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Having fun at Zao is one of our values. We’ve put limited animated flourishes throughout our site to communicate our love of levity. We also recognize that onscreen movement is not fun or possible for everyone. We've turned off all our animations for you per your browser's request to limit motion. That said, we don't want you to miss out on the party.

Here's a funny joke to enjoy!

What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?

You think it’s R, but it be the C.

Getting to Know Zao: Our Founder, Justin Sainton

One of the cornerstones of how Zao works is the way we prioritize collaboration. We build long-term partnerships with our clients, rather than acting as one-off vendors. We’re invested in their success, and build technology that lays a foundation for them to meet their business goals.

Since we work so closely with our clients, we thought it important that you know who we are. Here’s the first part of a series introducing our team, starting with our founder, Justin Sainton.

Who are you?

The Other Justin! Founder of Zao, Herder of Small Children, and President of My Wife’s Fan Club.

Where do you live?

Newberg, OR, an incredible community about thirty minutes south of Portland, OR.

What do you do at Zao?

A little bit of everything! As founder, my primary responsibilities these days center around business development, team development, and on a good day, a little bit of software development. Not to mention the little things: developing contractor relationships, negotiating business contracts, making sure the lights stay on, etc.

Words can’t really describe. First of all, I consider Justin the best boss ever–that everyone should have! Thoughtful, understanding, friendly. I can’t really see Justin being mad at an employee.

He’s always there to help with anything that you throw his way. From work related to personal stuff. He’s amazing to work with and each day there’s something new that you can learn from his words.

-Mihai Joldis, Zao QA Engineer

What do you like best about your job?

Easy answer: the people! I work with some of the most kind, brilliant, funny, generous, and fun-to-work-with people I could ever imagine. We really do have the best team at Zao, and that carries over to our clients as well! We’re fortunate to work with clients that we absolutely adore as well.

How do you take your coffee?

Black as the night!

Justin is one of the most generous people I know. He deeply cares about those in his circle. He will invest in you, not only on the surface level easy ways we all do, but with deep backed up action.

“Legacy” is a word that Justin embodies. He isn’t thinking about just the here and now. He wants to make the world a better place for his distant future generations. This requires an intentionality and vision that I’ve seen in few others. He is truly one of the greatest people I know.

-Liz Karaffa, Zao Front End Developer

What are your hobbies?

Mostly wrangling my kids! Currently have four children, they’re my hobbies. 😛 Beyond that, I really enjoy playing piano and social running (mostly run-walking…okay, more walking than running).

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Get out of bed.

I enjoy working with Justin because he is a truly great friend. We are like-minded in so many ways, it’s scary (not even counting the fact we’re both Justins). He’s a pleasure to work with because he’s so laid back. I cannot recall a single instance where he was thoroughly rattled by a situation or a client.

He’s our fearless leader and handles that role with endless helpings of grace and generosity!

-Justin Sternberg, Zao Managing Partner & Back-end Developer

What are your StrengthsFinder themes?

  1. Belief – 
    People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
  2. Futuristic – 
    People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
  3. Relator – 
    People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
  4. Self-Assurance
    People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
  5. Responsibility – 
    People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

What is your Hogwarts House?


What is something “insignificant” or silly that you feel passionately about?

When people drive under the speed limit–DRIVES. ME. CRAZY. If you’re not 5MPH above, you’re going too slow.

Justin is the optimist to my cynic. I appreciate his unrelenting can-do attitude, his commitment to his values, and his ability to see the best in others. It informs everything he does, as a boss and colleague, and it makes Zao everything that it is. He’s a phenomenal person to work with, and deserves the utmost respect and admiration for having such a high quality character.

-Lizz Ehrenpreis, Zao Project Manager

What is one great article or book that you’ve read recently?

So many! One business book: Profit First, a perennial favorite of mine. One personal book: The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (old dead theologians are my fave).

Articles: I thought this was a remarkably well-told story, given the subject matter.

What is your favorite podcast or TV show, and why?

Great question! My wife and I have been totally digging on Designated Survivor lately, and I love Ozark on Netflix. I was super into podcasts for awhile, and then got out of them, and am now easing back in. Love the Entreleadership podcast, and my friend Scott Bolinger turned me on to the Bigger Pockets podcast, which I’m also loving.


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