7: Startups, with Eric Smith

Play episode
Hosted by
Will Jarvis

What do Machine Learning, the French Horn, Championship Scrabble, the Lotus Evora, cryptocurrency mining and startups have in common?   Eric Smith.   Eric joins Will in this week’s episode for an exploration of startup life.   


eric is a good friend of mine he’s been my co-worker for what is it four years now four years yeah we figured this out already we already figured this out so we’ve already been through this it’s great man uh he’s been my co-worker for four years you got your uh an undergraduate what did you study math statistics that’s well you got it i did bang bang bang the math and the statistics and i also took a lot of uh graduate statistics classes um i went to well i went to nc state again for my master’s in the analytics and that was a one year well ten month program um so it took one year to get that and you did did you do that back to back yeah i didn’t okay i just you know i didn’t i didn’t work anywhere i didn’t do an internship i just went straight to uh grad school that’s really cool that’s cool there’s actually no break anyway so it’s like you graduate on may 5th or whatever for undergraduate and then it’s like okay june you start go it’s like yeah i had like three weeks off so i don’t even know what it is i don’t remember but yeah basically no down time just jumped right in just back to back and we we haven’t talked about this yet so i’m just going to veer off course man but yeah you played in the triangle wind ensemble yeah and you still do well yeah i don’t know what happens right now i’m still part of the group and there you are working on other ways to proceed that’s really cool man that’s cool uh and what do you play i play french horn very nice and did you get started in high school with that or no i started well actually i started piano and well preschool i guess technically nice so i played instruments for a while and then in fifth grade um you know i i wanted to play french horn actually my dad is a french one player but we can get back to we’ll get back to him later uh but um so i wanted to play french one two in fifth grade and they were like the teacher band director was like no you should certain trumpet and so i started on a trumpet i played trumpet in elementary school and then one year in no maybe a half year in middle school so i you know in sixth grade i played it like half of the year and then i switched to french horn like the other half i think anyway so you know i played ever since um so yeah that’s been over 20 years i guess that’s awesome man that’s really cool i’m glad you’ve been able to keep that up with everything going on yeah i mean it’s a little bit so like last week i um so i have like this this is not a typical instrument it’s it’s a it’s a it’s a high f french horn so you know typically french ones are in the key of f which is just or b flat or both uh but this one’s a higher french horn and it’s it’s like almost it’s not it’s not pocket sized but like you can it’s it’s smaller than a foot wide and you can i can stick it on my desk to have it to play like as opposed to like a full-size french horn which is like yeah you know that would be too big to sit on a deck well maybe not too big but it’s unwieldy for if i’m just sitting at my desk on a table no anyway the what i was getting at was um so you know i was i’ve been kind of tempted to play it at random times during the day it’s awesome and um this hasn’t made it onto a zoom call yet man what’s going on well yeah i i thought about it i thought that might be pretty fun anyway yeah what i was gonna say is um so you know i would i just play it at random times of day or night and like last week or i think it might have been yeah it was about a week ago uh i was leaving to do something and like neighbors one of the neighbors said is that you’re the horn player no you know we can we can hear we can tell we we were hearing you i’m being nice about what i said about what they said but yeah exactly you know we could hear you through the walls at 1am last night yikes and so you know i apologize i was like uh well i’m sorry i won’t do that again now i’m a little bit scared to touch it yeah i’m like they’re going to yell at me but high up well anyways

i live in a town house so that’s it’s i probably shouldn’t have been doing that anyway but anyway that that’s a side aside it’s all good anyway so so uh yeah that that’s superman so uh getting back to it so you um you graduated from state in the masters of analysis program which is kind of like an applied statistics machine learning this was pretty early on in the machine learning well they didn’t call it machine learning back then but it’s got to free that but they called it data mining i think big data yeah or analytics yeah same same word really it’s and then machine learning like that i just consider them all really basically the same thing and then i guess ai artificial intelligence is another subset or superset of that right but they’re all kind of the same thing to me just because i’ve i’ve done statistics i’ve done math i’ve done analytics i’ve done data mining i’ve done machine learning it’s all basically the same i’m right i’m an expert in all of them you’re the boss man well so so eric is the chief data scientist here at tanjo the startup we both work at i thought i’d mention that yep um that’s super cool man so uh you graduated and i know you know you had um and i love this story so what year did you graduate um math i got my masters in 2010 2010. so that’s 2010. so 2010 and you know you were interviewing with um big bank up in buffalo yep nice little iteration there um and uh you know you got flown up there you’re interviewing with the team and um you kind of you know you faced a fork in the road at this point you tell me about that a little bit yeah so and kind of halfway through the master’s program yeah like my dad um he uh and we can talk about him later again uh you want to go ahead and tell him so uh well yeah we’ll just start with that yeah david smith um yeah but she does have his own wikipedia page yeah he does and i have edited it i um one the one funny thing i i said that was um david smith invented checkers really oh the board game i put that on there and you’re giving those those moderators i don’t know if it’s still there but you know i all right put that on it and go check that out and it stayed for years oh god draw your own conclusions okay sorry very cool uh so yeah so your dad uh notable um so he invented the first 3d uh it was called yeah so 3d adventure game i guess is what you would call it i think they had like that you know that tank game was before it like yeah the one with the wireframes that that was around i think maybe there were some others too but his was the first like real-time 3d adventure game um very cool and it was called the colony and it was for mac and uh amiga and commodore and i like maybe i’m making all that up but you know that that was 1987 that was the year i was born um windows wasn’t around at that point i don’t think linux was maybe it was but anyway wow that yeah so he started off um he’s that that was kind of his starting point in technology um he founded vertice enter uh vertis corporation in 1990 nice um and that was kind of built on the same technology um and he came out with a product called virtus walkthrough which um it’s basically a tool that you can use to create 3d worlds and you know architects can use that to build you know make buildings and rooms and stuff um

