Today, we interview a serial entrepreneur and investor who has made a name for himself in the healthcare industry. Mr. Sidd Pagidipati was ranked 7th on the Inc. 500 list in 2009. We ask Sidd about his journey and for tips that will help other entrepreneurs on their quest of starting their own business.

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Hello, Sidd, how about you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are?

I was born and raised in the U.S. while my family’s ancestry is from India. I’ve always had an interest in becoming an entrepreneur. As soon as I graduated from Georgetown, I took up a job as an Analyst to understand the investment business. The experience helped me evaluate businesses and get a deeper understanding of how to go about analyzing them. This I feel has truly helped me achieve all that I have today. I learned about mergers and acquisitions as well as the thought process of effectively valuing a business. All of which have contributed greatly in making me a better entrepreneur and investor.

With the experience I gained as an Analyst, I decided to venture off on my own. Kicking off my entrepreneurial career as a Co-founder of America’s First Choice Health Plus. Health care has always been an industry close to my heart. I wanted to come up with a way to make it easier for individuals to understand their HMO plans and utilize them to their fullest. It just spiraled from there and today I’ve helped start or invested in numerous startups revolving around health care.

What prompted you to give up your job as an Analyst and become an entrepreneur?

I feel that in life we need to continuously challenge ourselves. There is nothing more challenging than starting your own business. The risk and reward make the whole experience challenging.

Working as an Analyst was great but I also felt it was time for me to do something of my own. The entrepreneur in me kept calling out and I gave in. I am so happy that I did because it was probably the best decision of my life. I was a bit scared initially thinking about whether or not I will be able to pay my bills, investing so much of my own money in my startup. But I had the will and drive to make it work and I did.

Do you have a philosophy that you feel has led you to your success?

No matter what I do, I’ve lived by the philosophy of performing tasks to the fullest of my ability. It doesn’t matter how small the task may be, I like to make sure I give it my all. This gives me peace of mind knowing I gave every task my all. At the same time, I make sure that no corners are cut. You just don’t get the impact you want from tasks when you cut corners. It may make the task easier but the long term impact just isn’t worth it.

As an entrepreneur, what do you think is more important, education or experience? Also, smart or hard work?

Well, I myself wasn’t a student of business management or entrepreneurship itself. Education is always important but I feel you just learn more from experience. Education may provide you the knowledge theoretical but you still don’t get the practical aspect without actually applying it. As you work and gain experience, you learn on the go. You adapt to different situations when you put yourself out there, the learning you get from experience is far more effective.

As far as smart or hard work goes, I feel you need to have a mix of both. You don’t want to be working hard performing tasks but ineffectively. At the same time, you can approach tasks smartly but not with much dedication or effort which will limit its impact. This is why you need to approach each task with a mix of both smart and hard work.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

The easy answer to this would be making the Inc. 500 list in 2009. However, I feel that I’ve accomplished quite a lot when it comes to investments. The two startups that I’ve accomplished most with as an investor are ikaSystems and CliniCast. ikaSystems which was acquired by Cross Blue Shield Association in 2015 helped automate the management of the Medicaid business. While CliniCast which allows medical facilities to identify at-risk patients and prepare an intervention program to improve the care they provide. The venture secured funding of $100k and blew up.

As an investor, there is no better feeling of accomplishment when you know you’ve made an impact in developing a business. When I invest in a startup, I provide more than just financial support. I make sure to give them all the help they need from business plans to management tips. So when they succeed the level of accomplishment is much more meaningful.

Any words for those just starting their journey as entrepreneurs?

Well, I will keep it simple and rather than say things like, dream big and continue to fight for your dreams, I think it is important for entrepreneurs to be realistic. Being realistic doesn’t mean you don’t dream big or chase after your dreams, it means you take a more calculated approach towards your dream.

If you want to be successful, you need to be willing to change from time to time. If you see that your idea isn’t getting much traction, change it. Be willing to study your market and create a product or service according to it. That is the only way you will be successful. Those that don’t adapt are more likely to fail. So always stay on your toes and be attentive to your target market and adapt your solution so it caters directly to it.