With all of the hoopla around Instoried‘s funding announcements, we had to have Sharmin Ali, the founder and CEO of Instoried, on the show.
Some of the topics Sharmin covered:
  • Starting her career in Management Consulting and working on Wall St.
  • The desire to return to India and start her own thing
  • FOMO is one of the emotions we connect the most with
  • Trying to build the Netflix of India
  • Being data-driven to affect scale
  • Balancing technology with the human touch
  • Using technology to make content creation more efficient and effective
  • Why empathy matters
  • Instoried’s ubiquitous capital raise and going the SPAC route
  • Future plans to go public
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. Helping the Rich Get Richer
  2. You Need to Connect at an Emotional Level
  3. India Has the Best Tech Talent
  4. It’s a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
This episode was expertly produced by Isabelle Goh.

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:21
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to India GameChanger. Today should be a great one. Today we are joined by Sharmin Ali, the founder and the CEO at Instoried…Sharmin, thanks for coming on the show. How are you doing, by the way?

Sharmin Ali 0:36
Thank you so much, Michael for having me. I’m doing wonderful. As always, as always.

Michael Waitze 0:43
I could not be better. I walked into the office today. So it’s Songkran in Thailand. And I had completely forgotten about that. Because like you I take off very little time. And I literally just walked into the office, all the lights were off. It was dark, there was nobody here, the normal coffee machine was not even ready. So I went downstairs and bought myself a cup of coffee. But otherwise, I’m doing amazing. I want to talk to you about building stuff from scratch. But before we do that, I don’t really know that much about you. I want to get some of your background for some context, if you don’t mind.

Sharmin Ali 1:15
Absolutely. So, okay, so first and foremost, I’m an Indian. Watch I brought up in you know what, not too many people know this about me. I am half Indian, 1/4, Iranian and 1/4. Fridge, by the way, as in from my parents side. But then yes, I think Indian side is the more dominant one. So yes, born and brought up in India studied engineering, although I don’t take too much pride in saying that, because I’ve never really done anything close to what I’ve studied. Men started my career back in 2010, in the US, actually, you know, because got a job there. And the management consulting Decision Sciences space, you know, analytics, as they call it was on the Wall Street for about four and a half to five years. Number 14 companies, then I realized that I was just helping the rich get richer, wasn’t adding too much value to my own life. So I decided to quit, came back to India to you know, follow my passion. And I’ve always wanted to start something of my own. So that’s when this entrepreneurial journey began. And my first companies actually was in the media space, the plan was to build India’s very own Netflix, and this was back in 2016. You know,

Michael Waitze 2:33
why does everybody want to be in the movie business?

Sharmin Ali 2:38
I think it’s very attractive. Job is Oh, yes, of course it is. And also, because you know, when it’s videos, right, so because there’s audio and video both. So it’s way more interactive, and, you know, way more intuitive, much, much easier to connect with people. So yes, I think videos definitely are, are the best possible way to connect with me, which is an irony because I’m techspace.

Michael Waitze 3:08
I was gonna say, and I’m audio based, right? So we can see each other now. Oh, wow. And yes, almost everything I do is audio, I find audio to be really intimate, right? Because when you’re listening to when you’re watching a video, you have to be paying attention, I have to be able to look at you, right. And like I said, video can be super interactive. But I also feel like some people are not appropriate for video because they don’t know how to behave in front of the camera, right? There’s a lot of this kind of stuff. This kind of stuff. Notice, I’m not saying what I’m doing because nobody can see me. Right. But there’s an intimacy in the imagination behind audio. The same thing for the writing. And I want to get to that in a second. Right. But I think that there’s something really intimate about looking at something, reading it and trying to figure out what it means and why it has meaning. Is that fair?

Sharmin Ali 4:00
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. You know, it can have multiple meanings, but then the tone and the emotion behind that. And you know, that’s where we also come from the tone and the emotion behind that is basically what sets the perspective and you know, things with the reader. So absolutely, I think, you know, writing and audio, they’re very, very intimate. But again, depends on you know, how the person perceives it.