and actually our boss at tanjong is richard boyd and he you know my dad hired him in about that you know early on pretty hell to lead the sales team um so i’ve known him for a while we’ll get we’ll talk more about all these people later but definitely um yeah my dad um he went on to found several gaming companies with um so the first one he did was with uh tom clancy and the first game that was basically a prototype they came up with was kind of this uh it’s based off of one of tom clancy’s books i guess all of the games were or most of them but um one was called ssn and it’s basically a submarine combat game uh you know they had like russian and chinese and american submarines and you’re just for the red october yeah you’re pretty you’re you’re just shooting things you know i played it i played it nice um and i guess the main the the biggest uh success they had was the game rainbow six um which came out in i think 1996 for pc and playstation uh and that sold maybe 100 million copies so big deal yeah that was we can yeah he can claim that have started the company that uh did that that’s awesome um and i guess you know he founded another he um founded a game company with michael crichton called timeline um the you know i think they came out with one game but it wasn’t quite successful yeah it was called timeline based off of the book timeline which also had a movie which uh didn’t do that well but um anyway so yeah the my dad’s license plate was timeline nice with ones because the eyes were taken anyway so um yeah he’s got he did those gaming companies and maybe a few more and i guess um he did he’s basically done a lot of startups over the years um so since since those he did um he did a few more startups and then worked at lockheed martin for a while with with you know richard boyd and several other people you know from the virtus days and um kind of i think in around 2013 or so maybe he i don’t know the year exactly but you know he got he jumped back into doing startup companies nice so he did one called we’re ality which was um basically foldable uh 3d glasses for your mobile phone it’s cool um and then more recently his uh his startup is called croquet and it’s kind of you know all this stuff kind of it’s 3d related so um that one is kind of it’s a web-based um i guess almost you could call it an operating system but it’s got a lot of functionality so you can you know you’re basically you can collaborate with other people within 3d worlds um you can you know you can talk kind of like a zoom call you can share videos and um you can also like since it’s collaborative you can share data sets and you know 3d visualizations and you know everyone’s seeing the same stuff but it’s he’s done a lot of work to make that seamless that’s awesome um so that’s what he’s doing now that’s very cool and you know he’s he’s uh based out of los angeles right now super cool so it’s 2010. you know you’re faced with this choice okay back to that huh yeah so essentially startup or um big bank right yeah so yeah my dad was doing another one of his startup companies in 2010 i guess it was i think he was working at lockheed yeah he was he was definitely working at lockheed at that point in time but you know he he can’t get away from the startups yeah so um basically i got involved like kind of halfway through my master’s program um

and i guess i kind of made a fork in the road for myself which was like so you know i did all these interviews at the analytics program yeah which were good experience i guess um but you know i just i got far enough along with one of them that i was like well i’ll either do this one or i’m going to work work on this project with my dad yeah and it turned out that the uh people at that at t bank in buffalo they uh decided uh not to look let me or they didn’t want me to work for them uh this weird way to put it they didn’t they didn’t hire me basically yeah so um uh which i mean that’s probably good good in a lot of ways too yeah because buffalo is yeah it’s buffalo yeah well anyway yeah buffalo yeah buffalo wings yeah no exactly yeah i don’t know if i’d want to live in western new york because of you know it’s just so far away and yeah whatever anyway it wouldn’t be awesome um so yeah i i instead of moving to new york i moved to florida which is where my dad was living at an apartment uh for lockheed martin you know um so basically i worked for him for rice well i lived there for about a year um i spent one summer there and i didn’t want to spend another summer there yeah don’t blame me because central florida orlando was gets over 100 or 90 you know high 90s and it’s just like it’s brutal it’s yeah well winters are great but you know because low is 70 or it’s like okay yeah that’s nice but anyway let me get back to so you’re working all the stuff yeah in florida working for my dad working for your dad in florida how was that and so this is this is kind of funny um and will’s heard it once i love this part twice or three times yeah that’s great i’m gonna explain it again yeah do it verbatim um so originally like my dad you know he told me he wanted to keep track of hours that i worked tyranny of the time card so um he just wanted to give him an update of like the stuff i worked on and how long and you know what what i was planning on doing next so you know i the first time the first week i basically did like around eight hours a day yeah um normal so i figured oh this is this is good yeah i did a lot of work and i got a lot of got a lot done yeah and so you know the first time i you know i emailed him the time card he was like you know so now that you’re working at a startup you really need to work 60 hours a week and i’m like okay i guess that makes sense fair enough you’re the startup expert yeah so you know he’s a workaholic um he likes to work a lot i guess i guess that’s what needs to be done okay so i so the next week well i guess i um i don’t know i worked maybe 10 hours a day let’s just say that um so that’s on average so you know i would i wrote down all the hours that i had and i sent them to him and he he told me um so you know if you really want to be successful if you want this project to be successful you’re going to have to work 80 hours a week

