Open Source Startup Podcast
By Robby (Cowboy VC) & Tim (Essence VC)
Open Source Startup PodcastJan 30, 2023
E107: What Does Life Look Like Post-SQL? Ask EdgeDB.
Yury Selivanov is the Co-founder & CEO of EdgeDB, the open-source database designed as a successor to SQL and the relational paradigm. Their open source graph-relational database, edgeDB, has a built-in migration system and a next-generation query language.
EdgeDB has raised $19M from investors including Accel, Nava Ventures, and Pear VC.
In this episode, we discuss how they took a first principles approach to building a truly developer-first database (ie. building with postgres), the importance they put on having a short learning curve for their database, how they think about breaking through the noise of the many competitive developer-first databases that have launched in recent years, why all open source databases should use the cloud model to monetize & more!
Go to edgedb.com to register for the upcoming EdgeDB 4.0 and Cloud launch!
E106: Defining Your Own Auth System with Oso
Oso has raised $26M from investors including Felicis and Sequoia.
In this episode, we dig into the first thing Oso founders built (a programming language created for authorization called Polar), how they decided on the right open source license, how Oso is positioned in the highly competitive auth space, how user requests have driven their monetization strategy, and much more!
E105: Bringing Great Developer Experience to Data Teams with Dagster
Dagster Labs has raised just under $50M from investors including Sequoia, Index, and Georgian Partners.
In this episode, we discuss how Dagster is bringing software engineering principles to the data space, what a great developer experience means for data engineers, how to think about launching the cloud version of your open source project & much more!
E104: The Future Is Browser-Based with Drifting in Space
Paul Butler is the Founder of Drifting in Space, the company focused on making browser-based applications accessible to everyone. They've created Jamsocket, a platform for building applications with session backends, and Plane, the open-source server that powers it.
In this episode, we dig into the future of browser-based tech and how industrial companies will be likely early adopters, the different components of the Drifting in Space platform & more!
E103: Competing with CoPilot to Give Developers AI Superpowers
Strapi has raised $45M from investors including CRV, Index, and Accel.
In this episode, we discuss the project's origins and impressive growth trajectory, their community-based approach to product roadmap, why they waited 5 years to monetize the project, why Pierre sees cloud as the best open source GTM model & more!
E101: Building the Fastest Growing Data Validation Library
Samuel Colvin is Founder of Pydantic, the wildly popular data validation framework and cloud services platform. Their open source Python library has over 15K GitHub Stars and millions of downloads per day.
Pydantic has raised $4M from investors including Sequoia Capital and Partech.
In this episode, we dig into Pydantic's growth curve (linear followed by explosive adoption), what a great developer experience means for them (almost B2C-like in the experience), how they engage with their community through things like surveys that help drive the product roadmap, and more!
E100: Reimagining Load Testing with Artillery
Artillery has raised over $2M from investors including YC.
In this episode, we discuss building a company around your own pain point, early signals that there was strong company potential with the project, finding growing communities to align with (in this case, Node.js) & much more!
E99: Developing AI Agents with Generally Intelligent
Generally Intelligent has raised $20M from investors including the Astera Institute & YC.
In this episode, we dig into the future for AI agents and where they fall short today, why they open sourced their research environment, the importance of market timing when launching a company, Kanjun's views on whether the Agentive AI space is over-hyped & much more!
E98: Creating the Time Series Data Category with InfluxData
InfluxData has raised over $200M from investors including Norwest, Battery, and Sapphire Ventures.
In this episode, we dig into building the category of time series data, how an open source company's monetization plan should tie to fundraising, some of the hardest decisions the team had to make during InfluxData's journey so far & more!
E97: What Modern Application Delivery Looks Like With Loophole Labs
In this episode, we dig into Loophole's projects around WASM and networking, their unique hiring process, learnings for ambitious open source founders & much more!
E96: Disrupting Massive Industries, From MongoDB to Viam
In this episode, we discuss Eliot's many learnings from being a multi-time founder including the importance of extremely fast response time to user questions, the benefits (and challenges) of building general purpose platforms, democratizing access to robots & hardware engineering through better developer tools, and much more!
E95: Why Feature Flagging Should Be Open Source With Flagsmith
Ben Rometsch is Co-Founder & CEO of Flagsmith, the commercial open source real-time feature flagging platform. The Flagsmith project has almost 3K stars on GitHub and provides feature flagging and remote configuration services that can be hosted on prem or using their hosted software.
