Today is Aanikh’s birthday. Over the past few years, he has become more than my co-founder. He has become one of my best friends and my roommate. He has become someone that I can trust with anything and someone that I know is always there for me.
When I speak about the last 3 years of building Trufan, I’m frequently asked “how did you find your co-founder?” That seems to be one of the biggest questions aspiring entrepreneurs have and I wish I had a good answer to this, but the reality is: I just got lucky!
I met Aanikh for the first time in 2015. We had both won Plan Canada’s Top 20 under 20 award. I had won it mainly for debating and a non-profit I started in high school and he won it for a novel app he built called UnderTheRadr. The app was a ringtone that only people under the age of 21 could hear. Aanikh had decided that 20 cents from every download went to Free The Children, an initiative providing education to underprivileged areas of the world. The app had gone to #2 on the Canadian App Store and made the Top 10 in a few other countries. It was a success and had earned Aanikh a flight to Toronto where the Top 20 ceremonies were happening. In Toronto, Aanikh and I were roommates for a week. We skipped many of the Top 20 workshops and instead roamed the city of Toronto getting to know one another (this already sounds romantic I know). He told me about everything from his passion for athletics and philanthropy to his favorite artists and his family. I could immediately tell that Aanikh was a very family-oriented person. He had a lot of ambition, but he also wanted to funnel his ambition towards helping the people close to him. I respected that a lot as I was and continue to be very close to my brother and mother. We also realized we had a lot in common in terms of our family history, interests and hopes.
The day before the final ceremony, I remember Aanikh teaching me how to shave my beard. It was the first time I had ever shaved, and I remember yelling a lot and making him laugh because of how paranoid I was. After the ceremony concluded and the week’s activities wrapped up, we said bye and went our separate ways.
I am one year older than Aanikh (something Aanikh loves reminding me — jk) and as such I went to university before he did. When I was in first year of university, we stayed in touch mainly over Facebook (commenting on each other’s posts and messaging each other). I told him about how I found UofT, the new friends I had made, the girls at UofT (Aanikh always gave great advice in that department) and my desire to do something significant in the next few years. We joked about potentially starting a company together and not going to lie, it was something I always thought would have been awesome.
Aanikh wrapped up his Grade 12 year and got into Stanford. I was stoked for him — he had told me how he wanted to get into a great university and how much his family valued education. I knew what getting Stanford meant to him and I was so happy to see that his years of hard work led to a great outcome.
After Aanikh went to Stanford and I started my second year, we slowly stopped talking. We’d still like each other posts but the weekly messages became a bi-monthly message. It was cool — both him and I were busy with figuring things out and trying to make the most of what was around us.
A year went by, and Aanikh was in his second year. He had come back to Vancouver for reading week and I was in Vancouver for a speaking gig. I had no clue Aanikh was back in Vancouver but in a crazy coincidence, I ran into him at the Fairmont Pacific Rim (where I was having a dinner with some of the other speakers). I was in the lobby going to the restaurant when Aanikh’s mother (one of my coolest/smartest/kindest mothers in the world) tapped my shoulder and surprised me. I’ll be honest, it took me a few seconds to realize I was talking to Aanikh’s mother (it had been close to two years since I had seen her). Soon Aanikh came and we dapped each other up (yep had to use that word). He told me how his house got flooded and him and his family were staying at the Fairmont until the house was fixed. I just kept thinking: what a crazy coincidence!
After seeing him and briefly catching up with him in Vancouver, I met Aanikh again in San Francisco. I was with my business partner and friend Eliot taking a bunch of meetings with potential investors/customers. I told Aanikh to come out so he could meet Eliot and we could catch up. I didn’t know this at the time but Aanikh was about to bail on Eliot and me because he was extremely tired. It was his lovely girlfriend Inayah who convinced him to suck it up and make the train ride from Palo Alto to San Francisco. The dinner was great, and I learnt more about what Aanikh was studying and what he felt about being in the Bay Area.
A few months later I came up with the initial idea of Trufan and my first phone call was to Aanikh. I knew his background in data science and engineering would lend itself really well to an idea like this. The rest is history and documented in previous articles we’ve shared!
I have to honestly say that initially Aanikh and I had a hard time working with each other. We’d get things done but we both worked in a different way. I remember Aanikh giving me feedback around Christmas 2018 telling me that he has his own way of working and he wants me to trust that he will get the job done. I do believe since then I have never questioned his ability to get the job done (and I admit it was ridiculous for me to ever question it). The experience of working with Aanikh has taught me that the core ingredient for any relationship to work is trust. Today, there’s no one other than maybe my mother and brother that I trust more than Aanikh. He is hard working, compassionate and honest. We actually don’t have many issues working with each other anymore because we have a rule: anytime we feel even a slight frustration or disappointment with the other person, we tell them and resolve it quickly (as opposed to letting that emotion fester into something worse as time goes on).
There have been days I haven’t felt the best and, on those days, Aanikh has stepped in and covered for me. He’s been supportive of me outside of work and has taught me to appreciate other aspects of life like nature (lol it’s true) and even the digital world (bless Call of Duty).
All I can say is thank you Aanikh. You’ve been an incredible friend, roommate and co-founder. Enjoy the Jordan year — I love you buddy! 😊