and so um yeah well yeah so that okay i mean living in florida might as well not that i was doing anything else but all right i guess i can try that to do that and i guess um so somehow i managed to get that many hours i managed to jam that many hours into a week i don’t know it was like 14 hours a day but no that’s maybe too many 12 let’s just take 12 hours a day um so i managed to do that i basically worked and ate and that’s it slept a lot anyway so my dad

um so you know i wrote my hours out again you know some some days had like 13 hours or yeah it’s like a lot of work basically and then so he sees it and he’s like well you know that’s not you’re not really working hard enough so um you know if you want to make this company into a success you know a successful startup you’re going to have to work 100 hours a week oh my god um and you know at some point i stopped really taking him seriously yeah you know he definitely he was definitely inconsistent with that’s not the only time he he was like bugging me about how many hours i worked but yeah he he’s definitely inconsistent about it so you know some some some days he’d be a little nicer he’d be like well okay 60 is fine this week but it’s 120 weeks sometimes just depends well yeah i mean if you work 16 hours a day that’s uh that’s over a hundred so it’s like within the realm of possibility it’s possible yeah um but you know you need to sleep and eat too like in bathroom i don’t know but anyway so that went on for a year well i’m actually more than here because i ca you know i lived in i lived in florida for a year but um i got tired of i didn’t want to live through another summer there so i moved back to north carolina um and i can’t i continued working on the project um

for well let’s see i i don’t i don’t remember you know basically there there were people who were working with us like you know my some of my dad’s co-workers gotcha and you know that some would some would jump on or jump off and right you know at some point it was basically just me working on this project oh wow so i was i did i did like everything so like you know the back end servers the the database stuff the the back end coding the the website itself the you know the controller code for the website sorry i could do i could kind of do all of that then you know my dad was basically uh giving me control of the project yeah so you know for maybe two two years i was kind of doing it all on my own um yeah and i guess at some point in i think 2013 gallow funding just a little trial um yeah so uh my dad you know my dad knew richard boyd from virtus so um they’ve been good friends since then and they also worked at lockheed together um so yeah he my dad uh let richard in and you know wanted him to run this project full-time um so that you know around that time 2013 is when maybe mid-2013 is when he let richard on and you know we he richard uh brought in a few of a few other kind of people he knew from the past and he uh kind of spun it into a a real company um that’s awesome so yeah and then i guess around august or that might be the right time august 2013 uh richard got us a little funding from the startup factory i guess they called themselves triangle startup factory at that point in durham and the american underground um so

and you’re off to the races yeah um so basically what we did at that point was kind of improve our website and well we we almost started over actually um another one of our co-workers helped us out uh jay sanders um you know he was contracting with us for for that part of the time and you know he he’s come full circle so we can get back to him but anyway um yeah so we you know he helped we we built our website up pretty well and um i guess that um what was it startup incubator lasted for about three months and then you know we were kind of in limbo for a little bit maybe half a year but um richard got you know had been trying to working on he was working on you know getting some major funding for for that period of time and he got it in i guess april 2014 so that’s you know that’s the part where you know well now we’re going to that’s a real deal now yeah so it’s it you know it went from you know living room project to um well kind of kind of full-time job for me well yeah well more than a full-time job maybe two or three full-time jobs okay three full-time jobs for me um in the into uh a startup incubator so you know we were becoming more legitimate and then you know once we got our big load of funding then you know well now things are starting to move right so um at that point we decided to work on an app a mobile app for i guess i think we only did ios at that point so the iphone and ipad but um so our uh our app was basically kind of a news reader type app um personalized news reader so it was called nomibot um and basically you you could choose a set of bots to bring you stuff from the internet and um you know you could swipe right or left kind of like tinder but um and it would improve its results over time but the uh i guess that made the downfall of that app was that it didn’t really get a lot of engagement you know people didn’t maybe they just didn’t get it or it just wasn’t appealing to them gotcha um the demographic you know you just sometimes you hit it or sometimes you don’t and i don’t think we hit it yeah um and so i guess after we kind of spun that down you know we we were looking into what to do next and we came up with you know a set of maybe five different ideas um so so let’s see one was kind of um it was like a restaurant recommendation or like local events recommendation tie down with like restaurants um so we you know we took a look at that we looked at some other things like education like some kind of education based recommendation system and then another one was like healthcare based um i think there was maybe one more but the the one we ended up deciding on was called well i don’t think we had a name for it but it was basically um let’s see pinterest for knowledge so tanjo yeah we we call it tanjo now um and i guess well our company is named after it uh actually uh so the the company names that we had before tanjo were the first one was sizzle spelled with three z’s and no vowels so s z z z l um and you know i nobody can spell that yeah how do you explain that yeah on the phone i mean and then we we re i think in 2013 for the startup factory we re you know we changed our name to sizzle with onesie so well that’s 300 easier to explain but still thousand percent hard to explain so um you know s zl how do you say that on the phone yeah exactly scl and there’s cz like tough to tell yeah seo if you say it really quickly just it just kind of you can that’s a lot of letters it could be yep um anyway the um so we we came up with our product called tanjo which was like pinterest for knowledge so you basically have a set of boards and you can type in you know keywords and titles and it will find you stuff related to that so i guess at some point we decided that we you know our company name needed to be more in line with our product so we reincorporated as tom joe and i think that was 20 today so anyway so i was there for when we made the brand change yeah maybe i’m jumping a little bit ahead it might be 2017. but i know so um we didn’t have any revenue until 2017 i want to say yep yeah so because it wasn’t until a year after i was on i mean or so yeah it’s been a while you know i was 17. i was there the whole time and you know we i didn’t make a cent for until

