn't have any siblings to tell me this is what college was like, first gen, my parents didn't go to school year. So there was no way that I could be prepared for the social aspect of having to acclimate to this ginormous population, figure out what you like and what you want, find your community. And that made freshman year hell for me. And I kept going back to the fact that I'm paying $40,000 for an education, that is honestly what I could have gone on YouTube or Google to get. And that's no shade to UCSB. It's one of the best public schools in the world. But I think education at the higher education level in the US has just been watered down to whatever information they can sort of put in front of us to get us to pay for money as a means to an end just to get that piece of paper that says "Congrats, you can now be a functioning part of this class of society that makes enough money to live." I think the whole way that college is set up and all of us who have been there, we all know that. That's not the best way to do it. Is there anyone close to it?
Absolutely. And I think so. Something that I've thought to myself is kind of along the lines that you were just mentioning, which is why why is the college experience. So I guess the word would be it hasn't reached its potential, especially like you're mentioning in this country where we have so many resources, everything at our disposal to truly make it I mean, we should have the best educational system in the world has. Yeah. And so recently, actually, I started my MBA program at FSU. And the only reason I say that is because I go on Twitter and I follow a lot of you know, entrepreneur printers or you know, other people who are doing well for themselves and on their they'll, they'll have their threads where it's you know, you'll learn more from this thread than your $50,000 MBA program. And they're, you know, they're very informative. Sometimes I do think to myself, Why do I not just utilize social media, the internet, like you're mentioning Google YouTube to learn all these things. And you had said one thing when we talked which really kind of struck home with me, which is college is more so of the network. And the people that you meet, right, and so that's in there
People go for the education, and you stay for the people. Yep. That's the reason why that $40,000 becomes worth it. It's the reason that I didn't drop out. Actually, the only reason that I didn't leave UCSB was, at the end of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to join a business fraternity. And I found my people, I found my community. And I didn't even realize until afterwards that they are the reason that I was passing my classes, not because they were necessarily helping me with the knowledge part of it. But because I now had people who had gone through this process that I could look to and see, these are the classes that you took, this is the path that you took, these are the internships that you got. And it was honestly just relieving the stress of how the hell does someone do this, it's not even that I wanted to do exactly the way that they did. But it's so helpful to see how others do it themselves. Even if it's not what you plan to do yourself, you will always be able to learn from other people's journeys. And that is why when classes went remote during COVID, students hated it. If you look at the surveys, you look at the research, which you honestly don't even need to it's intuitive enough to us to know why they hated it so much. But it's because they lost connection to the people to those communities that made them feel a part of something, that network that got them through their classes that got them through college itself, when you lose access to that, college is no longer worth it.
I mean, even look at even look at, you know, the the workforce, right and remote work. I mean, the number one complaint, that least I've heard and read online is that people lose touch with their team, their, their goal, their project, their you know, their company. And so, you know, back to your point about collaboration and learning from one another. It's actually funny because right before we hopped on to record this episode, I have a individual that I talked to from time to time, and he's an aerospace engineering undergrad at FIU. And so he'll call me and he'll ask for advice. You know, he's a junior, so he's kind of nearing that point where, you know, maybe it's time to look at more serious internships and to start building your resume further. So call me and ask for advice. And Nectir is the app that is solving that problem. And you touched upon it, and I have experienced it personally, again, with this individual from FIU. And his questions are all centered around how do I get to where you are right now? Or how do I succeed? And that's kind of a difficult question, because everyone has a different definition for what success means to them. But it's how do I how do I go through this thing called College? How do I come out of it with a full time job? How do I set myself up to get that full time job? Again, all issues that I think Nectir is, you know, kind of at the pinnacle of which is how do we bring that information to people? And how do we scale it, right? Because I can help individuals, right, but I also only have so much time in the day. So much energy, to be quite honest. Yeah. And so, you know, that's what Nectir is trying to solve. And that's why I think it's, it's, it's a great, it's a great service and a great product, because again, we've all probably experienced at one point or another either being a mentor or being a mentee, and that experience that it brings to you and that just from somebody telling you like, Hey, you're gonna be alright, and it's gonna work out. Just make sure you, you stay on top of a, b, and c, and you'll get to where you want to be.
Exactly. And imagine having that in every single class through your four or five, six, however long college takes you, or honestly anywhere that your learning Nectir is made for any learning space. Because what I truly believe and what research shows is that when we learn with the people around us, when we're engaged with our peers, and we're teaching each other and learning the material together, our brain retains it in a much deeper way than it does when we're simply memorizing the information, or writing it down from someone speaking it at us. Our brain is built to actually learn from the people around us who look like us. So when our peers tell us something, our brain literally listens better. So the point of Nectir is to engage the communities that already exist in every classroom. We have enough social media, I'm not trying to create social media for schools. Nobody wants to bring their Twitter, Instagram, whatever persona and that's not what you want. And you don't want another tool that's going to say, Oh, this is your Facebook for your college. No, we have enough of that. So what we need is a group chat in every single class with our TA and instructor inside of it. So the same way that every single company in the last 10 years has stopped using email. And they now understand that Slack like instant chat is the best way to communicate. That same communication infrastructure needs to be in colleges yesterday, the same way that literally every single company in every industry no longer uses email as their main mode of communication. Colleges have got to follow suit, especially if the point of college is to prepare us for the workforce, which is now remote for good. This is how we're going to communicate forever. We need to teach students how to do it right now, honestly, starting from middle school and high school. And that's what we're seeing with Nectir is that, honestly, a lot of the schools that reach out to us, our high schools, they're really looking at these solutions now because they know, oh, shit, the entire world just changed. We've got to prepare these students for this new world, right now, this is a very time is of the essence problem. And it's going to affect all of us. It's not just about students, it's everyone. Because this next generation of students coming out of college and high school right now, they're going to be the ones to find the solutions to these giant problems that we're having, like the climate crisis, it's gotta come out of these learning spaces. Because it's got to be innovative. If we want to see solutions that we've never seen before, we've got to do things that we've never done before. And that means giving students the opportunity to collaborate with each other and communicate on a level that we've never done before. We have never centered learning around a community or communication with that community. But research has shown for a decade now that if we did, we would learn at a deeper level than we ever have before. So the purpose of Nectir at the surface of it short, it's a group chat that is auto created for every class on campus. And it auto adds the students in the TA and teacher into them. And that's great. They have those spaces to ask and answer each other's questions, they can share resources, basically exactly what you need to do. But instead of going around and passing a piece of paper on the first day of class that says, Hey, join this email group, if you want to get help from each other, you have a standardized way to do this in every single class, because we're paying enough money that they should be giving us that. The point at the end of the day is that the learning the real learning, comes from students asking and answering each other's questions at two in the morning before the midterm, finding a language that they understand to answer someone's question. And sometimes you will ask me, Well, why do you just assume that students will help each other?
