I feel very lucky to say that 2021 for me, personally, was a year filled with tons of opportunities and I tried to make the best out of every single one of these, whether they helped me live some of the best experiences of my life or learn crucial life lessons, all of them made me better in every possible way! The purpose of writing this recap is to share my experiences with all of you and reflect upon them to come out as a better individual.
Major Highlights of 2021
- Officially registered my startup Tech Nuttiez as a legal entity.
- Delivered 2 TEDx talks and spoke at various international summits.
- Built many cool projects, created a lot of content on them and also got 2 of them published in 4 various international magazines.
- Launched a tech magazine and built a team of 10 amazing people.
- Launched an app that works both on Android and iOS.
- Got sponsored by 4 different international brands throughout the year.
- Networked and connected with and met so many wonderful people throughout the year.
- My work was covered by various media outlets.
2021 was pretty much a rollercoaster ride for me as the Founder and CEO of Tech Nuttiez. I founded it in 2018 and it was only a YouTube channel back then where I posted videos on building robots and this year, in October, we officially incorporated it as a registered legal entity.
We also launched our website earlier this year and ever since it has always helped build a brand image in the minds of the people whom we reach out to from Tech Nuttiez regarding whatever that is. We launched our first product which is a monthly digital magazine completely free of cost for anybody in the world to read and learn about technology. This magazine is accessible through our custom app available both on Android and iOS.
Also, earlier this year, our YouTube channel was sponsored by multiple brands, namely, Robo India, Quartz Components, IAmRapid and JLCPCB. It was delightful to partner with these brands as they added a lot of value to our viewers in terms of the ease of access to resources like the equipment required for building the robots and other projects shown in my tutorials.
We also hit 100,000 views on YouTube which is not a lot in front of huge channels on YouTube but considering that the amount of content we put was so little, this number is incredible and I am extremely proud of it 🚀
I started hiring people in August, who shared the same vision with me, to educate the youth globally on Technology. So here’s an interesting one — I randomly put out a job application form on LinkedIn and out of the responses that I received, I liked one response who later turned out to be my classmate himself. His name is Trinav Godavarthi, he currently heads operations at Tech Nuttiez and he is a gem of a person to work with. This was the story of my first-ever hire. I now have 10 people in my team who are always willing to learn and grow together every single day.
I love public speaking. I started it right when I was in the fourth grade of school when I was around 8. I was in charge of hosting the middle school assembly for a couple of years, along with a few other friends of mine. Those years of my life made me fall in love with speaking in front of a large group of people. And now, I have a lot of ideas that I want to convey to as many people as I can and public speaking is the key to doing that.
In 2021, I gave my first-ever TEDx talk in August on Self-Learning and then the very next month I gave another TEDx talk on the growing Maker Culture. I gave both of the talks virtually which could not give me the joy of speaking on a stage, in an auditorium filled with countless people, but still was a thrilling experience on its own.
I also delivered talks at various other international summits and events like the Reprism 2021 hosted by Aditya Birla Groupwhere I was a speaker with prominent industry leaders in the technology and manufacturing industry; the World Student Innovation Summit hosted by NextGen Innov8 where I was a panellist in a discussion with some of the best young minds from all over the world; the TCOL International Summit where I talked about my ideas on self-learning and technology.
I was also a part of many talk shows hosted by people like Riyad Maroof Hassan, Hasini Lakshminarayanan, Kashish Gaur and Arnay Aggarwal.
Projects and Content Creation
This year was filled with various projects and the best part is that I recorded the complete build process of every single project and made written and video tutorials on it and put it out on various platforms like YouTube, Instructables, Hackster, Hackaday etc. These were some of my major projects:
Pocket Weather Station
This was a neat little weather buddy, that you can carry around anywhere and everywhere write in your pocket. So basically, I wanted to make a tutorial on using the temperature sensor module but instead of making a plain and boring tutorial using a few modules, breadboard and wires, I gave it a much more professional form and shaped it as a product.
I learnt a lot while building this device. This was one of my first professionally designed projects looking like an actual product and not a fragile prototype. This one tested my engineering skills as I had to fit in a lot of components in very little space to keep its form factor small. This was a challenging but fun project to work on!
Giant SD Card
This project has a really interesting story attached to it. So, I am an active member and content contributor at Instructables, which is one of the largest DIY platforms in the world. I also take part in their contests actively. So, they had a contest called the Big vs Small Challenge where we either had to upscale something tiny or downscale something huge. I had been working on a lot of compact projects and wanted to make something big so I decided to go with the former option. I started to look for tiny objects around me and then I found an SD Card lying on my table.
I decided that this would make for a cool upscale. I made it 25 times larger, 3D printed it and also made it functional by simply making it an enclosure for a 512 GB hard disk drive. There was a small opening on the side of the enclosure to facilitate the connection of the hard disk drive via USB.
This project opened up my design thinking. Though I had to just replicate an SD card, it was not an easy task. I did not take an SD card design and upscale it. I measured the dimensions manually and designed the huge SD card from scratch, while also making sure that fitting the hard disk drive in the enclosure was hassle-free.
Artificial Candle with Real Flame Ignition
I was randomly trying to come up with ideas for my next project when the concept of this project struck my mind. So there exist candles that have a real flame in them and are ignited using a real matchstick. Some candles have an artificial flame and are ignited by turning on a switch. I decided to mash these two features together and came up with a candle that had an artificial flame but was ignited using a real matchstick.
