Delian Asparouhov

A climber. Working on @ngaleapp

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Find the Yellers

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make in my situation is to surround themselves with people who tell them how great they’re doing, but won’t point out their critical flaws. Each time you meet a mentor or a friend, they’ll tell you how great you’re doing and how amazing you are. You can’t blame them either, they’re suffering from confirmation bias. They believe you are somebody who can change the world, so they favor information and facts that confirm this. However, most people who believe in your vision will also not warn you if you are making obvious mistakes to prevent yourself from succeeding, their minds will reject and ignore those thoughts.

This effect is known as disconfirmation bias, i.e. when we are presented facts that refute prior beliefs, they are subject to greater scrutiny. The classic study proving this phenomenon was done by Lord, Ross, and Pepper in 1979. They gave 48...

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Making Jewelery

I was asked to write a short essay by the Ian Somerhalder foundation to give out in a booklet for kids. I believe most of these thoughts can be attributed to a conversation I had with Brett Van Zuiden a year ago. Below is what I wrote:

What do you wish someone had told you as a kid?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved creating and inventing things. Whether it was something physical like a lego city or toy racecar, to something intangible, like a game with made-up rules to play with the kids around the block.

I especially loved watching other people play with my creations. Some of my proudest creations were the little flash games I made, that my friends and I squander hours of our time playing and the jewelry I got to make and give away. The best interactions were when I could ask someone what they thought of what I had created without them knowing I was the creator. I...

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One weekend, while on break from her last year of her undergrad studies, my mom went back to visit home. I was under a year old at the time, and the moment my mom walked in the door, my grandmother shrieked.

Turns out my 21-year old mother wasn’t the best at feeding me and I had gotten a bit frail. Thankfully I survived, so I can forgive my mom for some of her initial mistakes :)

In all reality though, about ten days ago, it was announced that after several months of applications and interviews, I was awarded the honor of being included in the 2013 Thiel 20 under 20 Fellowship.

There were a lot of people in my life who’ve helped me get to where I am today, and I owe this award entirely to them. First and foremost, I’d like to thank my parents. My parents are crazy hard workers; the two of them both studied mathematics in their undergrad and got their Bachelor’s Degrees from the...

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How to support a student entrepreneur

I joined StartLabs in my freshman year at MIT to help support student entrepreneurs. Through it, I’ve run a variety of events, like Startup Bootcamp. One of my favorite new additions to the StartLabs team this year was Adam Eagle.

I’ve always been inclined towards kids who have been coding since before they could walk and Adam fits that stereotype perfectly.

StartLabs throws a weekly event known as SLACK (Stay Late and Hack). We open up our space to anyone in the Boston area and give them free dinner in exchange for having them work out of our space. I’ve seen a variety of projects spring out of this, from an automatic check-in system for MIT students coming to SLACK, to actual startup prototypes.

Adam and I frequently attended together, and he was crucial in helping me design the Startup Career Fair poster, and I always looked forward to working next to him.

One fateful week, Adam...

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A Love Letter to MIT

I love MIT. I love MIT more than I’ve loved any institution or organization in my entire life. I love this place so much; I helped design one of its most iconic symbols, the Brass Rat

Brass Rat

MIT can be a really difficult place. That can happen when you put together 1,100 brilliant students per year onto one campus. 42% of my class was valedictorian of their high school and 90% were in the top 5% of their class.

One of the events I went to when I came onto MIT’s campus for the first time during my CPW (Campus Preview Weekend) was a poignant speech given by Stu Schmill, the Dean of Admissions. My favorite line of that speech was this:

At any point during your career at MIT half of you in this room will be below average. And over the course of your 4 years here, almost all of you will be below average at some point.

A lot of freshmen come into MIT feeling like hotshots. They were at the top...

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An Apology to President Reif and the MIT Community

Earlier today I sent out an email to most of MIT which alluded to a very controversial situation and spoofed as if it was sent from the president of MIT. This email produced fear and caused many people to be angry that someone would take such a serious matter so lightly. I’d like to apologize for the damage I caused to the MIT community, especially in light of the recent events that have caused large amounts of strife, which I only added to.

I made a lot of people mad, and made many people very scared, and for that I feel terrible. MIT has already gone through a lot in the last few months, and my actions were completely inappropriate. I should have never written the email, and especially not sent it out to the entire school.

Below, I’ve documented what happened and an explanation of the severity of my actions:

Earlier today, I made the mistake of sending out the following email to...

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Why Coders Should Be Nice Wizards

The other day, my co-founder, David, came up to me and asked me if I’d be willing to help someone fix their website. Immediately a thought flashed through my head along the lines of:

Ugh, not this again. Someone has some silly error and I’m going to take time out of working on my product to fix it

As an MIT CS major, I’ve seen hundreds of postings on our jobs list along the line of:

Business major with an amazing idea, $100 million in revenue guaranteed within a year. Major funding already received and board of directors is seated. All we need is a technical co-founder to start making the product

We get sick of being treated like code monkeys and people not appreciating how difficult it is to create a great product. So when this request came in, I rolled my eyes per usual, but since the request came from my co-founder and the company was a fellow Beehiver, I decided to help her out.


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How Square taught me to be an entrepreneur

As some of you may know, over the last couple of months I’ve been working on my startup, Nightingale. By working on it, I’ve begun to appreciate some of the lessons I learned while working at Square. I’ve listed them below by category:



Before starting at Square, the largest team software project I had worked on was my FIRST Robotics team at my high school. At its peak, we had at most 5 programmers working on the project, but usually we were working with only 1 or 2. Our versioning system consisted of sending zip files of the code base to the entire software team at the end of the night. Branches? We handled those by manually merging changes. Outside of Robotics, all of my coding was as a lone contractor, so I never bothered to research versioning. I arrived at MIT and worked on FanFuser, where, again, I was the only coder.

Suddenly, I found myself at the end of...

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Why I Joined RoughDraft

Three semesters ago, I was a bewildered 17-year old kid who was thrown onto the campus of one of the best universities in the world. As soon as I could, I started reaching out to everyone I saw as a resource, I joined student clubs, I started doing research in Artificial Intelligence, and even did a varsity sport. Though busy, I still felt unsatisfied. On the side I was continuously hacking away on small side-projects and I kept feeling like I wanted to do something more. I wanted to change the world and I wanted to start now.

One day in the elevator in my dorm I stepped and saw a handsome young man, who I’d seen around. In the minute that we had in the elevator I told him my research and what I was involved in. He stepped out and said “You seem like someone who likes making things, you should come to this entrepreneurship class I’m helping start”

A week later, and after a couple of...

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Coffee and Shoestrings

The other day I went out for coffee with one of my friends who does theoretical math research. I actually ended up having my first cup of coffee ever.


As was usual with this friend, we got onto the topic of his research and started debating the merits of our two majors. As an engineer I fundamentally believe that an idea’s worth is based on its success of implementation in the real world. That is, unless it’s solving a real world problem right now, I have difficulty valuing the idea.

However, all my mathematics-focused friends fundamentally disagree with this belief. One of the best examples I have heard that has countered my claim was the following. My friend believes that the work she does in theoretical mathematics is pushing the knowledge boundary of humanity and that it will only take time for the rest of the world to be able to understand her ideas and implement them. Her...

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