Because that's what we do. We love helping each other we love feeling helpful, it's a great feeling. And if you're looking at it from a psychological aspect, reciprocal altruism is what it's really called. It's the notion that, yes, we are all altruistic in some way, shape, or form. But what really hits home is reciprocal altruism, helping someone knowing that maybe not right now, I'm not going to get anything back from it. But at some point, you'll scratch my back too. That's why you see the engagement that you do in classes that have Nectir, or honestly, any form of communication Tech, I think this is such a huge problem. But I don't even care if classes are using Nectir or not give your students some way to talk to each other, give them a way to teach each other this knowledge and they will.
I think another fantastic thing. So you know, going through undergrad, some of the, again, some of the best learning, like you said happened at 2am. And for me, it was at 2am with a monster in my hand talking with my friends with a whiteboard. I mean, you know, obviously engineering classes, but showing each other formulas and going through calculations and all that stuff. And, you know, shout out to my dad, but he always said, you don't truly understand something until you can explain it to somebody else. And that always that has resonated with me, and I take that everywhere I go. And so again, another way that Nectir is enabling that deep learning that you were talking about where, you know, if you're taking a class and somebody has a question on Hey, how'd you get to that solution? You can go in there and type it out or you know, post a screenshot, maybe you write a formula somewhere, do whatever post a screenshot and now you're teaching somebody and again in this remote world, you know, we keep bringing up If that is the future, right. And even if it's even if it's not, even if there is a scenario out there, where we all go back to, you know, going into office every day for work, you know, all classes are in person. This is just another channel for you to be able to learn and to show somebody and to teach someone, right. And so it's not always convenient to meet up with somebody in person. It's not always convenient to take time out of your day to again, go physically to a library or something to show someone a solution. And so Nectir is kind of enabling, you know, that that efficient transfer of knowledge.
I'm gonna steal that little sound bite from you. That's a good one. Right? Like, it doesn't even matter if it's remote or not. I mean, honestly, COVID really helped us sell the hell out of this thing. And I don't even have to explain why Obviously, every school needs this technology now. But we started Nectir, a year and a half before COVID even happened. We started it when we were students in school. And honestly, we didn't think about building the company out of it, we just needed to in our own classes. So to go to the story of you know, where it really began. I, by the time had gotten to my sophomore year of college, I didn't go to a single lecture, like I'm not shitting you not even one, I would go to the first day of class, pick up my syllabus, show my face, go home, self study, everything in between on YouTube and Google show up to the midterm and final regurgitate said information, get my grade and go on with my life
and did that information stick?
Not at all. Because I knew that I just needed to pass my classes to get that piece of paper. And the really salient part of college, the part that actually taught me something was my business fraternity. The community that I was in where people, real people were showing me this is the internship that I was in. This is how I navigated this space. This is a great mentor to talk to. That was where I wanted to invest all of my time, because I was getting the most out of that network. And so I really just, I was done with classes by that point sophomore year. But then the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I decided to switch into communication. And honestly, I switched into it because I thought it was just the easiest major that would allow me to have the most free time to go try whatever I wanted to try. And it was still a it's a communication at UCSB. It's one of their best majors. They're known for that. And so it's pretty impacted, you do have to get into it. So I had this final class that I needed to pass with an A to get the GPA to transfer into the major. And the last time that I could take it was that summer, because this is right before junior year. I mean, I have like two years left to finish this brand new major that I've started. So I go into this class over summer. And this is UCSB, I can literally see the beach from the classroom. I mean, this was the last place that I want it to be that summer. And same thing went for the 150 people that took that class with me, we moan and groan on our way into that classroom. And I still remember it was Comm 97: theories of communication, taught by Spencer Nichols, who happened to be a grad student. So several classes were taught by grad students at UCSB. And so Spencer was a little younger, a little bit more tech savvy than your average professor. And I think most importantly, he was a student himself. So he understood the problems that students were facing, because they were his problems too. And we walk in on the first day of class, and I was expecting to do what I did every time pick up that syllabus and get out of town. And instead, I walked into a classroom where he had turned on an oil diffuser and put on a Spotify playlist. And I was like, Okay, this is kind of nice. I could stick around for five more minutes than I usually do.
You're like, is this? Is this class? Or is this a dinner date? What's going on?
I know, I was like this is nice, I actually like this! And I didn't know anyone in that class and how many friends in it. But the vibe was just automatically like a little bit better because he was trying to just make a comfortable space for us. And he sits us all down and he says yes, I understand that we can all see the beach. I know that none of us want to be sitting here. But I don't want to be here either. And I'm a student too, and I know how many classes can be. So I'm gonna try to make this the best class that you've had. And I think together we can do that if you trust me to do it. And he turns around After saying that, and he starts writing on the a link on the board to a Slack workspace. And I had set up Slack for my business fraternity and use it in my internships. And obviously this is 2018, every single company was using it at this point. So I was pretty familiar with it. And he said, This is going to be the way that we talk in any way, shape or form throughout this class for the next 10 weeks. If you have a question, you put it in the Slack chat, if you want to know how to dissect this topic, but in the Slack chat office, our Slack chat. He said, Don't raise your hand. Don't send me an email, no office hours, do not talk to me, unless you've talked to Slack first. Because I guarantee that one of the 149 people around you is going to have a better and faster answer for you than me or your TA will. What will take us 24 hours or more to respond through email will take someone five minutes to just give you the answer that you're looking for in a language that you understand. And he said, I understand that some teachers will call this cheating. It is not its collaboration. This is how I want you to learn. I want you to help each other get to the answer. And that was all you needed to say. You literally felt the excitement. Everybody was like, oh shit, it's gonna work. We didn't even try it. We just knew innately it was going to work. And it's the same thing as me telling people the story of Nectir, you hear and you're like, Well, why would that not be in the classroom? This is where it came from. So we started using Slack for everything. I literally any question I had, whether it was oh, he just moved on from that slide too quickly. What was the last bullet point down to? This is interesting, I found this article, what do you guys think about this, we use the hell out of all 150 of us. And within a week 150 people felt like 15 people. It was the first time that I saw my class as a place that was fun. It felt like elementary school again, where you know, everyone you're sitting with and you like want to come to class and talk to them and catch up with them. It was that feeling all over again. And I hadn't felt it since literally Elementary School. And it was incredible. I unsurprisingly, left that class with the highest grade that I've ever gotten. And it's because of exactly what you said that your dad told you Spencer told us on day one, that if we can reach the point where we can teach someone else the information that he has just taught us that has a highest level of mastery that we can achieve. And he ended up making our entire grade off of the questions and answers that we would put in that Slack chat. If you answered someone's question really well, Spencer gave you extra credit for that.