Michael Waitze 4:26
So this perception, though, really gets to the heart of, I think what in story does if I understand this at all? What is it about? And again, just helped me here, right? But what is it about writing with empathy, or writing with caring or just being empathetic at all? That makes such a big difference? That then at the end of the day, it drives more engagement, right? Just talk to me about this empathy thing first, right. And do you consider yourself an empathetic person like where does this come from?

Sharmin Ali 4:59
That’s The so yes, you know, absolutely I think you’re you’re bang on right? But you cannot be running a company or doing anything which is based on empathy and listen until you don’t feel and connect with people the same way. Right? So yes, absolutely, I am very empathetic. But I think more than humans, I am a huge animal lover, I’m I’m a vegetarian, I think I’m the most empathetic towards animals. You know, I have a dog and two cats at home. So I think my biggest love our animals any day. It’s very, very empathetic towards them. But also, you know, the thing is that, if you look at evolution as such, right, evolution has wired as human beings to be more emotional than logical, right? I mean, all of our decision making is driven by emotions and not by logic. So we human beings are emotional people. So when you talk about emotions, there is definitely an you know, some level of empathy quotient attached with it. And especially in times of crisis, like the last two years, you know, I think, needless to say that the only way to connect with people is to be more empathetic, and you know, kind. So when it comes to my company, I think timing really worked amazingly well. We were able to, you know, Spot the opportunity in this adversity. And that’s when things happen that because the world needs to be a much more empathetic place. And you know, people need to connect better, more empathetically with each other in order to resonate well with their audiences. And that is what we are exactly cashing on. So we built a tool around that.

Michael Waitze 6:46
Yeah, but you’re, you’re building into a few different things at the same time, right? There’s an idea. And again, tell me where I’m wrong here that writing as a thing is still important, whether it’s in the digital format, or in the physical format, that that’s still important. So that’s one decision. The other decision is that you can impact writing using artificial intelligence and machine learning, understand what’s embedded inside the writing by analyzing that writing before it gets sent out to people. And another part of this notice, I didn’t say the last part is that that if you write in a particular way, that then you can change the way the reader actually feels about the thing that they’re writing. How did all these stuff come together for you, right? Because I believe really strongly as an entrepreneur myself that like, there’s no such thing as an epiphany. You don’t just wake up one day, shake your head out, have a cup of coffee and go, Okay, I’m gonna build a company that does writing, that’s empathetic, because I think that that matters. And I’m gonna use artificial intelligence. How does all this stuff get developed over time? In your mind? Yeah.

