Jesse Pujji on the future of ecommerce and growth marketing strategies
Nora speaks with entrepreneur and investor Jesse Pujji, founder and CEO of Kahani and Gateway X and executive chairman of Ampush and MySubscriptionAddiction.com, about the future of e-commerce, growth marketing strategies, and how to build a successful DTC business. Jesse also talks about his mission to help other founders as co-host of The Crazy Ones, a new podcast from Morning Brew! Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and follow on YouTube.
Host: Nora Ali
Producer: Olivia Meade
Video Editor: Sebastian Vega
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Fact Checker: Kate Brandt
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer
Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm
Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, bringing you convos with people you know, and some you may not know yet, to make business less intimidating. Because money talks, but it does not have to be dull. I'm your host, Nora Ali. Now let's get down to business.
You may want to take out your notebook and your pen for this episode. Our guest today is a builder, if I've ever met one, and he knows what he is doing. Jesse Pujji started a performance marketing company called Ampush, before it was the norm to advertise on Facebook. And he's also the founder of Gateway X, which is a venture studio that helps to build and launch companies from scratch. He has been through the gauntlet himself, as a repeat founder. He has advised countless founders and has even raised capital for multiple companies at once. One of Gateway X's companies that Jesse is really excited about is called Kahani. That's an immersive storytelling platform that Jesse believes will change the face of e-commerce. Instead of your boring static retail websites, the idea behind Kahani is to deliver a visually dynamic experience so you feel more like you're scrolling through TikTok instead of an archaic website while you're shopping.
We get into that and other companies that Jesse is into right now. But the big news is, Jesse is looking to help founders in yet another way, as the co-host of a new podcast from Morning Brew called The Crazy Ones, which premieres tomorrow, October 11. He joins Morning Brew's co-founder and chairman, Alex Lieberman, and serial entrepreneur and author Sophia Amoruso, of Nasty Gal fame. They'll get into the nitty gritty of what it takes to be a founder, and hopefully be a resource for new and aspiring entrepreneurs, covering everything from remote work to navigating HR to figuring out compensation. Jesse is full of wisdom and we are absolutely delighted to welcome him into the Morning Brew family. Our conversation is next, after the break. Jesse, hello.
Jesse Pujji: Hey, Nora.
Nora Ali: We follow each other on Twitter, but we have not actually met, so what better way to meet than on a podcast?
Jesse Pujji: I love the spontaneity.
Nora Ali: Yeah.
Jesse Pujji: This is my jam.
Nora Ali: Okay, good. This is my jam too. I love it. So, we have a lot to chat about, including the new podcast. So exciting that you're launching with Morning Brew. But let's start with a little icebreaker for a segment called OG Occupations. So Jesse, what was your very first job that you've ever had?
Jesse Pujji: I'll answer it two ways. So I'll tell a funny story. From like age 11 to age 15, I was a kleptomaniac. I would steal a lot. And I would just walk into stores and walk out, for no good reason, just like the thrill of it. And I walked into what's now Macy's, and I had a girlfriend and I stole like a random brooch for her. I dropped it and then I stuck it in my shoe, and I walked out of the store. And then this mom-looking lady walks up to me and she goes, you know, "I'm with security; come with me or you're going to be arrested." And I was like, oh my god. And so they take you to this back room, and it turns out it's better for them to extort you than it is to get you in trouble with the law. So they're basically like, I can refer you to the law or you can pay a $1,000 fine. Which do you choose? And I'm like, $1,000 fine, please. And so I get that. And of course my parents, whatever, I get in trouble. My dad's like, I'm not paying for that. And so, I had to like go around and I begged one of my uncles to give me a job. He like ran an airport, like he was a flight trainer, and I had to wake up at 7:00 every morning on Saturday to work eight hours of like booking all his appointments and basically being his EA all summer to pay for this $1,000 fine. So that's my actual first job. The more professional answer I usually give, which was my second job technically, is JCPenney. I was in the men's sports...
Nora Ali: That worked out so nicely...
Jesse Pujji: Once I was 16 I could get a real job, I was like 14 and a half when...
Nora Ali: From stealing from Macy's to working at JCPenney. That's amazing. Awesome. I love that story. You had to work your way to absolve your sins, I guess.
Jesse Pujji: I tell people there's a very fine line between entrepreneur and jailbird, you know. Most crooks are pretty productive.
