Manuj Aggarwal – Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at TetraNoodle Technologies

Episode 182

Resources from
this episode:


Manuj Aggarwal 0:00
Ai can really understand what people are thinking. And it can surface the patterns in in the real world.

Kara Goldin 0:07
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to make sure you will get knocked down, but just make sure you don’t get knocked out knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara golden show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started.

Let’s go. Let’s go.

Hi, everyone, its Kara golden from the Kara golden show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest here. So we have manouche AG Erol here who is the founder and CEO of tetra noodle technologies, we had actually met through LinkedIn who I I’m very grateful for all the platforms that are out there today where you can meet people from all different industries all over the world. And they get to know you and your stories. And my news was was one that I really really admire what he’s done. So he is the founder of tetra noodle technologies. He’s a business accelerator, an inventor, he’s also an author. And he also has a podcast, which I recently was on as well. And he is just this amazing, amazing, very smart human being who over the last 25 years has really made some huge dents in the technology industry. But today we’re going to talk a little bit more about how many years built tetra noodle and how they’re using technologies like AI artificial intelligence, that is blockchain and human psychology to better inform their clients. So interesting. Very, very excited to talk a little bit more. And by the way, many, many people may not know the brand name tetra noodle. But large companies like Microsoft and IBM and universities like the University of British Columbia are using it and are very aware of what manouche is doing. So definitely pay attention here and learn something if you haven’t heard about manouche and what he’s doing before. And he’s also written two books, which I want to talk a little bit more about, about technology deployment. And he, like I said, hosts the podcast bootstrapping your dreams, which is an incredible show. So welcome. manouche Thank you so much. And thanks a lot for that introduction. For excited to be here. Yeah, absolutely. So where are you today? I’m in Vancouver, Canada. Okay. Wonderful. Very, very nice. And tell us a little bit now Where did you grow up? Where was little in the news starting out his his life?

Manuj Aggarwal 3:15
Sure. Yeah, I know, I grew up in India and northern part of India, a very small town. This was obviously, you know, 40 45 years ago, and

small town in India, even today, you know, India has advanced quite a bit since I was there. But even today, there are a lot a lot of opportunities, especially in the smaller town. So when I was growing up, I had very limited resources in terms of opportunities, educational opportunities, the nearest educational institution, higher educational institution, to get your bachelor’s degree was about like, six hours drive. So based on all this, my career started that 15 so you know, the only option that I had was to work in a factory. And it was a quite a quite a tough job, like, you know, six days a week, 12 hours a day. And we used to get $2 a day. And that’s where my journey started. And it was through a series of coincidences and you know, just sheer luck that I I saw something else that is that was possible in life. And one thing led to another and here I am, I mean, I can I can go deeper into that story, but that’s where I started.

Kara Goldin 4:35
I love it. What was the factory? I’m just curious.

Manuj Aggarwal 4:38
Yeah, it’s it was a industrial fasteners, a huge nuts and bolts, you know, they go in bridges and heavy machinery and those kind of things. So, very hot furnaces, you know, you you have to almost melt steel, make it red hot, and then forge it with heavy, heavy machinery. And that’s what creates that, you know, giant, not And bolts, which which hold these bridges together, machineries together?

Kara Goldin 5:04
That’s incredible. What What do you think I always say to people, when you’re going through times that, you know, are challenging in some in some way, but I think it also applies to even those early days of maybe jobs that seemed so far away, right? That, but what did you learn in that role,

Manuj Aggarwal 5:24
um, you know, if you want to learn, I say, there is always a lesson that you can, that you can learn, like, if you are curious enough, and we were talking about this on my podcast with you, as well, if you’re curious enough, when you want to learn, you can, you can pick things up. So one of the things, you know, when I was working in a factory, these fasteners are, they, they carry a lot of weight, and they are put in very, very important, heavy machinery bridges, as I said, total lives depend on them. And so you have very, very precise specifications within micro meters or millimeters, and you have to comply, otherwise, you’re just not going to be able to either sell it, even if you’re able to sell it, it’s not going to fit. And in terms of strength, steel, strength, you have to test it, it’s not going to break under this much load and whatnot. So that kind of precision, even though you know, I had very modest education, but the practical applications of of this kind of precision, gave me education about whatever you do, you gotta, you got to focus on quality, you gotta focus on precision, you, you have to make sure that people can rely on whatever you are doing. And then you know, being being importance of time, you cannot just wake up one day and say, Oh, you know, I’ll sleep in a factory is like an engine, you have to keep running. And it has to be like, on time, every time. And so you have to be there, whether you’re sick, whether it’s raining, whatever, you have to be there at 830. And do it. So all these habits, you know, you pick up you, you and they become part of you, they become part of your character. So those are some important things I learned. And, and the other thing is, you know, communication, you know, talking to people understanding them collaborating with them. So, generally, people don’t work in teams until they are much older, they, you know, they have past universities, they go into professional careers, and even then, in many cases, they sort of work in isolation. So when I got the experience, even though at that moment, you know, you don’t realize it, and sometimes you really resent it, because you have to work with people, they treat you like, you know, a piece of crap. And then they, you, you still have to comply with orders you have to deliver. And that also was a huge lesson for me too, in the later part of my life, to how to collaborate, how to communicate, and these kind of things were really valuable.