Sharmin Ali 7:46
Right. So you know, lots of things, lots of things. So when I was in the US, and you know, I was I was working with these fortune 100 companies, I had a bunch of appearances dealing with clients. And, you know, I mean, of course, a lot of learning thing in those years. But then I think the biggest thing that occurred to me was when I went to Harvard to you know, study about neuro marketing, because neuro marketing was something that was always very, very exciting to me, I mean, I had been reading a lot, I’m a voracious reader. So that’s when I found out things that, you know, all the conventional forms of marketing are now long dead and gone. If you have to be able to connect with people, you have to hit them, you know exactly where it needs to be hit. And that is that, you know, because we are emotional beings, you have to connect with them at an emotional level. So what I did was that I went to Howard to, you know, study about neuro marketing to understand this a little better. So, I ended up talking to, I think, almost 500 Plus neuro marketers and neuroscientists as they prefer calling themselves you know, and those wonderful PhD people, they, you know, put all these nodes into my brain and that I was the lab rat basically. And that’s when I ended up understanding that how our brain reacts to situations you know, and the best responses happen when you know, it is when there is an emotional situation. And that’s when we figured that all of the decision making you know from from a customer standpoint, is actually determined by the set of emotions that we human beings connect the most with. And turns out after years and years of their experimenting with you know, a bunch of lab rats like my second they figured that okay, there are five main emotions that we human means connect the most with, and the number one being FOMO you know, fear of missing out. So anything to do with fear or an alarming situation is what we connect the most with. So fear, anger, joy, sadness, and surprise. These are the five main emotions that We human beings connect the most with. So we forgot that okay, these five emotions is what any marketeer also needs in order to be able to, you know, sell their product better. So that was the starting point. And of course, other than that there are three main, you know, tones or opinions, as one might call it, which, you know, any marketer would want to set when it comes to, you know, setting an opinion. So, positive, negative or neutral, any writer would have one of these stones. So, that is where the whole thing actually occurred to me that, okay, right now, all of the content generation activity that is happening globally, it’s very manual, very intuition driven, there is no such tech driven approach, which can essentially help you gauge what is the, you know, tone or the emotion of your content looking like. So the whole idea was to help people make their content generation activity, their process, much more intuitive, you know, much more productive using a very, as they call it, data driven, scalable and repeatable approach using technology. So that’s exactly where it occurred that, okay, you know, enough of doing this manually, we need to get technological assistance,

Michael Waitze 11:16
what’s the balance between different makers, we could take a machine and give it a paintbrush, right? And then tell it to sort of recreate Monet, like 1000 million times, right? And then given an idea how to machine learning and how to create its own stuff, but what’s the balance between doing something with artificial intelligence and machine learning? And an inspired person actually writing great stuff? Right? Because it’s got to be somewhere in the middle? No, like, I believe technology augments people doesn’t replace them or supplements them. What’s the balance there from an installed perspective, but how this gets used? So that makes sense.

Sharmin Ali 11:52
So you know, first of all, this is a great question, because this is something that I am, I’m often asked by a lot of people that I am trying to replace a copywriter.

Michael Waitze 12:02
That’s not as because I don’t think that’s possible. Right? I want to know how it augments. Yeah.

Sharmin Ali 12:07
Right. How it augments? Exactly. So, you know, there are a few things that one needs to look at. So how did we even come to this conclusion that technology can actually assist or, you know, augment the entire content generation exercise? So first of all, what we did is that, you know, we conducted interviews globally, in, you know, every possible country, at least at least the known countries, with with over 1000 plus, you know, content marketers, and, you know, content writers, content creators, to basically understand what are the challenges that they face, you know, 90% of them said that their biggest challenge was, when they talk about editing, you know, editing is their biggest challenge. When you talk about content writing, writing isn’t really that big a challenge, because they tend to, you know, do a lot of research before they create the car, or, you know, most of these guys with with an MPhil in literature, they are the ones who get the most offended when you talk about technology as them you know, it’s good content generation, which is, which is fine. I understand, because their entire life has been surrounded about content. So when you tell them that assisting you with content creation that like what are you saying, really? Are you kidding me? I’m like, No, so the entire exercise here is about making the entire content generation process more productive. How do you get the whole editing cycle to, you know, to help you save time? And how do you get because also, the thing is that what most of them said is that, you know, when they write, they tend to go haywire, you know, they don’t know how to stick to what number of words and what occurs to them during editing. And, you know, most of their bosses are like, Dude, you have to create 500 words. But look, you can’t do 800. How do you know that? Which 300 words to you know, actually cut, and then you might actually end up losing the sense of the entire generation activity. So these are some of their biggest challenges. So we thought that what if technology could replace that, you know, so editing is where the biggest assistance is required in order to make the whole process more productive, more efficient, and help them save time. That is the assistance that in story is trying to bring in.

Michael Waitze 14:23
Got it. So let’s say I’m a content creator. And let’s make it the simplest example. I find in stored, I really just want to run through back to front process so I can understand exactly how it works. Right? What do I have to give it? What do I do when it’s working on stuff? And like, what’s the output that I get? And you don’t even like? How does it work front to back? Right? So very simple, is it? Who’s going to use it as well?

