For the December 2022 SV Angel Founder Profile Series, we are proud to feature Roger Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Comprehensive. Comprehensive lets companies like Clearbit, LaunchDarkly, and Mercury run compensation reviews without a single spreadsheet. The company recently announced their $6M Seed financing earlier this year. Roger was also the Co-Founder of SV Angel portfolio company, Human Interest, which is an affordable, full-service 401(k) provider that makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to help their employees save for retirement. We hope you enjoy learning a bit about Comprehensive and lessons learned along the way!
Name: Roger Lee
Hometown: Congers, New York
Company Name & Brief Description Blurb: Comprehensive is an all-in-one compensation management platform that helps companies make better pay decisions without requiring a thousand spreadsheets.
Year Founded: 2021
Q: Tell us about yourself and your path to becoming an entrepreneur.
I “fell in love” with the Internet as a teenager. In high school, my friend Toby and I would build websites for fun that we thought our friends would want to use. A few of those websites became unexpectedly popular, and in 2003 we owned 3 of the 10 most visited websites by teenagers on the Internet.
That’s when I realized how powerful the Internet was. As a teen, it was unbelievable to me that a kid living with their parents could create something that reached millions of people simply by typing into a computer. I thought, “If I could make a living off this, why wouldn’t I do this for the rest of my life?”
After graduating Harvard, I co-founded my first venture-backed startup, which was later acquired by Walmart. I’ve been starting startups ever since. In 2015, I co-founded Human Interest, a digital 401(k) provider for small businesses most recently valued at $1B. Now I’m working on Comprehensive, an all-in-one compensation management platform that helps companies make better pay decisions.
Q: How did you meet your Co-Founder Teddy Sherrill?
Teddy and I were roommates during our senior year at Harvard. We’ve been wanting to do a startup together for 15 years, and the timing finally worked out with Comprehensive.
Q: Prior to founding Comprehensive, you were a Co-Founder of SV Angel portfolio company Human Interest. Was there a specific project or insight from your Human Interest days that helped you decide this is the right time to build Comprehensive?
While I was building Human Interest, figuring out employee compensation was one of our top sources of frustration.
We were using what felt like a thousand spreadsheets to track and decide salaries, equity, raises, pay ranges, and offers. It was impossible to get a 360-degree view of compensation to ensure we were paying employees fairly and competitively.
With Comprehensive, companies are now able to increase visibility across their organization to make better pay decisions, without spending weeks every year painfully cobbling spreadsheets together.
Q: Given the many demands you’ve had as a founder, how do you allocate and prioritize your time daily?
There’s one particular framework that’s been really helpful for me. It’s called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix which was popularized by the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a framework that divides all of your tasks and responsibilities into four quadrants along two axes — Important vs. Not Important, and Urgent vs. Not Urgent.
Most founders — myself included — end up devoting far too much time to the “Urgent, But Not Important” category (emails, meetings, Slack messages, etc.)
To counteract this, I try to proactively schedule time for the “Important, But Not Urgent” category (long-term planning, designing the company culture, thinking through strategy, etc.). This category is what will ultimately drive the success of my business, but is so easy to put off.
Q: How should founders think about choosing which investors to work with?
I like to prioritize investors who take the long-term view: with respect to their portfolio companies, their relationships with founders, their fund, and their own career and reputation.
Q: Why did you choose to partner with SV Angel again? What is it like to work with the SV Angel team?
I’ve now had the pleasure of working with SV Angel across two startups (Human Interest and Comprehensive).
SV Angel’s network and long-term reputation are unparalleled, and their team is able to be as helpful, responsive, and valuable as a lead investor despite having a significantly larger portfolio.
Team & Culture
Q: Tell us about your decision to build out a hybrid team. How do you plan on supporting company culture and employee engagement as you build out a hybrid workforce in San Francisco and New York?
My co-founder (Teddy) lives in New York City and I live in San Francisco, so it was an obvious decision to start Comprehensive as a distributed team. This choice has also allowed us to enjoy the benefits of recruiting and retaining the best team possible.
Although we work from home most days, it’s been important for us to get the team together in person at least once per quarter. We use these in-person opportunities to do quarterly planning, deep-dive brainstorming, and team bonding — which all serve as a great foundation for the ensuing weeks when we go back into execution mode.
Q: What are you reading, listening to, or watching for inspiration right now?
I’m a fan of Naval Ravikant’s pithy observations on happiness. For example:
- “Stress is an inability to decide what’s important. You want two incompatible things at once. I want to relax, but I need to work. Now I’m under stress.”
- “You’re born, you have a whole set of sensory experiences and stimulations and lights and colors and sounds, and then you die. And how you choose to interpret that is up to you.”
- “Envy is an illusion. The part of the person that we envy doesn’t exist without the rest of that person. If we aren’t willing to trade places with them completely — their life, their body, their thoughts — then there is nothing to be envious about.”