Kara Goldin 7:55
I think that’s so key. I mean, I think that, you know, you remind me I was about two years ago, I was speaking at a university to a group of engineers. And I somehow was asked a question about what, what do you think is, is a key piece of learning that you’ve taken over the years and jumping between industries, etc. And I think it goes into a lot of what you’re saying to that, gaining appreciation for other things that maybe you’re not doing, maybe it’s in a different department. But looking back on on my own journey, I think that when you understand how components come together, when you under, say, you’re an engineer, and you don’t have appreciation for finance, or marketing, or any of these other aspects, because you don’t really understand it, that the you’ll never be running a company. If you don’t appreciate those things, you don’t have to know how to do all of them at an at a scale, but you need to understand a little bit about it. And I think that some of those are really jobs where maybe, you know, there’s more in the wheel than just what you’re doing and understanding the team’s aspect, even though they’re not necessarily called teams at that time. So that is, you know, great learning along the way that I always try and press on people, no matter what you’re doing, do it well, but also have appreciation and try try and get a bigger understanding of what other people are doing. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. So a lot of you know your history. You’ve done some amazing things, but you’re the founder of tetra noodle technologies. Tell us a little bit about that company and, and a little bit about what you’re doing.

Manuj Aggarwal 9:44
Yeah. So um, you know, as I was sort of going through my professional career, and I had early success, and at home things were not very, very right. You know, I’ve had I had a challenging relationship with my parents challenging relationships with my spouse. And, but then, as as, as it is, generally, you know, when you are getting success in one area of life, you know, you say, these people don’t understand me. So what ended up happening was after some time ago, I had my first child, and, you know, I was not able to bond with him, he was not, he was not very close to me. So that really touched my heart broke my heart that, hey, you know, I have gone through life, try and push through, make something out of my life. And along the way, whoever doesn’t agree with me, I just blame them, Hey, you know, you don’t know what you what are you talking about? But then how can I blame a child and that to my own child, so that sort of really was one of the darkest periods for me, because I was like, you know, this life, I don’t even know what to do with it. Because if I can connect with my kid, that’s, that’s gonna be a hard life, which led me to find solutions of being an engineer, you know, always Okay, you know, there’s problem, let’s figure out a solution. So then, because of that experience, I said, that must be something in me that is that is causing all this. So which led me to, you know, going into meditation, understanding about the mind, understood, you know, getting into spirituality and things like that. And then a lot of dots started to connect, which is, you know, how we create our own reality, how we think differently, based on our past experiences, and, and things like that. And then, on top of that, I was getting into AI. So I have four patterns and patterns in artificial intelligence. And when I looked at the continuum of how our mind thinks, and what AI is doing, it’s basically a continuum. Because AI can really understand what people are thinking. And it can surface the patterns in in the real world, what really works, how people think, whether that’s right or wrong, irrespective of that, AI will just tell you, this is what people are thinking. And if you look at it, how this is applied, all the social media platforms use it, and they amplify what people are thinking. And they, they, they sort of, you know, in their own way, reinforce that belief. And that is the reason it becomes so addictive for people to go to social media platforms. Now, I was never like a very social person, you know, I was, I’m still an introvert. But just looking at all these things, I connected the dots that, hey, if these large corporations can use it for you know, for social media purposes, or getting attention, we can use it for many other purposes. So, in in the industry, in the business, there are so many applications, you know, if you want to break into new markets, if you want to raise pricing, if you want to, you know, make your customer more loyal. So it’s all about understanding other people. And as as humans, you know, we have ego problems, we have biases, we have, you know, we have days, which are not, we are not in a good mood to talk to other people. But as you apply AI in these realms, it can actually start to build these connections, it can actually start to build these relationships, and then a practical application can be implemented. So that’s sort of what we do now where we help corporations understand their data, and then apply it in the real world, to grow their business, make their business better, build connections, get their message out, and all these things are possible. You know, it’s, it’s amazing.

