Early startup journey: My first year at Statsig

Thu May 19 2022

Geunbae "GB" Lee

Head of Design, Statsig

Celebrating my first Statsig-versary with a blog post full of memories.

A year ago on May 19th, 2021, I took a big leap of faith and departed my satisfying job at Facebook to join an early stage startup called Statsig. Today, I’ve reached my one year mark here and I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come and how much I’ve personally grown with the company.

When I joined Statsig, the company was only around for three months (founded in Feb, 2021). I became the 9th employee and the first design hire. Before me, there were only 8 people that all left Facebook (now Meta) — Founder & CEO, Vijaye Raji(former VP of Engineering at Facebook and Head of Facebook Seattle), along with 6 Software Engineers and 1 Data Scientist.

the original statsig product and logo

Back then, our product was actively being worked on from the ground-up. We were in stealth-mode with 0 customers. More focus was centered around building features and functionalities rather than thinking deeply about the UI and UX just yet. To me, this totally made sense because we needed to be more scrappy in our early stages. Honestly though, I was impressed at how fast the team was able to move and I was super excited to dive into the work.

Ever since I’ve joined Statsig, I’ve been a major contributor in shipping new features and functionalities every single day. We challenge ourselves every day to be the fastest moving and most productive team. Moving fast was one thing, but we also had a lot of fun as a small team. For every new milestones we achieved, we celebrated our accomplishments.

Today, we’re proudly serving 300+ companies including some top brands like Headspace, Notion, Brex, Eventbrite, Recroom and so on. Word-of-mouth really took us far: our customers showed deep appreciation for our product and have continued to share Statsig within their own networks. Many have praised our knowledge in product experimentation and even mentioned that we have the best customer service. What competitors would build in 6 months, we’d build it in just a couple weeks. My personal favorite moment is when they call out the ease of use and the aesthetics of our product that are beating our competitors by a mile.

a handful of statsig customer logos

In only just over a year, we became a Series B company with $43M in funding led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Madrona Venture Group to reach $420M valuation (10.5x from Series A). This is an amazing progress that we’re all extremely proud of. In terms of headcount, now we have over 30 people across various disciplines including Product Management, Engineering, Data Science, Design, Sales and Marketing. And we’re continuing to grow at a fast pace.

If you didn’t know about us yet, you’ll probably hear more about us in the days to come! We’ll continue to move fast and deliver the best product experimentation platform out there.

statsig product screenshots

The full journey

Why I decided to join

Rewinding back to a year ago — when I first got connected to Vijaye and learned more about the opportunity at Statsig, I was immediately hooked. Having worked at Facebook where the experimentation culture is so deeply rooted within the product development process, I’ve gradually learned and experienced the importance of it. Therefore, building a product that enables and empowers companies to adopt the modern product development stack was a clear sell for me.

Many companies want to grow and innovate as fast as Facebook, Google, Uber, Airbnb and so on. In order to do so, running a lot of meaningful experiments, interpreting data and iterating on innovative ideas are all essential practices.

Another reason that I felt really compelled to join Statsig was because I had good trust in the team. Vijaye has stellar track record in building many successful products at Facebook such as Mobile App Ads, Groups Commerce, Marketplace, Gaming and Entertainment to name a few. Also, I worked with some of the founding engineers during my time at Facebook whom were all rockstars. Without a doubt, this was a very strong team that’s very tough to put together at this stage of the startup.

My first day, 05/19/2021

On May 17th, 2021, I returned my badge to Facebook and joined Statsig a couple days after. I still remember the first day I showed up for work because I took those photos below to document a new milestone of my life. Compared to Facebook, the office was tiny and we were only using a portion of a single floor. But it felt really big because there were fewer than 10 desks with a lot of space that we didn’t know what to do with.

On my first day, I had to assemble my own desk which is now one of Statsig’s new employee traditions. Then, I went straight into work. I was super excited and was ready to get my hands dirty with my new family.

GB first day at statsig

Started to make impact

One of the very first things that I worked on was revamping our company logo. The initial logo contained the right set of ideas of our company but it was suboptimal in many different ways. I really wanted the logo to represent us well and convey appropriate meanings to our future customers. There’s more to read here but we ultimately landed on the design below.

variations of the current statsig logo

Another thing that I immediately started working on was establishing theStatsig Design System for our product. To me, a well-defined design system is an essential building block (foundation)that will help us move and innovate faster. Without the Design System in place, it is difficult to maintain consistency while building quickly. It’s a quick way to increase tech debt in the long run, hurt brand reputation/trust as well as the user experience.

statsig design system image

Many months ago, I wrote about the process in which I’ve built the design system. Still to this day, we’re actively evolving it as our product goes through its own phases of evolution. The design system has helped our company in many ways: from seamless collaboration to the speed of ideation and execution, all while keeping the product consistent. I pat myself on the back whenever I hear some of the customer feedback that all started with the existence of our design system.

Wearing many hats

In addition to product work, I began spreading out my responsibilities to different areas that needed design input. Here are some of the things that I worked on:

  • Designing our Statsig company website and visual assets

    company website and visual assets
  • Contributing to the Statsig documentations page

  • Making various marketing assets (blog/video banner image, voice of customer series, press release assets etc)

    various statsig marketing assets
  • Managing our social media channel (primarily LinkedIn)

  • Branding (swags, business cards, conference pamphlets, posters etc)

    statsig swag and branded stuff

Bonding with the team

Everyday, we worked really hard and were laser-focused on execution. But we had a lot of fun moments at work too. Every Wednesday is game day, and every Friday is boba tea with live demo presentations of our work. We spent so much time together in a relatively small office that we were really starting to bond.

collage of the statsig employees hanging out

As the weather got warmer, we threw an outdoor BBQ party at Tim’s (our Lead Data Scientist) backyard. Tim and Tore prepared ribs, wings and briskets which were absolutely delicious. Vijaye opened up a few bottles of champagne too. Sunshine, food, alcohol and great people — what more do you need?

