The path to building something meaningful by Vik Paruchuri

I’ve almost always been an employee. Besides the steady paycheck being incredibly nice, you get this great concept of shared responsibility. Feel like calling in sick? Go ahead, the company will keep going (and sometimes won’t even notice you are gone). Customers don’t like the product? Good thing you have a team to work on making it better. Don’t feel like working too hard? That’s ok, there’s always tomorrow. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Now, the fact that I am writing this in a blog for a startup probably tells you that I’m not an employee anymore. “But why leave?”, you might ask. Frankly, all that stuff sounds pretty awesome. The simple fact is that I wanted to start creating things that I believed in. Things that could have a major impact on my life and the lives of those around me. That’s not to say that it’s not possible to do those things while working at a company (and I have been able to at times). It’s just a matter of degree – do you want to work on things that you care about a very small amount of the time or a larger amount of the time?

I’m working on an Android app called Happsee now. It helps you track your happiness and share it with the people close to you. Prior to Happsee, I worked on a couple of other projects, made a lot of mistakes, and learned a few things. With your indulgence, I will describe them.

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Why happiness tracking matters by Vik Paruchuri

For most of my life, I have struggled to figure out what matters most. I doubt that I am alone in this. Data is everywhere these days – I rarely buy a book without consulting Amazon or walk into a restaurant without checking its rating on Yelp. Yet the more integral that data becomes, the less relevant to my life it seems. Sure, I can find out what the best book to buy is, or where I should eat lunch, but why do those things matter?

As I was walking home one day, I realized what the disconnect is – the tools that we use daily can easily answer the questions of where, what, when, and usually even how, but almost never the question of why. Facebook can show me how all of my friends are doing, but it doesn’t tell me why each of those people matter to me, or why I should read their updates. Twitter gives me a constant stream of information, but it doesn’t tell me why that information matters. The assumption generally is that the utility of these services is self-evident. But as we transition from information scarcity to information saturation, that argument is starting to seem a bit thin.

After thinking about the disconnect for a while, I started trying to answer the why question. I read books because I derive some amount of enjoyment and happiness from them. Theoretically, higher rated books on Amazon will give me more enjoyment. Similarly, I get some happiness from seeing about how my friends are doing. Twitter is a bit harder to categorize, but I certainly get some dopamine rush from seeing interesting content. The theme of happiness is one that kept coming back to me – I mostly engaged in activities with the idea that some momentary or long-term happiness would result.

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