This article is part of a feature series on the best startups to launch your career this year.
Would you pay $30/month to use your free Gmail account?
Many people would say, “No way,” but over 180,000 people have said, “Oh, yes.” Why? Because Superhuman built a revolutionary product that works and excites and delights:
This is what happens when you build a revolutionary product like Superhuman has for email. The right kinds of people immediately understand the value and want to be part of it.
But that’s just one reason why the company could be an awesome incubator for your career. Let’s dive in.
Superhuman found product-market-model fit
If you’re not familiar with the concept of product-market fit, it’s the idea of something being exactly what a group of people need.
Chicken-pesto pizza has product-market fit with chicken-pesto pizza lovers. Old-school pencils have product-market fit with people who like using traditional pencils. And wedding photographers have product-market fit with couples planning a wedding.
Yet, not all wedding photographers have product-market fit (PMF) with all couples. Different couples want different things—some want simple and candid photos, some want elaborate, posed photos.
Musical.ly didn’t have strong enough product-market fit—but they figured it out with TikTok instead.
And Gmail has had incredibly strong PMF with millions of users—yet something was missing from the Gmail experience.
Just like a wedding photographer in Arizona can stand on the edges of simple and candid to attract specific kinds of clients, Superhuman chose to stand on the edges of lightning fast and paid. This spoke volumes to the kinds of people who were so tired of Gmail’s lagging interface that they preferred to pay for a faster alternative. And this is where the -model part of the fit is just as important.
For a startup, it’s not enough to simply have product-market fit. It also needs a business model with a path to profitability. Usually, that means charging an amount of money their market is willing and able to pay, that can sustain the business’s unit economics. (Sometimes, businesses’ revenue models are separate from their main product. Facebook and other social platforms are a great example: free consumer products paid for by ad revenue from advertisers.)
Brian Balfour takes this concept a level deeper in his essay Why Product Market Fit Isn’t Enough:
The difference between the $100M+ companies and those that struggle are the ones that are able to make four pieces in a puzzle fit: Market-Product Fit, Product-Channel Fit, Channel-Model Fit, Model-Market Fit.
Superhuman has discovered their North Star of product/market/model/channel fit. The team built a great product that they advertised through specific channels to a specific market that was willing to pay the right price for it. It’s complex, and that’s the point. Most companies do not succeed at this.
But Superhuman has, and that’s huge for de-risking your career in the startup world. In fact, Superhuman’s CEO Rahul Vohra has written and spoken at length about engineering this process as effectively as possible. And that brings me to my next point.
Superhuman is spearheaded by proven leaders
Rahul Vohra founded Superhuman in 2014 with two other experienced leaders. He and co-founder Conrad Irwin sold their first startup (Rapportive) to LinkedIn for a reported $15 million two years prior, then joined forces with Vivek Sodera to build their next company.
As you can see, this isn’t the team’s first rodeo—in fact, it’s not even their first email rodeo! Rapportive was a contact management system for email, and they’re back at it with Superhuman. The founders and leadership team are deeply experienced and well-respected. Just read a few of these excerpts of Superhuman employees’ reviews on Glassdoor:
The leadership team is amazing. Rahul is a visionary founder who manages to stay humble and approachable. He’s hands-on with the team and creates clear focus.
Experienced founders who have deep experience in the email space and well thought out ideas about how to improve it dramatically.
The team is very experienced and talented. (Founding team and individual contributors).
World class talent from founding team to engineering, growth, sales.
The team has a wealth of experience and connections in the industry and in Silicon Valley.
Superhuman has amazing culture and traditions
As you read in some of the reviews above, the praise extends to the entire team and, as one employee on Glassdoor put it, “evolved social culture.”
Their jobs page boasts that their workdays incorporate fun and play, infuse magic and joy, and create experiences that amaze and delight. They advertise four key traditions:
1. Super buddies
In your first week working at Superhuman, you’re paired with an experienced team member from a different department who helps you settle in and learn the ropes. They’re your go-to person for any questions you have as you’re getting used to Superhuman life.
2. Lunch roulette
On Wednesdays, the team gets split randomly into small groups to grab lunch outside the office. It’s a fantastic way to help you build new relationships and get to know people you otherwise might not interact with very much. 🙌
3. Friday wins
This is the longest tradition, and a team favorite: every Friday, the whole team gets together in the office to share what they’ve accomplished during the week and give each other praise!
4. 1,000 onboardings
The entire team stops what they’re doing to celebrate whenever an Onboarding Specialist hits their thousandth onboarding! These get lots of attention on Twitter:
As you can see, the Superhuman team takes pride in its fun, helpful, and delightful culture. Here are a few more glowing reviews from Glassdoor:
Everyone from the Executive team on down really cares about the product, mission, and each other. I have made some lifelong friends at this company.
Every Friday is “Friday Wins” where you get to hear personal and professional wins from the week. It’s great to get to know your colleagues in this way and bring your whole self to work.
Amazing level of transparency throughout the company[.…] Employee growth is a top company value and is visible in most discussions/decisions.
Superhuman has killer benefits
The gold standard in benefits these days seems to be paid parental leave, but if you’re young, you may not care about that (yet!). Luckily, Superhuman has that and more, including full medical/dental/vision insurance, 401k, a $3,000 stipend to set up your desk as you please, and catered lunch every day of the week.
Jobs at Superhuman
At the time of this writing, Superhuman is hiring for seven positions, two of which are entry-level: an Onboarding Specialist role, which is non-technical, and a QA Engineer role, which is somewhat technical.
While both of these roles say they’re looking for people with “2+ years of experience in a high-velocity customer-facing role” or “4+ years of software quality assurance experience,” you don’t really need experience to get an entry-level role—you just need two things.
If I wanted to win an interview for the Onboarding Specialist role, here’s what I’d do:
- Research Superhuman. Read about Vohra’s vision for the productivity platform of the future, find out how much they’ve raised from which investors, and get cozy with their story.
- Research their onboarding experience and get intimately familiar with the process. (Hint: growth.design and kwokchain.com have great case studies.)
- Reach out to a few friends and convince someone to let me “onboard” them to a new software tool that I love to use (like Notion; I’ve done this with several family members!).
- Prepare ahead of time with a list of things I’m going to explain.
- Record myself onboarding my friend on a Zoom call, making sure to:
- Show I can clearly explain complex topics orally
- Show my love of teaching and sharing knowledge
- Show patience if my friend struggles
- Prove that I can spot issues and fix them
- Create a Crash pitch with this example onboarding video as one of the Portfolio items and send it to the hiring manager for this role.
- Post it on Twitter, too, and tag @Superhuman. They’re super active!
Hit me at jeremy [at] crash [dot] co if you want to bounce ideas on winning an interview with Superhuman… and maybe an intro to the team as well. 😉
Keep Crashing your career! 🚀
Looking for opportunities at other cool startups? Check out this collection of the best startups to launch your career this year.