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2017 Forty Under 40: Yaw Aning

February 4, 2017

Cofounder and CEO
Sticksnleaves

Aning grew his entrepreneurial company, which focuses on helping build tech products from four to 16 employees, tripling revenue and launching 70 web aning.jpgand mobile applications. He’s attracted such clients as the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Bluebridge, and CoatChex, which appeared on “Shark Tank.”

Age: 31

Birthplace/hometown: Binghamton, New York/Rochester, Minnesota

Family: wife, Malea

Education: bachelor’s in civil engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Years with company: 6

Getting here: Falling in love with Rose-Hulman as much for its soccer program as for its rigorous academics, Aning found himself bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. He and some classmates created a website for students to buy and sell textbooks and, while “it had some hiccups,” the experience drove him to learn more about business. An Orr Fellowship took him to City Securities where he “learned a lot about how you finance and how you grow strategies.” He and another Orr fellow explored other opportunities, including a digital-reading marketplace that predated the Kindle. All the while, Aning learned the value of meeting—and helping—as many people as he could.

On growing a team: Aning grew his team—without any outside capital—required. “We knew we needed to align everyone on the vision for the company.” One strategy: “We decided to hold a biweekly meeting where each functional team would meet for an hour to discuss the challenges they were facing with growth and work out individual processes to overcome them.”

Inspiration: He recently lost both his mom and dad, and his wife lost her father. “My mom was diagnosed with cancer and battled the disease for seven years. She lost her ability to walk, and my father very selflessly sacrificed a lot to take care of her during this time. Watching my father care for her had a profound impact on how I live my life both personally and professionally. Life is all about relationships and nurturing and caring for the people around you. As I’ve built my company, I’ve tried very hard to follow in both of my parents’ footsteps.”

Givebacks: Aning is on the board of Startup Ladies.•

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