EP #15: Thiviyaa Sehasothy – Marketing Professional By Day, Savvy Art Entrepreneur By Night

Thiviyaa Sehasothy, aka Art By Thiviyaa, is a Toronto artist and painter whose specialty is creating magic on canvas with custom & original work for clients. She joins Ara to discuss various topics including her first sale, how exhibitions built her confidence, the simultaneous balance between being an artist and a small business owner, and the personal legacy she wants to leave behind.

**TAKE THE QUIZ – “What Type of Creator Are You?”**

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Connect with Thiviyaa – https://www.instagram.com/artbythiviyaa/

Timestamps:

01:06 – Introducing Thiviyaa Sehasothy aka Art By Thiviyaa
04:05 – Thiviyaa credits her brother for her success
07:41 – Ara’s brother impersonates him in public
09:15 – How Art By Thiviyaa came to be
14:15 – How exhibitions built Thiviyaa’s confidence
19:03 – Thiviyaa’s first sale
23:30 – How Thiviyaa balances being an artist and a small business owner
26:36 – The difference between an original piece and a print
29:59 – Thiviyaa’s most popular art pieces
31:40 – The concept of doing something once and being paid for it repeatedly
34:20 – NFTs
40:58 – Thiviyaa’s biggest insecurity
46:59 – Where Thiviyaa sees herself in the next 3-5 years
50:35 – How Thiviyaa views money, the importance of valuing your work
58:55 – The personal legacy Thiviyaa wants to leave behind
59:52 – Advice Thiviyaa would give to other Tamil creators
1:02:02 – Creator Confessions
1:07:35 – The wrap up

EP #14: Yanchan – Popular Carnatic Hip Hop Producer Talks About His Drake-Inspired Dreams, Love For Scarborough & Financial Freedom

Yanchan is a Scarborough-raised producer who blends hip-hop with Carnatic music. He joins Ara for what could be considered the Scarborough episode, to discuss how he fell in love with music and achieved his childhood dreams of performing on tour, his recently released Scarborough Beat Tape, how to make money off of music, why he doesn’t turn down opportunities anymore, and a lot more!

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Connect with Yanchan –https://www.instagram.com/yanchanproduced/

Timestamps:

01:06 – Introducing Yanchan
03:37 – Studying economics at Laurier, family’s view on his career ambitions
07:08 – The Scarborough Beat Tape, nostalgia for the city
14:13 – Achieving his childhood dream of performing on tour
18:22 – Shan Vincent de Paul and the track “best friend”
20:39 – The Tamil music scene, artists who Yanchan wants to collaborate with
21:56 – Being inspired by another music producers, and wanting to give back in a similar way
23:14 – How does Yanchan make money (Spotify, selling beats, artist development)
28:11 – COVID-inspired business ideas
30:14 – Why Yanchan takes every shot he gets
32:28 – Networking as an introvert, wanting to connect the Indian and American markets
34:56 – Yanchan’s admiration for Drake, and wanting to mimic his career
36:26 – Financial freedom
38:14 – How has the Tamil community impacted Yanchan
39:14 – Beliefs and behaviours which have improved Yanchan’s life
42:03 – How Yanchan decompresses from work, prioritization of family/friends
43:29 – Yanchan’s advice for other creators
44:06 – Creator Confessions
46:16 – The wrap up

Australian-Tamil Ragavi Ragavan Is Changing Young People’s Lives As a Dancer With Bindi Bosses And As a Forensic Scientist In The Education Sector

“I made a promise to myself that I wanted to keep both my creative and analytical sides of my brain working. Which is why I do what I do! I definitely have my “creative” days and my “professional” days which seem to split up my work well. I am someone who also works through weekends if needed, and luckily I enjoy my work so it isn’t draining!” Ragavi Ragavan was born in Switzerland and schooled in Australia. She studied Forensic Science in Applied Chemistry in University and has been the Head of STEM for an education company for about a decade now, allowing her to flex the analytical side of her brain. She has also been in the street dance world for about 9 years, starting off with Dancehall and Afro styles, before joining Bindi Bosses to do some creative South Asian fusion work. Her drive in life is to make a difference for young people in some capacity, whether it be through a creative or academic outlet.

You have a number of creative pursuits including dancing (with Bindi Bosses), Acting and Modelling.  How do you balance this with your “day job” as a Head Educational Coach?

 I actually have multiple things I do as a “day job”! I studied Forensic Science in Applied Chemistry at University and have been Head of STEM for an education company for about decade now. I really wanted to work out how to combine these both and still make a difference. 

