This week on Founders Talk I’m joined by John-Daniel Trask, co-founder & CEO of Raygun. Raygun is an award-winning application monitoring company founded by John-Daniel Trask (better known as JD) and Jeremy Boyd in Wellington, New Zealand. They have revenues in the 8 digits annually, and have done it with very little funding (~1.7M USD). Today’s conversation with JD shares a ton of wisdom. Listen twice and take notes.
Raj Dutt is the founder and CEO of Grafana Labs. Grafana has become the world’s most popular open source technology used to compose observability dashboards (we use Grafana here at Changelog). Raj and team are 100% focused on building a sustainable business around open source. They have this “big tent” open source ecosystem philosophy that’s driving every aspect of building their business around their open source, as well as other projects in the open source community. But, to understand the wisdom Raj is leading with today, we have to go back to where things got started. To do that we had to go back like Prince to 1999…
Jeff Sheldon is the founder and creator of Ugmonk. Jeff is a designer by trade, and an entrepreneur by accident. I been following Jeff’s journey for the better part of Ugmonk’s existence. I’m also a customer. Jeff and I hold several similar values near and dear to our hearts. In addition to my appreciation for Jeff’s product design abilities, and how he leads his business, I also appreciate Jeff’s awareness and focus on the long hard path.
Guy Podjarny is the Founder of Snyk, a security platform that empowers software-driven businesses to develop fast and stay secure. Prior to Snyk, Guy founded Blaze which was acquired by Akamai and became CTO. We talked through the topic of acquisition — the sale, the merge, the learnings, and why Guy might not be planning for Snyk to be acquired anytime soon. We started the conversation with Snyk’s recent raise of $150 million dollars.
Sid Sijbrandij is the Co-founder and CEO of GitLab — an all-remote company and complete DevOps platform. As a company, they have their eyes set on taking the company public to IPO and they’re very outspoken about their culture, open handbook, and how they work as an all-remote company. We talk through where Sid came from, the early days of GitLab, why IPO vs a private sale (like GitHub), what it means to put “family and friends first, work second,” how we should view work, and his biggest fear — the company failing.
The role of a father plays a pivotal role in a child’s life. Ian Bernstein is a former Founder of Sphero and is now the Founder and Head of Product of Misty Robotics — they’re building the first programmable robot for the home and business. It’s called Misty II. The journey of building Misty II started when Ian was 5 years old and his dad bought him an Apple IIe.
Mike McDerment is the founder and CEO of FreshBooks. Believe it or not, Mike became a founder by accident. Like many of us, Mike had an itch that he just had to scratch. One thing led to another and soon enough FreshBooks became a key tool in the belt of many freelancers and agencies looking for an easy way to send invoices and get paid quickly online. We talk through the early days of FreshBooks and how things came to be, why they created a secret competitor to iterate on a bold idea for the future of FreshBooks, and we also cover what keeps Mike excited.
Lynne Tye is the founder of Key Values, a platform where developers find engineering teams that share their values. To be more precise, Lynne is a solo-founder. She’s also a team of one. Lynne’s path to becoming a founder was anything but typical. She had plans to follow in her parent’s and sister’s footsteps to go into academia, and got two years into pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience before she made one of the best choices in her life — she quit. Lynne has mastered the art of quitting, at the right time of course, and she’s used that art as her secret weapon in her quest to become a founder.
Sahil Lavingia is the founder and CEO of Gumroad, a platform for creators to sell the things they make. Since 2011 Gumroad has sent over $200 million dollars to creators. That’s a big number. Sahil’s ambitions lead him to believe that Gumroad would become a billion-dollar company, have hundreds of employees, and eventually IPO. That didn’t happen.
…we were venture-funded, which was like playing a game of double-or-nothing. It’s euphoric when things are going your way — and suffocating when they’re not. And we weren’t doubling fast enough to raise the $15M+ Series B we were looking for to grow the team. For the type of business we were trying to build, every month of less than 20 percent growth should have been a red flag. But at the time, I thought it was okay…
We talk through Sahil’s journey with Gumroad, why it failed to meet his goals, the path he’s on today and the things he now values…but to understand why Gumroad didn’t live up to his expectations, we really have to understand the backstory of Gumroad.
Saron Yitbarek is the founder and CEO of CodeNewbie — one of the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code. Saron hosts the CodeNewbie podcast, Command Line Heroes from Red Hat, and she’s also the creator of Codeland Conference taking place on July 22 this year in New York City. We talk through getting started, lessons learned, mental health, developing and running a conference…but our conversation begins with a pivotal question asked of Saron…“What are you optimizing for?”
Colin Billings is the founder and CEO of Orro where they’ve built the first truly intelligent home lighting system. It knows when you’re in the room, and adjusts the lights automatically for you. But Colin’s path to starting this company wasn’t a straight line. Like most innovative products, Orro has an interesting beginning — after-all, they’re going up against the giants.