In this episode, we discuss building a startup in a profitable way, why open source matters for feature flagging, finding direction with little signal early-on & much more!
E94: Creating Amazing Search Experiences with Meilisearch
Quentin de Quelen is Co-Founder & CEO of Meilisearch, the open source search engine platform. The Meilisearch project has 38K stars on GitHub and allows companies to quickly create amazing search experiences with features that work out-of-the-box.
Meilisearch has raised $22M from investors including Felicis and CRV.
In this episode, we dig into the massive TAM for search, working with the Rust community, what an amazing developer experience means for a search product, Meilisearch's roadmap (hint: it involves LLMs and AI-enabled search), Quentin's journey from developer to company leader, the company's focus on diversity & much more!
E93: Making Open Source Foundation Models a Reality with Lambda
Lambda has an initiative to make GPUs available for training an open source foundation model in support of the broader ML community.
In this episode, we dig into the GPUs for open source initiative, why open source matters for foundation models, the Lambda journey from the early days (well before generative AI!) & much more!
E92: Application Delivery for Kubernetes with Akuity
Hong Wang is Founder & CEO of Akuity, the application delivery platform for companies building with kubernetes. Akuity works alongside the Argo Project which provides a suite of open source tools for deploying and running applications and workloads on Kubernetes.
Akuity has raised $25M from investors including Decibel Partners and Lead Edge Capital.
In this episode, we discuss the creation of the Argo open source project while the team was at Applatix, the decision to create a commercial company - Akuity - around Argo after Applatix was acquired by Intuit, what it means to have a great developer experience (UI, real-time data, etc.), creating harmony between the open source and paid product, and much more!
E91: Plug & Play Permissions with Permit.io
Or Weis is Co-founder & CEO of Permit.io, the open source fullstack permissions as a service platform. The company's project, opal, is an admin layer for policy engines such as Open Policy Agent (OPA) and AWS' Cedar Agent and brings open-policy up to the speed needed by live applications.
Permit.io has raised $6M from investors including NFX.
In this episode, we discuss positioning in a competitive market, product market fit vs. GTM fit & much more!
E90: Building Open Source Startups with Abby Kearns
Abby Kearns has a long history in the open source ecosystem as the previous CTO of infrastructure automation platform Puppet, previous CEO of Cloud Foundry Foundation, and an active investor and advisor to many open source startups.
In this episode, we dig into the Puppet journey, the role organizations like Cloud Foundry play in the open source ecosystem, her views on open source projects versus products, her advice to open source startups & much more!
Video episode here
E89: Building the Open Source Financial Cloud with Formance
Formance is a YC company and has raised over $3M from investors including Hoxton Ventures and Frst.
In this episode, we discuss using open source to build user trust, creating a new category of open source software, the importance of building in a modular way, Clément's framework for monetization & much more!
E88: Open Source Foundation Models for Generative AI
Stability AI has raised almost $100M from investors including Lightspeed and Coatue.
In this episode, we dig into the role of open source in generative AI, the benefits and drawbacks to open source foundation models, copyright issues that can come up when training data is visible, the capital it takes to start a foundation model, and opportunities to build that founders should be looking at today.
Full video episode here
E87: Commercializing Open Source Data Systems with Astronomer & CoreDB
Ry Walker is Founder of open source data companies Astronomer and CoreDB. Astronomer is the commercial company tied to the popular open source data workflow management system Apache Airflow, and CoreDB is a database company based on the popular open source database Postgres.
In this episode, we dig into the Astronomer journey and when things really started to work, what a great UI means in the data space, where the idea for CoreDB came from, his learnings around open source monetization, the benefits and drawbacks of building a commercial open source data company, and learnings Ry is taking from Astronomer to his new company CoreDB.
E86: Building Secure Containers Faster with Slim AI
Kyle Quest is Founder & CTO of Slim AI, the platform to help application developers build secure containers faster. The company's open source project, Slim (previously known as Docker Slim), shrinks container images by up to 30x and makes them secure. It currently has 17K stars on GitHub.
Slim AI has raised almost $60M from investors including Insight & Boldstart.
In this episode, we dig into where the idea for Slim came from (Kyle was trying to solve his own pain), building for multiple personas (in this case, security and developer teams), the shift left movement in security & much more!