Now, I travel across Australia presenting the real life scenarios of how we use Maths and Science in the real world. 

 I made a promise to myself that I wanted to keep both my creative and analytical sides of my brain working. Which is why I do what I do! I definitely have my “creative” days and my “professional” days which seem to split up my work well. I am someone who also works through weekends if needed, and luckily I enjoy my work so it isn’t draining!

How did you get involved with Bindi Bosses?  

I’ve been in the street dance world for about 9 years now, starting off with Dancehall and Afro styles. Shyamla had heard about me and approached me to do a Bollywood piece for a wedding and the rest is history! She had been dying to do some creative South Asian fusion and we hit it off whilst rehearsing. Our first performance as Bindi Bosses was at an event called Dancey Dance Time – that was probably my most nervous moment before a performance.

Do you have aspirations to pursue your creative pursuits on a full-time basis?  Why or why not?

I’ve done some deep dive thinking on this and, personally, dancing is something I selfishly do for myself. If I take it on as a full time career it will take all the fun out of it for me. I love what I get to do though, very grateful that I get paid for my creative pursuits.

And honestly, my drive in life is to make a difference to young people more than anything. That is my motto. So as long as I’m doing that in some capacity, I’m happy. Whether it be through a creative or academic outlet. 

I adore being in education, encouraging young people to step outside of their comfort zone in thinking, seeing them excel when they don’t think they can do it, watching them go from “I can’t do it” to “I’m doing it and flying!”. This is my purpose. 

I personally view social media in a positive light.  I see it as a tool that can be used for good or bad (similar to a car).  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

As I age and get wiser, I really do feel this way. Social media has connected people in so many ways that we haven’t been able to do before. And I’m constantly in awe and inspired by people around the world. I love that we are able to create our own narratives and see diversity on social media. This is something I definitely lacked when I was younger and now the general population gets to create content that the general population wants to see! 

Of course there is the flip side, where it becomes extremely addictive and I do struggle with this from time to time as well. However, with constant reminding, I’m slowly being conscious of what and how much I consume through social media. Something I feel young people need to start being taught as well!

How have your family and friends supported you through your journey?  

Surprisingly, my parents have been very supportive through my journey.  Initially, it took a few conversations to get them to understand where I’m coming from but luckily, they are always open to talking about it. At the end of the day, they just want to know I’m secure and safe. I know they are confident with my choices, they’ve been more supportive than ever nowadays. 

And my close friends have always been my number one hype people from the beginning! I remember when I was entering my first Dance competition, I hadn’t told anyone due to my nerves and didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Also low key, I didn’t think I would make it past the first round either. A few days before the comp, they found out about it and the entire front row was filled with people from my life, cheering me on. The energy and love was palpable through the room, it really was a precious moment. I am so grateful that I made it all the way to the final round and ended up winning the 2017 DanceHall Queen title! They got me through a huge milestone for me.  

***Read the rest of interview at TamilCulture.com.***

Gokul Natesan’s Grind: From Studying Computer Science to Playing Professional Basketball

“I believe that losing the biggest games on the court are the times when I’ve learned a lot about myself. How a person responds when they encounter “failure” is a good measure of their character.” Gokul Natesan grew in a small town sandwiched between Santa Clara and Cupertino, the Apple headquarters and was the first person in the Natesan family to be born in the USA. In college, Gokul had to find the balance between studying software and practicing daily for basketball which was quite a grind. He has played professional basketball since finishing college and currently plays in Finland’s top league.

Growing up in a Tamil household where typically the focus is on academics versus sports, how did you convince your parents that you wanted to play sports?

When I was younger my parents heavily encouraged me to play all sports. They were very big on the importance of extracurricular activities in general as they felt it developed qualities not stressed in a classroom. As a kid, I played any sport that I had interest in but that eventually narrowed down to basketball. 

How did you balance the demands of being in a computer science program and playing college basketball?

It was a big time commitment having to manage these two tasks. Studying computer science, you quickly realize that there are a lot of time-consuming projects and difficult courses. Balancing that with the responsibilities that come with playing college basketball, you have to be extremely dedicated. I felt the biggest thing was to set daily goals and accomplish them so I wouldn’t get behind in my classes. With that being said, there were still plenty of long nights where I would be up late finishing an assignment. 

Any advice for the younger generation who want to be a professional basketball player?

I think it’s important for younger kids to simply enjoy the game and develop their passion for playing basketball. As they get older and have ambitions to play at a higher level, I’d say to focus on getting better every day and putting in the time to improve. 

