Ankord Memo - March 12, 2024


March 12, 2024


Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Milan Kordestani

March 12, 2024

Milan Kordestani Profile Image

Milan Kordestani

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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Wellll, this ain’t Texas! 

Wait, yes it is! Greetings from beautiful Austin, Texas, where I’m attending SXSW this week, checking out some live performances from Guin artists and spending time with my sister Misha and members and artists from the Guin Records team. I’ll also be catching up with some great friends (shout out to Ari Kohan, Luke Rohlen and Bailey Burrows) as well as meeting up with some of my favorite founders, including the brilliant Scott Hickle. I’ll give you a low down on the lone star state in next week’s breakdown, but for now, a lot has happened since we last spoke!

Ankord Media:

From Milan the Author:

This week, my manuscript took a turn! I decided to experiment with a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style chapter, which was a real challenge for me. Normally, I prefer storytelling rooted in facts, but this little foray into fiction definitely stretched my creative muscles.  It turns out weaving multiple storylines and keeping track of reader choices is more challenging than I anticipated. Still, it's a good reminder that pushing beyond your comfort zone can lead to unexpected growth as a writer.

From Milan the Content Creator:

I volunteered this past week with Defy Ventures, a program that equips inmates with entrepreneurial skills to reduce recidivism. I’ve been following this batch of graduates, working with them months ago to develop their entrepreneurial ideas and coming back this week to judge their pitches. It was an emotional experience witnessing the graduation ceremony. The participants, many with violent pasts and challenging backgrounds, showcased incredible growth and emotional intelligence. They even shared heartwarming messages about the "gold" they see in their loved ones who came to support them. You can see their focus and drive to become productive businessmen when they are released, and it’s so humbling to help them actualize their dreams.

Defy's program yields impressive results. Among the winning business ideas were a theft-proof catalytic converter container, a mobile barbershop, a window cleaning service, and a company that simplifies food truck setup and permitting: all practical companies offering real world solutions in innovative ways. It's particularly impactful considering all but one participant had violent offenses and grew up in environments marked by violence, incarceration, and academic struggles. 60% of incarcerated people are unemployed 12 months after release. Yet 84% of Defy graduates are employed after release, and they’ve maintained that since 2021, a testament to the effectiveness of the program and its dedicated staff. Witnessing these former felons transform is truly inspiring, and I’m looking forward to interviewing many of them to share their stories with the world soon.

Ankord Labs Weekly Spotlight:

This week, I wanted to mix it up a bit from a company update, and instead, focus on the efforts of Ankord Labs itself!

The New Ankord Labs Website: I'm excited to announce that the brand new Ankord Labs website is finally live! It's a complete overhaul – clean, fresh, and bursting with more details than ever before.  One of the things I love most is how it puts our co-founders front and center. But that's not all! We've also published a fantastic new article that dives deep into the story of founding Ankord Labs. It tells the whole tale of my journey, from the first startup idea I had, to stepping down from CEO of the various startups to build up the incubator. My mission? To empower conscious founders to build unicorn businesses that drive social impact.  If you haven't checked it out yet, head over to the new website – you won't be disappointed!

Supporting Womxn CEOs: As we celebrate Womxn's History Month, it's imperative to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women leaders within the Ankord Labs portfolio. Among these remarkable individuals is Misha Kordestani, the CEO of Guin Records, who tirelessly navigates the music industry's persistent gender disparities. Cleo Stiller, Editor-in-Chief of Narratives and The Doe, leverages her background as a journalist and activist to cultivate spaces for impactful storytelling. Finally, Rachel Ashcraft serves as the Executive Director of Narratives, spearheading the growth of a nonprofit organization with an expanding network. Every day I do my best to support these incredible womxn in running their organizations so that they can do their jobs of inspiring future womxn leaders. 

Things I’m Reading:

  • My Mother Passed Along Her Body Anxieties Like a Family Curse: This recent article at The Doe has struck a chord with many, sparking powerful conversations about the burdens women carry. It delves into the complex issue of body image shame, exploring how societal pressures and our mothers' experiences can shape our own. This raw narrative has inspired many to share their own stories, fostering a dialogue about the lasting impact of these anxieties across generations. It's truly encouraging to see this article acting as a catalyst for such important discussions, empowering women to break free from these cycles and embrace a healthier relationship with their bodies.
  • The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W. Watts: Since it’s been so hectic the past few weeks, I grabbed this favorite of mine that my father first introduced me to. Every time I reread it (more like listening to the audiobook), I find new gems that help me re-center myself. This thought-provoking book challenges our constant need for control and security. Watts argues that true peace comes from accepting the ever-changing nature of life. By letting go of anxieties about the future and regrets about the past, he suggests we can find meaning and fulfillment in the present moment. It’s an essential read when you’re feeling overbooked or stressed!

Things I’m Watching/Listening To:

  • Guin Artist Performances at SXSW: it was amazing to see these performances here in Austin!
  • President Biden's State of the Union: I watched this year’s address and was thrilled with his announcement regarding the federal reclassification of marijuana and the expungement of thousands of related convictions. As someone increasingly involved with the prison system, my learnings have underscored the urgent need for reform within our incarceration system, as well as the processes that lead to imprisonment. Biden's statement resonated deeply with me, as it signaled a bold and powerful step towards addressing these systemic issues.

That's a wrap for this week, folks, it's always a blast connecting with you all. Before you click off, don't forget to check out that brand new Ankord Labs website and the article about its founding. I’m so glad to share this journey with you all and the passionate co-founders that are growing purposeful startups. But enough about us – next week, we're taking a sharp turn and diving headfirst into the electrifying world of SXSW! Get ready for a jam-packed newsletter overflowing with exciting updates! Until then, stay curious, keep hustling, and I'll talk to you all next week!


Milan Kordestani