Founder Profile: TidePool

5 min read
Founder Profile

Founder Profile: Tidepool Co-founders Kabir Sagoo and Dr. Galen Buckwalter

We sat down with the Co-Founders of TidePool, Kabir Sagoo and Dr. Galen Buckwalter, to discover more about their mission, their rebuttal of the MBTI and all things psychometrics.

How long have you been a Member of the Founder’s Network?
Since July 2012

What inspired you to create TidePool?
Seeing how effective eHarmony was, we knew there could be a system that can help bigger groups of people by integrating personality into a much more functional understanding of self. We’re building TidePool to broaden the benefits of self-knowledge and understanding for yourself, and your relationships.

Given the effectiveness of using personality to match people for long-term intimate relationships we became convinced of the value of using valid measures of personality, and other psychological characteristics, to help people increase their fit in many areas of life. In the workplace and their entire social life, we hope to empower people to be able to use the language of psychology to develop stronger relationships that are consistent with whom each person is at their core.

How is TidePool setting the stage to disrupt the organizational behavior science segment?

TidePool built a visually engaging, interactive photo assessment. In this market other companies took multiple choice forms, true & false statements, questionnaires, and likert scales from paper and put them on the computer screen. It’s all about design: conventional assessment methods used in this field are designed to be unfair to test takers because of how questions are asked. Conventional tests aren’t engaging, and above all else they can be gamed (I.e. “On a scale of 1 to 5, what bubble should I fill in to show how competitive I am for this job?”).  TidePool uses photos to improve the testing experience and make it fun; the visual stimuli are so ambiguous the test taker can’t help but be authentic. We value authenticity and respect to our users.

Why do you think your company is important for both businesses and customers? In other words, how are you making things better for both?
By bringing this tool directly to employees we empower them to improve the social aspects of their workplace. Each person can include the process of self-understanding into their workplace, be it a 5 person startup in SOMA or a struggling behemoth on the other side of the block. Improving person’s workplace helps everyone involved. We do not rule out working directly with companies to develop company specific development plans but for the time being we find much satisfaction, and challenge, in continuing to offer individuals ways to improve their core workplace relationships.

What are three things you love about being in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco tech scene?
To their credit, Santa Monica and Venice a.k.a. “Silicon Beach” have a burgeoning tech scene. We are proud to have participated in the inaugural accelerator class at Amplifyin Venice, CA. During due diligence for our seed round, we visited San Francisco to meet founders and entrepreneurs who’ve worked with our investors. Eventually we fell in love with the city and its people. There is this ineffable energy; cool stuff is going on here—you can feel it. We knew in order to be successful we had to be up here. After raising our seed round in May 2012 we moved up to SF.

How has the Founder’s Network helped you reach some of your goals as a leader, founder, CEO?
Founders Network is introducing us to fellow entrepreneurs and it provides a comfortable and safe environment for us to ask questions and gain perspective. We like what Kevin’s building!

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Have persistence and the ability to clearly communicate you vision and what you want to do with your startup.

What is something you think is interesting about TidePool?
Galen is lead singer of his own band. Two of the band members actually work with TidePool as consulting PhDs.

Where will Tidepool be in 5 years?
Giving people a language of psychology.

Funniest object sitting on your desk?
KS: There is a bottle of gold flakes on my desk in addition to a rock of pyrite. The gold reminds me to not become attracted to pre-packaged, easy-to-obtain things. I don’t really work to obtain bright, shiny objects. In contrast, the pyrite (fool’s gold) looks crude and doesn’t have much luster; a reminder that not every idea or plan in need of buffering can and should turn into gold.
About Tidepool
Tidepool uses photos to help you understand your relationships and work type. We feel that personality exists because it has an advantage for the individual and for society or group. We can see preferences based on different stimuli and give feedback on strengths that have evolved over time.

About Kabir Sagoo
Kabir is the Founding CEO of TidePool. Following a preschool venture into experimental flight resulting in chipped teeth and a distrust of slides, Kabir sought out slightly gentler learning experiences at the University of Southern California, where he earned a B.A in Neuroscience with minors in Entrepreneurship and International Relations. He has worked at a technology transfer office and a biotech startup. He brings experience, enthusiasm and leadership to the TidePool team.

About J. Galen Buckwalter, Ph.D.
Galen has a talent for teasing out the patterns and relationships hiding in heaps of raw data. He applied these skills as the Chief Scientist for eHarmony and in his research on Alzheimer’s disease and allostatic load. In addition to his work at TidePool, he is currently a Research Scientist at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, the Director of Research for the Headington Institute, an active Angel investor in the Los Angeles startup community and a committee member for the National Board of Medical Examiners

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