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People Are Looking To Invest In This Emerging Startup, But It Doesn’t Exist
By Alexa Heah, 21 Jul 2021
Image via Kelli McClintock / Unsplash (CC0)
Tahmima Anam’s new novel, The Startup Wife, revolves around an incubator named ‘Utopia’, which helps launch promising startups. With its sleek website and functional contact page, it appears to be just like any other Silicon Valley firm – but it doesn’t really exist.
Out of all the startups Utopia helped launch in the novel, one has caught the attention of venture capitalists and investors who are interested in funding it, for real.
The fictional company, ‘EMTI’, is touted as a “subscription business designed to give people control of their possessions.”
How it works: each month, subscribers will receive an empty box of a particular shape and size, containing an ancient philosophical Buddhist message about “letting go.”
The customer will then place possessions they wish to get rid of in the box, and post it back to the company, who will dispose of the objects “in the most thoughtful, sustainable way possible.”
While this sounds like a lovely Marie Kondo-esque idea, Utopia and EMTI are both fictional, and part of Anam’s satirical novel.
According to Inc., other non-existent startups featured on Utopia include ‘Obit.ly’, a company envisioned to manage your social media accounts after your death, and ‘LoneStar’, which is depicted to be preparing a vaccine to prevent people from consuming dairy or meat in order to aid climate change efforts.
While the other startups might come across more obviously as fictional, there are people who have been serious about investing in EMTI.
“Occasionally, when I’ve been talking to people in the startup world, as a joke, I will just give them the website address and not tell them that it’s fake. For some reason, EMTI has been the one that people are most interested in investing in,” Anam told NPR.
In the novel, the protagonist is a part of a new startup named WAI, meaning “We Are Infinite,” that she started with her husband. The firm offers customized rituals for customers, allowing them to connect with their loved ones more based on those rituals.
However, the industry views her husband as the company’s main spokesperson, while she works quietly in the background. Anam said that the novel was inspired by her own experience working in Silicon Valley.
Her husband (in real life) had founded a music technology startup named ROLI, and while she was a fixture on the board from the very beginning, she experienced gender bias when people wouldn’t take her as seriously as her male counterparts.
“I really enjoyed thinking about writing this book the entire time that I was on that board. Any time someone cut me off or ignored me or didn’t take me seriously, I thought, ‘I’m going to write that down,’” Anam explained.
“I think the tech world promotes the idea of the male visionary. If you think about all the people who are now basically in charge of our lives, it’s mostly a series of white men, whether it’s Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. I mean, we may not worship them as people, but we’re so dependent on them.”
[via Inc., cover image via Kelli McClintock / Unsplash (CC0)]
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