#HuntedHunters #1: Tristan Pollock's Hunt for random greatness.
This is part one of #HuntedHunters, a series of interviews with top members of the Product Hunt community. If you don’t know anything about it, read what got us here.
There are some really strong number upvotes for the 'IN it to WIN it' mentality around the globe. Everybody seems to enjoy being in the race and trying to reaching the finish line...first, of course. However, here at the The Omni Calculator Project our aim was never being the first to finish or to prove our mettle to the haters (hope we don’t have many). We just wanted to have fun, hoping to make people more rational along the way. We wanted to make the most dreaded subject in the Universe - Math, a tiny bit more interesting to the world. And that's what we do (try to do).
It was nice then when we found out that our first hunter loves his work as well. We started digging into what life looks like from the perspective of an entrepreneur & venture partner at 500 Startups, someone who has awarded $30M in funding to over 220 startups, Tristan Pollock. Surprisingly, we found that it looked pretty fun and was really thought-provoking! He started and sold two companies: SocialEarth, which he bootstrapped; and Storefront for which he raised $10M in venture capital and grew to be the de facto marketplace for retail space, being named in Forbes 30 Under 30 for his work. Tristan is globetrotting his way to new life experiences around the world with his wife, searching for new inspiration, while supporting global accelerator programs. Here's our short but sweet conversation which started on the note of motivating young minds to be brave and step up more confidently about their new ideas, especially when it comes to Product Hunt.
Omni Calculator: You've had your own successful projects in the past. (I loved The Shisharka Land) What motivates you to take out time from all this and search through thousands of new projects on PH? How do you hunt them?
Tristan Pollock: ProductHunt is one of the best ways to get inspired and find functional tools for your daily life, personal or business. That's why I spend so much time on the platform when I'm at home or in the office. I especially love the travel section as my wife and I are traveling on a sabbatimoon around the world in 2018 and 2019. I also dig anything comedy tech and keep an eye out for pranks and other random fun.
OC: . Keeping it fun seems like an interesting and essential mantra for many young people who are just anxious to approach or speak to someone in the startup community.
What do you relish doing when you don't feel like being a tech expert? Do your hobbies affect the kind of products you hunt?
TP: I'm this strange combination of entrepreneur-turned-investor and artist. When I'm not in the office (and sometimes when I am) I take time to be creative in different ways. Usually, that comes back to art and music, but I like to try sampling a lot of different types of creative practices. My main mission is creating mystery when I'm outside the office. That definitely comes back to the types of hunts and upvotes I do on ProductHunt. My most viewed categories are in travel, music, media, comedy and other types of creative tech.
OC: Sounds like you like to keep people wondering what you’re up to next! I don’t know if I’ll have this answer, but it’s still worth asking. What are you working on these days?
TP: As a nomad and Scottish Viking by blood, I'm interested in the hidden secrets of Earth. The dark tourism, Atlas Obscura-like places and stories around the world fascinate and energize me. Danyelle (my wife) and I are also excited by the world's randomness, the things you can't predict. I'm looking at ways to promote more of these moments in daily life during a time where it seems everything has already been figured out.
OC: What does the future of tech look like to you? What are we looking at 5 years from now?
TP: If only there was this futuristic world just five years away! I think we will see more efficiency in our daily lives. San Francisco already relishes in on-demand this and automated that. The thing is though that San Francisco is also far behind on urban infrastructure and even tech capabilities that are available to the local citizens. I'd like to see a future of innovation that equally involves technology, but also provides more opportunities for artists, musicians, journalists and so on to also create powerful step changes. For example, why do we have never before seen access to art online via projects like Google Arts & Culture, but our streets are the same old shades of gray they have always been? When the San Francisco Bay Bridge was strung up in 25,000 lights by artist Leo Villareal, I was (and still am) excited! Now can we do that scale of art to every major city in the world?
OC: I have been a part of underground street art projects myself, working on huge wallscapes across the city. There’s nothing more relatable than watching another branch of the tree flourish. Have you, in the past, worked (or been involved) on a project that blends technology and art in an unimaginable way? How about your travelling experience, was there anything unique you found while wandering around that instantly motivated you to think of a new idea/project?
TP: Unimaginable! I'm working towards that goal every day. I've tried to build Shisharka, which I discovered while wandering around Serbia, into unimaginable and mysterious things. From a chat-bot that intrigues to a pyramid for Afrikaburn, I try to keep my creative side engaged and building. Burning Man itself is the ultimate source of inspiration for me that combines technology and art in incredible ways.
After having this beautiful conversation I was assured that this is going to be an amazing project. To all of those entrepreneurs who're fearfully staring at a mountain of opinions in the start-up market and wondering how you'll make it. Just have fun and keep at it, greatness will come looking for you.
Check out our next episode : #HuntedHunters #2: Bram Kanstein hails the 'No Code' universe.