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Branding & Marketing

Amit Gupta: Relentless Interaction

We talk with the man behind hits like Photojojo and Jelly, Amit Gupta, about asking good questions and why ideas should have the marketing baked in.

Amit Gupta wants to change the way you interact with others. He’s not just saying that, either — it’s evidenced in every aspect of his life, be it creating offline ventures like the co-working sessions called Jelly which now take place all over the country, building non-profits and writing books with Seth Godin or teaching users how to better their photography through his hyper-successful newsletter, Photojojo. Behance caught up with the recent San Francisco transplant to discuss project versus people management, choosing the right idea and growing up.

The unconventional, innovative ways Gupta develops his ideas started early, at the conception of his first project, The Daily Jolt. “I dropped out of college after my sophomore year to start a company in the room above my parents’ garage. Then I made it even stranger and convinced three of my friends to move in to my parents’ house for a few months so we could work every waking moment while we got things going and learned how to raise money. We had no idea what we were doing. Lucky for us, we didn’t know how little we knew and we were good at asking questions, so we made it work.”

Multi-tasking is one of his strong suits, as is recognizing weaknesses in both himself and others. “I’m good at connecting with people but I hate managing projects. Since I can’t control how reliable or unreliable other people are (and don’t particularly enjoy managing people) and since most of the things I work on I can’t do by myself, I usually have several projects going at once. If the people I’m working with on a project are keeping up with their end of the project, it’s easy to keep up with mine, and to feed off of each other’s energy. ”

I never start working on an idea unless I already know how I’m going to spread the word about it.

Collaboratively speaking, Gupta knows that finding the right mix of people to execute a project is key in its success. “If the other people [you’re working with] aren’t moving forward, the project’s probably not going to get done. There’s exceptions, of course, but I think that if you find an idea you’re really passionate about, and find the right people to work with, you can’t help but keep moving. Some ideas will bite the dust anyway. [That’s a] fact of life, you just need to accept it.”

Even at the beginning of a project, he already has the end stages in mind. “I never start working on an idea unless I already know how I’m going to spread the word about it. It’s a noisy world, and there’s a lot of awesome people doing a lot of awesome things. No matter how great your idea is, no matter how perfect its execution, if you can’t get noticed, it may as well not exist. This means sometimes changing ideas to make them more spreadable or worth talking about, and sometimes it means not working on ideas I’d really like to work on. Luckily there’s no shortage of great ideas, so being picky is important.”

Everything he does circles back to one thing: human interaction. “I’m really interested in ways of getting people to interact in interesting ways offline, and in creating online toys, environments, and experiences that are fun. What most motivates me right now is surrounding myself with other creative people who can help me bring new ideas to life. And someday (when I’m all grown up) I think I’d still like to live in a big ole house full of designers and developers and marketers and tinkerers and entrepreneurs who like to make stuff and make stuff happen.”

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