Sharmin Ali 14:52
I think I should answer that first, who’s going to use it and you know, 1010 hard works. So basically, any You want who is creating content? You know, when I say content, it can be, you know, something as basic as a blog, or maybe an Instagram caption, you know, because now everyone’s going Instagram, all of the marketing is now short form. So, you know, being an Instagram caption, or a Twitter post, or you know, I mean, a Facebook post anything to do about, you know, content creation, or it can even be a love letter for that matter. You know, I mean, Gone are those days yes,

Michael Waitze 15:30
no, not really. But anyway, go ahead.

Sharmin Ali 15:33
Now, it’s the day unless we lower so, so terrible,

Michael Waitze 15:37
but no, go ahead and please.

Sharmin Ali 15:41
So, you know, anything to do about content, any kind of content essentially, and, and the way we are going to we are also looking at even chats, you know, as in be it WhatsApp chats, or you know, be it SMS is anything to do with, let’s say, people working at a BPO, wherein, you know, they have to chat, I mean, a text based chatting with, you know, the customers. So, any kind of chat. So, what we are trying to look at is basically how do you get the whole chatting, experience, the whole connecting with your customer, that experience, you know, much more seamless, wherein you’re able to gauge, what is the emotion that your customer is experiencing, and that’s what you capitalize on, and then get recommendations around that. So that was the whole idea that, you know, if if I am this, this chat person at and let’s say swiggy, and, you know, there is there is this person who hasn’t got their food in time, and he or she is going insane. So, you know, if there was a back in technology, which could tell you that dude, you know, what, the person is losing it. So instead of, you know, just just explaining it to them, Why is it taking so long, it would be nice if you could use a certain few words, which could, you know, help them calm down, toned down a little bit. So those recommendations, again, to, you know, basically help you make those judgments sooner. These are just broadly the use cases that I’m explaining. So, you know, that is the whole idea. Now, how does it work? To answer that, what we’ve done is that now, any anything to do with technology, right? There has to be a user interface, of course, right. So there are multiple ways of, you know, bringing that user interface in order for anyone to use it to, you know, enable the whole, use it. So what we did initially was that, you know, we built a web app, so you just log on to, you know, app.in story.com. And using that, what will happen is that, you know, you would get to a login page, where in just how you log into your Facebook, you would just log into the app symbol. And as soon as you log in, you know, you would get the editor window, wherein what you can do is that, you will just start writing content, just how you write on any platform, you know, it is as simple as writing on your text, window, SMS or WhatsApp. So as soon as you start writing, the tool would dynamically start throwing these responses. Now when I use the word dynamic, what I need to say is that you don’t have to wait for your content to be you know, completed and then click a few buttons for it to analyze that, because that would be a static window, what happens here is that as soon as you start writing, you would see on the right hand side of your window, that okay, there is some activity happening and then a few numbers are popping up. So that is because the whole computation it’s you know, dynamically going on as you’re creating content, it will throw those numbers that okay, you know, what, these are your tones, these are your emotions, you can you can play around, and you know, as as you want to see the recommendations that okay, which are the words which are exuding those tones, and those emotions, all of that it’s a very intuitive, you know, very, very interactive window where you can be playing around. And those are the responses basically, when I say responses, it’ll, it’ll tell you, what’s the tone, what’s the emotion, if your content is original? Or you know, has it been plagiarized? You know, how, how is your caption looking like, what kind of words do you need to use in order to make your caption, much more interactive. So, you know, a lot of these things, of course, lots of those features. So, that is that is one way in which you can use that, as in that now we are launching Chrome extension varying, you know, any platform that you might be using, I mean VG or Microsoft Word or you know, I mean, your Google Doc or your WordPress or any other CMS that you have, just download the Chrome extension and you know, on the right hand side, you will start seeing those pop ups. So that is how it will be enabled.