This project too was really fun to build and taught me a lot of things. It also turned out to be a fun way of making a tutorial on using a flame sensor with the Arduino board and yet again, shaping it as a finished product.
I created videos and written tutorials on my projects this year. I invested in my setup and constantly tried to improve the quality of my videos to make them more and more easily understandable by my viewers. This is how my YouTube analytics for the year looked like:
I also created written tutorials on many websites. My journey on Instructables was fantastic this year. I got really active on the website in January when one of my articles on my unfinished project of a smartwatch took off 🚀
It was featured on the homepage of Instructables and got quite a lot of views and appreciation from the maker community. I wrote instructables on all of the projects that I worked on this year and many of them were featured on the top of the homepage of their website and also in their newsletter.
They also host contests on various themes on their website which are competitive and feature some cool prizes. I managed to win $150 in prize money in these contests in 2021. It was an energizing and motivating experience to see my projects being chosen by the judges as some of the best.
Also, I was appointed on the panel of judges of Instructables in 2021 and I have successfully judged over 25 contests so far. I wrote 8 instructables in 2021 and hit 200,000 views on the platform.
Combining all the platforms where I created content, I hit 700,000+ views on my content in total this year and a little over 1,000,000 impressions on my work on all these platforms 🚀
Another cool thing that happened this year was my project publications. So after I had built my pocket weather station, I realised that it was a unique concept and was not present anywhere on the internet and decided to approach various international tech magazines for publishing it.
I first emailed HackSpace Magazine which is a DIY tech magazine by Raspberry Pi. I received a positive response after some while and couldn’t be happier. It was a wonderful experience getting my project published in the magazine and then I even went on to get this project published in 3 other prominent international magazines as well.
Then I got my Giant SD card project published in the HackSpace magazine and the DIYODE magazine. I tried to maximise the potential of my projects and try to give the world the utmost value that I could through them and these project publications helped me do exactly that. In 2022, I will try to continue the same and get my other projects published as well so that they can reach the masses and people around the world can build them 🛠
Media coverage is something that helps you go that extra mile in terms of establishing a brand identity and integrity— for yourself as an individual; and any organisations associated with you.
My work was covered by two prominent newspapers of India, the Times of India and The Hindu in March and May respectively. I thank my previous school, Sister Nivedita School, where I studied for around 12 years, for facilitating the first coverage. The second one was written by Hasini Lakshminarayanan- all thanks to her for that!
It is always important to build a network and keep growing it so that it becomes stronger and stronger. Networking is a mutual relationship that you build with people where you help them and add value to their lives while they do the same for you! I realised the power of LinkedIn this year. I built a network of 2500+ connections and every single one of those is highly precious to me.
LinkedIn is a very very powerful tool for finding like-minded individuals. I hired all of my team’s 10 members using LinkedIn. I also got numerous opportunities through LinkedIn all year, including my TEDx talks. There is no limit to the potential that this platform withholds and it is high time now that every high school in India starts encouraging its students to create their own LinkedIn profiles and start building a puissant network right from a very young age. Believe me, you will cherish this network all your life 💫
Cold messaging or cold emailing is a process of reaching out to individuals where you know about them but they do not know about who you are. This process might seem frustrating at times but I have to say that it is very effective when done in the right manner. I was able to crack sponsorships from not 1 but 4 companies for my YouTube channel when I just had 700 subscribers on my channel.
Now there are many channels on YouTube, like mine, that do not have a lot of subscribers but get in quite a good amount of views and can provide some real value to brands if they associated with them. These channels never feel worthy enough to approach brands for collaborations. What is the worst thing that can happen if you approach someone asking for a sponsorship? Get rejected? Nobody can sue for writing a simple email asking for a sponsorship or a collaboration on your YouTube channel.
It is also very important to structure and present your cold emails in a way that will be the best perceived by the readers and result in a positive response. Here are some cold emailing tips that I think could help you out in writing your next email or message:
Be Short and Concise: We live in a very fast-moving world and people have neither time nor patience to read a lengthy written piece of text, especially from an unknown person. Don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. Minimise the word count of your email as much as you can.
Be Altruistic: Show people what is in it for them. Don’t just tell them about your needs and how valuable they are to you and how they can help you. Show them the value your offer will add to their life. For example, if you are reaching out to your first brand for a collaboration, show them the conversions or reach you will be giving to them and how your audience is very valuable to them and resonated with their brand. Do not talk about how important it is for you to get your first sponsorship.
Be Clear and Powerful: Do not keep confusing proposals in front of people. No matter, how fantastic your proposal is, it all comes down to how you present your idea to the reader of your email. Try to convey your thoughts in a simple, clear and impactful manner. Put forward measurable and actionable insights and ideas.
Manifest Your Work
We are not living in an era where you “work hard in silence and then show people your results”. You need to show people and cherish together with them, the process of your work, the process of your success. The reason I say this is that there are so many opportunities lingering around in front of you but aren’t visible to you. And these only become visible when you start putting your work out there and start letting people know about what you are doing. What if there is a classmate of yours, looking to hire a student who can code an app for his student-led startup and you are exactly the person he is looking for but you never told anyone that you can code in the first place? You missed out on a golden opportunity. And there are many such ones always floating around the corner. Just let people know what you do and what you are up to.
2021 was indeed a very eventful year in my life and I wish that 2022 brings more of such wonderful opportunities and I’ll take it from there, trying to utilise these to the fullest 🚀