Today is our first birthday! Exactly one year today, we incorporated Outlyer, and began our journey to create the worlds best monitoring solution for Online Services.
I thought I’d take a look at the highlights over the past year and talk a little on where we plan to go in year 2.
Ready, Set.. - October-December 2013
After spending the previous few months doing a lot of customer development to ensure we weren’t quitting our jobs at Alfresco for nothing, we had a good idea of what the market needed and got off the ground running to start building the product alongside our first paying customer (who signed up 5 days after we incorporated, further validating the need in this space!). Below are our tasks from our first planning session in my living room soon after in early November, when we didn’t have a product, no-one knew who we were, and we didn’t even have all the basics setup to call ourselves a proper company!
By December, we’d signed up our 2nd and largest customer, Hive Home from British Gas, and decided to celebrate with our first Christmas party. At the time we were too small to have a proper party by ourselves, so we invited a few friends along to help celebrate.
In December we also got accepted onto Microsoft Venture’s new Accelerator which was announced on their Demo Day with the nice drawing below.
Off the starting blocks - January-April 2014
The first 4 months of this year were crazy. Colin joined as co-founder in January to start building the product, and we started the Microsoft Accelerator in February, with our first office space in Central Working Whitechapel. Come March, we had enough revenue in the bank to hire our 2nd developer, Tomasz, making us a team of 4.
We also kicked off our first DevOps Exchange London in February, with our first meetup hosting 55 attendees. It’s amazing how fast the meetup has grown since then. In just 8 months, we’re now the worlds 2nd largest DevOps meetup, and our last meetup had almost 300 attendees with speakers from Google, Amazon and Flyn.io.
We also published the results of our customer development in February as a blog: What we learnt from 60 companies about monitoring. This blog attracted the interest from the community and several large companies who we’re now working with today.
And finally we finished April with our first investor pitch to 300 investors at Microsoft Accelerator’s Demo Day. The pitch raised a lot of interest and kick-started our Seed Round fundraising.
Building Momentum - May-July 2014
Off the back of that we opened up Outlyer for a limited private Beta, so we could work with more companies as we developed the product.
We also added John Powell, co-founder of Alfresco and my previous boss, to the board in June as our first investor. We wanted someone who’s built successful software businesses on our side, and John was our first choice, and has since helped guide us to ensure we build a successful, disruptive business in the monitoring space.
Final Stretch - August-October 2014
In September, we closed our over-subscribed $800k seed round, led by Forward Partners and some great angel investors. The only way to celebrate - a big team party of course!
In September we also moved to our first private offices in Kings Cross, giving us the space to house our growing team and get some necessary equipment for the team - monitors and TVs so we could run Outlyer the same way our customers are.
And finally, but definitely not least, Michal joined our team bringing our total to 6 people, with our 7th joining in just a couple of weeks. However we’re not done yet - we’re still looking for an awesome node.js developer to join our team, so if you’re interested, get in touch!
We’ve learnt along the way that although monitoring looks simple on the surface, to build something that works across many different environments and scales is actually quite hard. We’re now in production with some big online services, and working hard with our now larger development team to ensure our first users are successful and rely on Outlyer as their primary monitoring and alerting system for their service. It’s taken us longer to get there than we initially planned as a result, but the results are worth it - when we demo Outlyer to new prospective users, we get a lot of awesome feedback and our list of people waiting to get on the system is growing fast.
So in the short term all our focus is on the product and our initial customers - making them successful, before we can release Outlyer online, for everyone else to sign up for and try. We know some of you signed up a year ago when we started, so we appreciate your patience, but trust me when I say the results will be worth it!
In the longer term we want to continue building our traction. We plan to setup shop in San Francisco at some point in 2015, to ensure we’re at the center of the action there and can work with some of the worlds leading online services as well.
Year 2 will be about establishing ourselves in the market, with an awesome product, team and working with some of the worlds best online services to help them monitor their services with Outlyer. We have a shot at being a leader in this space, so we won’t be resting until we get there!