Nora Ali: Yeah.
Jesse Pujji: And they have ingenuity. The compass is off a couple degrees.
Nora Ali: Well, you are no longer a crook, Jesse. You have a lot of different businesses that you've launched, that you manage through Gateway X; we'll get to all of that. But first a little history. You were quite early in the world of performance marketing via platforms like Facebook. Explain to me how that came to be for you. And I know it didn't really work that well for you at first, but also maybe include a quick definition of performance marketing for our listeners as well. Just a little history around that.
Jesse Pujji: Performance marketing, it really has its legacy in kind of what was originally called direct response marketing. And so back in the days, even of like radio or television, or even if you go back to newspapers and like mail and catalogs, there was always like the brand marketing, which is like, hey, the TV and the delicious Coca-Cola on the screen, or Santa Packs are coming, and that's like brand marketing. We know what that is, billboard. And then there's this other kind of marketing, which we've all experienced, prior to digital, which was like, someone sends you a catalog and says, call today and you'll get something. Or the radio has a very specific message that's trying to make you give a phone call today, or like the classic kind of infomercials.
Commercial: ShamWow. You'll be saying "wow" every time you use this towel. It's like a shammy, it's like a towel, it's like a sponge. A regular towel doesn't work wet; this works wet or dry.
Jesse Pujji: That was kind of the legacy of performance marketing. And then when the internet came about, the same two kind of categories got created, and banner ads and these things were sort of, hey, run a bunch of ads to influence people, that's brand marketing. And direct response on digital, Google was obviously the beginnings of it. It's like, hey, I run a search ad and someone is looking for my product. They click and they buy it. So performance marketing is sort of the same thing as direct response marketing. I think the only slight nuances, in the internet in particular, a lot of firms popped up where instead of paying them a fee for doing a service, which is like normally how you'd pay an ad company, the firms would choose to take risks themselves. And so the classic example is Netflix. They were kind of one of the fathers or mothers of performance marketing where, in the early days, they would just go out to people and say, hey, if you can find me a subscriber, I'll pay you...I'm making up a number...50 bucks.
And so all these companies would say, well, I'm going to launch a blog about my favorite Michael J. Fox movies. And then they would get traffic and they would get paid 50 bucks from Netflix every time someone clicked on something and ended up signing up on Netflix. And so that was like the broad performance marketing industry at large. And the way I got into it, lots of good funny stories there too, but you know, my dad was an entrepreneur. I kind of grew up with an entrepreneurial gene. I had a DJing company in high school. I had a T-shirt business in college. So I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
I spent some time on Wall Street and we were like, okay, we want to start a business. My co-founders and I wanted to start something that could be profitable pretty early and that would get our foot in the door. And so someone was like, okay, well, go look at digital marketing. We were like, okay, cool. We're 25, 26, we don't know anything. Okay, well go look at performance marketing, because you don't need relationships. It's just, do you perform or not? Do you actually deliver what somebody wants? And we're like, okay, well that seems good enough. And you know, it was a little bit quantitative analytical. And so we started trying our hand at essentially buying ads on Google. The hot sector at that time was online education, like Kaplan University, University of Phoenix. It was in 2010. And so that was the sector that we started working in. That's how we got going.
Nora Ali: You mentioned that your dad was an entrepreneur, but I also heard you say on another podcast that when you quit Goldman to go fully into performance marketing and starting your company, Ampush, he yelled at you, which I totally get that, because I also worked at Goldman and I quit Goldman to go work for a very early-stage startup. And my parents were like, excuse me, we came to this country to give you safety and security. Why are you quitting? So I guess more generally in your life, how do you manage risk and taking risks when people around you might be like, wait, wait, wait, wait. What are you doing? What the heck is going on?
Jesse Pujji: It's interesting, right? I'm a dad now and so I understand his perspective a lot better, right, in that moment. I didn't at the time obviously, but look, I think our parents, your parents are immigrants. They came over and they became entrepreneurs because they had to. My dad's like, I got to start a business. It's the only way I can make money. No one's going to hire me. I look different, I talk funny, whatever, right? And so then I come back from college, I'm sure my junior, senior year, and tell him about this Wall Street thing and Goldman and how much money everybody makes. And to him he's like, okay, great. He probably made...
