Vijaye Raji, Founder
What was your career path to startup founder?
After I finished school in Southern India, and landed in the United Sate years ago, I was hired by Microsoft as a junior Engineer. I worked on a ton of new products and once I got my “green card” (permanent residence) I left Microsoft and joined Facebook as a senior Engineer. As an early member of the Facebook team in Seattle, I helped the office grow steadily over the last decade from just a dozen or so to over 5000 employees. At Facebook I built new products like App Ads, Audience Network, Marketplace, Gaming, and also headed up the Seattle office. Being part of Facebook during its explosive growth days is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I feel lucky to have gotten. And I’m now trying to recreate that from scratch at Statsig.
Tell us about Statsig:
Our mission is to help people use data to build better products. We are a team of ex-Facebook engineers with a goal of bringing the same development infrastructure that helped Facebook build, ship and scale so successfully to everyone. Our team is small – we have 11 employees, and we’re heads down building our product. In terms of accomplishments, we’re super early and are hoping to launch a usable product publicly in a month or so.
What is unique about startup culture? Do you have any particular company benefits, perks or quirks?
Startups are fun and crazy. On your first day at Statsig, you will need to assemble your desk yourself which is an exercise that builds empathy for writing great documentation for our customers. We offer top-tier health insurance, unlimited PTO, free lunch/dinner, drinks, snacks and every Friday we order in Happy Hour food and show demos of what we’ve all done over the week. Lately, to force people to take their PTO, we have been converting most three day weekends into four day weekends. Quirks? A ton. One person puts peanut butter and spinach in his smoothies and another goes to sleep at 6AM and typically starts at 1 or 2PM to work.
Are you working in person or virtual? Why did you choose the Eastside?
Our office is in Kirkland, the birthplace of Costco. This early in the startup phase, we thought it’s important to be in person to be able to whiteboard ideas and designs. I really like the suburban feel. We were specifically looking for open space plans and newer interiors – and we are lucky to have found one in a central location.
Who or what is your entrepreneurial inspiration?
If I had to pick one, it’s Mark Zuckerberg – who I chatted with about his experience building Facebook before I left Facebook and started Statsig.
Do you have any Bellevue/Kirkland haunts and faves?
When I was at Facebook I was involved in the decisions around starting the Bellevue campus. The process took years to realize, but due to the pandemic I wasn’t able to actually work from those offices. Once the offices reopen I hope to visit my friends over there.
In terms of food, we love Seastar in Bellevue – that’s where I proposed to my wife, Ashley. I’m also really excited for the startup scene on the eastside – this place is booming and Statsig is happy to play a small role in that.
Sidney James, Founder/CEO
What has been your path to founder of a start up?
Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, I did know what an angel investor, venture capitalist or technology entrepreneur was until my mid to late twenties. I took steps to understand the fundamentals and terminology from startup engineering to EMBA programs. I also taught entrepreneurship and financial literacy. I already knew I had the necessary confidence, grit, persistence, and intangibles.
Tell us about Inyore:
Inyore solves the fundamental problem of the lack of employee and employer trust. According to the Harvard Business Review, 58% of employees trust a stranger over their boss. Inyore is an anonymous internal communication platform that connects employees, leaders, and managers to facilitate critical discussions. In real-time, we enable leaders and managers access to analyses and insights into factors that improve employee engagement, trust, productivity, product development, and daily operations.
Our employee pilot included users from great companies such as Adobe, Amazon, Beam Suntory, F5 Networks, Google, Microsoft, Raytheon Technologies, and Twilio.
Do you have any particular company benefits, perks, and quirks, or swag?
We enable remote work and provide access to co-working spaces globally.
I just started watching Silicon Valley, can you confirm or bust any startup stereotypes?
I would say it's very accurate from the perspective of adapting and pivoting to new things when an initial concept is not working as you intended.
Are there specific benchmarks that will equal success? What is the next big goal?
One of our benchmarks now moving into the B2b space is converting 100% of our pilot clients into annual contracts. We are very optimistic about having a lead investor and closing our full seed round in June 2021.
Do you have any Bellevue/Kirkland haunts and faves?
I’m a big foodie, so there are few restaurants that I love on the Eastside. I’ll go with my top 3 pre-covid, Daniel’s Broiler, Earl’s Kitchen, and Lakehouse, and post-covid top 3 Prime Steakhouse (Redmond), Café Veloce (Kirkland), and Enzo’s (Issaquah).