Stratifyd Spotlight: Sam Stelle


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Sam Stelle is a Software Development Engineer III at Stratifyd whose “social butterfly” personality resonates throughout the office.

Stelle was born in Washington D.C. and moved to his hometown of Seattle when he was 3 years old. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Western Washington University. He developed an interest for the tech startup space while he was still in school, where he would regularly participate in an incubator competition called Techstars Startup Weekend. Within a 54-hour time period, participants learn how to create a real company and have the opportunity to meet potential investors, mentors, and potential co-founders.

“Since I was still a computer science student, it was a great opportunity for growth,” Stelle said. “I learned a lot about deployment and how to create a small, simple app.”

During his second competition in 2013, he joined a team that created a crowdsourced editing website for writers.

“We were able to create a small minimum viable product (MVP) and gathered a bunch of market research,” Stelle said. “We ended up winning that weekend, and I couldn’t believe it. We won a bunch of Amazon credits and a free meeting with an investor.”

After graduation, he worked with Splunk and Conversica, until his childhood best friend, Stratifyd co-founder Thomas “Toma” Kraft, came home to visit.

“Whenever Toma would come back to Seattle, we would love to nerd out and talk about what he was working on at UNC Charlotte,” Stelle said. “I was really intrigued by [Stratifyd’s] text analytics research. My favorite class in school was about natural language understanding and how to process language from a computational stand point.”

Kraft asked Stelle if he would be interested in interviewing with Stratifyd CEO, Derek Wang, for a Software Development position.

“I hopped on a phone call with Derek where we briefly talked, and then he asked me to solve a programming problem,” Stelle said. “Afterwards, he offered me a three-month internship so he could assess my abilities. I bought a one-way ticket to Charlotte and never looked back.”

Stelle was offered a full-time position in 2015. As a Software Development Engineer, his responsibilities are far-reaching. He’s currently focused on anything relating to the stability of the back-end of the platform. He’s also working on developing a continuous integration system, building out testing functions, and brining in new technologies.

“From day 1 I've been focused on discovering new ways to bring data into Stratifyd,” Stelle said. “We’re constantly trying to make that workflow easier because it greatly improves the platform as a whole.”

When he’s not at work, you can find him traveling internationally. He has visited 16 countries overall and is leaving for Cuba in April.

Stelle also spends a lot of time in the kitchen. He’s developed a love for cooking and learning from the greats, such as chefs Andrew Rea and Gordon Ramsey.

“I love trying out new recipes and learning new techniques to improve my craft,” Stelle said. “But in the end, my favorite part about cooking is making something delicious for my family and friends.”

Q&A with Sam Stelle

Q: What’s your favorite thing about living in Charlotte?
A: I love the variety of seasons, from the chilly winters to the hot summers and everything in between.

Q: What sparked your interest in Stratifyd?
A: My lifelong friend Toma, one of the co-founders, would always talk about the technology behind the core use case of text analytics and it really excited me. He asked me to come work with him and I was ecstatic.

Q: What is your favorite brand to follow on social media and why?
A: Stratifyd, duh! I don’t really use social media except for looking for things to cook.

Q: What is on your travel bucket list?
A: I have to go to Southeast Asia – Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, etc.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: It’s been told to me time and time again and in different formats: Don’t sweat the small stuff because it’s not worth the time or effort.

Q: What's one thing you can't live without?
A: My friends and family. But I also love to sit in my chair and game. Playing games with my friends and brothers is how I stay connected to them, so it’s pretty important to me.

Q: What's the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
A: I honestly don’t know if this is even brave, but probably when I bought a one-way plane ticket to Charlotte to start working at Stratifyd.

Q: What’s your spirit animal and why (this can also be a person/role model)?
A: My spirit animal is a monkey. They’re super fun and so entertaining. I also strive to be like my parents because they’re way cooler than me and are incredible people.

Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: Probably teleportation, ‘cause who needs to fly when you can just be bouncing around the planet?

Q: One cause that you’re passionate about?
A: Improving free education and healthcare. Education is the foundation for everything, and if we can educate properly, then we can grow so much as a society. Healthcare is simple: Let’s just not have people dying when we can avoid it.