Nora Ali: Yeah. That's the American dream, you've made it.
Jesse Pujji: Yeah, he made a couple hundred grand probably his whole life grinding, more than that, but probably grinding really hard for many, many years. And so to him, entrepreneurship was like, why would you choose that? It's like someone who has to like, I don't know. If you have to walk a hundred miles across the border, because you have to. And then someone goes, I'm going to run a hundred-mile super marathon. And he was like, why would you do that? Why would you choose to do that? That's very strange. And so for the way I thought about risk, I think there's a couple things, right? I had gone to a great college, I had worked at good companies, and there was a real specific intention of, hey, we're going to give this two full years, but if after two years it doesn't work out, we'll go to business school. And like our careers won't be super behind, you know, and we'll at least have a great essay to write, that we used to joke about that. You know, like when things were going bad in the business, we were like, oh we're writing the essay right now. This is gonna fail. But I do think there's like, you can't just throw caution to the wind totally. I'd also say again, I started a T-shirt business in college. I had a DJing...that wasn't the first thing, I didn't just jump out and said, I'm going to start a company at the age of 25. I had been thinking about it and ingesting it for a while before I actually did it.
Nora Ali: And now you're passing on that wisdom to other founders. So Gateway X is a venture studio where you build and launch companies from scratch.
Jesse Pujji: Yep.
Nora Ali: How does that work exactly? Does it start with the idea? With the founder? How are you building these companies from scratch?
Jesse Pujji: Yeah, yeah. It's been a huge learning curve for me, because I'm used to like building and running the companies, and I'd say like I'm learning and probably changing the answers to those questions every six months, that you just asked. You know, I think at first I was like, oh, I'll just get a bunch of stuff up and running. And I started three companies in a span of like six months of each other.
Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.
Jesse Pujji: Which was way too much. And I would not do that again. And I wouldn't tell anyone to do that.
Nora Ali: And who is along for the ride with you as you start those companies? Especially for...
Jesse Pujji: In the beginning it was just me.
Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.
Jesse Pujji: And then, like...we started three. So the first one is called Growth Assistant, and I'd say that one in many ways has become the model. And actually, let me go back. If I could do it all over again and what I'll probably do going forward is work with ideas, find good ideas, try to find a partner in each business who would be the CEO and continue to run it, while I plug in as the chairman to grow and scale the business over a period of time. And I think that focus, especially early on, is super important. And I think I just got excited and I'd been running one company for 10 years and I was like, ooh, here's the thing, here's the thing. Nothing bad has happened because of it necessarily, but I just think it's been a learning for me, that's been super important.
And so, yeah, the first business we started was Growth Assistant and Adriane, the CEO, has actually been one of my best friends since seventh grade, and she had a deep background in HR and recruiting and I probably wouldn't have started that one if she wasn't excited about starting the business. But the opportunity that we saw was, 20 years ago there was this thing called software engineering and nobody really knew that much about it. And then all of a sudden it was like, oh no, we need software engineers. And all of a sudden there was more demand than supply of that talent and that birthed this huge business processing offshoring industry. And now it's a huge multibillion-dollar industry. I'm betting, we're betting that the same thing's going to happen in digital marketing, and the same issues are occurring, which is like there's a ton of demand for that talent, not enough supply.
And so, you know, we started it, just to give you a sense, between Covid happening, so people getting used to remote work. We started it in February of 2021, 18 months ago, and we already have close to 250 people in the Philippines and close to 100 customers. It's just grown like crazy.
Nora Ali: So when you're by yourself for the first three companies for the first six months, how do you go about raising capital then? Aren't investors like, wow, you're spreading yourself so thin, it's just you and three companies?
Jesse Pujji: Yeah.
Nora Ali: Because they want that focus and commitment. Right?
Jesse Pujji: At first I thought, okay, everything's going to have this cookie cutter format, and then you realize different ideas have different potential and have a different perspective. And so they all need to be capitalized differently depending on how we're thinking about it. So the three businesses, Growth Assistant is bootstrapped, I put something like fifty grand into it or something, but it's bootstrapped, more or less. The brand we launched has been leveraging a lot of the debt capital solutions that are out there for e-commerce brands now. And so we don't think it's ever going to be a venture business, but we think it can be profitable in that way using debt to kind of get off the ground. And then we started a SaaS business, which we do think is a venture business, and we're going to orient it in that direction.