E85: Learn How FluxNinja Gives Reliability Engineers Superpowers
Harjot Gill is Co-founder & CEO of FluxNinja, the intelligent load management platform for reliability engineers. The company's open source project, Aperture, provides capabilities such as concurrency limiting, rate limiting, and auto-scaling.
This episode also features Matt Ranney, a principal engineer from Doordash, who is an early adopter of Aperture.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of having strong evangelists of new technology (in this case, Matt at Doordash), the right north star metrics to track as an open source company (production usage is key), lighting many GTM fires & more!
E84: How Replit Is Supercharging The Coding Experience
Replit has raised over $200M from investors including a16z, Coatue, and YC.
In this episode, we dig into Replit's evolution from an education-focused company to a broadly used coding platform, the role of AI in coding (and Replit's AI engine Ghostwriter), why it's much harder to build a horizontal platform & much more! This episode is a must-listen.
E83: Developer-First Security with Snyk
Guy Podjarny is the Founder of Snyk, the developer-first security platform that helps companies find and fix vulnerabilities in their code, open source dependencies, containers, and infrastructure as code.
Snyk has raised $1.2B from investors including Boldstart, Accel, Tiger Global, and Addition.
In this episode, we dig into selling security products to developers, the pros and cons of being open source (Snyk is not!), Snyk's fundraising journey and challenges early on, how Snyk has evolved over the years, the decision to bring in an outside CEO & more!
E82: Creating Apache Iceberg & Headless Data Warehouse Tabular
Tabular most recently raised a Series A from a16z.
In this episode, we discuss the concept of a "headless data warehouse", being a problem-centric rather than solution-centric founder & more!
E81: Open Source DataOps with Meltano
Meltano has raised $12M from investors including Venrock & Google Ventures.
In this episode, we dig into spinning a company out of GitLab, Meltano's cloud launch, making technical data engineers first-class citizens & more!
E80: Securing Kubernetes With ARMO & Kubescape
Shauli Rozen is Founder & CEO of ARMO, the company behind Kubernetes open source security platform kubescape. The project has over 8K stars on GitHub and includes tools for risk analysis, security, compliance, and misconfiguration scanning.
ARMO has raised $35M from investors including Tiger Global and Pitango VC.
In this episode, we dig into the differences in building product for DevOps vs. security teams, how to use signals from discord / slack channels to drive product roadmap, bringing on a VP of Open Source & more!
E79: Spin Up Production-Like Dev Environments With Okteto
Ramiro Berrelleza is Founder & CEO of Okteto, the Kubernetes development platform that allows developers to spin up production-like dev environments in the cloud. Okteto's open source project, also called Okteto, allows users to spin up a development container, which is configured like the user's production Kubernetes deployment. Today, it has 2.8K start on GitHub.
Okteto has raised $18M from investors including Root VC and Two Sigma.
In this episode, we discuss the challenges of building with kubernetes, figuring out market timing, how to position for your specific users & more!
E78: The Fastest Path From Data To Insight With Starburst
Justin Borgman is CEO of Starburst, the “Analytics Everywhere” company based on the sequel query engine Trino (previously called Presto). Trino is a distributed SQL query engine for big data and is used by companies such as Salesforce, Robinhood, Lyft, LinkedIn, Goldman Sachs, and Netflix. Trino currently has 7.5K GitHub Stars.
Starburst has raised over $400M from investors including Index, Coatue, A16z, and Alkeon.
In this episode, we dig into the Presto to Trino transition, recruiting the Trino founders to Starburst, waiting to raise venture capital until there are strong signs of PMF, what PMF looks like (ie. multiple Fortune 500 users), getting competition to compete on your turf, and more!
E77: Simplify Your ML Infrastructure With Aqueduct
Vikram Sreekanti & Joey Gonzalez are Co-Founders of Aqueduct, the open-source orchestration layer for machine learning infrastructure. Aqueduct's open source project, also called aqueduct, has over 400 stars on GitHub.
In this episode, we discuss what Vikram & Joey learned from interviewing 100s of data teams, building in the competitive MLOps space, how and why they invest in content & much more!
E76: How Cleanlab Can Help GPT-3, Bard, and Claude with Data Quality
Curtis Northcutt is Co-Founder & CEO of Cleanlab, the company that helps AI & ML teams automatically find and fix errors in their datasets. They have over 5K stars on GitHub and are already working with companies such as Wells Fargo and Google on ML data quality.