Because that let him know, we got it, we got the information. So I left that class, basically like a dog with a bone. I was like holy shit, if I'm paying you $40,000 And so are 27,000 other people at this school. I know you can put Slack in every single one of our classes. So I wanted to know why they didn't. I approached the school and said, Why have you handed us 10 other of the shittiest edtech tools I've ever seen in my life instead of slack. It cannot be that hard for you to do. Or so I thought. And that was my first time understanding why the education system is the way it is in the US. Because the departments and the people who make these decisions are so far removed from each other. And from the students and the teachers, that it took three weeks for anyone on that campus to even figure out who could answer my question. I asked my department I went to my academic advisor, nobody knew everyone was like, Oh, that's a good question. I have no idea who would be the person asked. Three weeks later, somebody sent me an email and said, Hey, you had that question. There's this woman in instructional design, who can help you out? Didn't even know what instructional design was. It's a department that is at every single college campus that is literally made to teach teachers how to teach. That is what the that department does. Everybody has it. And they also pick the EdTech tools. They decide how we're going to learn they design classes, quite literally probably the most important department right? One person, one instructional designer at UCSB for 27,000 students, which tells you how much they really care about our learning experience. So this wonderful woman, Mindy Collin, who's now on Nectir's academic board of advisors, and still one of two instructional designers at UCSB. She sat me down and was kind enough to walk me through the logistical hell of putting a separate Slack workspace in 2500 classes every quarter, because you couldn't make one Slack workspace for UCSB, you had to make one for each class, every single quarter. And then these professors who, on average are 55 and have literally never touched tech outside of Canvas and their email, are supposed to figure out how to use this enterprise level tool for all their students. Basically, for 400 different reasons. It was not feasible for our school or any other school, at least public schools in the US. That's what she said. And I left that conversation thinking, I get it, I get why this one woman show cannot do this for a campus of 27,000. I would never expect her to put this on her back to do this. But this worked. I saw it, and it was the best learning experience I've ever had in my life. And if every single student had this in every single class on campus, I don't even want to imagine what would come out of UCSB the ingenuity that would come out of engaging every single learning community on that campus 2500 learning communities every quarter, it would be incredible. And I didn't know it at the time. But that conversation defined the rest of my life.
Yeah, I was actually thinking, so tying it kind of back to the experience. And I was thinking along these lines, because I was like, Okay, well, how can how would Nectir Help me right now, again, being in an MBA program? If my classes, the two classes, I'm taking head neck there, how would that help me? And one point right off the bat, besides the 50 other points that we've already discussed, one right off the bat is we have these discussion boards. And I'm sure everybody's familiar with them. But the worst things ever,
let me tell you the shittiest part of class.
Absolutely. And you go to Canvas, and the professor puts up a prompt, and you have to answer it. And a lot of times you use outside resources, or use the book to support your claims and all of these things, but it feels so forced, and it feels so unnatural. And so what I was thinking about is how would Nectir reduce some of that friction? Right? And you hear a lot of people talk about this, even if you're starting a company like you did people look into the world, and they try and identify where is their friction? Right? So for you, it was the learning experience, right? And it was that knowledge transfer. You identified, there's a lot of friction here. There's something that has to be done to reduce that friction to make it much smoother process. Discussion Boards, for me, is some some something that Nectir would automatically reduce a whole ton of friction. I mean, kind of to your experience, if the professor could just go in there. And just put, hey, like I saw this article today on blah, blah, blah, what do you guys think? Yeah, that way, it's a little more organic. It's like you're actually talking with your friends. To your point, right? You're not in this class environment where you have to make sure every word that you type out was well thought out, you're going to source.com trying to figure out trying to find these complicated words to use to try and make your I don't know, man, it just feels so forced. And if somebody were to just go on Nectir, again, be like, hey, what do you guys think of this topic, or even recent news? Because a lot of these discussion boards, they may post it, you know, on a Monday, and it's due on a Sunday? Well, if it's for a specific topic, a lot can happen in a week, especially in today's world. So if you go to Nectir, and be like, hey, in real time, discuss actually like this happen today in regard. I mean, that for me, personally, if that was in my class right now, in my MBA program, I would have no issue. No issue responding,
you actually sent me up really well.
So what you're describing how discussion forums, you have to think a little bit harder, right? You have to plan out what you're going to say you have to look at the grammar and the syntax. The reason that we built Nectir The way that we did, and a lot of people asked us at the beginning, why does it look just like Slack? Why did you literally build slack, but for schools? That was very purposeful. We're not going in replacing a tool on campus, we're asking people to do an entirely new behavior that they have never in human history done before. We have never put community at the center of every learning experience. And that's what I'm trying to do with Nectir. It's not simply going in putting a chat system in the classroom. This is the vehicle through which we will do most of our learning. It will influence influence us over time to learn to ask more questions to our peers, to collaborate more to find the answer, to rely on our communities to get The help that we need. But when I was thinking with my co founder, Jordan, how do we build that? Right? We know the experience that we want to have, we need to work backwards into how do we elicit that experience. And Slack worked, it was cool. But it could have been better. And the way that it could have been better as if I had every single one of my classes in that space. And not just my classes, but my whole campus. The same way that when you go to a workforce slack is the way that you communicate with anybody in your workplace. Schools need that same one system, one communication infrastructure, where you can DM your instructor, DM, your academic advisor, talk to the people in your classes, create a study group, so you have all of your communication in one app on your phone. So when you look at why instant chat is the way to do that, and why forum needs to kindly exit the room forever, is because there's three forms of communication that take place over the internet. One is the most formal method of communication, which is email, it takes the most cognitive effort for us to write an email out of any other form of communication online, we sit there and we plan out the sentences we think about how it sounds, we think about how we're coming across. Forum is next in line forum still takes a lot of cognitive effort. It's why we don't like Facebook, and we don't like LinkedIn, they are forums, you have to think really hard about what you're going to say, because it's a standalone post. So things that people can like and comment on forums. The least formal method of communication on the internet is instant chat. You don't need to have full sentences, you can speak in the vernacular that you prefer. And it's accepted. Not only is it accepted, but that is the way that you're supposed to talk. So because it uses the least cognitive effort, we actually have the most organic conversations, it's the closest to in person talking that we can do. And it's even better because since it's a little bit more delayed than actual synchronous conversation like this over zoom or in person, you have that extra second to think about what you want to say. And that actually alleviates even more anxiety than what you would have in an in person conversation. There is no more turn taking, you don't have to wait your turn to speak in class or over zoom. You can share your ideas whenever you want. And someone can jump into that thread three hours later and say, cool idea. Here's my thoughts on that. And you've made a connection, you've now found another person in that class who thinks in the similar way that you do, it actually ties into why we've called it Nectir. So the reason that Nectir is called Nectir is when you think about how bees carry pollen from flower to flower. And that's how we get this beautiful array of brand new species of flowers and all these colors. Nectir in this case refers to the cross pollination of ideas. That is what will emerge if we put this communication system instant chat, super easy to do low cognitive effort in every single class everywhere, we will start to see brand new original ideas emerge. Because in a place that is this informal, you are encouraged at literally the level of we're looking at it now at psychological level, you are encouraged without even realizing it to come up with original ideas and thoughts. Because you feel free to do so it feels like that's what it's built for. That's why it looks the way that it does. Because we're literally trying to mimic exactly what companies do with Slack. Slack is built the way that it is because they're trying to get employees to come up with these great ideas. By having these informal conversations. Education needs to adopt the exact same practice.