Michael Waitze 19:54
Really interesting. So in a way it almost works like Grammarly works for just writing and grammar right and word recommendations. Yes. There are a way to, I mean, if it’s doing this dynamically, if it’s doing it in real time, it requires a whole bunch of compute. I presume it’s happening on the cloud and not locally, which makes it even more interesting. Are there use cases for this in chatbots, as well, so I type something in the chat bot needs to respond. But I want it to respond to me in a way that’s not like, Hey, Michael, that’s the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my whole life. Something a lot nicer than that. You know what I mean?

Sharmin Ali 20:24
Yes, absolutely. So we haven’t reached that stage yet. You know, because first of all, AI is no magic. It is all artificial, you know? Most people forget that. And they’re like, Okay, oh, my god, can you do this? Can you do that? Can it tow these responses in real time? Yes, it can. But it means a lot of training in the backend. Right? So we still haven’t gone to the whole chatbot space. That’s exactly what I was talking about the whole swiggy use case. But that’s where we intend to get to that, you know, how do you get those responses in real time? And when I say responses, I mean, they have to be meaningful, they have to make sense, right? It shouldn’t be like, you know, what, Michael, this is such a dumb question. Like you said, it has to understand why you’re asking this and give you contextual responses. So so far done is that all of the responses that we give, they have been trained from a marketing standpoint. So yes, the tool is smart enough to you know, understand the context in which you have written a certain piece of content, and it gives you recommendations accordingly, you know, it will, it will not change the context, that has been possible, because we’ve used about 30 million plus data points in the back end to you know, train the tool. But for us to get to a chatbot space, we will probably need like 100 million data points, you know, where in the data, which would essentially be like chat based data, short form content that, Hey, Hi, John, what’s up? Hi, this, you know, I mean, this is what I’m doing. Do you think it’s making sense? You know, is it like those, those one word responses and things like that, so the end that would go in, and the back end would be much different. But yes, we eventually want to get there. You know, when daily chats that you have on WhatsApp, or on any messaging platform, they become seamless when it comes to, you know, a tool responding to

Michael Waitze 22:19
you. Yeah, and when I think about sort of voice recognition, I think about a company, I had a conversation with Robert E thorougly, about a year and a half ago, who runs a company called Unifor. And what they do, using similar methodology is they want to give scripting and stuff like that in real time for, like, customer service agents to be able to talk to people in combination with a to like in story, which in real time, at some point with Compute, again, increasing exponentially. And with access to cloud, right? So the throughput to the cloud, just getting so much higher, and so much faster, being able to then change the tone of those responses in real time, I think would be super cool. Anyway, absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s a really interesting application of this. And again, I want to test and see how this works. Right? I talk a lot. And I listen to people talk, and it would be neat to have my own thoughts be able to transfer into a more empathetic tone, although I do feel like if I do say so myself, I’m pretty empathetic. Do you score this stuff in real time? In other words, is there a score happening in the background when you’re taking these 30 million or 100 million data points that you have? And the more times you do this, the more data you get? Are you constantly scoring and then iterating? How it generates what that content should look like?

Sharmin Ali 23:33
Well, absolutely, this is all happening in real time, you know, so now the system has gone into that auto learning mode, you know, where in more the content that it encounters, the better it becomes, you know, because because it’s auto learning, so it knows that Okay, so basically, it is it is comparing any content that it gets with the content that it has been trained on, right, right. So that this is what is positive, this is what is negative, this is what is neutral, and then accordingly, it starts compartmentalizing the content that it receives that okay, you know, what, this is what positive looks like. So, yes, now you have to go into this bucket, you know, so I mean, I’m just talking like simple layman’s terms, something like that is what is going on at the backend. So it’s now gone into the auto learning mode. And, of course, we have a bunch of data scientists in house, who are you know, continuously doing all of the quality checks to ensure that, you know, yes, the tool runs again, validating the fact that only AI is not enough. There is always some human intervention required.