What are your plans for post-basketball life? 

Ideally, I would be a professional esports gamer but that’s not happening any time soon. The reasonable choice would be to do something in sports or tech given my background. However, I am still unsure as to what exactly my plans are. 

What is a failure you’ve experienced in the last 5-10 years that you’ve learned the most from?

I believe that losing the biggest games on the court are the times when I’ve learned a lot about myself. How a person responds when they encounter “failure” is a good measure of their character.  

In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?

I’m not really too concerned about a personal legacy because if you try to be the best version of yourself, things will turn out just fine.

***Read the rest of interview at TamilCulture.com.***

Cheyanne Ratnam Is A Successful Social Entrepreneur And Survivor Of Sexual Abuse, Suicidality And Homelessness

“Family is not just biological. I am blessed to have biological family but also so many siblings from the child welfare system as well as parental figures. I have a Jamaican mom who has loved me since I was 14. I have a French mom figure and a Jewish dad figure. I had a different upbringing from most Tamil people.” Cheyanne Ratnam is passionate about equity and developing inclusive and accessible spaces and processes. She has dedicated much of her time and expertise in child welfare and homelessness. She is the Co-founder and Executive Lead of the Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition. Cheyanne went from experiencing suicidality in grade 5 to homelessness to child welfare to experiencing violent relationships, to still somehow coming up above the water. She is an Expert In Residence with CWLC and is an advocate for Childhood Sexual Abuse and GBV/IPV – being a survivor of both. She is also an independent consultant, engagement specialist, personal development coach, capacity builder, media commentator, public speaker, ambassador of the CAFdn, and partakes in various communities through volunteerism. In 2016, she received the ‘One To Watch’ Alumni Award, one of the highest accolades awarded by her alma mater. In 2017, was recognized by the United Way of Greater Toronto as 1 of 3 Womxn who inspire for International Wom*n’s Day.

I find the work you’re doing with the Ontario Children’s Advancement Coalition (OCAC) very inspiring.  What made you start this organization?

Coming to Canada as Yalpanum Thamizh peoples is already a complex narrative due to the losses, violence and grief that our communities have faced. These experiences can manifest into tensions, within homes in new countries, as well as mental health needs not being met. My mom is the strongest person I know and she raised me on her own until I was about 13. Growing up with this identity and diaspora-focused complexity was one thing, but I am also a survivor of childhood trauma and childhood sexual abuse which was never addressed adequately. This led me to needing respite from the community and my home.

At around 13, I ended up basically being raised by the West Indian community, more specifically the Guyanese Community. I was on the homelessness spectrum couch-surfing and found any reason to be out of the home, and community, because I did not feel safe in it. Shortly after I entered the child welfare system and grew up in the child welfare system. My various identities and lived expertise made me want to be a person who created waves, strengthened tides, and fueled impact in things that were, and are, problematic in the system. Since I was younger I have been involved in raising awareness, strengthening my understanding about what allyship means in different contexts in juxtaposition with diverse intersectionalities.

I would say that, from a young age, I always felt like I would be a social entrepreneur – a social impact maker. I have founded and managed/led different initiatives in child welfare, homelessness, and built credibility in these systems. Everything that I have done were steps toward eventually developing a non-profit. In 2018, the provincial government had plans to shut down the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and this was negatively impacting multiple communities that were engaged and/or supported by this Independent office of the legislature. The negative impact included grief. As a response I messaged a couple of people, who were lived experts, to have a debrief and grieve together; another ally was doing similar and we partnered to make this happen. We ended up in the basement of a community organization and shared our grief, and then I spoke about next steps and what we could do about this. The initial group of about 15 people dwindled down to a core group of about 6 or 7, and we ended up on the lawn of the legislature for a rally.  We partnered with an allied politician and a local university to hold a press-conference in the legislature. The day was amazing. Many people showed up in the cold (it was around November) and we invited all parties to speak at the event as well. It was a show of solidarity and passion. I remember myself and two of the core team members worked through the night planning this – with myself personally having a couple of sleepless nights to plan everything.

After the event was done, we thought, “Ok, we did what we could do and we were great”. Later community members were questioning what happened to the group and at that point I thought, “OK, this needs to become something”. In 2020 we became incorporated as a non-profit and every year since 2018 we have been doing important activities, and continue to do so. This year we signed a contract with the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services along with a partnered organization and trustee organization to do systemic work in the province of Ontario.

What are a few challenges you’ve experienced setting up the organization?