Kara Goldin 13:34
So how do you think about the, you know, the startup who you’re talking to versus a, you know, big corporation? I how are they similar? How are they different as it applies to your to your business,

Manuj Aggarwal 13:50
you know, startups want to move fast. And they are chaotic. But they want the the structure of large corporations, they want the connections of large corporations, they want the exposure of the large corporation. On the other hand, large corporations have all this, like, they have resources, they have money, they have structure, but they lack the nimbleness. They lack the, you know, the ability to move fast. So what we try to do, and then we see this across industries as well, where, you know, one industry has solved the problem. But then the other industry does not know anything about different industries. So they still struggle with the same problem yet, since they don’t like pick up their head and see, hey, if somebody else has solved the problem, so that’s what we do. We cross pollinate these ideas, and help startups move faster, gain traction very quickly. And on the other hand, large corporations, they want nimbleness, so we help them with take the ideas from startup and then do the hidden trial sort of way of agile methodologies, those kinds of things that large corporations don’t generally Understand, we help them implement those. So both of them benefit in this way.

Kara Goldin 15:05
Interesting. Super, super interesting. I think also, obviously, large, large companies sometimes as I say, they can’t get out of their own way. Right. Yeah, exactly. When when people are trying to look at new trends, I think that the big question I’m sure you’ve run into this is, are they actually willing to move forward? So, you know, startups when you start with a blank slate, rather than trying to fix things that large companies are doing? That’s really what the I think that the key difference is there. So and then obviously, like you said, the resources, they don’t have the resources, but they don’t large companies don’t know what to do sometimes with all those resources. So I’ve read about your work deploying blockchain. Talk to me a little bit about for the newbies into blockchain, what

Manuj Aggarwal 15:50
is blockchain fee blockchain, I’ll try to explain the benefit of blockchain first, since commerce started in like early days, till today, people as humans, we cannot trust each other inherently. So if you say, Hey, I’m gonna, I’m gonna sell you $100,000 worth of goods, I don’t know, if I give you $100,000, whether you will keep that promise and send it to me, not you personally. But in typical transactions. So in these cases, what you have to do is you have to put an intermediary in the in the mix, like a bank, or, you know, a screw or something like that, where you both can trust each other. And then that party will take on the responsibility of, you know, making this transaction happen. So they the banks and intermediary, intermediary institutions, they take hefty fees and things like that, for providing this facility of arbitraging the trust between parties. Now, with blockchain, it is an immutable ledger, meaning once the data goes in, it never can be changed. So if if somebody makes a promise to me, and we put it on blockchain, nobody can change it. So that creates a technology where distributed parties, they don’t even need to know each other. They don’t even have to know the name, they don’t even have to look them look each other in the eye, or shake hands, but they can put their data on a blockchain. And thus, the technology enables a distributed trust between parties. So that is sort of the business context of blockchain. And now, you can apply this in many, many areas where, you know, you have multiple parties looking for reliable source of information, which is tamper proof. So you know, land deeds, currency exchange, educational records, and what have you. So, so that is how that is why blockchain has become so important so quickly, besides the cryptocurrency kind of thing, but the underlying benefit is that that, you know, it has the capability of providing distributed trust between parties do who do not trust each other inherently

Kara Goldin 18:03
interesting. So you’re the author of network security with pf, sense. So how did you decide to, to author this book?

