Founder Profile: Saujin Yi of Liquid
What inspired you to start Liquid?
I spent four years building FlexTeam (still running) which recruits teams of executive-level women for business consulting projects, and the talent that we found outside the traditional employee talent pool just blew me away. Each professional had a different reason for preferring to work more independently, but what they all shared was being deeply entrepreneurial, creative, and extremely talented. That led me to deeply question why more companies aren’t embracing this pool and how much potential is being lost. There were so many barriers to tapping this talent and/or working more flexibly in general. One primary reason was that it takes so much administrative effort to work with a more flexible talent (vs. employees). With less money going to this flexible workforce than what I thought was possible, I wondered what would happen if we could make it easier and truly unlock that talent. I fundamentally believe that the more freedom we have in working the way we want to, the more we can do and create. And that led me to start Liquid, building software that helps take down the barriers preventing us from working more flexibly, or more liquid, starting with the basics like contracts and payments.
What has been the most exciting thing so far in Liquid’s journey?
When you get down to the core of what we’re doing, Liquid is plotting a path to help people work together. So, every time we remove one of the barriers that makes it hard and then hear customer feedback like “This is exactly what I needed” or “I almost built this myself!” it’s pretty exciting for me as a founder.Of course, there are milestones like our first international payments seamlessly flying around the world, which was the result of months of hard work. We always knew payments would be an important part of our solution, and now that we’ve implemented our own payment processor that leverages a global network of banks, it’s exciting to see it in action and imagine what’s possible.
What has been your biggest learning so far?
COVID definitely disrupted our plans for 2020 -- as it did for everyone -- but the decisions we made in response ended up being the best decisions for our business. We were planning on launching Liquid in the Spring of 2020, but as a result of the pandemic, we postponed launching and instead focused on building our own payment processor and partnering with banks. This build was not in our immediate, short term roadmap, but the time to rethink our strategy helped us build the right core feature for our customers. As a cash-constrained startup, it was a hard choice to push out revenue generation and customer traction to build more product features, but looking back, leaning into customers’ needs was the right move. The biggest learning for me was to look for the opportunity in every challenge and trust that there are many paths to success. This COVID time has also taught me to trust and appreciate my team more than ever. Watching team members manage a growing startup, while also juggling parenting, homeschooling, navigating changes in their own families, and the grief that COVID has brought, has made me profoundly grateful to have a team of such talented and resilient people. I’m so proud to be working with them, and I have a new appreciation for what we’re capable of when we support and trust one another.
What will be the lead paragraph in the article covering Liquid’s IPO?
“If the Future of Work is liquid, the future of work is here. Today, Liquid, the “complete vendor management” software filed its S-1 to raise $500 million. Five years ago, Liquid applied the Wayne Gretzky rule to business and the Future of Work, by building the solutions we didn’t yet know we needed for the way we were going to keep working after COVID. As a result, in just five years since its launch in 2019, Liquid has made it easier for 10,000 business customers to contract and pay over $200 billion to its global, flexible workforce of 1 million people working as their own work entrepreneurs, confirming that going liquid is the best way to work.”