A couple of the issues that I experienced setting up the organization was the time it took, and going through the organic process of figuring out who the core members would be. Often times, for grassroots organizations, this happens organically. Once we figured this out, we needed to figure out some legal items, which we were privileged to have pro-bono legal support. Everything else after that was history. 

I noticed that in addition to the OCAC, you have a few other roles as a consultant.  Why is that?

I hold multiple hats. I have my own independent consulting and services business.  I am a public speaker delivering speaker services, workshops, and do consults regarding Diversity, Inclusion, Equity.  Additionally, I do focus on youth engagement, lived expert engagement, and consults about subjects I have expertise on re: child welfare, homelessness, etc. I am a brand. Since I was a child in elementary school, I understood that I needed to build myself into a brand. I wanted to become a name that people thought about as an innovator, leader, expert, and go-to person for different subjects. I also work at the Mosaic Institute as the Events and Outreach Coordinator where my services previously include supporting curriculum development for high school students and educators, as prsently include curating digital learning events which occur on a monthly basis around different priority topics such as trauma informed practice, anti-black racism in education, Indigenous peoples, etc. I also supervise Junior fellows who are high school students with that work. 

I serve on the Board of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto as 2nd Vice-Chair – Diversity Equity and Inclusion Board lead, a member of the Equity and Inclusion Council of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (CAFdn), on the board of Scarborough West Community Legal Clinic and serve on the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario’s Race-Equity Working Group, a By Youth For Youth Advisor at the Housing Outreach Project (Collaborative, and Engagement Specialist Consultant with a Making The Shift project which is in the homelessness sector). I am also an Expert In Residence with the Child Welfare League of Canada and I am also an advocate regarding childhood sexual abuse, gender based violence, and violence against wom*n – I am a survivor of all mentioned. I am the provincial representative on the National Council of Youth in Care Advocates, a Core Steering Committee member of the Canadian Lived Experience Leadership Network, and now serve on the Canadian Consortium on Child & Youth Trauma Community Advisory Committee. 

As a Tamil individual I am passionate about our beautiful community, and being engaged with our community was a goal of mine. I am an advisor to both ISEE Initiative (Tamil organization regarding Domestic Violence) and Kudai Centre (a grassroots initiative that wants to support young girls experiencing housing instability or access to respite and safety in our community). 

Beyond the above, I also do one-to-one motivational coaching, and have been a media commentator, public speaker and a long term ambassador of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

All of this work is part of my passion to be a meaningful addition to different systems.  All of my involvement are due to my own feeling of responsibility and accountability to make sure that future young people do not face the barriers, traumas, oppression, and violence that myself and others have faced. 

***Read the rest of interview at TamilCulture.com.***

Stefan Thurairatnam Travels the World as a Luxury Brand Influencer After Quitting his 9-5 Corporate Job in Finance

Stefan was working for a leading financial institution for 5 years when some life altering events gave him a different perspective on life. It allowed him the chance to re-evaluate and reflect on his life; he was given a second chance. He was given an opportunity to become an ambassador for Luxury World Traveler and he decided to quit his 9-5 corporate job and book a one-way flight to wherever his finger landed on a spun globe. That was 3 years ago. Through the help and guidance from Gil Antolin, the founder of Luxury World Traveler, he was able to build up to who he is today. He turned his passion into his lifestyle. Through his learnings and experiences, he has successfully started his own marketing and social media consulting company, LuxVision Media Group.

You have a significant following on social media – how did you go about building that audience?

Building a social media audience is based on understanding what you represent and what you want to showcase- consistency is the key to success. Many face obstacles when they do not know what their niche is, making it difficult to succeed in digital marketing or social media. Having a clear vision of what you want to do and sticking to it will target your audience and lead to an engaging following. My advice is that you know your audience, understand your niche and be consistent.

How did you decide to leap working for RBC to start LuxVision Media Group?

I worked for a leading financial institution for five years when some significant changes in my life occurred. It gave me a chance to re-evaluate and reflect on my life; I was given a second chance. I was given an opportunity to become an ambassador for Luxury World Traveler from Gil Antolin. I decided to quit my 9-5 corporate job and book a one-way flight to wherever my finger landed on a spun globe. That was three and a half years ago. Through the help and guidance from Gill himself, the founder of Luxury World Traveler and anyone I have met through there, I built myself into who I am today. I turned my passion into my lifestyle, and I decided to start my own company using my expertise and network to help others with digital marketing and PR.