Just before the Summer ended, we had another party at a local park where we invited all family members as well. We were still small in numbers so arranging these events was easy. Vijaye said that he wanted to have as many as these events as possible while we could.

statsig employees outdoor barbecue
summer picnic in bellevue wa collage

Announcing our Series A

On August 5th, 2021 we announced our $10.4M Series A through Tech Crunch and a few other publishers. It was an exciting moment for us as we were expecting more people to check us out, try out our product and give us feedback. We actually managed to attract quite a lot of ex-Facebook interest which resulted in many fruitful meetings.

statsig announcing series a release

Announcing our Series A Raise with $10.4M Funding (link to article)

Our first Enterprise contract

On November 11th, 2021, we signed our first yearly Enterprise contract. It was Headspace that signed with us (thank you Headspace!). For many months, the team worked relentlessly to ship new features and interface with our customers. Therefore, this was certainly a moment to celebrate as it gave us more confidence and validation that our product is bringing value. Being a part of this was absolutely unforgettable.

statsig employees opening champagne to celebrate first enterprise contract

Trip to Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent Conference

In late November of 2021, a bunch of us travelled to Las Vegas to attend the 2021 AWS re:Invent Conference while some stayed to make sure our product was up and running. We booked a presentation booth a few months before and prepared several materials accordingly (T-shirts, pamphlets, posters etc).

Throughout the event, we all alternated in giving product demos and answering technical questions. Towards the end of the conference, all of our energy was completely drained but overall, it was a great experience. Reflecting back, we really tried a lot of different things to get our name out there!

statsig at aws reinvent conference

All 10 of us who came to Las Vegas took a ride to a local Korean BBQ restaurant for a team dinner. We waited for about 20 minutes before getting two tables. Vijaye gave me permission to order for both tables and honestly, I went crazy with it. I think I said “this one, this one, this one… and this one” until the waiter told me that the food might be too much for us. Our table ordered a huge beer tower and we regretted for not ordering two of them.

Long story short, we ate most of the food except maybe a few portions but after that day, I don’t think Vijaye will let me order KBBQ again (haha).

korean barbecue dinner wow this food looks so good
a signed plaque with employee signatures

Celebrating the birth of Statsig (One Year)

After all this, can you believe that it’s only been a year since our company was founded? On February 19th, 2022, friends and families of Statsig got together and celebrated the company’s first birthday. We took fun photos and got to introduce family members other team members as well. After dinner, we formed a circle where each of us talked about why we decided to join Statsig and what our experiences have been so far. Personally, I was glad that my family was there to listen in on how people showed passion and bullishness for Statsig.

statsig's one year birthday party

Hitting $1M ARR

As our product got better day by day and our team scaled in multiples, we also attracted a lot more potential customers. Our sign ups and usage were setting new record highs and more big-named customers started to engage in proof-of-concepts (POCs) discussions that ultimately followed through Enterprise contracts. In just around a year, we reached more than $1M in ARR and we celebrated this moment together at a local restaurant. As can be seen, our team was growing quite a bit.

statsig celebrating hitting one million of ARR

Announcing our Series B

On April 20th, 2022, we announced our $43M Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Madrona Venture Group. We decided to announce it on that exact date because our company valuation was set at $420M. Also, we later found out that the new office that we’re moving to in mid-May had a suite number of #420 (LOL).

With this round of funding, we’ll continue to march towards helping companies accelerate their growth with data and democratizing product experimentation for everyone. Ultimately, we want our product to become that product which can shape the experimentation culture of many companies. Similar to our Series A announcement, we were all pretty excited.

statsig announcing a series b fundraising

Announcing our Series B Raise with $43M Funding (link to article)

Moving to a bigger office

On May 16th, 2022, we said farewell to our first office in Kirkland and moved into a bigger office located in Bellevue. The new office is much more spacious and it even has an outdoor patio for us to enjoy the Summer sunshine. Compared to how packed it was back in our old office with only a couple of meeting rooms, this new office is huge. It’d be amazing if we fill this space with amazing talent in the near future.

statsig employees in the new office in bellevue wa

Our journey is 1% finished

At Facebook, there’s a saying that “this journey is still 1% finished.” I’ve always love this sentence because it always reminds me that although we have accomplished many things, there’s still a whole lot that’s awaiting us. At a Startup world which I’m a part of now, this has been much more relevant.

Personally, I’m experiencing a ton of learning opportunities. From the only designer to now, building a team of designers across Product Design, Brand Design and more, I’m really excited about many additional responsibilities that I’ll need to carry out at Statsig.

the image says

To be completely honest, the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for me (personal situation, new responsibilities, and more that has everything to do with joining a startup if you know what I’m talking about). However, I’m thankful for every moment that has kept me awake and motivated to come back to work. I’m also thankful for all the supportive friends that I’ve met at this company. I felt like I learned a lot at big tech but here, it was a whole new story. Honestly, I will cherish every memory that I have here for the rest of my life.

Looking into the future, I don’t know what will be different. I’ll continue to do the same hard work that I’m doing now. And I’m sure the rest of the team will do the same. I’m excited that this next year will be much different from my first year at Statsig. I’m looking forward to what journey awaits me and how the company will grow. I really hope that we can achieve many more great things together.

Thanks for reading!

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