Couldn't agree more. I guess for all those listening, give us one moment where you said Wow, Nectir might actually work and this is a successful idea. And then maybe give us one moment where you doubted yourself, you or your Co founder. Maybe you guys had an impromptu meeting to discuss, you know, is this actually going to work? And I guess give us both sides and then your overall next goals for Nectir as a company.
Yeah, good question. So to the first one, the moment where I was like, oh shit, we're actually making a difference. This is working. This is something that would have never happened without us. That came Fall of 2019. And that was right after I had graduated. And we were in the process of doing exactly what Mindy said was impossible, which was get all 27,000 students at UCSB using Nectir. And almost every single one of their classes with the instructors championing it for them, or the students going and building their own class channel if it didn't exist, or if the teachers weren't using it. That was the goal. And we, I think were around like 5000 out of 27,000, that fall quarter. And there was this class that had just started using it have 300 Freshmen it was Ling 50. And that was a really important one for us. Because we wanted this cohort of freshmen that had just come in to have Nectir. For the next four years, we needed to test and see, does it actually influence their behavior to you know, by the end of college, ask more questions, collaborate more? Does it help them stay in school? Does it retain them? And oh, God, I still remember when they first started using that class Nectir wasn't great. I mean, it was just me and Jordan, for the first three and a half years, we didn't have a team of engineers, we didn't have anyone, it was just us. So it was still pretty bare bones at that point. But we just got lucky, we would find teachers who understood the same vision that we had, and also wanted to engage their communities in the class and wanted to save time themselves. That was a big one is that a lot of teachers that adopted it, were saying, Yeah, I want to take some of that time off my plate and let my students ask and answer each other's questions. So that I'm not getting a dozen emails asking the same thing. So this teacher, Mary Bucholtz. So we sold her on it somehow. And she started using it in this class with freshmen. And the second they got into it, I still remember I was like watching this channel unfold and the messages they were sending. And one of the first things that one kid said was, Oh, God, another one of these tools, probably built by Silicon Valley Tech bros. And it was all about hilarious because me and Jordan are sitting there and we're like, Guys, it's insulting. But it's also kind of a compliment that we're still building them. And I see where they're coming from, like, we get so many new tools in class, right. And this was very, like Slack esque. And the first week was all of the kids shitting on it, like, they just were like, This is so bad. It sucks, like who built this. And we're like, that's okay. It's cool. You kind of know, as founders that like, if people feel strongly about it one way or another, whether they hate it, or they love it, it's great. Because if they hate it, it's making enough of an impact for them to have emotions about it. So we were like, cool, we're still getting some sort of reaction and helps us build further. And these sort of like, it's kind of like, I hate watching Succession. I hate that show. But I hate watched it. I loved it. So my head watched the whole thing. That was kind of how they were using Nectir. They were like, hate using it. And the interesting thing was, they just couldn't stop, even though they kept saying they were using it to literally talk shit about it. But all 300 of them kept coming back to talk shit every single day. And they kept coming back over and over and over. And in between those conversations, somebody would slip out a little, Hey, did someone get this homework problem? Or like, does anyone want to go to the library and study tonight. And without us telling them how to use it. without us even knowing how they would use it. They figured it out. They showed us how it could have been used a group of 300 freshmen who were this was in person, this is fall 2019. Before COVID. They got to a point where that class was sending up to 5000 messages a day. They were popping off in that.
And one of the best moments that I remember seeing is there was a student who I guess like at this point, you know, the community in this class, they had talked to each other enough that like they'd all kind of knew each other all 300 of them. And they would like go grab food after class and stuff. And there was a kid who I think would come to class hungry and they noticed it and they made a basically like food pantry for the class without making it seem like it was for that kid they just decided they were going to do it for everyone. So like anyone who wanted snacks could go grab them. And this they made it they literally built it for their class. They had a food pantry where kids would bring in snacks that they had and anyone could go grab them no judgment. And they did it in such a flawless way without making that kid feel singled out. It was, I just remember sitting at home and crying. That like, this is a kid whose life was changed in a potentially a small, big, I don't know, I didn't get to talk to the kid. But either way, their life was changed by the community around them in a way that would have not happened had they not had this way to communicate informally and see into the lives of each other in a way that you couldn't before. At the last week of that class, the teacher called in Jordan and I, we hadn't told them that it was built by UCSB, students, they had no idea what it was. These are still thought it was Silicon Valley Tech bros. We came in on the last week of class, and we stood in front of these 300 kids, and we said, hey, nice to meet you were the founders that you keep talking shit about. And oh, God, that it was the funniest experience, the dynamic completely shifted. And you were actually using Nectir to like put questions in the chats, and we would read them in real time and answer on stage. And their whole dynamic shifted, they seeing that it was built by students like them, completely changed the way that they thought about it. And it was what made me realize that the reason that slack or discord or teams or any of these companies can't come in and copy what we've done, and steal the idea from us, is because what really makes the difference is the fact that it's built by people who have just experienced this problem themselves. When you look at any other edtech tool that is being given to students, you can tell it's being built by someone who hasn't been in the classroom for at least the last 10 years. When you're giving tools to students that are meant to genuinely change their life and the way that they learn, they deserve to know that it's been built by people that look like them that come from backgrounds like theirs that have learned in the way that they're learning right now, that makes a difference. It truly does. It's why our generation is now actually looking deeply at who builds the products that we use, what are the morals and values of the companies that we choose to give our money to. In the same line, education tools need to be built by students, teachers, people who are actively part of education right now, and are solving problems for themselves. Those students are still using Nectir. Today, still love it. And without still without us telling them why we built it. They got it right away, they understood it completely on their own. And that experience gave me the confidence to keep going, because I finally saw that result that I wanted for so long. And it gave me the insight of how to go replicate it. For now over 50,000 students and teachers across the nation.
