Entrepreneurs need funding.  Scammers need victims.  Why not hold an event to get both groups together?  Welcome to The World Startup Convention in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The World Startup Convention was touted as a show that would help attendees get funding by connecting them with potential investors and industry experts.  It promised appearances from such tech world luminaries as Tesla’s Elon Musk, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son, and Google’s Sundar Pichai.  Two thousand startup teams were expected to attend.

Most of those entrepreneurs did attend.  Not so the investors and the celebrity guests of honor.  The poorly organized event kicked off this week, failing to fulfill any of its publicized promises.  Once again, paying customers were left holding the bag.

It was the northern Indian equivalent of The Fyre Festival.

How can such scams succeed?  This past year has seen a host of highly publicized Ponzi scheme failures, namely FTX, Luna, Terra, and other cryptocurrencies.  Like those attending The World Startup Convention, the victims had at least one thing in common.  They suffered from pluralistic ignorance, the belief that something cannot be bad or wrong if everyone else is doing it.

And let’s not forget the inescapable fact that the victims were gullible.  According to the blog post, “You Are More Gullible Than You Think,in Psychology Today, gullibility is:

“. . . the psychological state whereby a person can easily be deceived, often results in “being duped or taken advantage of” because the person makes decisions based on unlikely propositions that lack proof. The practical impact of gullibility is immense and may result in the distortion of personal reality and the tendency to make poor social, civic, and economic decisions including overestimating the positive qualities of others, advocating for contrived and dubious causes, or falling for elaborate and financially untenable Ponzi schemes.”

I highly recommend that you read this linked article.  You may find, as I did, that you, too, can be counted among the gullible.  Just be thankful you didn’t have to travel to The World Startup Convention to come to that realization.

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.