Manuj Aggarwal 18:14
Yeah, so you know, anybody who’s looking for work, these are very, very technical books vary. So if you know, if you want to go to sleep may be a good read. But basically, you know, for me, it’s like, I’m a I’m a, I’m, I’m a security, not as well, because we worked in healthcare industry, we worked in educational industry, so we really have to be careful about privacy, security and things like that. And what I find is, a lot of people complain, oh, my computer got hacked, and, you know, I lost my images. And, and when I say, Okay, what did you do to prevent it ahead of time, and generally, they didn’t do anything. So and it’s not their fault, either. because technology is not something that you know, you you, you inherently gravitate towards, you just assume that if you buy a computer, it is secure. If you have a router, it is secure, but that’s not the case. And when you want to implement security, generally, if you talk to a cybersecurity expert, they’re gonna say, oh, you’re on, we’re gonna plan it, we’re going to, you know, buy equipment, we’re going to do all this stuff. But at the end of the day, people need to realize they’re fantastic free tools available out there, which can secure your network, you know, very, very, in a very good way. And not only that, there is additional functionality available in these free software’s that is not even available in commercial appliances, commercial software. So one of the things that I always use is the open source firewall, a firewall is basically a protection for your network. And pf sense is one of the best out there. You know, it can not only protect your network, but it can provide remote, secure remote access to him. Louise it can combine multiple internet connections. So in my home, for example, home office, I have two connections, because my life and business depends on the internet. So if one goes down, it automatically shift to other. And if both are up, it divides the truck traffic. So all these things absolutely free available. And so when I see people not using it, not not aware of it, you know, that sort of gives me the inspiration to say, Hey, you know, these things are available, you should look at this, and you should use it. And so that is why I created a course. That is why I created a wrote the book and all that. So it’s it’s more about just spreading this information, which is not, which is not in the, you know, in the in the purview of a lot of people, even professionals, you know that because it’s kind of, you have to really dig deep to figure out what are the solutions available?

Kara Goldin 20:49
Now, it’s so true. And so the PF sense, you were saying, but also how do people find out more about your course?

Manuj Aggarwal 20:56
Oh, so you know, as I said, education is what sort of turned my life around, you know, I didn’t have anything else going for me. And so I’m really passionate about education. So it’s not just one course, we have published about 75 courses on various topics. So we have about 185,000 students right now. We teach technology, business entrepreneurship. So this was just one of the courses. And I mean, just Google my name, I think you’ll you’ll be able to find it. It’s most of the courses are technical, but we are now getting into more, you know, executive coaching and, and professional development, things like that. Because I feel like that’s another area where we can make a difference.

Kara Goldin 21:39
Definitely, one of the things I’ve heard you talk about is startup myths. Tell us more about some of the startup myths that are out there. Yeah,

Manuj Aggarwal 21:49
yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s a good one. You know, once again, you know, I’m a I’m a I’m a reader, I read about history, anthropology, evolution. And when I look at evolution of Business and Commerce, this term venture capital came into existence, no more than 3040 years ago. And before that, businesses were around. And you know, nobody said, Hey, I want to raise money to build a business. So when I look at the culture in Silicon Valley, in media, they celebrate things like, Oh, this company raised $10 million. But when I look at it underneath the covers, I say, do you know what you what, what is happening? Basically, somebody you sold part of your company for $10 million. And now that person who lent you the money, they have, you know, discretion or power over you over your decisions. So if you do that too early in your life cycle, you are not independent enough to navigate the entrepreneurial journey. You know, a lot of people, so that’s one myth, you know, I have to raise money as the first step of my business. So many entrepreneurs I talked to say, Oh, I have a brilliant idea. It’s going to change the world, all I’m looking for is a million dollars. And I’ve been looking for that million dollars for the past three years. And I asked them, okay, what did you do in the, in those three years? Absolutely nothing? Yeah. So yeah, I’m like, I’m, like, you know, how do you think somebody will invest in you, if you don’t want to invest in you in the past three years, like, it doesn’t make sense to me. And then the next one is, build it. And they will come, you know, they say, oh, it worked for Facebook, it worked for YouTube. I’m like, do you know how many failure stories you don’t listen to, and they just vanish, you know, because they didn’t do anything in terms of marketing and get in the getting the message out there. And today, we are living in. So so much noise, like people have two or three seconds attention span these days. And that too, they are distracted between their phone and, and social media now. So you really have to hit them with the, with the hammer on their head, to say, hey, notice, notice me like, I’ve got something good for you. And when I when I hear people say, you know, oh, build it, and they will come, you know, I have to tell them, you know, if you are that lucky, you will just win the lottery, you don’t even have to lift a finger. But if you really want to build a business, you really need to pound the pavement, you really need to devote a lot of time to get the message out there. So these are some of the myths that you know. And then the next one is I need a unique idea I need you know, everybody else is doing it. I need a unique idea. I’m like, do you know how risky it is to come up with a unique idea. Like, if that was the case, then after Uber, they will not be left after Amazon, they will not be a Shopify after you know, a Colgate there. There’s not going to be any other toothpaste in the marketplace. So this myth that that you need a unique idea is another one where people just have These, these myths in their mind about entrepreneurship, and they fail to recognize it’s basically all about connection between human to human, it’s how you show up, it’s how you present your offer, with your sort of color on on top of it, and how is it resonates with your audience. That’s what it is all about. So there could be 100 different offers for the same thing. If the market is big enough, you will find your place. So these are some of the typical myths that people have, especially in the startup world.

