Opposite of Imposter Syndrome: The Violet Effect

Nivi Achanta
4 min readAug 14, 2019

Something had been shifting for a while, but it wasn’t until Anna gave her dress rehearsal performance that I realized what it was.

It was truly a performance — she had a picture of a windy road on her PowerPoint slide and recapped her absurd founder journey. We celebrated her highs, laughed at the lows (which we look back on from time to time and realize how low they truly were), and cheered her on. An outsider might find it odd, that our startup founder cohort was reveling at Anna leaving the company she had co-founded to chart a new, unknown course.

Her presentation was the most important one I heard that night.

Anna McMurchy at The Violet Society founder showcase (not the dress rehearsal!) sharing her journey with 100+ people.

Let me rewind.

In January 2019, I was accepted into the startup founder cohort of The Violet Society. I applied with my media platform Soapbox Project, which at the time only had one thing on it — a podcast on education called Get Schooled. I was hesitant to refer to myself as a founder. I was even hesitant to call myself a podcaster. I was just someone with a podcast. And someone who was very, very lost.

I wasn’t even really sure what The Violet Society could do for me and if I would be a valuable member. What could I possibly offer other women and non-binary people on their way to building The Next Big Thing, raising millions in venture, and creating tech empires? I was just a lost person with an inconsistent podcast.

The next 10 weeks were a whirlwind. I left every Monday’s meeting feeling re-energized, reaffirmed, and ready to create.

Nivi recording Get Schooled Podcast

Come March 2019, I felt like a different person. We had our final showcases coming up and our very last meeting was a dress rehearsal — we ran through our talks where we would reflect on our company and our time at Violet.

This brings us back to Anna’s presentation.

She was reflecting on what she had learned during Violet. I looked up and saw my name on her slide. She told our group that before coming into The Violet Society, she had this idea that startups and companies only referred to apps or SaaS companies or The Next Google. While participating in the fellowship program and meeting people like me (me!?!?), she’d realized that startups and businesses can be anything. Including podcasts.

A piece of my identity was grafted that day. I started to claim my place as a founder — something I didn’t believe I really was because I hadn’t incorporated my company (yet). I didn’t quit my job to do Soapbox Project full time (yet). And I had no founding team with skin in the game (yet), but I did have a network of amazing women and new friends to share highs, lows, and odd parts of the founder journey with.

My Violet Cohort friends at a very intense game night. There was lots of yelling and laughter about Codenames.

I started to say “I’m Nivi Achanta, founder of Soapbox Project” in my head a lot since that day. I practiced it and believed it until I was comfortable saying it out loud. I’m Nivi Achanta, founder of Soapbox Project, and I’m excited to share that Get Schooled Podcast, the first podcast produced by my company, has almost 2,000 downloads in only 10 episodes. I’m proud to be building Soapbox Project into a media platform that makes it extremely convenient to take action on the news you read, giving you a direct way to create change.

When you read the news, how often do you know what to do next, especially when something bothers you? Find your next steps at www.soapboxproject.org/changeletter.

In January, I was afraid I wouldn’t be a valuable member of The Violet Society. I fully thought I’d show up to meetings, greedily eat up all the tactical knowledge my brilliant friends had to offer, and trudge on, occasionally working on my side project. It’s August now, and I have just wrapped up my first four months leading Operations at Violet.

Meghan Mehta (Marketing) and Nivi Achanta (Operations) of The Violet Society’s leadership team.

I had so much more to offer my company and my community than I ever thought I could. To everyone reading this — if you’ve created something from scratch, if you’ve seen a problem in the world and are solving it, you are an entrepreneur. Whether you’re working on a side project, starting a new company, or leaving one you’ve founded to go travel the world like Anna, you are working on something amazing, and I can’t wait to hear about it.

Nivi Achanta, Allison Atwill, Fiona Carty, and Shriya Nevatia of The Violet Society leadership team.

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Nivi Achanta

I’m the founder of Soapbox Project (www.soapboxproject.org), host of Get Schooled Podcast, and passionate about helping people do more with their limited time.