Anil Hemrajani, Startup Sidekick: Founder

Can you share a little about your story and how you got to where you are today?

I was a software engineer in Fortune 500 companies for almost a decade then decided to launch my first tech startup. After successfully selling that to a private group, I started Big Universe, an eBook SaaS platform, which was acquired by a public company. I recently founded Startup Sidekick with the mission of reducing the 90% startup failure rate.

What do you wish you knew before you first started Big Universe?

I wish I had read startup books (e.g. Steven Blank's Startup Owner's Manual, Eric Ries's Lean Startup, etc.) and/or had surrounded myself with more/better advisors. I made so many mistakes that slowed me down due to trial & error.

Can you describe your average day?

It's only been five months since I launched Startup Sidekick, so I'm in the middle of interviewing customers to validate my business model ideas (i.e. Customer Discovery).

What has been the largest obstacle you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Selling and/or managing sales teams is something that doesn't come naturally to me, since I'm a techie at heart and have to constantly push myself to focus on revenues. I'm good at sales but hate every minute of it.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Probably selling my previous startup to a public company.

What do you think has been the “key” to your success this far?

Perseverance! In addition, advisors, employees, customers...and a lot of luck!

How has failure helped you later in life? Can you share any specific lessons you have learned?

Failures are just stepping stones towards success. The trick is to learn from them and pivot quickly as/when needed. The biggest lesson learned is that life is too short to build something nobody wants -- I'm trying not to make that mistake again.

What is some of the best advice you ever received?

Fall in love with the customers' problem, not your solution.

What is some advice you can give to an aspiring high school entrepreneur?

Join other startups, learn from the inside. If you decide to start a startup, be sure you're passionate about the problem/industry, read a couple of startup books (see below) and most of all, build something customers actually want -- don't fall into the trap of "If you build it, [they] will come." Talk to prospective customers building anything!

Are there any books/podcasts you would like to recommend?

Steve Blank's Startup Owner's Manual, Eric Ries’s Lean Startup, and, of course, the "Framework," interviews and posts at

Useful Links:

Hemrajani's LinkedIn

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