Amazing stuff. I mean, I'm sort of speechless, especially with, you know, the story about the, you know, the kid who was coming hungry to class, I mean, just shows the power of collaboration and what we're capable of when we put our minds together. So like I said, at the start of the show, love that you're doing this. I love that, again, education is something that we've both gone through recently. So I know it's near and dear to our hearts, and to a lot of other people. Let me ask you, where is Nectir now and where is it heading? So if you can share some statistics on the company and where you think it's gonna go in the next 510 years?
Yeah, absolutely. Um, first, before we do that, I do want to answer that question that that you had on? What was sort of the opposite? Like, what was that? Oh, shit moment. Oh, that's right. I know. And it's actually a good story. When COVID first started, we were in the process of talking to UCSB about our first contract, right? That was really what we needed to prove the idea. We were like, if we can get not only the school to use it, but to pay for it, then we've got a company then we can go scale this, we can repeat this. And, you know, COVID came out of nowhere. And every school was scrambling to figure out how the hell they were going to do remote learning. And UCSB thought, Oh, we got lucky. Like we already have Nectir Like this is great. We'll just fully contract you and put it across the whole campus. So we were at like maybe 7000 users at that point. And like they weren't all coming on at once. This was like over a quarter. So it was like maybe a couple 100 People would be online at once. And they wanted to turn it on for the entire campus every single class in a week. Jordan and I had one week to figure out how to make this system, our back end strong enough to handle 27,000 concurrent users. Anyone who has done DevOps knows the nightmare that I am explaining right now. And this is two people who do not have technical engineering backgrounds. So, unsurprisingly, the morning that remote classes started, we were like, God, how many people could really get on at once? Right? They're not really going to put us everywhere. It's like teachers still have to say they want to use it. Nope, every single class on that campus decided that they wanted to use Nectir. And we had 27,000 People get on at once, and the whole thing crashed. For a week, it was up and down on and off for a full week. And it was the first week of remote classes. This is like the end of March. So we're all freaking out. Right? The whole world is like up in flames. Holy shit, what's happening? It's a pandemic, we're all gonna die. So you can just imagine the live chat messages that we were getting I had like death threats, people were so mad at us.
If you weren't gonna die from COVID You're gonna die from
I was up for like 48 hours straight, no sleep, freaking out. I still have like permanent PTSD and anxiety from that week. It was hell. I mean, our old professors calling us names being like, how could you you idiots, Why would you give us this tool that doesn't work? Somehow, we made it throug. UCSB still paid us a license for it even after that. And actually, last week, they just signed a seven year contract. So clearly, we figured shit out.
Yeah, I think it's a story that like, to other founders, or honestly to anyone, you can literally fail that hard to the extent where you're like, there's no fucking way I recover from this. And you still can, because people will understand your mistakes, as long as the intention is good. And that's what got us through.
Yeah, so I think that I know, I wanted to go down the what's next for Nectir? But you actually kind of led me into another question I had, which is what would be your advice for? I want to say that people who maybe have an idea, and think it's a good one, but just don't maybe have that confidence, to pull the trigger and to go pursue it. Because I know, in talking to friends and you know, even family, a lot of people have really good ideas, but there's a small percentage of them to actually act on it and pursue the idea further, kind of what you and your co founder did with Nectir. And I just, I hate, I hate seeing people not pull that trigger and inaction is so frustrating, because I know they're capable of creating a great product, creating a great software as a service, whatever the case may be, but they're just there. They're not there yet. So what would your advice be to those people?
Yeah, no, that's a great question. I want to preface it by saying that I never thought that I was going to start a company. I, this was not the plans that I had. It was something that simply fell into my lap. And I felt like I am passionate enough about solving this problem, that I'm willing to take the risk to see if it works. And even now, even with us, you know, raising millions of dollars and having a full team of people all over the world and you know, hundreds of schools using it, there's still no guarantee, right that this is becomes a success that I want it to. And part of it is being okay with that risk and that failure, you don't have to be okay with it from day one. But for anyone that wants to try anything, you have to realize that it is okay. That there is an option or there's the possibility that it doesn't work. Because failure is nothing other than a lesson learned. That's it. It is just another word for learning. And in fact, I encourage failure to a point at my company where if we're not failing enough, I will literally put things into place to force us to go through a few failures, because there is no better way to learn. That is how you finally get to, oh, this is the right solution. If you do something and it works right off the bat, it's actually probably not the best way to do that thing. You got lucky that it worked out that way the first time. But failure is how you figure out it's not any of these So I know that this is the answer. That's how you get the bulletproof one. So for anyone out there that wants to start something, no, you do not have to be an entrepreneur type. That is, there is no such thing. No, you do not have to come from a certain background of having money or having you know, something to fall back on, it's always going to be a risk, you have to be okay with that. But everything in life is a risk. But moreover, you just have to make an inch of progress a day, you don't have to put your life on hold, you don't have to quit your job, you don't have to go raise money to do it. You don't have to have the engineering skills, you just have to have enough passion for whatever problem you're solving. And some sort of idea of, I feel like this might be the right way to solve that problem. Or I feel like this is a service or a product or something that people would like, and go find the most basic cheap ass way of testing it. Duct tape, solution, everything until you have a proven model, until you get someone to pay you for that MVP, the minimum viable product of whatever it is that you're doing. Do not go build a team do not go raise money, do not put your life on hold, what you're looking for is an indication that people will pay you for the solution. And it doesn't even have to be built yet. You can even make an email list of people who say, yeah, that solution sounds good, I would pay for it, it exists. That's where you get the confidence from, you get the confidence from putting together a pretty bullshit version of the final solution that you want. And going and seeing people's reactions to it. People that you would potentially want as customers, they will tell you what to build as the final solution, they'll literally give you the answers. You just have to give them something to start with. So my concrete advice, build some duct tape solution. Even if it's a landing page, write just a one page website that tells someone what it is that you want to give them. And then go from 10 people a week that you don't know that you haven't talked to and pitch it to them. Ask them what is their biggest pain point? What is the solution that you would like to see? Then show them and be like, does this look like something that you would like? Keep in mind that humans are really bad at knowing what they actually want. They're terrible at it. The point though, is those 10 people each week, will literally tell you after 10 weeks of doing that, you will know with 100% certainty what to go pursue what to go build, and whether it's even worth putting your time into it or not.