In this episode, we discuss the difference between data noise and model noise, the growing importance of ML data quality with the momentum around generative AI models and applications, how Curtis' focus as CEO has shifted over time & much more!
E75: Payload, the React & TypeScript Headless CMS
James Mikrut is Founder of Payload CMS, the React & TypeScript headless CMS. Their open source project, payload, has over 9K stars on Github and provides a Headless CMS and Application Framework built with TypeScript, Node.js, React, and MongoDB.
Payload has raised over $5M from investors including Gradient Ventures and YC.
In this episode, we discuss Payload's early guerilla marketing tactics, listening to your community to inform your monetization model, what developer-first really means & more!
E74: Dev-First Testing with AtomicJar & Testcontainers
Sergei Egorov is Co-Founder & CEO of AtomicJar, the developer-first testing platform built on top of open source testing framework Testcontainers. AtomicJar provides Testcontainers Cloud which allows users to run tests in the cloud with anything that can be containerized.
AtomicJar has raised almost $30M from investors including Insight Partners and Boldstart.
In this episode, we discuss user demand driving the creation of a company alongside an open source project, using a different name for the company to have the ability to work with other projects, learnings from early scaling & more!
E73: Building Scalable Postgres with Serverless Database Platform Neon
Nikita Shamgunov is Co-Founder & CEO of Neon, the open-source serverless postgres database platform. Neon separates storage and compute to offer autoscaling, branching, and bottomless storage. Their open source project, also called Neon, has 6.5K stars on Github.
Neon has raised $30M from investors including GGV and Khosla.
In this episode, we dig into the Neon founding story of starting a scalable alternative to AWS Aurora, why it's important to separate storage and compute, Neon's partner strategy, Nikita's thoughts on the "DevCloud" movement & much more!
E72: Open Source Usage-Based Billing with Lago
Anh-Tho Chuong is Co-Founder & CEO of Lago, the open source metering and usage-based billing platform. Lago's underlying project, also called Lago, has 2K stars on GitHub and a Slack community with hundreds of members.
Lago is a YC company from the S21 batch.
In this episode, we discuss the state of billing today and why a hybrid and open approach makes sense for many companies, positioning as an "open source alternative to...", deciding what content is worth creating (ie. if your users ask the same question 5x, then blog about it), going through YC as an open source company & more!
E71: Mage & Replacing Airflow
Tommy Dang is Co-founder & CEO of Mage, the data plumbing platform that's the modern replacement for Airflow. Mage's open source project, mage-ai, has over 3K stars and lets companies run, monitor, and orchestrate thousands of data pipelines.
Mage has raised over $6M from investors including Gradient Ventures.
In this episode, we discuss pivots, testing product ideas with hundreds of potential users (and asking questions like, "what is the most boring part of your data work?"), why company content should be informative and entertaining, and how to approach selling in a customer-centric way.
E70: Making Distributed Systems More Accessible With Diagrid
Mark Fussell & Yaron Schneider are Co-founders of Diagrid, the platform that simplifies and provides access to the power of distributed systems. Diagrid's founders co-created open source Dapr which Diagrid provides a fully managed service on top of. Dapr has over 20K stars and works on any language or framework.
Diagrid has raised over $24M from investors including Norwest Venture Partners and Amplify.
In this episode, we discuss contributors rather than stars as a strong engagement metric, why Open Core wasn't the right business model for Diagrid, learnings for other open source founders & more!
E69: Train, Deploy, and Ship AI Products with Lightning AI
Will Falcon is CEO of Lightning AI, the platform to build ML models and create Lightning Apps that “glue” together many leading ML lifecycle tools. The company's project, also called lightning, has over 21K stars on GitHub.
Lightning AI has raised almost $60M from investors including Index Ventures, Coatue, and Bain.
In this episode, we discuss the difference between open source traction and company potential, how to hire - especially early on, the importance of learning speed, Will's personal journey as a CEO, and more!
E68: Managing Open Source Data Services with Aiven
Oskari Saarenmaa is Founder & CEO of Aiven, the fully managed, open source cloud data platform. Their platform combines all the tools needed to connect and manage open source data services such as Apache Kafka, Grafana, MySQL, Redis, InfluxDB along with many others. They have also open sourced a number of projects themselves (see here on GitHub).
