Raj Suchak, Founder of Grit Seed, discusses his work with technology and his passion for his work
This past week I sat down with Raj Suchak, the Founder of Cloud62 (Acquired by Huron Consulting Group), Grit Seed, and more! Raj spoke about his line of work, the companies he has built (both past and present) and shares his advice on growing yourself.
How did you get started in technology?
“Growing up I had access to a computer and I really just learned how to tinker with things. From writing some basic code to playing video games and reverse engineering them. I started to lose track of time which is usually a great indicator of whether you are enjoying something or not. From there I started to focus on computer science and got my degree in it. I continued to write code and then overtime I shifted into technical consulting and now I’m back to developing products.”
In your experience with hiring, what are the top qualities you look for in a candidate?
“In my opinion I think hiring is an art. One should hire for character, and character is forged through years and years of life experience. Hiring for skills is easy, but if you hire for character what you are doing is placing strategic value on people who join your company and long term that character will pay dividends a lot more than skills will. The other thing is that you should always hire people who have a growth mindset. People who are not afraid to fail and are not stuck in a box. People who constantly ask why and think about things that may push them outside their comfort zone.”
Can you talk a little bit about Grit Seed?
“Grit Seed is about hiring for potential and hiring for grit, work ethic, and more. We have such a short supply of talented technical people in the country. Hiring is such a big part of what companies do today and we do not have enough diversity today. For example we don’t have enough female engineers and we don’t have certain ethnic groups that don’t work in tech. We need to bridge that gap and Grit Seed is all about giving anyone a chance. We don’t look at your years of experience or where you went to school. If you are willing to work hard and have grit you should be considered. The goal is to give opportunity to people, bring more diversity and make the overall hiring process easier.”
What challenges have you run into with Grit Seed so far?
“With any startup, as you build a company, especially if you are building product you are going to run into challenges all the time. Some days you will be really happy and solve problems and other days you will feel really down, that is the path of the entrepreneur. One challenge we face is when we go to companies and we talk to them about this kind of model and when we say please don’t disqualify people due to lack of experience or that certain skill you are looking for. It’s a paradigm shift. Our customers have been very supportive and open to it but it can be a hard process to go through and that is just part of the puzzle.”
What is one thing you have learned from your mistakes that you would tell your 18 year old self?
“I’ve made many mistakes and there are a few things that stick out to me. Number one is please remember that one of the most valuable resources that has been given to you is your time. Don’t work at a job where you’re not happy or just going there for a paycheck. Number two is to not be afraid to fail. We live in a world where failure is looked down upon, but you should not be afraid and should not care what other people think about you. What you will learn from failure is way more important than what you will learn from success. Number three is all about the relationships in your career. Don’t take those lightly, be a good person and help others out and you will see long term those will pay dividends. The last thing is to remain humble. No matter how successful you are it can all be taken away from you instantly. Just be mindful of others and keep things in check.”
Best book/blog/podcast that has helped you in your career?
“ I read a book called The 4 Hour Work Week and that resulted in me quitting my job and starting my own company. I would highly recommend everyone read that book. Another book is The Now Habit and that one is hugely valuable as well.”
Your current thoughts on the Buffalo tech community and what is missing to take us to the next level?
“I think Buffalo has an amazing tech community and I often feel we are often underrated. We as a city have so much to offer between amazing schools, companies, and more. I think we need to be proud of what we have and the people we have working here. Ideally to take us to the next level, having more start ups in Buffalo would be great. I will comment particularly on software because that is what I know, and with software I think there is so much happening especially in verticalized start ups. We have the opportunity to take some of the legacy companies Buffalo is known for and innovate those further.”