well i i mean i guess once we got our big round of funding then i started making a salary but you know before for six or four f whatever four years i wasn’t making anything i was just doing it for the experience and um whatever potential acquisition you know i don’t have a stock yeah yeah anyway um well so so sitting here today where tondo is a successful company um i know you and i we were talking about this earlier just the number of times that we thought you know we’re a week away from dying as an organization yeah yeah yeah you’ve had more than i have but yeah i can i can explain a few things so you know back when i worked for my dad in florida yeah like you know basically if i worked like four hours one day he was gonna say he he would say like well you know you’re not working hard enough and i’m gonna pull the plug on the project so you know i i’d work a little harder next week but you know it you know i guess this this company as a whole is kind of it seemed like it’s just going to go away or evaporate after like a week but and you know my dad might have been like 12 of those times but right right exactly but but i think it does and we were talking about this earlier again it’s just you know it underrates like we just don’t you know the importance of just not quit just keep trying you know like super important just to keep trying and you know and we also we were talking about this we’ve got a team you know you and i we don’t get rattled you know we really just don’t get even when things like really looked like they were not gonna turn out very well we just kept trying you know kept even if it looks like the probabilities are stacked against us we just find the best way forward and just keep trying to go through it and don’t know you know no one freaks out no one everybody’s just calm cool collected stoic throughout it which i think is really helpful yeah um i remember this was kind of after you know after nomibot and then you know we we made ten tanjo but like we kind of run run out of funding at some point yeah and basically you know we had to let go of a lot of people yeah including our cto and you know a lot of marketing people but um at that point in time like you know that just seemed like like the end was happening like yeah it could be could it could have been tomorrow but like um this is just one example of of you know kind of miracle things but anyway um so like our um our cto who is still works for us his name is ken lane um in i think 2015 around october 2015 he was actually laid off of from gse which is a nuclear power plant simulation company but um you know he was looking around for jobs and you know richard somehow knew and called him and uh he showed up uh one day and you know i met with him um and he was you know he was instantly hired and accepted so you know he kind of you know reignited the the whole company as a whole i think and you know kind of i think for me personally i think he kind of saved us at that point in time right and you know that’s that’s one example of things that have happened to our company there are many where yeah there’s many more of those but example that’s really a good example you know that’s that’s one great example of of of what you know what kind of things have happened but you know i personally i didn’t give up like even though it seemed like things were going to go away but i just just got to keep trying you know i didn’t not to say i didn’t feel bad but um you know i didn’t want it to go away right like i wanted to keep going like i mean i i haven’t worked any other place except for my uncle’s furniture store so you know i don’t have like i don’t have company experience i was advised by people to you know you you should really work at a at an established company you know right after graduating big salary and you know i didn’t do it yeah i just went for this and you know i don’t regret that it’s a problem yeah and i i feel like i’ve got um a lot of experience from it and um what was i gonna say yeah i don’t know i just yeah just sitting from where i’m sitting you know it’s just you and i i mean i i mentioned when we were talking a little bit earlier you know i just i deposited a check you know someone said it’s where’s anyway so someone had sent us a check and said hch but i need to deposit it um this was last week and it was larger than like our first two years of revenue when it sits before i joined on uh you know it’s just like man how far we’ve come it’s just yeah insanity making i know for like tanjo and nomibot you know we had it in the app store and it was like a free app and we were like banking on getting ad revenue and we never actually even set up the ads so it’s like never made it up i mean it yeah never made it that far and then for the next you know the website tanjo you know when we started out we were going to do like a subscription service kind of like slack you know you pay five dollars a month per user and you get access yeah um and you know never nobody bought into that either but kept trying yeah i mean you know nowadays you know we we’re you know whole you know companies are just buying our stuff and it’s like wow that’s just costly no it’s orders of magnitude more than any of that it’s like it would have been nice to have that back then but you know it’s like yeah it’s kind of crazy just seeing these numbers the journey the journey is really cool to see yeah so you know i was i was there the whole time and you know it was zero for me for the first four years and it was zero for the next three years well i guess i made a salary but our company didn’t really yeah get any income not not very much anyway at all but um yeah like it’s just picked up so much it’s it’s wild testament to just keep trying just keep trying yeah uh so you’re really good at scrabble yeah is that right is that true i guess you could say so can you tell me like kind of your your rankings and and how how good you were yeah so you know i i started in scrabble in ninth grade i was in just in high school um so i played you know quite a few tournaments during that period of time well maybe not that many actually so the weird thing is they didn’t have any tournaments in north carolina at that point so you know i had to go to georgia tennessee um so it was a little bit hard getting around to places but i did it um all my parents did it anyway yeah so i i played tournaments in high school and a little bit in college too gotcha although in college i kind of neglected you know i just kind of showed up and i i kind of sucked but it’s not good anyway so i you know i quit for a few years maybe more than a few but then in like i guess around the 2012 2011 time frame so you know i i was kind of working for my dad but um

