Joel Stellner|Founder of Zuar, Inc.
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Joe Stellner, one of the founders of Zuar. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he gained from running the business.
Who is Joel Stellner?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
My name is Joel Stellner and I am the CEO and co-founder of Zuar, Inc. I grew up in Charlotte, NC and attended UNC, where I bounced around different majors before landing on Media Productions with a specialization in animation. I always had the entrepreneurship bug and for years I worked in restaurants by night so that I could work on ideas by day. In 2012 I decided to sell everything and drive west with a friend to pitch an app for restaurant industry workers. We were headed to Seattle or the Valley, but stopped in Austin, TX on the way and never left. In a random course of events, I discovered Tableau in late 2013 and joined the sales team there just before Christmas. It was while working at Tableau for a year and half that I discovered my passion for helping companies get value from data, and I’ve been on that path ever since.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
I’ve had too many influences along the way to name just one. Some of the most impactful early on were the small family restaurant owners I worked for, who taught me that respect is earned through hard work and trust is earned when you consistently focus on details, no matter how small they may seem. When I started at Tableau I had plenty of work ethic, but my data skill and knowledge gap was clearly vast and I was overwhelmed at first. The leadership there at the time taught me that rapid personal growth and success in a new industry is possible if you are willing to ask for and embrace the support of those around you. These days I draw inspiration from everyone who has joined Zuar to help build the company. The Zuar team continues to inspire me and show me what is possible when you combine commitment to a craft with selflessness and creativity.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
I don’t know if I would want to change too much or spoil the magic of the journey…but I might sprinkle these 3 tidbits on my young self:
- Keep exercising (and make sure you stretch).
- Learn to code.
- Buy Bitcoin.
Q: What is Zuar, Inc.?
Zuar, Inc. is a data technology company based in Austin, TX. We believe that every company should be empowered to get value from their data in new and exciting ways, all at a speed that supports the pace of business in today’s world. We build products and provide solutions to help any company establish an end to end ‘data value chain’ designed to realize the benefits of a modern data strategy.
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
Zuar’s ability to provide end to end products and strategies for our customers is unique in a data market that is crowded by many similarly marketed components and point solutions. Many companies want to deploy a modern data strategy, but struggle to put together the technological and conceptual pieces of the puzzle. Zuar helps simplify the strategy from end to end. Technologically speaking, Zuar designs products that are highly flexible in deployment and extensible in utility, allowing our customers and partners to address a wider variety of use cases.
Q: What led you to start Zuar, Inc.?
My co-founders and I started Zuar to address several gaps and pain points that seemed to be experienced by every company striving to deploy modern analytics. First, we saw a big need for a data pipeline and staging platform that is flexible enough to get data from anywhere and extensible enough to cover any automation task. Second, we saw a need for a rapid launch toolkit and a builder’s framework for creating embedded analytics experiences that are brandable and fully customizable. We set out to make these solutions plug and play with other best of breed products so that each customer can tailor their data technology strategy to their use case. Lastly, we were determined to start a data company where everything we do is conceived through the lens of speed-to-value.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
People are everything for a bootstrapped startup. The people who have built Zuar to this point are all on the same wavelength. They are creative, selfless, curious, and talented. They’re not afraid of new or complex challenges. The team is also committed to bringing value as quickly as possible, and this value is deeply rooted as a point of team pride. I’ve learned that a simple piece of culture like this can define your company and make you stand out even when you’re small.
I’ve learned that maintaining a commitment to doing things the way you feel they should be done, even when it runs counter to standard business practices in your space, can pay off in the form of trust with partners and customers. I’ve learned that people are surprised and delighted by a willingness to engage and bring value at every step, and that providing this kind of experience can lay the groundwork for lifelong customer relationships.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
We have built Zuar from the ground up, 100% bootstrapped to this point. We did this with almost zero marketing budget through referrals from partners and customers. We are currently seeking a first round of funding so that we can make the world aware of our mission and start to reach more customers. Sometime within the next 5 years, we will be hosting the first annual Zuartopia conference, bringing together all the passionate people who have used our products to make their lives better and their businesses more valuable.
Zuar is a new breed of holistic data company. They are on a mission to incorporate ease of engagement and radical speed to value into everything they do. Their model was built from scratch to provide you with a modern, tailored data experience. Their strategy allows them to meet your immediate needs, all while laying the groundwork for a prosperous data journey. Learn more at https://www.zuar.com/.