Excited, Proud and Optimistic for 6sense and the World

By Monday, November 30, 2015 No tags Permalink 29

Hiring top talent while helping address some of the worlds biggest problems.  

I am asked “how” far too often. I feel compelled to ignore the question of “how” and instead answer “why.” It’s not about the tactics but the motivating drive and the higher purpose. That is the “why”. If you know ‘why’… you’ll find a way to make the “how” work.

Don’t ask me, “how.  Ask me, “why?”

Today 6sense is announcing its investment in two full-stack developers from Lagos Nigeria, through the Andela fellowship program. While this investment is not a big round of funding, a 3x increase in our revenues or adding more logos to our impressive list of top-tier enterprise customers, as a journalism major, I think it is far more newsworthy than one about us hitting record-breaking numbers.

This investment exemplifies who 6sense is and what we stand for. It is what drives me as CEO and what gets me up every morning as a self-proclaimed “sheet-kicker,” beating my alarm by waking up at 4am every day. The universe has blessed me with an incredible opportunity and a ridiculous team and customers to fulfill that dream, but the universe also gave me a past. My past makes me stop often… to breathe…to be incredibly thankful and to look for ways I can make a difference, big or small.

My personal success story of breaking the glass-ceiling may be newsworthy and inspiring. Yet, no matter how unlikely my journey has been, it pales in comparison to the obstacles faced by those born in developing nations. Amazing and brilliant children are born every day into a world where all their effort will be spent on finding the next meal and keeping themselves and their family safe. Imagine being brilliant, driven and passionate, but having zero access to opportunity.

Doing More Is in Our DNA

As any CEO can attest, it’s hard to tear yourself away from your work and remember that we’re only here because doors were opened for us that are still closed for so many others. With the work I do at 6sense, I’ve made it part of our DNA to do whatever we can to help take down barriers to entry for others.

This year, 6sense joined a number of other Silicon Valley SaaS companies alongside Salesforce and committed to the 1.1.1 program: 1% of our equity, 1% of our employees’ time through service and 1% of our product to non-profits. This is a great first step, but merely a small gesture. It’s not enough.

I have a very strong relationship with the universe… the infinite energy that connects us all…is unexplainable, yet is so simple all in the same breath. A universe that offers love in every moment, in everything we do and in all that we are. This is the one and only relationship I know to be true. My highest self.  In this knowing, one thing is true: the more we give, the more we get back. So in some respects it is all very selfish — to do good, to be good. But nothing feels better. If you want to be happy, don’t think of yourself. Don’t do for yourself. Do for others.

I learned about Jeremy Johnson’s mission for Andela about three years ago. I met him on a mountain in Utah with about 40 other entrepreneurs. Jeremy took his first company, 2U, an online education company, public. Afterwards, he felt called to do something greater for the world. He was called by a simple, profound fact: IQ and brilliance is equally distributed throughout the world, which means that developing nations have just as many Harvard, Stanford and MIT types as Northern California and NYC.  What they don’t have is opportunity. Developing nations have an amazing opportunity to train and empower their most gifted citizens to be computer science professionals with the skills needed to compete and win among the hottest tech talent in the world.

Jeremy started a fellowship program in Lagos, Nigeria to train computer science graduates on the skills needed to compete and WIN at the hottest tech companies. Companies such as Microsoft and Udacity are now using Andela-sourced developers.  After learning of Jeremy’s program, I ran back to our offices and told my CTO and co-founders that we must hire at least one of these engineers.

Our Newest Team Members

I was met with resistance, and in all fairness, my CTO and one of my co-founders are from India and wouldn’t outsource to their own country with friends they went to university with. Why would they give developers in Nigeria a chance? There were the typical outsourcing concerns with having our first overseas employees and a host of other obstacles, but as always if your “why” is right, you’ll find a “how.” Two years later, never giving up, I convinced them that this was not only a good thing to do but the right thing for the business.

I am beyond excited to announce that two engineers from Nigeria, Jyd and Ezekiel, have started at 6sense. They will come to San Francisco in January and spend 6 weeks working with our team, before going back to Nigeria and working remotely.

Like many companies in Silicon Valley, we work hard to find top engineering talent. Our bar is crazy high. We interview ~10-20 people a week and make one offer every three weeks. Jeremy and his team not only provide incredible talent but also the support system around them to ensure their success. Recently, Jyd and Ezekiel started at 6sense. When we did our first Google-hangout to meet and greet…I was blown away by how much they knew of 6sense, myself and my co-founders. They had done more research on us, what we do and how we do it than all other 6sensors combined. Their excitement for this opportunity was not only demonstrated by their big smiles but evidenced by the time they put into understanding 6sense and our work.  Jyd and Ezekiel will come to San Francisco in January and spend six weeks with us. They’ll live in my brother’s house, working closely with the 6sensors during that time. The first time they joined daily stand-up, I had to crash it to say hi. Jyd and Ezekiel’s enthusiasm for 6sense and their job was palpable.

Now several months into the project I’ve learned that they are not only incredible people, but also brilliant, hardworking developers. To say that finding full-stack big data developers is hard is an understatement. Jyd and Ezekiel are cranking out quality code at scale with our in-house developers in SF.

My heart is full. I should be jumping up and down because of our huge quarter. But, the reason my heart is full today, is because of these two beautiful souls that joined the 6sense family.