Michael Waitze 24:36
How big is the in storage team overall?

Sharmin Ali 24:39
Right now we have 40 people, soon to be 70. Yeah, by this year, we should be at least 70 Plus, yeah.

Michael Waitze 24:47
So you’ve raised a decent amount of money. You did a series a what? That was $10 million. announced, do I have that right?

Unknown Speaker 24:55
Yes, correct. What was the

Michael Waitze 24:57
basis of that raise? Was it something that you’ve been Thinking about for a while? Or were you approached in reverse by investors who saw what you were doing? If that makes sense? You don’t I mean?

Sharmin Ali 25:07
Yes, yes, absolutely. That’s so both, actually, you know, because even I was looking at raising money because these techies are super expensive. Saw that expensive. And you know, also because we were looking at expanding in the US market. So, you know, we needed a couple of million dollars invested into marketing. So yes, of course, and, and also because we were planning to go the b2c route, initially, we were only b2b. So b2c, it means that you need to spend money, right? Marketing? Yes. So both actually, you know, there were a bunch of investors who were chasing us. And, you know, we were also looking at raising money. So actually, it’s so happened that, you know, unlike a lot of other people, our series, a raise was easier, you know, the first investor that we spoke with, in just three rounds of conversations, you know, we got the term sheet, so I did not go reach out to many more. But then things fell in place worked out, yeah, great.

Michael Waitze 26:15
What does expansion to the US look like to you? And, you know, I have this theory that I do say a lot. And you know, nobody succeeds alone, right? So you can’t just like, drop your own people. They’re like, what does a great partnership look like to you, in the United States, and also are their challenges specifically for a company coming out of India, which is a completely different market, which in and of itself, is so dynamic, right, but also, you know, if you go 100 miles, or 200 miles away from where you are in India, you have different language, different culture, different food and stuff are tired, right now, if you go 12,000 miles away to the US, like, how do you manage all of those differences in culture and stuff? When you look for great partnerships? In a completely different market?

Sharmin Ali 26:58
Right? So yes, you know, you are, you’re absolutely right, lots of challenges, especially for a company, which is in the deep tech space, you know, coming out of India, because very, very different markets, Indians don’t want to pay and you know, Americans have a lot of money, but they don’t know how to spend it. You know, so, you know, it’s a different ballgame altogether. So, we have thought of all of these things. And, you know, what we’ve learned the hard way is that partnerships, you know, you, you need to get those references, those partners who will help you expand into a completely different geography, you know, people who understand that space, and having the right set of advisors, the right connections, who can, you know, help you basically sell. So I don’t have any intentions of building a tech team in the US, you know, because I strongly believe that India has the best tech talent. So, you know, I mean, most of them have have sort of a brain drain, and I’ve moved to the US. But you know, I mean, India, any day has the best tech talent. So, tech team will always remain in India. But having said that, I think Americans are the best when it comes to sell, you know, I mean, selling is, I think, a top priority for any startup at our stage. And so what we are doing is that we are building a phenomenal sales team in the US using the advisory people that we have. Now now we have two incredible CXOs of two incredible unicorn companies, you know, who have joined us on our on our advisory board. So they are the ones who are essentially helping us set up the whole sales team because they, they really understand how you know, as in how it works in the US market, and you know, how to get those sales, guys. So I think partnerships is definitely number one, you know, because any company will have incredible tech, but their biggest challenge will be through, you know how to sell better. And, for me, I strongly believe that, you know, you need to be able to raise money continuously, in order to, you know, support and get more resources on board. Because it’s it’s either the funding money, or it is a continuous influx of sales. Now, for someone in the deep tech, SAS space, continuous influx of money through sales is quite a challenge because

Michael Waitze 29:24
there’s a mismatch in timing, particularly for a SASS company in early stage revenues, right? Revenues are three to five years out generally.