Great advice. And one thing I'll add is regret hurts a lot more than failure. So I definitely regret the girls that I did not ask out on a date. But I let me tell you that that hurts a lot more than you know when they say no. So what's next for Nectir?
I love it.
Honestly, though, the purpose of what we do at the end of the day, is to fundamentally change the way that humans learn. We have innovated every other part of our lives, except for education. It's one of the most archaic systems that we have around the world. And it's not that I think that I'm the best smartest person to go change education. And that's why it should be me. It's that I think I have never met someone who was more pissed off about it than I am. And that is what you need. Something to fuel you. Not the motivation of building a globally dominating company or making a billion dollars. Those are all motivations that fade quickly. Anger, true raw anger, that shit can fuel you for a lifetime.
Not to cut you off, but that I mean, so listen to a podcast called My first million. I don't know if you've listened to it, but highly recommend basically Sean, these two guys, Sean and Sam talk about business ideas and they bring up real businesses like yours actually. So they bring up examples of people who have started stuff and Sam said on one of the episodes that nothing feels more More than anger. And alongside anger proving people wrong. Yes. Right and proving, especially people that may have doubted you may have done you wrong in the past and proving to them, You know what, I am going to do this, and I am going to succeed, and you're going to watch me do it. And one day, you know, you're going to tell your friends or your family, like, Hey, I used to know that guy, look at him now or that gal, and look at them now look at where they are now. So I, I just wanted to chime in, because that's, I mean, that's what fuels me to be.
No, totally, it's way harder to stay motivated by something like money or success or power. Anger is one of those really basic emotions that feels incredibly personal. There is nothing that can resolve that anger, but you going and fixing it in the way that you want. And so that's why I know that I have the power to not create a lifestyle business or even a multibillion dollar company. I want to build an institution of change. I'm talking Google Apple level. Nectir in 10 years should be a company that is seen as a place where the best learning experience comes out of whatever that is, whether it's boot camps online, things like masterclass trade, schools, community colleges, any learning space, anywhere around the world, from the villages in the mountains of India to Harvard, every single learner in the world deserves equal equitable access to education that actually makes a difference in their life. And that's going to look different for everyone. And so the way that we scale that valuable education to the entire world, is to engage their communities. Because that is where the knowledge lies, from the earliest tribes of humanity. That is how we've survived by teaching each other. Because we trust our communities more than we trust anyone else. So giving access to every learner around the world, the education that they deserve, that is what I will do. It's not a question in my mind of, that's what I hope to do, or that's what the goal is, I will do that. I have no other option. But to pursue that, because of exactly what we said that anger. When you know, what the solution is, and you just you've seen it, the way that I've seen it in these classrooms. The way that I've seen Nectir change the lives of students and teachers. Now that I know that it works the way that it does, there is nothing that can stop me from giving this to every single person in the world. We all deserve it.
Love your passion, I definitely trust you to do what you say you will. You know I can I can tell from talking to you. And we were catching up to even this this podcast, I can tell how passionate you are about this issue. And again, I'm sure that passion fueled with anger and you're going to do you know amazing things. Let me ask you, so there is the co founder, Kavitta side of you. And then there is the Kavitta is my friend, she likes to do X, Y, and Z on the weekend side of you. Yeah. For anybody who's ever started a company, not even starting a company just maybe as a full time job, right has responsibilities. Or is even in college, we all know the difficulty of balancing your time. I mean, I there's a meme out there that I saw that was it was basically this guy juggling 50 different things at once, and those 50 different things where, you know, social life and making a lot of money and being successful and, you know, working out and all of these different things that we have going on in our lives. How do you manage your time? I mean, how do you get around to it all?
Yeah, good question. I, I wondered that a lot. When I first started the company like, I don't have any experience. I don't have any experience at all. I've never even worked at a full company before as a staff has, like have a salary job. How am I supposed to build a company from scratch and especially one where I'd like it to be a global power one day. And I think the first part of answering that is to try your best to not psych yourself out. If you believe that you are not going to be able to balance it you wont, because you are only capable of what you believe you are capable of. There is no scenario ever are in which you think, No, I won't be able to do this, I won't, I won't be able to, and then all of a sudden, it just works out. That's not how it works. If it does, it's because there was a little part of you that knew I could probably do this. That is what gets you through when you can see an outcome in your mind's eye, whether it's a big one or a small one, even if it's something as simple as being able to balance all of this stuff. If you can see yourself doing it, you can make that a reality. Anything that you can see in your mind's eye you can bring to life, you are the only barrier between you and that outcome that you want. So when I first started, like I said, I was like, How the hell am I going to do this? And it took me having to unlearn that concept of this is going to be hard. I, it's, it sounds silly to say like, you have to convince yourself that it's not that hard. But it's what you have to do. And it's so true reality, it's really not that hard to do. There is no secret of like, oh, I wake up at 6am. And then I like only sleep. No, dude, I sleep like nine hours a night I wake up at like 10am. And that's part of it is that, like I built my company to be realistic, which I think other companies could learn a lot from is like, build a realistic workplace that accommodates human beings who are going to want to wake up at different times every day are going to want to work in different ways. Or sometimes it's just not going to want to talk to each other. Like, that's okay be a human being. So that's part of it is that I built my company in that way. But I do not have that lifestyle that you see in the magazines of like 6am CEO wake up, and I only drink juice all day long. And like, that's how I feel, no, I'm a normal person. I sleep in sometimes. But I still have an incredible social life. I go on trips all the time with my friends, I have hobbies that sustain me, I do all of the things because I know that I'm capable of doing it. And I do them with having things like depression and anxiety and ADHD. It is not that I am some perfect human being who is capable of I know, if anything, like one of the most mentally ill people that I know. But that doesn't have to stop you from living a quote unquote successful life or a full life, or to do all of the things. I remember, we used to be taught of like, oh, you can only pick two out of the three things of like, money, social life or happiness. Who made that rule? And why would we follow it? I asked myself that a lot when I get to a conclusion of like, of, honestly, when I get to a conclusion that I don't like, I asked myself who made the barrier? Who decided that I couldn't do this? And the answer is usually nobody, or nobody that's important to me. You create the parameters for yourself and for your own life. The day that I said to myself, No, I am capable of doing all of these things. I am capable of taking care of my mental and physical health and also running a company and also having an incredible social life and keeping all of my friends after college. I it is possible for me to do all those things and workout and eat healthy. I just started to do it. Because I make my own rules. And so does everybody else.
