The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Abhi Narang is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Abhi Narang and I was born and raised in India. Came to US as full-time MBA student at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem in 2006 and graduated in 2008. Been here in NC for last 15 years. Before that I was a trained electrical engineer. My First full time job was an MBA summer intern for Navistar international. My first part-time job was at the Wake Forest library making $6-7/hour.
October 2011, I started working for Volvo Group 2011-2019 for 8 years. At Volvo Group, I got into Global Program Management. Also, During that time is when I got passionate about entrepreneurship and investing. End of 2019 I was laid off so in beginning of 2020, I started Memory Crafters, basically a marketplace between users and businesses, with my wife. Right after creating the startup, COVID happened so I got involved in investing more in March/April last year and now I am also a full-time angel and venture investor. Memory Crafters also just got into a new accelerator program.
In summary, I am an Entrepreneur, first time founder and investor (angel, VC, stock market, option trading, crypto).
Jan of 2020 was when I really got into entrepreneurship myself by attending the Charlotte Innovation Week. This was my first time in Charlotte after almost 2 years. Ended up meeting a bunch of Angels and joined Charlotte Angel fund. CAF was my first segway into investing into private companies and realized just how hard it is for founders to raise funding. I became a CAF member because I wanted to see the narrative from both sides (private investing and as a founder). Since joining so far, I have been a part of the process of due diligence into multiple deals.
What did it take / how did you get started?
My wife is from India too and we would have never have met in India but when I completed my MBA program in 2008, we met as two master students. Got married in 2010. 2012 moved to Charlotte and had our first kid and wanted to have a baby shower but our family wasn't here so we struggled with what to do and who to invite etc. Struggled for the first time putting on an event and thus this was really the impetus for Memory-Crafters. Every time we celebrated something, baby shower or birthday, we figured there had to be a better way to celebrate these moments.
This is when Memory-Crafters was born. We want to make life celebrations easier for everyone, no matter what part of society you belong to. So we created a marketplace that integrates users with businesses to curate great and memorable experiences. My son is now 7, but every year he would give me a theme for a birthday party as an example and with the marketplace, we can make this happen.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
We recently started the New Chip accelerator and this will help us with gearing up to fundraise. We have a chicken vs egg problem. We want to solve this problem with technology. Bootstrapped up until this point and have developed prototypes and did discovery and focus groups. Now we want to develop an MVP later this year or early next year. My wife has a full-time job and I am a full time investor, so we are moving slowly. Next step is to do this accelerator program and raise a pre-seed raise and once we do that, i'll hire some folks to get the mvp going and get some businesses on our platform. Small businesses are looking better now vs. last year. For MVP development, I am looking at no-code platforms like bubble and glide. I am also working with UNC chapel hill where students can help in developing MVP.
What drives / motivates you?
Very passionate about disruptive innovation and helping founders with their vision and what they're doing. Very passionate about learning as well.
When I am not on calls, I am watching CNBC following companies and learning. This is where I thought maybe I could change my career and do what I want to do vs. just do a job to get paid. As I grow older my curiosity grows because I realize how little I know.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
I do two things: investing and entrepreneurship.
Investing is very broad. You have to be curious and understand what is happening and think about the future. Relentless and know what you want and what you're passionate about. Old days are gone where you have to go to school --- most things can be learned remotely in your office sitting at home. If you want to invest in a business, you have to think about long term vision and spend time trying to figure out that long term vision. But at the same time, you have to see where the market is today (technical vs. fundamentals). Angel, venture investing, pre-ipo, stock market and option trading all have different optics. Follow the experts.
As a founder, you have to learn about fundraising (join or go to a local angel fundraising group and learn), your local environment, product development, networking etc. You have to be part of the right groups and know the right people. Sometimes things move faster than you want or slower than you want.
East coast and west coast investors (Angels, VC) are very different.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
In Investing the hardest part is losing money. When do you take profits? Hardships makes you learn. A person is supposed to learn from mistakes but every time a new mistake, not the same.
Entrepreneurship the hardest part is there is so much to learn. It's so fricken hard. There's so much hardwork and blood/sweats behind it. Having skills really matter. Having coding for example would have helped. You need a team. You need mentorship.
If I didn't do what I did with investing, I would have gone back to a full-time job. Make sure you have a plan B.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Investing: Motley Fool, Investors Business Daily, Market Rebellion, CNBC and some good channels on Youtube.
Entrepreneurship: youtube, Linkedin, Grepbeat (Triangle), startup events in the local area. Local accelerator programs.
Side or full-time hustle?
Full-time but I split my time between investing and memory crafters
List the founders
My wife and I, but my wife works full-time.
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
50-60 (doesn't feel like working though) ... half and half
# of Employees?
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
Looking to raise seed round end of this year or early next year.
Any call to action?
Memory crafters - looking for co-founder or founding team members (Sales and product development), technical co-founder.