Sharmin Ali 29:33
Absolutely. So you know, you need to spend a lot on marketing. So how do you spend that money that money has to come through investment? So you know, for all of these reasons, I think us is the biggest market and getting the smartest salespeople who can really connect emotionally with your customers and go like bang, bang, bang that okay, this is a done, talk to 100 people close at least 20 Get tend to you know, pay money. That’s what I think Americans are very good at doing So yeah,

Michael Waitze 30:01
I understand. Can you talk to me a little bit about the global and emerging markets announcement that was made recently? I’m just trying to understand the details here. Why make an announcement about a specific amount of money for a shares subscription facility? That’s going to happen? At some point? I mean, even its post IPO money, right? So does that money, they give you money today? How does that work? I just don’t understand this.

Sharmin Ali 30:27
So yes, of course, it is, it is a capital commitment and not an investment. You know, so when I say capital commitment, basically, what what it means is that, so we plan to go public in the next, you know, I think, like two to three years. So when we go public, the thing is that, you know, they would be at at the valuation decided, at that point in time by these anchors and stuff, Jim would be essentially, you know, liable to give us that sum of money at the valuation beside it, which, which basically means that, you know, if we go the stock route, let’s say, you know, so the company that would be acquiring us, which would essentially be then, you know, going IPO could pull in 200 million to buy stakes of the existing investors at the valuation decided by that target company. So it’s basically a commitment for the future that you know, so that, no matter what happens, they cannot back out, you know, they would be putting in that 200 million, which, which I think is a great key, and it definitely deserved an announcement. Because when you say this, then raising money in the future getting more investors to, you know, trust you because because there is this one massive VC, which is which is which has committed a good amount of money. So, you know, there is that whole trust factor that that comes in, you know, because they have a good name in the market, it becomes much smoother.

Michael Waitze 31:59
I got it, what’s the benefit of going this backwards? So it’s back for people that don’t know, a special purpose acquisition company. So it’s not like in store it itself is IPO in per se? It’s merging into almost like a shell company that’s already listed, and then getting acquired by that, but then kind of taking that company over what’s the benefit to a company like in storeyed, to do a SPAC as opposed to just doing an initial public offering?

Sharmin Ali 32:26
So you know, I mean, the most basic thing, and IPO is a lot of pain in my ass.

Michael Waitze 32:33
You and everybody else, but yeah, I get it. I worked on an equity desk. So I completely understand this.

Sharmin Ali 32:39
IPO is a is a pain spec. Other hand. First of all, yes. Now now it’s been, you know, quite, it’s doing well, in the US. There are different ways of looking at it different people have different opinions. But but you know, the general thing has been like, a lot of people have been choosing to go the stock route in the US, it’s not really a very well known term in India, people don’t understand this in India, and they’re still more more traditional, and they want to go the IPO way. But but in the US pack has been a big thing. And Europe a lot preferred when it comes to a number of VCs. And when when someone has given you a commitment one or 200 million, it definitely makes sense. Because you know, then there is a short shot commitment, right? Because you have signed the agreement. So now they cannot back out, which which basically gives the existing investors and the, you know, future incoming investors a lot of confidence. So when I got this offer when we got this opportunity, I was like, why not? You know, why? Am I stupid? No. So, you know, definitely yes. You know, plus, I’ve always wanted to go public. So I was like, This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And these guys are phenomenal to work with. Very, very, you know, entrepreneur friendly. So I was like, Okay, why not? The ball is in my court. I will definitely take it.

Michael Waitze 34:06
Take it. Okay, well, that’s awesome. And it was really great to talk to you. I really want to thank you Sharmin Ali, the founder and CEO at Instoried. that was really interesting. I cannot thank you enough for doing this.

Sharmin Ali 34:18
Thank you. Thank you so much. This is amazing. Michael, I enjoyed talking to you.


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