And so, you know, what I always tell entrepreneurs, you got to decide what you want personally and you have to decide what the business needs, and then solve for that. Don't raise money if your business doesn't have that kind of trajectory. That's okay. And so I'm trying to live that value, I think, across these different ventures.
Nora Ali: Just because a big fundraising round via traditional VC gets you an article in TechCrunch doesn't mean that's the way you should go for your company. There's other options. We're going to take a very quick break. More with Jesse when we come back.
Jesse, let's get into DTC, direct to consumer, a little bit more, because that's the focus of the companies you're growing within Gateway X. So first, define a DTC company, because I know a lot of us just think of the OGs, like Allbirds, Casper, Away, these companies have made the term DTC feel mainstream. But what is it, and what has contributed to DTC companies' popularity over the last few years?
Jesse Pujji: I think the quick history lesson, right, is, when you think about how you used to buy a razor or buy your favorite supplement, vitamins, the historical value chain, you know, there's this great documentary on P&G and interestingly they were selling soap, and one day there's this new thing called television.
Commercial 2: Gentle Ivory Snow. For everything you wash with special care by hand or by machine, there's nothing like wonderful Ivory Snow.
Jesse Pujji: They started running ads on television, and they could see by the cities they were running it in that the sales in the stores were running it. But the old value chain was, I make a product, I get it to a retailer. And there was a real difference of risk. The retailer has people coming in the store, can stock lots of goods, makes a small margin. I, manufacturer, need to get to the retailers, then I'll run some advertising. And that's how the business worked. The internet came along and sort of doing shipping and trailblazers like Amazon, they said, well wait a second, what if I could just sell these razors direct? What if I don't have to go through a retail channel? And because of Facebook in particular, but also Google to a lesser extent, people would click and buy and just get shipped direct to them. And so the idea, the theory was, wait, if you cut out the retail layer, you could potentially give lower prices.
That hasn't quite played out, because it just turns out that Facebook became the equivalent in margins. But it did allow a lot of new things to grow and new things to come up, in a similar way that television did for P&G's brands. And so now I think of it more as, you may have grown up on DTC, but you're just now a brand. And a brand is...omnichannel is the other big buzzword everyone uses, which is, you're everywhere. You're in all the channels.
Ultimately my passion is in building things, like coming up with ideas and creating something and creating a business. And I love that process and I love coaching and teaching people. Those are the two things that I want to do for the rest of my life. And it just so happens that I learned e-commerce, DTC, growth marketing, because that's, for 10 years, what I did at Ampush. It's funny, because some days I'm like, oh I should do something totally random. But I'm just like, no, I know this. I might as well give myself a good shot at doing the things I love, which are really starting in coaching and teaching. And so that's why I chose it, more than any other good reason.
Nora Ali: What's your approach to coaching and teaching without being too micromanagy or too hands-on? Because I know you want the founders to succeed on their own and not have to rely on you. So let's say it's a pretty new, green founder. What's your approach to teaching them what they need to know?
Jesse Pujji: I can tell you, I guess, aspirationally, and I'll tell you the reality, right? There's two modes. Like everyone, right, like there's this mode where I'm excited and trying to be curious and learn and inspire, and then there's this mode where I'm freaking out, because I'm afraid we won't be successful or I'm worried. And it turns out I don't really say anything that different in those two modes, because improving marketing is improving marketing, objectively speaking. It's the same levers you'd pull. But I come across very differently. My energy and the way maybe the small words I use. And so the first thing for me is really trying to come in as a teacher and an inspirer. And when I relate to it that way, I think I'm more effective. I think it's better for the other person. And so I do a lot of, like, my coach has me do these random things. I carry an index card in my back pocket that says, "Be a teacher." And so when I'm walking into a meeting where I think it's going to be maybe stressful, I'm like, oh wait, oh no, I'm going to be a teacher. That's my goal here. I'm going to be a coach. I'm going to do that. So I think that's the first thing.
And then the second thing is, in my best sessions I'm only asking questions. I'm far from perfect at that. Versus telling, giving statements. Versus saying what to do. At my best, I'm asking questions, and that's then the person's kinda getting there on their own. And not even asking questions with an agenda. Asking truly open-ended questions. What do you think is most important?