i started kind of getting more serious about it gotcha um and um so i guess my rating was like 13 or 1200 at that point and you know i don’t know what rank that was in the state but you know i was i had played enough against the computer that i basically knew what i was doing strategically um and it was kind of more a matter of just learning words at that point gotcha like you know to get to the top levels like you need to know all the words like there’s there’s like 200 000 words yikes um and i i’ll kind of go step by step later but just to for my um rank so basically i i just kept gaining rating like i won like five tournaments in a row nice like and it wasn’t it wasn’t luck it was just like i just knew what i was doing i guess yeah even though i didn’t know like all the words i just had such good strategy i could beat you know people who knew all the words and um so let’s see like i played in two national scrabble tournaments one was 2012 in orlando and i guess i was i might have been i was in orlando at that point i think um and then i played in one in las vegas next year um and in that tournament so that’s basically all the top players from the country yeah all in one place and you know they have different um brackets so you know they’ll be like it’s a pretty big tournament so there’s like 100 people in each bracket um but i was i played the top bracket even though uh my rating was slower but um so you know i played i played world champions like that’s awesome and i beat some of them

so yeah after that tournament actually i actually got uh 28th place so that’s you know that was pretty good for me that’s really good i think i won 18 games and lost 13. nice but um so that was good enough for like a tie for 20th and technically i got 28th on a tiebreaker but uh anyway um the uh let’s see so after that tournament i was ranked number one in the the state of north carolina nice um and then i played one more tournament which was the north carolina state championship yeah um and this so this is kind of a funny story um so i didn’t win the tournament but i would i had a shot i guess you could stay close so like with four rounds to go four games to go basically um i was playing you know the there’s this one guy he’s he knows all every word in the dictionary and he’s he knows them better than most people on the planet yeah and he’s also pretty good strategically um i think i had a winning record against him before this tournament somehow i don’t i don’t quite understand how but um i i guess it’s just i’m better strategically but um so you know with four rounds to go i had to he had he won enough games where i had to beat him four times in a row like wow like literally i’d have to beat him once and again and again so so the first game that i played so the you know four rounds from the end um so i i was basic i basically had the game in the bag um so uh the like i knew what what his seven letters were because you can track what tiles have been played against what are known you know the known title distribution right right um so i knew exactly what tiles he had and he had like he had um abd uh r o sv and so you know i looked at those letters and it’s like he’s got a v and b and like that’s like that looks like garbage yeah and i’m like you know i i didn’t really you know i kind of i glanced at it and i looked at it i was like i don’t see any words in that i think it’s fine i don’t see any seven or eight letter words in that yeah and so i was just like you know i’ll play somewhere else i won’t block this this a over here that he can play through but you know i was like once i saw him he just like jumped on the he knew he like he obviously knew this word it was bravado’s b-r-a-v-a-d-o-s and he just played it instantly and i just sat there i was like oh no okay yeah you know i sat there and i knew my tournament was over but anyway so i didn’t win uh that that tournament i got second place because i must have won a bunch i beat a bunch of other people after in the final three rounds but anyway that was that was the story of that tournament and that was the last one i played gotcha um it’s basically at that point 2013 was when you know i kind of already explained tanja got a little bit real yeah yeah we got our we got our first dose of funding at the triangle startup factory and kind of you know it was i couldn’t uh i’ll explain one thing so basically i was just spending too much time on it um just on screen so actually yeah this is a little bit this is kind of funny so um there was like a television crew that wanted to interview you know people at our scrabble club and in durham or uh i guess it was briar creek very cool um this i don’t know what date this was exactly but it was on tv it was on like pbs um and i you know they interviewed me and you know one of the questions they asked me was like so uh you you must spend like all your time you must spend 24 hours a day playing scrabble yeah and it was kind of a rhetorical it wasn’t even a question but i was like uh no but i maybe i spend like eight hours a day playing and you know i was a little bit serious even though i was trying you know i was trying to think of something funny to say for television exactly but like you know i i kind of heard myself saying that yeah you know and i saw it you know i saw that on tv and i’m like you know maybe it’s time to stop playing right right maybe i need to stop putting so much time into this you know like the the rewards output aren’t yeah worth the input yeah like i can so so you know all the time i put into it it you know maybe some of it’s learning words some most of it’s probably just playing against the computer or people on i think i was playing people on facebook a lot back then but anyway um a lot of time get got put into it and you know at the end of the day like what what do you do with like all these words that you’re learning like you you don’t even learn the definitions yeah um people just learn these to to learn them to have as like tokens as like game pieces for the game right this is a valid string of letters you can put on the board for first 80 90 points like okay like if you don’t know the word you don’t get the points so um a lot of you know the top players in the world they know the whole dictionary like all the sevens all the eights even some of them know all the nine letter words which is like those hardly ever show up but like you know you know you never you need every percentage point you can get right at that level of play um you know i i might have you know i think i i didn’t i definitely did not know the dictionary cold for even but i i think at my high point i knew well certainly all the twos but like all the threes fours and fives so like all those you know there might have been less than 20 000 of those words but i mean they’re let they’re easy to learn because they’re shorter yeah um but then there’s like thirty thousand sevens alone and like uh i knew like you can order them by probability so it’s like you know e e is the most common letter there’s the most e’s and then you know all the common consonants and vowels like stuff with those letters i knew pretty much all of them you get diminishing returns yeah it’s basically diminishing returns so if you know the top four thousand seven letter words that accounts for like the ninety percent of the probability of all the words you’re ever going to see gotcha um and you know that doesn’t even count the words you all you know just as an english speaker yeah um you know so maybe maybe i knew like 70 or 80 of all the words but to get that next level require yeah or like you know the eight letter words are even i i know even less of those and so i know like 50 of those but to get to yeah like you say to get to the next level like you have to know every single one and like even even the ones that are obscure that have like three z’s and two y’s yeah like like well i mean that might be a stupid example but nobody’d ever played that but um that’s impossible to get but um you know there’s i mean i’ve played crazy words too but yeah uh just just because i learned like different word lists that have i think i knew all the all the uh j q x and z words yeah um there weren’t nearly as many of those but they were just more fun and easier to learn just i don’t know why but gotcha so i knew all those but um yeah to get to the next level you just have to know all the words and you have to be good at like knowing you have the the word in your letters like so you might you know you might know the word it might be a common word but you just can’t rearrange your letters quick enough or gotcha or fat or you know you might just miss it right right but like all the top players they they can do it instantly like they see a set of letters they you know they match that usually they will put them in alphabetical order they call it alphagramming and interesting so they’ll put like all the letters in alphabetical order and they’ll just spot it instantly they’ll know what words in it and they could even have a blank like you know blank could be anything and they could put that with a set of letters and or even two blanks like you can they just spot the words instantly wow like they can instantly see that oh that letter has to be a cue to make this into a seven letter word that’s wild um i mean i’m i’m not i’m definitely not the best at that like i can if i had time i might be able to figure out more words but like i just don’t have the kind of experience and i i don’t put that many hours into it that’s cool but yeah like that really just kind of getting back it doesn’t really have much practical value at the end of the day at the end of the day yeah it’s like this isn’t gonna help me with my job this isn’t gonna help me with anything else i do it’s just learning kind of pointless word you’re not even learning the definitions you’re just learning these tokens for this one particular board game that yeah like i mean it’s fun but it’s not very useful rather than that right i mean well technically for stuff i do it at tanjo i do a lot of text analytics so it’s slightly helpful like you know i’ve seen you know one stop word title yeah well so um the uh one of the projects i did was like a lot of scientific uh articles basically i had to do a topic model of and you know i saw words in there i’m like i knew that from scrabble i knew that from scrabble i knew that word it’s awesome so it was like you know words that i literally had no i didn’t know the definition of yeah like i’m now i’m seeing them like okay that’s a scientific word it’s awesome okay that’s what it means that’s really cool yeah so that was that was earlier this year but um so that was kind of fun um but you know really it’s it’s of no practical value that that’s super interesting dude so i want to do a little segway here and uh you drive an awesome car can you can you tell the audience what it is yeah uh so i drive i have a lotus of aura 400 the 400 is for horsepower i believe that it does have four and technically 406 but you know i don’t think they want to call it the lotus evora 456 doesn’t have the same ring to it yep so that it’s uh it’s um a black it’s black car it’s got black seeds uh black rims