You heard it here first Kavitta tells us that you have to do yoga at 4am in order to be successful. Well, listen, I mean, so I was reading this book called The Power of Positive Thinking. For those of you who haven't read it, recommend it, it is a little more on the religious side. So the author brings in a lot of examples from Christianity and stuff like that, but I think he does a good job of kind of mixing it up. But so in one of the quotes in the book, and I'm forgetting who it's by, and I'm gonna butcher the quote, but it essentially says in order to be successful, you have to have a successful picture of a successful outcome in mind. exactly to what you're saying. If you want to go and start a company on you know, to solve problem XYZ, first picture right you wanna start podcasting? Well as a successful podcast look like to write is that X amount of downloads or whatever the case may be, go and picture that right go in picture. You want to interview Obama one day, go and picture yourself interviewing Obama, and I guarantee you it will help at least define the steps that you need to take today to get there so I can't agree more. Well look at me, English was not my first language and I'm doing podcasts. Yeah, I mean, I again, that's how I live my life. So I'm glad to hear that that you share that same. That same outlook because it is it is kind of the beginning of whatever you want to do. Yeah.
There is no secret other than the one that you create for yourself, you decide how easy or hard anything is going to be in your life. Because at the end of the day when people say your thoughts, create your reality, used to hear that all the time, and I was like, What the hell does that mean? i It's not like I can think something into existence. But what he really means is not that your thoughts come first and reality comes second, reality will always come first, you get to define based on how you think about that reality, what it means to you. Perspective is everything. If something happens to you, and you decide to have the perspective of seeing it as Oh, well, I'm really glad that I, you know, have this falling out with this friend or that I got fired from this job because it allows me to then think about, Do I want to do something else with my life, nor do I want to go find a friend that fulfills me in a better way. If you choose the perspective, that allows you to not feel like shit, then that is your reality. Because you get to decide how you feel about anything and everything. And that is how I get through the day to day of figuring out how to run a company at 25. It's not that everything goes perfectly for me, most things go to shit. But my perspective that I choose to have on it, is that I'm thankful that I now know that's not the path to take.
I couldn't agree more. I want to ask you one last question. And you're reminding me because you said the word friend. Naturally, I mean, when you are starting a company, the realistic expectation. And honestly, just reality is that you are going to have less time for other activities, you know, you can balance it as well as as anyone, but just the natural way of things, you will have less time. Friendships are obviously important. How do you pick the friends that you surround yourself with?
Yeah, that's a great question. I, for a very long time was the type of person who collected friends. And a lot of it stemmed from my own insecurities, my lack of confidence in myself, I felt like, if I have a bunch of friends, then it means that people like me, there's something worth liking. And obviously, I didn't like myself enough. So I felt that I needed to see other people like me. And that would make me make me feel better. So I think step one to any friendship, being worthwhile, or finding the right people to keep in your life is first learning to fully and truly love yourself. And that doesn't mean oh, I need to be perfect first. And then I love myself, it's the opposite. You have to love yourself in spite of all of the flaws. Because the way that you treat yourself, will teach others how to treat you. As long as I kept that thought in my head of I am not good enough. I need other people to define my likeability. That is how people were going to treat me and that's how they did treat me. And I knew in my head that I wanted to find a group of people who would inspire me to be a better version of myself every day. And I think that's also important is figure out the kinds of people that you want in your life and why it's not going to be the same as me. And that's okay, maybe it is, maybe it's not, I would guess that it's not. I just had to sit down and ask myself on my list of priorities, where do friends sit? And for me, it's actually first friends come before family for me. And before career before everything friends are number one on my list. And that's different than other people. And that's okay. But it's because my friends fulfill me the most out of anything in my life, including my company, which is insane, because this is like my baby, I love this thing. But knowing that, that my friends were my first priority, and knowing that I needed to love myself, once I figured out those two things, then I was able to really start looking at okay, if I truly love myself, and I know that my friends fulfill me, what kinds of people deserve to be around me? Let's start looking at it that way. Right? Not Who do I deserve to have? Who deserves to be in my life? And then I started to break it down into time cost, right? Like you can only have a certain amount of people because I remember when I had so many friends that I was just like I was spread thin between everyone. I didn't have the time to give that emotional access to everything single person the way that you need to, to really build fulfilling relationships. So there's definitely a cap on the number of people. And that's just something to know. And that's okay. And you should be picky. Because being picky means that you know, and love yourself enough to get keep yourself. And that's what we should be doing, we should reach a point where we're like, No, I love and know how valuable I am. And I know who does deserve access to me and who doesn't.
And then it comes to the definition of what kind of friends you want, and why. And like I said, for me, it was that I want people around me, who, at the crux of it, have something to teach me. If the people in my life can constantly teach me something in any way, whether it's about themselves, about the world about the way that they see it about their career, it doesn't have to be, you know, something that benefits me. But if they have something to teach me, and they can teach me that thing, that inherently means that they're confident enough to know that they can teach someone something they love and care about me enough to take the time to teach me that thing. It inherently means they have all of these other qualities that I would be looking for. So find that thing that defines what you want the people around you to look and behave like. And then be really honest with yourself about whether the people who are currently in your life are giving you those things or not. That's the hard part. Everything else is easy up until you get to the point where you realize this person that I thought was my best friend, they actually don't fit that criteria. And that's going to happen, and you have to be okay with that. Part of really growing into a life that you love that brings you peace, not happiness, but peace, because that's really what we're looking for. Not to just be happy constantly 24/7 don't honestly get boring. But to be peaceful, no matter what is happening around us, that's what we're searching for. In order to reach that point, the people around you are the first step to reaching that peace, they have to bring you only peace. And when I started to set that standard of No, it's not that I'm gonna let you fuck with me, you know, a few times here or there, and I'll let it go. I'm not gonna let you fuck with me at all. I demand this level of respect, because that's what I will give you back. That's when I really started to be able to create those boundaries. And I think boundaries are the key to any successful relationship.
