Apr 15 2014, 10:17am CDT | by Forbes
Wondering where to take taxidermy classes using ethically obtained rabbits? Rishi Mandal can tell you. Mr. Mandal is the co-founder and CEO of Sosh, an online personal concierge service designed to keep you plugged in whether you’re looking for the latest in artisanal cocktails, power coffee or wildflower tours.
Mr. Mandal says he came up with the idea for Sosh to answer the age-old question “What should we do?”. The company, which was founded in 2011, has raised $15.1 million in funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures and Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger. Sosh is available in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and, starting today, Washington DC and Chicago. It’s also partnering with OpenTable so reservations are just two taps away if you’re using the Sosh app. It has grown to 25 employees and now takes up almost 9,000-square-feet of office space next door to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.
Mr. Mandal, who has a degree in physics from Stanford, previously worked as a product manager at Google and Slide before deciding to start something new. “I wanted to take the next 10 years to build something that would change the world,” he says. The result is Sosh.
Relying on both technology and human curators, Sosh makes personalized recommendations for it’s members factoring in data points ranging from their interests to the weather to what it determines is “cool”. It clearly keeps Mr. Mandal up to date. He’s a fan of the new under-the-counter espresso machine at Saint Frank coffee on San Francisco’s Russian Hill and can direct you to chef Anthony Yang’s latest pop-up (that’s the Anthony Yang who was once at Per Se and Michael Mina). Note, his favorite coffee places also include nearby Sightglass where they heat the milk to exactly 135 degrees for the perfect cappuccino – Mr. Mandal likes that they have mastered “every last detail of their craft.”
His favorite Sosh experience so far has been a macaroon making class that he took with his wife, Jenny, a doctor. The couple met in college, but Mr. Mandal says it took him nine years to propose and by that time he thought he knew everything about his wife. The macaroon class surprised him, leading to conversations they had never had whether about her French grandmother or her love of wild strawberries.
While Mr. Mandal was born and raised in the Bay Area, his parents came to the United States from India in the 1970s. His father went to school during the day and worked at 7-Eleven at night. Mr. Mandal, age 28, says that being the son of immigrants has been key to his success. “We were handed an incredible gift by being kids of immigrants,” he says. His family taught him about conviction and the careful allocation of resources, both of which are important for a successful start-up, he says. Among their lessons: “Don’t spend needlessly.”
His father also taught him about entrepreneurship, starting his own networking company at a picnic table in their garage in Fremont in 1998. Their dining room became the conference room. The company was called Cyras Systems and the senior Mr. Mandal eventually sold it in a deal worth $2.6 billion in 2000.
Looking ahead, Mr. Mandal says Sosh will become about more than finding the best seat in the house or the most popular dish at a trendy restaurant. “The opportunity over time is to make cities more interesting,” he says. “Sosh will look like a market place for things to do.”
Taxidermy 101 is scheduled for May 3, 2014 in San Francisco and costs $200.00. The instructor, Mickey Alice Kwapis of Detroit Taxidermy, says the class will taxidermy “ethically” obtained rabbits meaning “the animal wasn’t killed just for taxidermy purposes.” Sosh advises signing up soon as the classes are very popular.
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