I decided to transition and branch my line of business into social media marketing to help micro-influencers realize their vision. When I gave my corporate career an entire investment in my passion and led it into a career, I had a minimal idea about this line of work. Over time, I have picked up many strategies that have boosted my career and concepts that have allowed me to think outside of the box and break those walls and let my mind wander. I genuinely believe I have only scratched the surface of the social media influencer game. Each influencer, no matter their niche, runs their own business; it is self-taught and self-employment. We are in charge of the amount of content we produce, the reach it gets and the quality of work. 

The strategies I have acquired along the way are what created the influencer I am. My goal is to teach as many as possible what I have learnt to set them up for success. Being a social media influencer is a career choice, not merely a lifestyle choice. 

What has been your favourite project to work on?  Favourite country or place you’ve visited?

My favourite project I must have worked on has to be with Heineken Canada. It was a surreal atmosphere, and it is one for the books to represent your country internationally and be part of one of the most significant sports events internationally.

If I had to choose a favourite country right now, it has to be the Maldives—a country with 1,100 islands so small on the map, yet so picturesque. No property is the same, no matter how many times you go.

***Read the rest of interview at TamilCulture.com.***

EP #13: Tanya Yoganathan – Momtrepreneur Created An E-Commerce Business That Netflix Star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan Is A Fan Of

Tanya Yoganathan is a mother of two, and the creator of Her Sun & Stars Co. She joins Ara to discuss how she started a business during the start of the pandemic and was able to quit her full-time job because of it. They also discuss Maitreyi Ramakrishnan shouting out Tanya’s company, impostor syndrome, and the importance of financial literacy before jumping into the new segment Creator Confessions.

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Connecting with Tanya –https://www.instagram.com/tanya.yoganathan/
Visit Her Sun And Stars Co. –https://www.instagram.com/hersunandstars.co/



Timestamps:
01:06 – Tanya starts the podcast
01:53 – Ara starts the podcast
03:17 – How Tanya and Ara met, and can Ara speak Tamil?
06:17 – Introducing Tanya Yoganathan, being Instagram famous, how Her Sun & Stars came to be
20:05 – Starting and successfully growing her business (during the pandemic) while working a full-time job
28:13 – Previously work as an advisor in analytics, struggling to celebrate milestones
32:47 – Getting her first celebrity shoutout from Maitreyi Ramakrishnan
37:26 – Why Ara started the podcast
40:17 – Tanya’s first sale, quality vs. time
51:24 – Balancing insecurities and confidence, impostor syndrome
56:37 – Starting a business with kids
59:53 – Viewing money as a tool, the importance of financial literacy
1:00:07 – The FIRE movement
1:08:49 – Personal legacy, Nick Offerman, Ernest Hemmingway, and S.P. Balasubrahmanyam
1:11:51 – The lost art of being able to disagree with someone
1:13:20 – The importance of starting
1:15:57 – Creator Confessions (Tanya’s favourite Tamil creators, when she wants to retire, and more)
1:30:13 – The wrap up

EP #12: Dayalan Mahesan – How A UK-Based DJ & Car Enthusiast Became A Full-Time Property Investor By Age 40

Dayalan Mahesan is the owner of Joseph Property Group, which specializes in property development, management and sales in the UK. He joins Ara to discuss growing up in an entrepreneurial environment, how he raised money with his wife for the Sri Lanka Easter bombing victims, having Burrito Boyz delivered by plane, why ketchup was created, being of a big fan of the Liverpool Football Club, and much more.

***To support the work we do to tell creator stories around the world, become a VIP fan – CLICK HERE!***

**For a chance to win a $100 gift card and get future podcast updates, interviews and other news, please sign up for the newsletter – CLICK HERE!**

Connecting with Dayalan – https://www.instagram.com/lifeofdayalan/

Timestamps:

00:15 – Introducing Dayalan Mahesan
02:26 – How Ara and Dayalan were both influenced by entrepreneurial fathers
05:22 – Connecting with the Tamil community in London before Facebook
07:27 – Who is DJ Biznus?
08:56 – COVID’s impact on Dayalan’s life and London
10:48 – Fusing Sri Lankan / Caribbean food to raise money for Easter bombing victims
12:31 – Supporting his wife’s entrepreneurial efforts
14:07 – Passion for property, working with the South Asian forum
16:13 – Wanting to mentor people and help the underprivileged
18:52 – Previously being very shy, developing public speaking skills and reading more
20:06 – Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
23:10 – Ara confesses to bribing Dayalan
23:54 – The time Ara delivered Burrito Boyz from Canada to Dayalan in England
24:47 – How a funeral in 2017 changed Dayalan’s perspective
26:24 – Wanting to be remembered in same light as his late father
28:50 – The impact of the London-Tamil community on Dayalan
30:52 – Who inspires Dayalan? Why was ketchup created?
35:07 – The importance of surrounding yourself with likeminded people
37:11 – Speed round