Kara Goldin 25:34
Definitely, no, I love those. And there are so many things that applied to my own journey of him then, and people have asked me in even starting hands, when I came from technology to to deciding to start a beverage company, they said, Why aren’t you raising money? And I always tell people, like, Why does everybody think you need to raise money in order to start a product because I really wanted to get some traction, and not give away the whole company to before I started. So a lot of people don’t think about that, that the if you can actually do something with nothing, before you actually go and raise money, it’s way better. And otherwise, it’s a bad episode of shark tank.

Manuj Aggarwal 26:18
And here is another thing, you know, convincing somebody to give you money on an idea is 10 times harder than to sell a product because you’re giving something back in value. And the other thing is that when you find some buyers, it actually becomes 10 times easier to find the investor because now the investor sees that you have traction and their money is safe, and it’s going to grow. So, you know, if we if we do the math, it’s 100 times easier to find an investor after you find a customer.

Kara Goldin 26:50
Yeah, no, absolutely. So one of the things that before we close out, I you had developed an AI based system to help students avoid dropping out, which was highlighted by and praised by President Barack Obama. And also Bill Gates, tell me a little bit more about that. That’s why I

Manuj Aggarwal 27:11
see it. I mean, this is a good example of AI and big data in real world application. So the thing is that most students, they enroll in university courses, based on recommendations or friends, you know, friends going into certain fields, they just follow them. And then after a couple of years, they say, Oh, you know, this is not of interest to me, then they drop out. So two things happen. One, the educational institutions lose the revenue. So it’s actually a 450 billion loss of revenue, and in US alone for because of dropout rates, and 30% of the students actually drop out. And on the other side on the society, the impact is that those students get demoralized they they do not get the degree generally, and you know, their their life is sort of affected. Right? So what we did was we said, okay, let’s figure out what has been their past performance, what has been their aptitude? What are they interested in? So we collected their LSAT scores, their school scores, their, you know, historical performance. And then based on all that data, we look for patterns, and then almost like Netflix recommends movies and shows to you, we recommend the right courses to the students. And so the result is students who go through this program, they take 20% more courses, and the dropout rate decline. And if you know, the impact was huge. And that’s the reason why, by why Barack Obama mentioned it in his State of the Union address, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported it. And it’s a patented technology. So it’s, it’s Yeah, I mean, these are some practical examples of how AI can really make a huge impact. Did you

Kara Goldin 28:55
know this was gonna happen when he put it in the State of the Union or no,

Manuj Aggarwal 28:59
no, no, no, I mean, I found out much, much later. And, and the fact is, not being a marketing guy. I didn’t even say that to anybody. And then somebody coach me, somebody I was sharing about this. I was like, I was like, Really? I Why don’t you talk about it? I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, this is the technology we will under No, no, no, you got to tell Belize things to other people, you know.

Kara Goldin 29:22
Yeah, that’s incredible. So well, it’s that is such a, that’s a huge thing. And I think that the best things happen when you don’t expect them and that’s really, really incredible. So your insights are just so enlightening, and I love learning a lot about this. This has been a half hour of of just inspiration, but also definitely people learning a lot more about how I can affect their business and how you just go out and just do it more than anything else. And your podcast, as we mentioned, that I was recently on is is really incredible. You have some incredible guests on there, you’ve now grown to be a big podcaster as well, I I’m definitely a little motivated by, by your experience and what you’ve seen. It’s it’s really, really incredible. So thank you so much for coming on. And thanks, everybody for listening. We’re here every Monday and Wednesday with amazing guests who are really sharing all kinds of great insights and stuff, but also just stories of how you can do it too, just by listening to other people listening to people’s journeys of, you know, lots of underdogs, I think join me on on mine to really share that they came from something, and it really improved and maybe had some bumps along the way. But clearly, I think it’s more than anything, you need to hear those in order to move forward. And your story is definitely that. So

Manuj Aggarwal 31:03
thank you so much for having me. Thank you so much. I’m so thankful excited to be part of this podcast, amazing questions, and you are an amazing human being and you have done amazing things in your life, as you said, you know, going over all these challenges. So thank you so much.

Kara Goldin 31:20
Thank you very much. And everybody, subscribe and give lots of stars to manouche. And thank you everyone have a great rest of the week. before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara golden and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara golden golden thanks for listening