And then the last thing I'd say is when I'm not asking questions, I think one of the things that I am very good at and what's made me a good entrepreneur and it helped these leaders, like running a business is super convoluted. At any point, there's a million different things you could do. There's a million directions you could take anything in. It's just unclear what to do. And one of the things I'm really good at is figuring out what is important and then saying, hey, there's two things that matter right now. Let's go do these two things. That other thing that you may think matters, it doesn't actually matter right now; wait on it.
Nora Ali: Yeah, I totally believe in this idea of, cross that bridge when you get there. And I've had to learn this the hard way too. Where you try to, if you're new to building something, you try to over-solve for everything and you overthink it. You think you have to have all the solutions today, but just focus on a couple things, get those right, then the business will be bigger by the time you have to cross that bridge. Maybe you'll even have a lawyer on your team by then or you'll have someone else who can answer those questions for you. As the founder, you don't have to know everything and solve everything. I love that. Let's take another very quick break. More with Jesse when we return.
Jesse, I want to get your take on the role of social media in marketing, obviously. Because you have been there from the early days of marketing via Facebook and other social platforms. But with the rise of TikTok and these short-form video platforms, what do you think founders and DTC companies should keep in mind when trying to be effective on these new outlets, which have so much more engagement than the social platforms of yore?
Jesse Pujji: One of the pillars of every company that we're trying to launch at Gateway X is a content engine. Content as a flywheel. And what that means is not you have to have content, but it's like, we look to make every single person in the job is thinking about what they're doing, and almost creating content as exhaust for the work there. Even our engineers are going, oh, I shipped this thing. Okay, I'm like, write a tweet about it. Right away, explain it, so that could become content. And I think short-form video, I'm very bullish on TikTok. I think it's beyond social, it's almost like, it's more like ADD television.
Nora Ali: Yes. Totally.
Jesse Pujji: I find myself watching it more and turning off TV. It's a very, very powerful platform. But I think founders really want to think about how to take what they're doing and add value to the world via teaching people things, entertaining people, giving useful tools, and then being able to like...it's like the classic elevator pitch on speed. It's not like 10 seconds. You have to get someone's attention in two or three seconds. So really thinking about, how does that happen? Because look, there's just more noise. And so I think as a founder out there, thinking about either from a messaging perspective or maybe the product or maybe the idea, is something that really does stop people in their tracks. How do you do that? I think that there's a very big premium on capturing attention, and it's not just capturing attention, that's like the first step in then providing value in some way to someone.
And look, I think part of it is, my advice, by the way, the flip side of that is, do it with stuff that you know and that you feel comfortable in. If I was trying to talk about like surgery, that would be really silly. I don't know anything about surgery. Or like even the way I was presenting was not me. It would come across in a certain way. One of my favorite examples of TikTok, both how powerful the algorithm is, as well as how creative humans are is like, I'm an Excel jock, I worked on Wall Street, I'm sure you are too. And I love trap music and hip-hop. Right, like Drake and whatever. And there are literally people who teach you Excel shortcuts to hip-hop on TikTok. And somehow TikTok figured that out and served it to me.
Nora Ali: What a beautiful niche. Yes. Wow.
Jesse Pujji: But like, there's multiple people creating it. And now I'm like, and I love it. I'm like, oh wow, I didn't know that shortcut, and I love that song. And so it shows you both, right? There's something real powerful there.
Nora Ali: Yeah. Oh my. Truly, and I have made more purchases because of TikTok than I have on any other social platform combined, because they serve you the people who are like you, and those people are talking about products that they know you'll like and they're just taking all my money as a result.
Jesse Pujji: Totally.
Nora Ali: So really interesting stuff. Before we get to your new podcast, are there any specific companies within Gateway X that you want to talk about or highlight?
Jesse Pujji: I think the most exciting one is called Kahani. And Kahani means story in Hindi.
Nora Ali: And Bengali as well, actually. I speak Bengali.
Jesse Pujji: Everywhere. Yeah, Urdu, I think. Just whatever. Or yeah, Sanskrit and then it's every language. By the way, we are Kahani Inc. I was shocked that nobody had ever incorporated a corporation with that name, because it's a pretty good name. But obviously I know a ton about marketing, customer acquisition conversion, and as I started building these things, especially building the brand, I was just like shocked at how, for lack of a better word, old and tired e-commerce websites look. And they look very similar to each other. And meanwhile, per our conversation on TikTok and Instagram, you go like, man, those are so immersive. You feel like you're at a party when you're in TikTok and Instagram, and then it's like you go into this empty room, that's what an e-commerce website is, that's how it feels.