EP #11: JYXDI (Jyothee Murali) – Amassing Over 150K Followers And Collecting $10,000 For A Single Piece of Art

Jyothee Murali, better known as JYXDI, is a 25 year old Tamil self-taught artist from Toronto who has found massive success on Instagram over the last half-decade. She joins Ara to discuss what it was like dropping out of university to chase her childhood passion for art, being handpicked by Michael B. Jordan to collaborate with Coach, creating art for Noah “OVO40” Shebib, and how her work has turned family skepticism to family support.

***To support the work we do to tell creator stories around the world, become a VIP fan – CLICK HERE!***

**For a chance to win a $100 gift card and get future podcast updates, interviews and other news, please sign up for the newsletter – CLICK HERE!**

Connecting with JYXDI – https://www.instagram.com/jyxdi/

Timestamps:

00:15 – Introducing Jyothee Muraliaka JYXDI
01:06 – How death note sparked her interest in anime
03:17 – Dropping out of school to pursue her passion and dealing with the pressure of south asian parents
04:33 – Being handpicked by Michael B. Jordan to collaborate with Coach
05:50 – Thoughts on NFTs and decision to release two pieces recently
07:18 – How her work has turned family skepticism to family support
09:01 – Using social media to create exposure, how she came up with the moniker JYXDI, and how anime has helped grow her brand
11:15 – Playing in chess tournaments growing up, and her love for hiking and Bali
12:31 – The types of people she surrounds herself with, being an introvert during COVID
14:05 – Plans to move out of Canada and to build an art school
15:23 – Teaching Tamil seniors how to paint
16:41 – Favourite books/podcasts
17:51 – Practicing discipline and meditation
18:56 – Growing up in Sri Lanka during the genocide, still visiting frequently
20:49 – The impact of the Toronto-Tamil community, being contacted to teach art 1-on-1
22:24 – Oil paintings being her favourite art-type to produce
22:56 – OVO40 (Drake’s Producer) and La Mar C. Taylor (Creative Director for The Weeknd) reaching out for art pieces
24:09 – Wanting to be known for taking a leap of faith and going against the grain
24:34 – From selling paintings at $100 a piece to now sometimes getting $10,000 per piece
26:36 – Being inspired by A.R. Rahman, OVO40
28:21 – Advice she would give to young aspiring artists
29:56 – Speed Round

EP #10: Vijay Sappani – Co-Founder Of A Billion-Dollar Cannabis Company, Philanthropist And Rare Disease Hunter

*Vijay Sappani is a Tamil cannabis entrepreneur and investor who co-founded a billion-dollar company called TerrAscend.  He joins Ara to speak about biryani, biryani, and more biryani. They also cover topics such as why he entered the medical cannabis industry, the process of taking a company public and receiving a billion dollar evaluation, and if money can buy happiness.


***To support the work we do to tell creator stories around the world, become a VIP fan – CLICK HERE!***

**For a chance to win a $100 gift card and get future podcast updates, interviews and other news, please sign up for the newsletter – CLICK HERE!**

Connect with Vijay –https://www.instagram.com/elacapital/

Timestamps:
00:15 – Introducing Vijay Sappani
01:53 – Nuanced opinions in the Tamil community
05:17 – Vijay’s obsession with biryani, and where to find the best kind
08:16 – Why Vijay entered the medical cannabis industry
12:20 – The biggest challenges Vijay faced upon starting his business
14:13 – Skepticism that Vijay faced early on, and important mentors
17:19 – Taking TerrAscend public and receiving a billion dollar evaluation
22:47 – The importance of knowing when it’s time to step aside
24:51 – Can money buy happiness? Has money changed Vijay?
28:52 – Ela Capital
30:45 – Companies that Vijay has invested in
35:12 – Money being a taboo subject in the Tamil community
39:10 – Vijay’s daughter having a rare genetic disorder, starting a foundation in her name
43:34 – How Vijay balances work and life
46:28 – Wanting to be remembered as “Mr. Troublemaker”
47:44 – Growing into his Tamil identity, and funding projects in Sri Lanka with his wife
53:08 – Ara asks for one piece of advice for Tamil creators; Vijay gives way more
57:31 – Would you rather speed round