I mean, your level of introspection is amazing. No other way to put it. Nowadays, so many people, they live their lives based on what other people tell them to do. Right? And so what really hits home with me is the fact that you are able to sit there and say, for example, putting friends of a family right for a lot of people that might be controversial. You were taught, again, it maybe not we're taught but we're the norm is that family comes first, right? That's the thing, that's where everyone believes. But to you that's not the case. So why would you live your life according to what somebody else believes when your own mind is telling you, hey, you know, it, like I feel a lot more fulfilled when I hang out with my friends versus my family. And that's why I want to live my life. And so having that introspection, and to really boil it down, just do things that make you happy, do things that make you feel fulfilled those when you for instance, when I do this podcast episode with you, I know I'm gonna, you know, we're gonna hang up, and I'm gonna feel really fulfilled and really happy. Same, which is telling me I shouldn't be doing more of this and finding people more like you to talk to and bounce ideas off of and learn more about each other. And so you know, people try to get too cute and to complicate their lives when really it's not that difficult. You know, your, you will feel it when you have an interaction with someone, whether it be a friend, a family member, whatever the case may be, you know, if you come out of that interaction fulfilled and happy, go chase people like that. So I couldn't agree.
As you can boil almost every single decision that you make down to will this impress younger me, that 5, 6, 7 year old version of me, would they look at this decision and say, Wow, what a cool person. I want to be like them. Because at that age, we had this purity, where it wasn't about who had the most clout, or who had the most friends or who was the most impressive The people that stood out to us the most when we were kids were people who were the happiest with themselves. It didn't matter if it was a homeless person, or if it was a CEO of a company, we didn't see people's status, we didn't see the material things that they had, we just saw their faces and whether they were happy and excited and fun to be around, and whether they had good energy. And if you let that be, if you let your younger self be the standard that you hold yourself to. That's one of the easiest ways to start making decisions based on solely what makes you happy, and what makes you fulfilled. And what makes you a better person.
That's so interesting. I've never thought about that way. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I mean, that's such a cool way to look at it. I'm definitely gonna use that one. That's amazing. So I asked everybody, this who comes on the show? And here's a question I find pretty interesting. So I'm interested to hear what your thoughts are. If you were guaranteed not to fail at this one thing that you try, what would that one thing be? And it could be Nectir. Right? It could be solving the education crisis, we'll call it that we have in this country. What would that one thing be? What would you try? What would you go after? What would your dream be if you knew you couldn't fail?
Exactly what I'm doing with my life right now. Because there is no failure, I cannot fail. Even if on paper Nectir as a company doesn't work out, even if every single thing in my life that I'm trying all of my relationships, my personal growth, if everything goes to shit, and all of it, quote unquote, fails, I still will not fail. Because like I said, failure is just another word for learning. I will learn so much from everything in my life going to shit. It will teach me the right way to do everything including Nectir. If Nectir fails as it is today, I will simply know, okay, it wasn't this way that I was supposed to do it. Maybe I pivot these few things and it works in that way. So I am no longer scared of failure in any part of my life. Because one, I have already reached my level of success. The way that I define success the way that five year old me define success, I reached that. I'm fulfilled I'm happy I could die tomorrow and I lived a good life. But on top of that, what allows me to wake up each morning and do what I do with absolutely not a single drop of fear is because I welcome failure. Anytime all day long, bring it at me. I will take it as if it's a gift. Because I have failed so many times in this life. And if the only reason that I'm sitting here where I am today
Spiritualists again, love the response and again why I trust that you will revolutionize education as we know it. You heard it here first. Kavitta Ghai will revolutionize how we learn how how students interact, and hopefully put America back on the map in terms of its educational system. I know I think you throw a stat when we were talking in private was America's
18 out of 29 countries, the US comes in 18 out of 29 countries when it comes to graduating. Yep. So even though we think of ourselves as this world power, that we have the most resources that we give people this incredible life. They clearly don't. And we have more than enough resources, time money, people to get us to number one. And it's not about getting to number one, it's that if we're capable of that, we owe it to the students in this country to give them that.
Absolutely. And I think you're the right woman for the job to get us in that direction.
I would agree.
As with every episode, we're gonna wrap this one up with a quote, to kind of summarize my general feeling about what we talked about kind of I think the overarching concept, which is, so this quote is given by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which for for those of you that remember she passed away in 2020, actually, she was instrumental on the Supreme Court and very, very famous for her insight and the way that she lived her life and so Ruth Bader Ginsburg says Real change, enduring change happens one step at a time. And you know, through Kavitta story, we were able to see just what it takes to not only to start a company, but to start a company with with a, with a goal in mind. And a goal that again is very near and dear to a lot of us that has honestly persisted in this country for way too long. And so Kavitta led us through what works for her, how she, why she gets up every morning. And hopefully you found some insight from that. And hopefully, we motivated you to take action. And I think that's what you know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was saying through her quote, I would say indirectly, you know, if you want to make real change in this world, it's not going to happen overnight. One thing I will say is, you know, in today's day and age with technology and everything, we want everything to happen overnight, we want to get rich overnight, we want to invest in Dogecoin and make millions overnight. We want to make, you know, lifelong friends overnight, that just doesn't happen. And so, you know, boil it down to one thing at a time, whether it be a company that you want to start, whether it be the homework assignment, whether it be the discussion board that I have due next Monday. And so, you know, that's what I tried to do with this podcast. And that's what Kavitta has done with her company Nectir. So, on that note, Kavitta can't thank you enough for for joining the show today. And for all the insight and everything that you've provided best of luck with Nectir. And I'm sure we'll talk again real soon.
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Nik. This is an awesome podcast. Thank you to all of our listeners. If you want to reach out to me for anything honestly, if you want to talk about starting a company raising money from VCs, how to get the most out of your education. You can find me through my website kavitta.com You can find us Nectir's website nectir.io. We're happy to set up Nectir for you and your classes or your campus. But yeah, find me reach out to me I'm always happy to talk.
Yep, and check the description of this episode. whatever platform you're listening on will include all of Kavitta has social media or Nectir's web page, everything that you need to get in touch with Kavitta again with any questions or concerns. So, Kavitta, thank you so much.