How Youth Innovator Aanikh Kler Used His First Success to Help Underserved Children
At the young age of 13, Aanikh created his very first business and social venture and within just one year, received venture capital funding and had the #2 most downloaded app on iTunes. But it wasn’t just about success for Aanikh who decided to donate a percentage of each app download to help build schools and empower underserved youth around the world. Now, Aanikh is partnered with close friend and colleague Swish Goswami running customer loyalty app for brands Trufan, and continuing to empower youth entrepreneurs all over the globe.
Tell us a little bit about your story.
My name is Aanikh Kler, I’m 20 years old, I grew up in both Surrey and Vancouver BC and I am a Sikh Canadian. My entrepreneurial story started when I was 13 and travelled to Cambodia with my family. Being in Cambodia gave me many experiences but what had the largest impact while touring through Angkor Wat I witnessed a young girl selling bracelets to tourists. This young girl had an amazing entrepreneurial spirit and it made me think how opportunities like the education I had in Canada could positively benefit her. I came back home and decided to build off the inspiration this young girl had given me. I created an app called UndrTheRadr ringtones for iPhones and Androids. I decided to sell the app for $0.99 on the app store and 20 cents on each download would go to Free The Children, the international charity started by Canadian Craig Kielburger.
I was selected to go on CBC’s Dragons’ Den at the age of 14 and on the show became the youngest social entrepreneur to ever receive a deal. When the episode aired UndrTheRadr hit #2 on the Canadian iTunes top charts ahead of apps like Angry Birds. This made me one of the youngest app developers in the world to have an app reach a top three spot. I then used this platform to try to inspire other youth to follow their passions. I spoke delivered two TEDx talks and spoke to over 40,000 high school students. In 2015 I was awarded Canada’s top 20 under 20 award. I then finished my final year of high school and attended Stanford University in the class of 2020.
What are you working on right now that you think is interesting or innovative?
Right now I am working on a enterprise SaaS company called Trufan with one of my closest friends Swish Goswami. Trufan is a web platform that uses a proprietary algorithm to help some of the world’s biggest brands and influencers identify and reward their top fans on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Trufan users will be able to see their most passionate, influential and trending fans and will be able to directly reward and segment them using various filters. What Swish and I believe is the core purpose behind Trufan is a world where brands and influencers have a direct relationship with their top advocates. This direct access to your top fans can help users sell directly to their top fans, set up local events, build influencer lists, structure retargeting campaigns, and most importantly, build a loyal community.
What is unique about your generation? How do you think you differ from Millennials and others?
What I believe is unique about our generation is our ability to create change. No other generation has had the access to tools that can put an idea on a global scale. Between social platforms like Youtube and Instagram, commerce giants like Shopify, and developer supports like Github and StackOverflow, there are infinite resources for young people to make their ideas into reality. We have the ability to create immense change, but we also live in a world inundated by media where it can seem easier to take a backseat. This ability lends itself to a very interesting landscape for my generation.
What's the biggest mistake that brands are making in their marketing right now? What can they do differently to better connect with youth?
The biggest mistake brands are making is not connecting to their fans on a one to one level. A vast majority of the time as a consumer, when I interact with a brand, it feels like I am interacting with this immutable entity. Brands need to be dynamic, and that starts with their approach on social. Being able to identify the right fans/influencers who support your brand is vital to not only building a more loyal following but also to changing perceptions of potential fans.
What are the most exciting things happening in marketing right now? Are there any brands or campaigns that you admire?
I loved the recent Nike Campaign that featured Colin Kaepernick. For a brand like Nike, one of the most recognizable and influential in the world, to step in on a current issue and take a strong stance really moved me. I would love to see other massive brands show a more dynamic side and take stances on issues affecting people in different parts of the world.
The Fun Questions
Favorite place to vacation? Whistler or anywhere warm with a beach
If you were a superhero, what would your special skill be? I’d be Spiderman
What's the best thing you've read/listened to/watched recently? NPR podcast - How I Built This