March 12th, 5:46 am. X-ray binaries of ambition, fear, and success.

I remember sitting at my desk at Penn (suffering from spontaneous insomnia) and beginning to draft this blog post on gravitational ambition.

Since coming to Penn, something I’ve continuously noticed during the year is the aggregation of ambitious people in clusters. Like how stars have mass that bends gravitational space and the matter around it, people’s ambitions have their own gravitational pull, bending the world to their visions.

”That’s just optimistic thinking.”

You are right. It is. But think about this. It’s almost easier to build a hard, ambitious company than an easy, boring one. Wharton MBA students are building the next “AI-powered chatbot for mental health wellness.” Nobody cares. But if you’re building a drug manufacturing factory in space or reusable rockets to bring consciousness to Mars and beyond, people want to help you because they want to be a part of this interesting thing.

To be a part of history.

And luckily, there’s a big difference between massive stars and ambitious people: massive stars are randomly born across empty space, but ambitious people are a self-selecting pool of individuals that converge in specific locations. Musicians attract musicians. Jocks attract jocks. And why would it be different for ambition to attract ambition?

This attraction of ambition enables the collision of ambitious people. My theory is, this is what enables progress in our world. The collision of two highly ambitious people, like the collision of two massive stars locked in a binary state, can make history. At least, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak have. Or Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright. Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. The list goes on and on.

I have pursued many ambitions since coming to Penn. And for the first time in a long time, I’ve felt fear and uncertainty. Fear as in: am I capable enough to achieve the grade I envision? But more truthfully, do I have the will to abandon the traditional notion of college success — good GPAs and weekly club meetings — to pursue my ambitions, and not norms set by others?

My first year at Penn is nearly over, and the most important thing I’ve learned wasn’t from my classes. It is that I do, I can, and I will abandon the traditional notion of college success.

This year, I’ve been focused on finding the deepest cluster of ambitious people to be around, with whom I could spend the rest of my life learning. Penn was a starting point. Later, attending entrepreneurship events like Contrary’s Northeastern Builders Trek and the Entrepreneur First Summit made me realize that entrepreneurship is where the true frontiers of ambition aggregate. Where impossible ideas manifest into reality. Where ambition collides.

And I’ve deliberately set myself on a collision course with other ambitious people. My frontier of ambition has driven me to found Nanoneuro Systems this year — my open challenge to the world that energy-efficient biological computing is possible. I work to build biological data centers that can be a million times more climate-friendly than current solutions because I’ve grasped how climate change can, and will, affect us all.

And my ambitions have bent the world to my visions. I would’ve never imagined being able to win grants for Nanoneuro Systems. Nor the fact that a solid dozen of my fellow classmates want to intern at Nanoneuro Systems for free. (It’s almost like people want to help you because they want to be a part of an interesting thing!)

And against all the naysayers of this technology, I actively and optimistically build towards that future of my envisioning. Because deeptech startups – where one single advancement from hardcore engineering brought to market with traditional business practices can define an entire era — keep me up at night. At least SpaceX has, and an entire new era of space venturers. And I believe the next advancement, increasing access to efficient compute, will drive human progress and the development of AGI.

And through my exposure to ambitious individuals across the States, I’ve easily come to realize that regardless of their pursuits, they were all ambitious, optimistic, and energizing people who held the will to challenge tradition and seek to improve upon the status quo.

And I believe that being with people who are active-optimists, who not only articulate and define their vision for the future but plan and work to make it better, will define my own future in entrepreneurship. Because these are the people I want to work with to build deeptech ventures. These are the people who, like me, are tired of building in the bits world (like another productivity software), who aim to shift tech towards impacting physical atoms with our engineering hands. These are the people who inspire me to become an ambitious, active-optimist.

And though it is extremely likely that their vision, like mine, will fail and be a blip in the universe, the off-chance that it succeeds would define the next era. I intend to be a part of that community, where my ambition and optimism can collide with others to affect the world around us.

Finally, fear and ambition are not opposites. They are the same. Ambitions are scary because the odds are stacked against your success. And to fight against the fear and run towards your ambition is something admirable.


So tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?