yeah and i so i got it uh april 20 it was last year 2019. yeah so i’ve had it over a year um it’s got 7 thousand miles so i haven’t driven it like that much i think but you do you do drive you daily drive it yeah i i did drive it to work and back and you know in recent times i haven’t really driven it much but you know i drove it to work and i’ve taken it on a few trips so actually um you know the story of buying it um so you know when my other car is a smart car and quite the collection so basically i kind of annexed it from my mom uh i kind of claimed it for myself it’s got a lot of ben like positives but it’s also got negatives um you know one of the worst things is the acceleration yes done it’s got not yeah like 0 to 60 i think i timed it was like 15 seconds um now you’ve got like what three nine or just pick up is pretty bad yeah it’s so now it’s zero to 60 is four seconds yes i mean i might have done that a few times i might have floored it from zero to a few times but anyway um it’s fast yeah um so the smart car it’s good at like parking yeah uh good at what else

um if you look out of them yes fuel economy is good it’s big enough for you it is big enough surprisingly yes a lot of people you know they’ve made jokes like uh does your head stick up through the sunroof so eric for the audience is six eight so you know yeah quite the side season so you know i just stared at him i’m like okay yeah you’re funny yeah all right move on excited that’s the way to be man way to be okay yeah anyway um so yeah you know i i was kind of fed up with the smart car in a lot of ways yeah so you know i was like you know i i don’t i can’t i’m not rich like i can’t i can’t afford a ferrari or a lamborghini or crate mclaren or whatever but um but at the same time i didn’t want to get like a toyota or a honda just kind of a generic car not to bash any any any one brand but um i wanted something that was unique and um yeah you know nobody else would be driving it or right you know maybe nobody else have heard of it either but yeah i wanted something that was kind of you know known for reliability and yeah um basically i i talked to my cousin who he’s actually in um car design school that’s cool in detroit um and he suggested the lotus brand to me um as kind of an alternative for super cars so it’s it’s cool anyway um so i looked that up and you know i saw they had like three kinds they have the elise they have the exige and then they have the avora actually they don’t sell those first two in the in the united states anymore although i think they’re bringing it back i was told that interesting um anyway yeah i think they’re going to also stop production of the evora next year so they’re going to bring in a bunch of new brands lotus got bought out by some chinese manufacturer um anyway um what was i saying i’m picking the avora yeah yeah yeah so you know i saw that and i’m like oh that looks nice and oh it’s got you know people like it a lot um it’s got good reliability it’s got a toyota k uh camry engine with a supercharger it’s supercharged yes it’s not turbo super maybe one or the other somewhere yeah that’s a 400 horsepower out of a yeah camera engine so you know that that engine could last two hundred thousand miles yeah like which is really so that’s you know i’m not gonna get rid of this car anytime soon anyway um that was one of the factors so yeah you know i had to fit you know in the car to begin with so you know i went to the there’s like there aren’t many dealers in the country um so there’s one in winston-salem which is an hour and a half from here so i went there you know just to start out i checked out what they had and i tried to see if i would fit in it to begin with and you know i kind of you know i fit a little bit i it definitely had leg room the head room i had to kind of uh tilt the seat back a little bit to to fit but um it worked um and it was really nice i guess the the main thing is that the the stock they had was all manuals and uh i don’t you know i needed automatic um which they do make uh obviously the dual clutches sequentially yes still gotcha um that’s cool and you know i didn’t want to deal with the whole car salesman and stuff yeah yeah so you know i looked online i’m like uh you know i typed it or i searched on like the colors that i wanted and uh you know they have dealerships in atlanta there’s a bunch in florida just because you know florida’s filled with supercars um you can’t go to miami without exactly spotting that one but anyway um they also had there was some in new jersey uh there were some in new york uh i was basically looking within 10 hours of ice of here of north carolina there’s one in ohio and then one in indiana called gator motorsports they they had a black you know the black one with the black interior with the black wheels nice and so you know i just and it was like discounted a lot so you know they it was a demo car so it had it had like 700 miles on it but it was technically new um and i i drove up there with my mom to to test drive it and you know she got to do it too because i why not um but you know i liked it a lot uh i didn’t really you know the maybe the next closest thing i would consider might have been the acura