Nora Ali: Yeah.
Jesse Pujji: And so I was like, why is the experience not similar? And I started thinking like, Shopify is a 17-year-old company. If it were to launch today, what would it build? And I think it would look a lot more TikTok and Instagram. And so that's what Kahani is. We're going to build the e-commerce experience of the future. We think it'll be very visual, very interactive. You'll land on something that's like a video, you'll swipe, you'll tap and you'll buy, and it'll be faster and a more enjoyable experience. And the first product we shipped is essentially the stories functionality. We have a lot more to it than that, but it looks like the stories functionality. It's got those circles you can tap on it. We do a lot of merchandising. So if you're a fashion brand and you want to show your best-sellers, we automate that. If you want to show different price points, we automate that. If you want to use, we call them Kahanis, if you want to use the Kahanis as a landing page, we let you send traffic straight to something that essentially looks like Instagram when someone lands, as opposed to a website. So we just launched that open beta and we're really, really excited about Kahani.
Nora Ali: Very cool. So is it its own platform? Or other retailers can plug in and use it for their own sites?
Jesse Pujji: Yeah, it's a software platform for the merchants, for the retailers. And it sits inside of Shopify right now. So you can just plug it in as a Shopify app and it transforms your site to a more mobile, TikTok, Instagram-like experience.
Nora Ali: Can't wait to check it out. Okay, let's get to The Crazy Ones, which is the new podcast that you are launching here at Morning Brew. So it's going to be yourself and Alex Lieberman and Sophia Amoruso. It's launching tomorrow, October 11, because today is October 10, if you're listening to this episode of Business Casual. So what's it all about, Jesse? What is The Crazy Ones? Give us the elevator pitch.
Jesse Pujji: I think the title says it all. And Sophia came up with the title. Starting a business is crazy. It is not a rational, logical thing. It is something you do because it comes from your heart. Because it comes through your body and you have to manage 10 competing priorities at once. You have to be the finance person and the creative and the salesperson and the product developer, and it's emotionally challenging. It's crazy. And we wanted to create a show and a forum that serves first- and second-time entrepreneurs who are The Crazy Ones. We're the ones doing this crazy thing. And you know, Alex has a ton of experience. I have some experience. Sophia's gone through some really challenging and great times, and the three of us wanted to just talk about what we view as, hey, these are pressing issues. Whether it's something in the news, something that's happening in this moment, or it's just a broader topic. So you'll hear things ranging from, what's the best way to do compensation if you're a startup founder with 10 people? All the way to, how do we think about remote work now that we're in a post-Covid world? So there's all these different topics and we have a lot of fun and we will make fun of each other and do some silly stuff together.
Nora Ali: What's the format? There's a topic that you guys chat about? Is just open conversation? Are you taking questions from listeners?
Jesse Pujji: Yeah, it's all of the above.
Nora Ali: Give us a preview, what it's going to look like.
Jesse Pujji: We're figuring it out as we go, like any good founders or crazy ones would do. I think it's a couple kind of sections. Typically, Alex plays the MC a bit and we'll talk through different versions of topics. It can be educational, like, okay, explain EBITDA. What is that, actually? And why does it matter? All the way to, hey, let's hear your craziest HR war story. To hey, listeners called in and they have a question; we're going to put something together on it. We have even lightning rounds. It's like, hot or not. Hey, do you agree with this or disagree with this? And we'll talk through it. So it's a wide variety and my sense is it will definitely evolve as we go, too.
Nora Ali: Amazing. Well, I can't wait to listen. Again, it's called The Crazy Ones. And you can find it wherever you get your podcasts, starting tomorrow, October 11. Okay. Before we let you go, Jesse, we have a couple of fun little segments. The first of which is called Shoot Your Shot. So Jesse, I want to know, what is your moonshot idea? This is your wildest ambition, your biggest dream. It could be professional, personal. It's your chance to now shoot your shot. Go for it.
Jesse Pujji: Oh wow. I would love to own the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nora Ali: Whoa.