What would be the impact on the world if a Computer Science education was available to you completely free of charge until you get a job in that field paying $50,000 or more? That’s the question that drives Austen Allred and the team behind Lambda School. Lambda School is a revolutionary new school that invests in its students and they completely align their interests with their students. Seems like a novel idea, right? But Austen’s path to Silicon Valley was where things began for him, so that’s where we’ll start today’s conversation.
For the final show of 2018 I’m talking with Travis Kimmel, the CEO of GitPrime. Travis has spent years as an engineering manager. Travis’s mission at GitPrime is to bring crystal clear visibility into the software development process and bridge the communication gap between engineering and stakeholders. This communication gap is often an ongoing plague in product development lifecycle. We talked through focus, tech debt, leading teams, predictability, and more.
Kyle Mathews is the founder and CEO of Gatsby, a new company he’s building around an open source project of the same name. Gatsby as a project describes itself as a flexible modern website framework and blazing fast static site generator for React.js.
At the macro level — Kyle’s career has been focused on a better way to build and ship websites. It seems he’s done just that with Gatsby’s launch in late May 2015…since then he’s taken on a co-founder and a seed round of $3.8M to form Gatsby Inc.
Donald Fischer and the team at Tidelift are on a mission of making open source work better — for everyone. To pay the maintainers of open source software they are putting a new spin on a highly successful business model that’s a win-win for the maintainers as well as the software teams using the software. In this episode we dig into that backstory and Donald’s journey.
David Cramer dropped out of high school AND college, but that didn’t stop him. He ended up teaching himself programming and eventually landed his first job as the webmaster of a World of Warcraft community website. What a beginning… We talked through “the rough slog” period of Sentry and how David powered through to traction and enough profit for him and his partner to go full time, raise three rounds of funding, and take on New Relic.
Here’s a bonus segment from episode #57 of Founders Talk with David Cramer, co-founder and CEO of Sentry. Check the feed for the full length episode (later today). We talked about sales in the full length episode, but this BONUS segment is a completely isolated conversation that’s not included in the full length episode — so don’t gloss over this thinking it’s just a teaser.
Eric Berry started Code Sponsor a year ago because of his passion for finding ways to sustain and fund open source developers. He ultimately had to shutdown due to potential legal issues with GitHub, but was given new life as CodeFund when he went to work for ConsenSys and Gitcoin. We talked through the backstory of this idea, why he’s so passionate about funding open source, ethical advertising, being unapologetically focused on your mission, the value of honesty and openness, and the future direction of CodeFund.
Bryan Helmig, Wade Foster, and Mike Knoop started Zapier in 2011 as a side hustle. They ultimately applied to Y Combinator, twice. And this year they hit $35 Million dollars in annual revenue. I talked with Bryan Helmig (CTO) through the backstory of starting this company, being 100% distributed, the flexibility as well as the constraints of being remote-only, how they reached product market fit, growth, scaling their teams, and how they bring everyone together for company wide retreats.
When Mikael Cho started Unsplash from its small beginning as a Tumblr blog and side project, he had no idea it would have such a huge impact and ultimately disrupt the photography industry. In this episode, Mikael shares the backstory of Unsplash, how it got started, keeping things focused, levers of growth, flipping the marketing funnel, turning free into a business, raising $7.25 million to build a new economy for photography, and the impact of an API.
Danielle Morrill joined the show to talk about how she’s starting over from zero after the recent acquisition of Mattermark to FullContact where she held the role of CEO and co-founder who walked away with “zero dollars and a job”. We talked through the details of the company, the acquisition process, the deal — which she brokered herself — as well as her outlook on the startup grind and silicon valley today, and what she’s planning to do next.
Pia Mancini joined the show for the first episode back from a nearly 5 year hiatus. We talked about her work at DemocracyEarth, being a mother, her new role as CEO of Open Collective, their focus, supporting ad-hoc community formation all around the world, their revenue and growth plans, and their path to sustainability.
It’s been just shy of 5 years since I’ve published a new episode to this podcast. The break was planned actually. Long story short, I had to focus. If you want to hear the slightly longer explanation, you should listen.
Could this be Sam’s final appearance on Founders Talk? Only time will tell.
Adam talks with Chad Pytel, founder of thoughtbot.
Adam talks with Geoffrey Grosenbach, founder of PeepCode and now the VP of Open Source at Pluralsight.
Adam talks with Kevin Delaney, the founder of Charity Hack - a simple concept that takes 5 amazing charities and the most talented people you can find to create innovative fundraising campaigns for those charities.
Adam talks with Tim Smith, the creator of The East Wing, Tim Likes to Teach, Lustra and more. Tim is a master of the art of design and UX and loves hacking on front-end web codes.
Adam talks with Drew Strojny the founder of The Theme Foundry and Memberful. Drew is back again to talk about his latest product, Memberful - a membership as a service site that lets you create a membership in minutes and start selling monthly or yearly subscriptions.