#4 — Prem Kumar, Startup Hiring Tracker, Accolade

Here’s your PSJ weekly — an insider take on Seattle startups and the people behind them.

1 quick housekeeping item:

Many of you came from the Seattle Startup Hiring Tracker that I posted last week. Thank you! Because it struck a chord, I’m doubling down in two ways:

  1. I’ll send a full refresh here each month.

  2. I’ll put extras from the SSHT in these weekly emails (below).

Onto the weekly journal…


Seattle Person (who I’m learning from this week):

I talked to Prem Kumar, CEO & co-founder at Humanly.io. 🎧Podcast here.

He’s done two uncommon things: 1.) Raised funding during COVID (Geekwire story), without meeting most investors in-person; 2.) Got into Y Combinator from Seattle.

How did he stand-out? Prem said that honesty helped him get investor confidence versus over-selling.

“We weren't going in necessarily trying to tell a specific story. We didn’t make it seem more than it was. [Instead,] we showed what we've learned through the process.”

When the recorder was off, Prem shared two extras: 1.) He’s coming back to both of Ben Horowitz’s books. 2.) The truth that he believes, but others don’t:

“I don’t think nice guys finish last. I think they can finish first! And I think the movement toward empathy and servant leadership is making ‘nice’ a good thing [in business].”


Seattle Startup Hiring Tracker (extras and updates):

I didn’t have this data in the July tracker, but I’ve started pulling employee growth rates. Here’s a preview. This is the 15 fastest growing Y/Y with >30 employees.

These weren’t the names I expected. Any surprises for you? Would these trends be helpful to see next month?


Seattle Company (that I’m studying this week):

Accolade’s $1.2B IPO was Seattle’s first of 2020. I re-read the excellent letter from CEO Raj Singh in their S-1 (page 104). It’s a role model piece. He gives a beautiful description of the company’s principles. There are just five! To see the crispness of vision, check out the first 12 words:

“Healthcare in the United States in broken. Let’s not sugarcoat that fact.”

In my book, it’s a role model for articulating big stakes simply. The rest of the letter is worth reading along with Geekwire’s interview.


Thank you for reading! Replies always welcome. 🙏

— Adam