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Why I Left Google To Co-found with super{set}

September 19, 2022
Written By
September 19, 2022
Written By

Gal Vered of Checksum explains his rationale for leaving Google to co-found a super{set} company.

By Gal Vered, Co-founder of Checksum

In early 2022, I faced a critical decision that many Big Tech employees face: should I leave my safe and cozy job and start my own company?

My career path wasn't the most typical. I was born and raised in Israel, served in the Israeli Navy, and joined a maritime tech startup. Then, I decided to pursue a Masters in the US and joined Google as a Product Manager after graduation.

The first few years at Google were amazing. I got to work with intelligent people, make good money, learn a ton, and leveled up in my career. But after a few years, I wasn't learning as fast, and going up the ladder didn't make sense if I didn't see it as my long-term objective to stay in the company. And so I faced a big decision - what do I do next?

I approached this decision the same way I approach product decisions - with a combination of art and science.

Gal at super{summit} 2022

Chasing Experiences Always Worked Out

Throughout my career, I made most personal decisions by thinking with my heart, not my head. I didn't join a maritime tech startup because of some analysis. It was simply really fun to build products I used in my previous role. I didn't have a grand plan for pursuing a Master's degree. I just wanted to experience living in the US and meeting people from all over the world.

So the first thing I thought to myself was - what experience do I want to have next?

At the time, I was working on a few side businesses in my spare time. I didn't make much money, but the first time I got a Stripe notification that someone subscribed to my product, it was a moment of clarity. I was running products with a huge user base at Google, but here I was, losing sleep over a random person making a $5 purchase.

So I decided I wanted to build products and either co-found or join a very early-stage startup. I imagined working with a tight group where everyone has only one thing in mind - building something people want.

There is joy and clarity in directly connecting to an outcome that I personally built. Sure, Google produces products people want and use, but there are so many degrees of separation between myself and those users at a monolithic company. In a startup, you see it, you build, and then you directly experience the result.

The Decision

Now that I figured out what excites me, it's time to make sure the math adds up.

I was debating between founding a company or joining an early-stage startup when I learned about super{set}. The ability to lead a company and have very experienced co-founders on my side immediately struck a chord with me.

I decided to focus on a few criteria to make a choice:

  • Excitement (AKA how fun would it be).
  • Impact
  • Upside (Wealth) vs. Risk
  • Personal Growth

Of course, these rankings are subjective to one’s personal and family situation (although many super{set} co-founders do have families!) and where one is at in their career. For example, had I made the same table 4 years ago, BigTech would probably win by miles - it all depends. Now let's dive to the options:

Big Tech

Over my years at Google, I learned a ton, and personal growth was through the roof. However, I just got to a stage where, for my career aspirations, the learning curve slowed down. At this point, I was looking for different avenues for growth. 

Big Tech was out.

Solo Founder

From a previous experience, I knew that founding a startup might be glamorous, but it's also very hard. Most startups end up with founders pour their heart and soul into the business, only to close it eventually. So, maximizing the chances of success, and sharing the journey with ppl who already been there multiple times, was the right call for me.

I saved enough money at Google, so I didn't mind going without a salary, but I had just enough, so my margin of error was relatively small. For personal growth, founding a startup is a considerable learning springboard, but I felt I needed to work a bit at a startup before that.

So overall, founding a startup was a great prospect, but I was hoping for something with more mentorship and substance.

Early Employee

An early employee is just as part of the ride as the founder. While you are not calling the shots, you will have a huge impact no matter what you do. The wealth/risk factor is good. You'll get a good salary from day 1, and a seed/series A company has significantly less risk. 

Yet being an early employee isn’t the same as being a founder. An early employee owns part of the strategy and execution, but not the grand vision - and accordingly, it isn’t their neck on the line.  In my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted the risk/reward and potential for impact of truly being a founder. I could always be an early employee somewhere else down the road.

super{set} Co-founder

Founding with super{set} might be the best of both worlds. super{set} has built an incredibly strong hive of crazy smart and ambitious people and great companies that I couldn't wait to get to work with - not just bounce ideas off of but even become early customers of my product. And, the opportunity to build a business alongside serial entrepreneurs who had already done it - multiple times - was unmatched. 

Ultimately, super{set} struck the right balance in wealth vs. risk: the upside of co-founding a startup with the risk of an early employee. This is for three reasons:

Minimizing Regrets

As I mentioned before, it's all about personal preference. For me, super{set} was a too-good-to-be-true deal!

Another way to look at it is the minimize regrets framework suggested by Jeff Bezos:

What Co-founding Actually Means

My first few months as a super{set} co-founder immediately leveraged the hive of startups around me. I am the co-founder of a developer-focused product in the testing automation space, so I was immediately hit with a few pain points that the super{set} team had noticed in their companies, on top of addressing the problems I had seen first-hand at Google. 

I immediately noticed the force multiplier of super{set}. In the same office that I worked in, five other companies worked and were very willing to talk and serve as my first customer interviews. No matter what idea I explored and who was my target customer - devs, sales, finance, marketing - I could source in a day 5-10 interviews from experienced people.

I wasn’t just doing the legwork for the super{set} team - this was my product I was architecting and leading on a roadmap for. I spent weeks digging in and becoming an expert on the problem - talking to people, reading, prototyping, etc. Tom and Vivek sit right beside me, so every time I have an insight, I’d grab them, and we would whiteboard my thinking and dive deeper into the problem. 

Once a week, we have a more formal and long jam session (and we still do!). To get everyone up to speed with my leanings, I would write 1-2 pages and ask everyone to pre-read. These long meetings are where the magic happens. super{set} is definitely in the trenches with you. Tom and Vivek came prepared, asked questions, challenged my thinking, brought new ideas to the table, and, most importantly, connected our discussion with patterns they’ve seen from past and current companies. Every time I felt we were going one level deeper into the problem and the opportunity until we all felt ready to found and fund our company together.

What's next?

What's next for me is putting my head down and getting to work. A few months ago, I co-founded and seed-funded Checksum.ai with super{set}. Our product turns real user sessions into an entire testing automation pipeline, so you can ship fast without reducing quality. When our customers deploy a new version, we replay all of their past production sessions to make sure everything still works great. If you are an aspiring founder and debating between your options, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. I'm always happy to help.

Interested in co-founding at super{set}? Learn more at superset.com/cofound and view our openings at superset.com/careers

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read more

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read more

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