nsx the the hybrid the one you know but that’s like that was like doubled a lot more it’s a lot more it’s a cool car yeah i would you know i i was just considering different things but yeah yeah this uh this one was had a good price and you know i just went for it uh so i flew up to indiana it was indianapolis and um i drove it back home uh well i actually drove it through michigan so i saw my um i saw some family in grand rapids and then i saw my cousin in detroit he’s the one who recommended the lotus thing to begin with so he was thrilled and then i drove it back um actually i don’t know this is kind of a funny story like on the way so i it the the car had like a light came on like you know i looked it up in the handbook and i’m like oh that seems a little serious so i was uh maybe an hour away from columbus yeah ohio and you know i knew that they had a dealership there and like so i actually brought it there for them to do service on it oh man it was that was a little bit funny and a little scary but yeah um got it they uh there was a free oil changed at before 1500 miles and i was nobody mentioned to tell me that that i had that but you know i would i was driving like a thousand miles home yeah so maybe they should have told me but anyway i got it like 40 miles ahead of that so they gave it to me it’s awesome let’s go like i think anyway yeah so the car i don’t think there was anything really wrong with it they just that’s cool uh you know they did a few things and said you’re free to go and nice so i drove it all the way back anyway yeah it hasn’t there’s been nothing really major wrong with it but i do you know i have taken it to winston-salem a few times yeah uh because you know they’re getting fixed yeah there have been some small issues like the truck trunk sometimes won’t open or like things stuff like that the air conditioning stopped working

yeah that’s cool um and then uh one of the i think he’s like the lotus salesman yeah i don’t know what his his job title is he just wants you to upgrade yep he his name is ken yeah just like just like our uh cannon tanjo but yeah um a little more pushy he always seems to want to get me to upgrade to the the avora gt what’s the difference between gt and the 400. so it’s got like 10 more horsepower 10 more and that’s nothing and it’s lighter lighter so and it’s got 0.1 seconds more acceleration dude that car is fast enough man yeah so yeah if if i upgraded it you know uh i could have that much more yeah and it would be a little different yeah and i i can certainly afford to two of them yeah why don’t you replace the spark car you know no yeah basically like why would i i just keep pepping to be nice to them but it’s like why would i like i’ve only got 7 000 miles in my car why would i why would i do this i feel like a lot of people they they keep them for probably about that long probably seven ten thousand miles this supercar kind of thing you know i don’t know well yeah i guess in my maybe he doesn’t understand but like i bought the car because of the camry engine i wanted you keep it going for 20 years but it does move yeah well we’ll see if it lasts that long but it’s i think it hasn’t blown up yet it’s got it’s had some minor problems but not bad that’s it anyway that’s difficult um yeah it’s and it’s parked right outside where i’m sitting yeah too bad it’s covered times we could go take a ride yeah i’ve been in it it’s quite yeah i uh may or may not have been drag racing and i may or may not not have done a zero to 100 before so you know yeah we’ll let our listeners you know ponder that i haven’t been pulled over in it that’s good no no tickets even keep it that way and i try and keep you off slack when you’re uh when you’re uh it’s cool man that’s super cool and i thought it was a really cool choice um especially because you know that car looks like it probably cost twice two or three times as much as it does yeah it definitely looks like a super car it really does and it’s it’s kind of kind of is in a lot of ways yeah but i guess it’s not a supercar because it doesn’t cost you ten thousand to replace a fuel cap yeah well like a ferrari who has time for that doug demaro does but not enough um so i i want to transition i’ve got two more things i’d like to talk to you about tonight um to crypto so i know you’ve uh you’ve i don’t know if you’re into it as much now but i know you’ve been in crypto mining crypto and and had a bunch of really interesting times with that yeah i got started in 2017 i think i bought a lot of bitcoin yeah but then i you know i didn’t keep it um so it it went up like um after the point where i had a lot of it um anyway so the i got into the mining aspect so you know yeah you build you know you build a gpu based computer you know with a bunch of gpus which are graphical processing units um basically those are those can solve hard like cryptography pro uh puzzles basically if you get rewarded for that uh and you know basically when somebody sends like ethereum or bitcoin on you know to from one address to another like the miner has to like validate that transaction and they get a small percentage of whatever that transaction was worth um so yeah i got started with mining around

