Kevin Yamazaki, 29

Sidebench, a Culver City studio that partners with large companies to identify, develop, and launch strategic technology solutions.

Employees: 18

Financials: No startup investment; growth rate of 1,350 percent from 2013 to 2016; 2017 revenue projection of $5.2 million.

What led you to start your own business?

I previously spent several years working for one of the largest global consulting firms. My job was to strategize, design, and build apps and software prototypes for R&D-like groups of Fortune 500 companies. I felt the firm’s methodology did not work well for the more innovative and agile groups that I was working with. I created a new framework for better collaborating with large enterprises to strategize and execute on digital innovation projects.

Where did you get the startup money?

Sidebench is bootstrapped as a zero-investment startup, so I had our first client place a deposit for the project before we formed the company.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Finding the best talent in Los Angeles that brings a new element of diversity to our team, aligns with Sidebench’s vision, and matches our team’s passion for what we do.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

You don’t need any upfront investment or capital to build a great company and make an impact.

How many hours a day do you put in?


Has your youth led to any awkward situations, such as when you supervise older employees?

Employees: no, as long as everyone stays positive and constructive. Clients: yes. My youth has both benefited and presented challenges for us when dealing with larger corporate clients for the first time. It mostly acts in our favor since we are hired by forward-thinking groups to bring a modern innovation-driven approach to rethinking how they do business.

Would you start another company?

Yes, absolutely. Taking a more entrepreneurial approach is something I’ve always gravitated toward.

Could you ever work for someone else?

Yes, I honestly feel like I work for my employees and my clients every day and I love it. I have nothing against working for someone else as long as we start with and maintain alignment in our vision of what we are trying to achieve.

What do you do to unwind?

I love being outside in the sun. On the weekends, you can often find me doing something outdoors with friends. I’ve also gotten into meditation.

– Henry Meier