Jesse Pujji: Baseball team.
Nora Ali: Yes. I love this moonshot.
Jesse Pujji: I'm not sure how I would do that, but that would be sweet. I grew up in St. Louis. I moved my family back because my wife and I want to raise our kids here. We're big fans of the city and I think that team is not only baseball or whatever, but it's also really a big part of the heart of this city. And that would be my moonshot.
Nora Ali: Ooh, I see that in your future, Jesse. That's a good bucket list item. Okay, last thing, Jesse, is a quick game. It's called Two Beats and a Miss, Startup Edition. So it's just our Business Casual version of Two Truths and a Lie. So I'm going to name three things, three startups. Two of them are real and one of them is fake. And you have to figure out which one is fake.
Jesse Pujji: Fun.
Nora Ali: Okay. Our producer, Olivia, put these together and I love them so much. Okay, number one is an app called Didgeridoo. It's a dating app that allows you to connect with someone across the bar without actually walking over to talk to them. Available on iOS and Android. Didgeridoo plays a customized mating call to attract the attention of that special someone. That's the first one. I'll read you all of them and then you let me know.
Jesse Pujji: All right.
Nora Ali: Next one is Parihug, which creates digitally connected teddy bears that can give people hugs from any distance. Two paired Parihug bears, each with fabric-based embedded sensors, can send haptic vibrations back and forth, so loved ones can virtually hug each other across the country or the world. And the third and final one is called DogSpot, which offers smart dog houses strategically positioned outside of stores, so you can leave your beloved pet in comfort while you shop. Featuring, wow, climate control; a petcam that you can view from an app on your phone or wherever you are; and clean, fresh comfort. Doting pet parents are loving this Brooklyn-born concept. Okay, so again, it's Didgeridoo, Parihug and DogSpot. Can you spot which one is fake?
Jesse Pujji: The obvious choice I think is three, because it seems the most ridiculous. Although they all are borderline, I think, and I'm tempted not to choose it, though, because it's the way this game works is, the one that's most ridiculous is probably true.
Nora Ali: Which one seems the most real to you? Let's start there. Which one you're like, yeah, you know what? That's not it.
Jesse Pujji: Well, yeah, I was actually going to say number one is the lie because it seems the most believable. Let's go with that. Number one is the fake one.
Nora Ali: You nailed it, Jesse. You did it. You're right. That is fake. Turns out there is something similar that exists.
Jesse Pujji: I'm sure.
Nora Ali: There's a real app called Didgety, Didgety, I don't know. It lets you pull up a unique pictogram, like a turtle, to flash at that special someone across the room. So it's like giving them the eye, but you're showing them a turtle or something. So it turns out that startup failed, for good reason. Maybe Didgeridoo would work if you send a mating call instead. I don't know. But yeah, the other two are real. Even DogSpot, where you'd see these little houses and it says, we saved a clean spot for your dog.
Jesse Pujji: I think the second idea is actually a good idea.
Nora Ali: Yeah, I think so too.
Jesse Pujji: I want to get that for my kids and my nephew, because they would definitely hug it and say, oh my god, he's hugging it. That'd be so cool.
Nora Ali: You can buy a Parihug. Yeah, I've seen how you can communicate with people many states away, across the country. There's lights where you touch the light and the person on the other side, it lights up on their end too. I don't know, just ways to keep loved ones connected. Okay, well, you nailed it, Jesse, and you nailed this interview. So such a fun conversation. Thank you for joining us on Business Casual. Appreciate it.
Jesse Pujji: Anytime, Nora.
Nora Ali: This is Business Casual and I'm Nora Ali. You can follow me on Twitter @NoraKAli and I would love to hear from you. If you have ideas for episodes, comments and thoughts on episodes you loved, fun segment ideas, just shoot me a DM and I will do my very best to respond. You could also reach the BC team by emailing email@example.com, or give us a call. That number is 862-295-1135. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And if you like the show, please, please, please leave us a rating and a review. It really, really helps us. And guess what? We are on YouTube. So if you've ever wondered what I look like or what our guests look like, full episodes are available at youtube.com/morningbrewdaily. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Olivia Meade. Additional production, sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Kate Brandt is our fact checker, and AB Silver is our senior booking producer. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Marcus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. Keep it business, and keep it casual.