Hire Me, Levels Health

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The following is an essay I sent to Andrew Conner, Co-Founder and Head of Engineering at Levels Health, to persuade them to hire me.

Kunal Shah

Full-stack software engineer

me@kunal.sh

Background

I've run competitive track and field since I was 9 years old. In high school, I was the New York State champion in the indoor mile run (4:21) and county champion in the outdoor mile (4:16). In college, I competed in division-1 track and field, but was forced to quit when gastrointensional problems prevented me from performing at my fullest capacity.

With help from my university's athletic program, I sought help from numerous world-class gastrointestinal, respiratory, and throat/neck medical specialists. The extent that doctors were able to tell me was that there was inflammation in my gut that was stressing my respiratory system and preventing me from breathing deeply. Unfortunately, the cause of these symtoms remained unknown.

I was determined to find out more about what was happening to me, and I was unwilling to resign my commitment to athleticism. Through trial and error, I found that the foods I ingested were more consequential to my wellbeing and performance than I imaged possible. As I figured this out, I sought to rebuild my diet from the ground-up to improve well-being and maximize my capacity to live to the fullest.

After years of experimentation, I found which foods caused inflammation and lethargy (gluten, dairy, onions, processed foods, sugar, small-chain polysaccarides, etc) and ruthlessly removed them from my diet. The results were astonishing. I had more energy and clarity throughout the day, and my moods were more stable and predictable than I had imagined possible.

Why I Want to Work at Levels

  • Understanding how what I ingest affects my body and wellbeing has been extraordinarily impactful for me. Consequently, I care deeply about Levels mission to help people understand and improve their metabolic health.
  • I love to write, and hope to document my learnings about engineering, metabolism, biometric wearables, and self-experimentation from my experience at Levels. I'd be interested in contributing to the Levels Health Blog, as well.
  • I aspire to be a world-class engineer, capable of building anything I can think up. Tackling difficult technical problems and decisions will give me the opportunity to make progress on this front.
  • I aspire to break 4:10 in the mile run. Consequently, optimizing my physical health and performance capacity is extremely important to me. My real goal is optimizing my long-term health, of course, but running really fast seems like a tangible goal far enough along in that direction.
  • There is nothing more I love than bringing ideas to life. I have a lot of ideas around CGM and software could be used to improves peoples lives. Because Levels is a small team, I hope to contribute these ideas to the product and company roadmap.
  • I want to learn more about molecular biology and how the human bodies work. I'm particularly excited about working on a product at the intersection of technology, biology and chemistry, alongside a team with wildly different backgrounds. I hope to learn from everyone on the Levels team.

Ideas

Here are some things I would love to see in the product.

  • "Your Month in Review": at the end of each month, users receive a summary of what they've learned about which foods make them feel good and not so good, how much they've improve their ability to keep their blood glucose levels within their desired thresholds, and be offered the opportunity to set intentions for how they would like to improve the subsequent month.
  • "What did you just eat?": identify abnormal spikes or drops in blood sugar and inquire "what did you just consume?" to prompt the user to reflect on what portions of their diet are most conseqential. This "closes the loop" on the feedback loop of metabolic health, as Levels CEO Sam Corcos put it in the secret master plan.
  • Suggestions for self-challenges: Levels is in a great position to suggest challenges to users that would help them improve their metabolic flexibility. This can include intermittant fasting, multi-day fasts, transitioning to nutritional ketosis, doing a fasted zone-2 cardio workout, or using a workout to intentionally deplete glycogen stores to transition into ketosis.
    • Social challenges can be incorporated with a Strava-like feed, as well.
  • Detecting inflammation: Levels could pick up on indicators of compromised health beyond blood glucose responses, such as allergies, pathogens, and inflammation.

Past Work

I'm a software engineer and have spent the majority of my career as the technical and product lead at a variety of projects and startups. I do my best work when I can work in "high gear", where lots of ambiguity and autonomy allow me to take ownership of far-ranging product decisions.

A brief work history:

  • Studied CS at Rice University, where I started Rice Blockchain.
  • Joined TrustedFor as the first engineer, where I led frontend development.
  • Joined On Deck as the head of engineering, where I led the development of Via, a referral-based hiring platform, and Cosign, a peer-to-peer credentialing network for the new digital professional age.
  • Left to focus on my own projects. Over the course of the past year, I've built and launched a number of them:
    • Mindstreaks, a social meditation iOS app with over 500 users.
    • Polygon Video, an interactive video player for language learning.
    • Simple Login, a authentication service that takes 2 minutes and 2 lines of code to set up.
    • Webform, embeddable forms for the web.

Regarding programming, I'm a generalist who enjoys working on all aspects of the stack. I'm proficient at working with Typescript, GraphQL, Next.js, React, React Native, Node, and Postgres.