Aiven has raised $420M from investors including IVP and Atomico.
In this episode, we discuss automation as a core value, finding a role in the open source ecosystem across multiple projects, the importance of 24/7 support when you have global customers, learning GTM as a technical team & more!
E67: Automated Certificate Management with Smallstep
Mike Malone is Founder of Smallstep, the automated certificate management platform for DevOps teams. Their certificate management project, also called smallstep, has 5K stars on GitHub and provides a private certificate authority and ACME server for secure automated certificate management.
Smallstep has raised $26M from investors including Boldstart and StepStone Group.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of staying lean before achieving PMF, where to draw the line on free open source vs. paid product, his learnings as an engineer-turned-founder & more!
YouTube version of the episode here
E66: Open Source Feature Flagging & Experimentation with GrowthBook
Graham McNicoll & Jeremy Dorn are Co-founders of GrowthBook, the open source feature flagging and experimentation platform out of YC. Their feature flagging and A/B testing project, also called growthbook, has 4K stars on GitHub.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of having an iterative culture, having a dynamic view on positioning, and the importance of content and market education.
E65: Bringing Designers & Developers Together with Open Source Penpot
In this episode, we discuss the importance of open standards in getting developers excited about design, why Figma users have been excited about Penpot, building a community with design and developer personas & more!
E64: Open Source Data Observability with Elementary Data
Maayan Salom is Co-Founder of Elementary Data, the open source data observability platform which allows users to monitor their data warehouse directly from dbt. Their project, also called Elementary, is built for analytics engineers and today has almost 1K GitHub stars and a rapidly growing community of almost 600 users.
The company has raised from leading Israel and US-based venture firms as well as a number of high-profile angel investors.
In this episode, we discuss having a culture of experimentation, building a community alongside other communities (ie. dbt), using your community for product feedback, the hustle involved in early GTM, learnings from building for a fast-growing community & more!
E63: Mobile.dev's New Mobile Testing Framework Maestro
Leland Takamine is Co-Founder & CEO of mobile.dev, the team behind open source mobile UI testing framework Maestro. The framework, which is a compelling new alternative to Appium or Espresso, has quickly grown to 2.6K stars and a community of >700 users.
The company has raised $3M from investors including Cowboy Ventures, Essence VC, and a number of high-profile angel investors.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of ease of use for getting open source adoption, how community feedback creates a product advantage, the challenges with timing open source adoption, learnings from growing a community, how to time a paid product & more!
E62: Bring Visibility to Your Codebase With CodeSee
CodeSee has raised $10M from investors including Uncork, Boldstart, and Wellington.
In this episode, we discuss how to test messaging, the importance of having a strong GTM strategy early-on, what a great onboarding experience looks like, and more!
E61: Compensating Open Source Developers with Tea
Tea has raised $8M from investors including Binance Labs.
In this episode, we discuss the founding story for Tea, learnings on building extremely large open source projects and communities, Tea's ties to Web3, and helping open source developers get compensated for their work.
E60: Building Highly Scalable Databases with PlanetScale
PlanetScale is powered by the open source database clustering system Vitess which was originally built at Google to scale YouTube.
The company has raised over $100M from investors including KPCB, Insight, SignalFire, and a16z.
In this episode, we discuss PlanetScale's positioning as a database platform rather than a database, the importance of authenticity and showing off capabilities with every launch, transparency around pricing, proving the ability to scale, looking at the quality of companies and people in the community as a measure of success, thinking about GTM very early, and much more!
E59: Harness Your Behavioral Data With Snowplow Analytics
Snowplow's open source behavioral data engine, also called snowplow, has over 6K stars and is a developer-first engine for collecting behavioral data.
Snowplow has raised $55M from investors including NEA, MMC, and Atlantic Bridge after being bootstrapped for some time.
In this episode, we discuss the flexibility you get from bootstrapping your company - especially if it's open source, the importance of GTM and user persona clarity when building in a competitive space, investing in product marketing early, the challenges of visibility when open source is a core part of your GTM funnel, and much more!
E58: Open Source Developer Data Platform Tigris
Tigris has raised from investors including Basis Set and General Catalyst.
In this episode, we discuss the importance of focusing on user problems rather than your solution, hiring for your specific company needs (ie Tigris needed engineers who had operated at scale), learnings for other open source data-focused founders, and more!