2017 i think like october um so you know i built a few you know small computers with like six gpus each yeah um and that kind actually 2018 kind of the beginning or like maybe it was late 2017 was the point in time where like bitcoin went to 20 000. yeah and like i didn’t sell any of it oh that like i didn’t i just wanted to keep going like i didn’t i mean i it wasn’t like life-changing money that i had but yeah like i think at the high point i had about hundreds of cryptos oh wow some of it was like ripple coin i had i had all kinds i had bitcoin i had bitcoin cash i had uh oh wow ethereum i had you know they call them like the altcoin bag yeah you just have a lot of different random ones that right that you kind of hope they’ll they’ll turn into something but so i mean i didn’t really sell any of it i just like you know that’s it wasn’t life-changing to so if i you know if i sold it off at once it might have been it would have been yeah um i didn’t so it kind of crashed later you know and a little bit early 2018 so you know i it basically went down to like 10 of what it was yeah like you know 10 maybe i had like 10 000 worth at that point i don’t know exactly but i i remember distinctly when bitcoin would say it was that 18 17 or 18 000 and i had some bitcoin at the time from like 2015 or something i had gotten some and i went home to rural north carolina and i went to like it was a house party or something and i was talking to people that were just um you know mostly like electricians and like you know very like you know salt of the earth people and everyone was talking about bitcoin and i sold that night i went home and i sold because i i sat there and i was like you know what like you know this is what saturation looks like you’re yeah you’re absolutely right you know i i was like what in the world i saw it go up and i’m like well it’s it’s a bubble it’s obvious so no why wouldn’t i sell right but but no i don’t want to sell i want it to go more yeah no so yeah i just i didn’t if it were like a million bucks like i might have just sold it all because yeah like that might have been life-changing to some degree at least uh but like a hundred and you know i could buy a car with that but not right right not more than exactly like you can’t live off you can’t no no you can’t improve your life with that really i mean well that’s maybe an understatement um but you know some people that would mean a lot but um in the long run for me that doesn’t that didn’t seem like you know i wanted it i just wanted to roll the dice and keep going with it yeah see where it went um but yeah so you know at my uh at some point i think uh yeah 2018 in march i moved to a townhouse and i set up a bunch more computers so i have uh five separate um they call them rigs that’s awesome so you know i have five rigs with 12 gpus and they’re still mining ethereum that’s awesome which uh you know lately it’s it’s it’s been on a ride lately up and down it almost hit 500 but then it hit 300 and you know i don’t know where it’s at it it can change you know 100 in a day yeah so it’s kind of gambling you never know what’s where it’s going to go next um but you know i’ve been mining ethereum for a while and it’s it’s a sizable amount it’s just not it’s not where it was right it wasn’t um so it’s not life-changing or anything but definitely i wish i kind of had started and um like 2014 or yeah i don’t know i i back when it was tiny back when it first was like it came out like i s i i had coinbase and like i saw it there i was like oh well maybe i should buy that but i didn’t it was like 11 bucks that’s what i remember right now um but instead of like buying crypto and making gpu rigs i was buying legos which uh

it’s an alternative investment but it takes up space and like i still have like a few hundred you got an impressive collection man yeah i gotta say i’ve seen it it’s awesome yeah and i’ve got i don’t know i think i have like thirty thousand dollars worth of lego sets on a shelf at my house i i think a kid would would probably pass out if you walked in there yeah i mean it is awesome it really is cool if one of ken’s kids walked in just like a drink oh my god uh and well i mean i’ve always liked legos but yeah um i also have a lot of uh like cars like lego cars sets so i have like technic stuff or well not i have a few technic cars but that’s right like there were a lot of like lamborghini and ferrari lego sets yeah that came out i remember that i’ve got a lot of those that’s awesome you know i have like 10 ferrari 40s um those were retired a few years ago and those are worth like at least maybe not quite three times what wow but those are worth a lot interesting so some you know some some lego sets will go up a lot in value if they’re retired um but some will go down so some are just not worth what you paid for them i wonder what the average like internal rate of return on like i said is yeah it’s i mean i know people wrote articles like saying the average i don’t know i don’t know the number but like it’s just gone up basically a lot like you know ten percent per year whatever it might not be that exactly but the i kind of you know i know that on average the legos i bought are worth more than what i paid but you know getting how far are they beating inflation i guess yeah i don’t and that and getting rid of them is another story i need storage like it’s interesting yeah like if you sell them on ebay it’s like uh you still have to pay like all the fine all the fees and stuff and it’s it might end up not it might end up just being a waste of time yeah like for all the trouble that it’s worth in the end so they’re going to look at too so i don’t know yeah i i mean i’ve got legos yeah as an alternative asset class man it’s pretty cool it’s much cooler than like i don’t know oil at least you can see it as opposed to crypto yeah you can’t see crypto that’s a and you know if you lose your hash key you’re really in trouble or if you if your house burns down your legos will burn down that’s fair yeah you know trade-offs man but so will your gpu computer that’s right that’s right that’s right you know so i guess they’re equal in that way yeah that’s really cool that’s typical well eric thanks so much for coming out tonight and uh sorry for the technical difficulties but i think we we created a really cool show yeah we um we uh i don’t know what i’m saying we’ve we fixed it figured out new equipment tonight so you know yep that’s awesome awesome well thanks eric and uh we’ll have you on again thank you bye

well that’s our show for today i’m will jarvis and i’m will’s dad join us next week for more narratives

Join the discussion

More from this show