Founder Stories: Parse’s Ilya Sukhar On Founding A Startup With Strangers

For this week’s episode of Founder Stories, I sat down with Ilya Sukhar, co-founder and CEO of Parse. The interview was taped days before Parse was acquired by Facebook last month. Parse is a cloud app platform that provides a set of SDKs that enable developers to focus on the execution of their application instead of rebuilding backend functionality for every mobile platform. Sukhar shares his experience of leaving Salesforce and going through Y Combinator.

Sukhar, who entered YC as a solo founder, was connected to co-founder Kevin Lacker through Paul Graham. The duo then joined up with another co-founding team about a month into YC to build Parse.

“It was a big risk,” says Sukhar. “The founding relationship is a really deep one and there’s a lot of ups and downs to go through together.” Having only known his co-founders for a short time before deciding to work together, Ilya explains the risks and reality of starting a company with strangers. “It worked out well for me but I would not recommend it to other folks.”

In the later half of our discussion, Sukhar explains how he uses arguing tactics to learn whether an employee is a good fit and why stepping back from coding to focus on under-staffed areas of the company has given him the opportunity to learn more about each role before hiring someone to fill it.

Editor’s Note: Michael Abbott is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering, and a founder himself. Mike also writes a blog called uncapitalized. You can follow him on Twitter @mabb0tt.