A novelist invented a fake startup that sends you empty boxes. People think it’s real


When Tahmima Anam started writing her new popular novel The startup woman, she’s created a world her characters live in, including a secret incubator called Utopia and the fictional startups he helped launch, with a website. One of these bogus companies has captured the imaginations of VCs and other investors who don’t know it is a bogus – and want to fund it.

The fictitious company is called EMTI and its business model is simplicity itself. EMTI is a subscription service that sends you an empty box of different size and shape each month. The box comes with a return shipping charge and a message from Buddhist philosophy about letting go of painful objects and memories.

The customer puts an item in the box – a gift from someone who broke your heart, perhaps, or an unpleasant memory – then sends it back to EMTI, where the item will be disposed of “in the most thoughtful way. and as durable as possible. ” It can be recycled, donated or repaired and upcycled. When receiving painful memories, EMTI will conduct appropriate rituals to “allow the user to release everything that is holding them back”. Mindfulness meets minimalism and the joy of decluttering and letting go.

Unfortunately, you can’t invest in a bogus startup.

Although Utopia and EMTI are part of Anam’s elaborate satire, some people take EMTI very seriously. “Sometimes when I talk to people in the startup world, jokingly, I just give them the website address and don’t tell them it’s wrong,” Anam told NPR. “For some reason EMTI has been the one in which people are most interested in investing.”

Other bogus Utopia companies include Obit.ly, which runs your social media for you after you die, and LoneStar, which is testing a vaccine that prevents people from eating dairy or meat in an attempt to “dramatically reduce probability of planetary collapse and human extinction. ”Then there’s WAI, for“ We Are Infinite, ”the startup founded by the book protagonist with her husband. WAI creates individualized rituals for people and helps them to connect with others based on these rituals.

The protagonist of the book is a coder who creates the technology for WAI. But the world considers him the sole founder of the company while it remains discreetly in the background. Anam said the book was inspired by her own experience revealing gender bias in Silicon Valley. Her husband founded music technology start-up ROLI a few weeks before their wedding, and from the start she was on the board of ROLI. “I really enjoyed thinking about writing this book while writing this book the whole time I was on this forum,” she says. “Every time someone interrupted me, ignored me, or didn’t take me seriously, I thought, ‘I’m going to write it down.'”

Anam adds, “I think the tech world promotes the idea of ​​the male visionary. If you think of all the people who are now basically in charge of our lives, it’s mostly a series of white men, than this. either Elon Musk … or Mark Zuckerberg I mean, we might not worship them as people, but we’re so dependent on them.

Maybe one day the world of tech startups will evolve to include non-white, non-male visionaries as well. Waiting for, The startup woman sounds like a lot of fun read.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.


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