Six years ago, Keith Horwood was known in his native Toronto as a former graduate student whod hacked into his schools student union election site, changing candidates titles for comic impact.( He was given whats called a conditional discharge after paying a fine and performing community service .)
He also determined that hed instead become known in tech circles as an agent for good, and he seems to be working toward that end withStdLib, his approximately two-year-old startup that abstracts away infrastructure utilizing serverless architecture, allowing developers to write everything from simple functions to complex business logic, then deploy their code as scalable, fully documented web APIs.
The idea: deliver web services and APIs is a complex problem, and plenty can go wrong between the birth of a business idea and the production implementation of a web service. StdLib is aiming to solve the problem by making it possible to deploy new updates that areuncoupled from a companys infrastructure.( This way, if things run awry with that new function or update, users and customers neednt know .)
The company has plenty of rivalry. Still, investors must think it has a chance at fighting through a growing field of upstarts.
StdLib first passed through the accelerator program AngelPad early last year; today, its announcing another$ 2 million in fresh seed funding led by BlueYard Capital, a Berlin- based venture firm focused largely on the democratization of software development.
Other investors in the round include Joe Montanas Liquid 2 Ventures; Aston Motes, who was Dropboxs first engineer; Michael Dabrowski, president of the biotechnology company Synthego; and the Nordic Makers Venture Group.
Horwood tells it wasnt easy breaking into the Silicon Valley scene several years ago, where he first moved to work at Storefront, a company that likens itself to an Airbnb of retail, renting out short-term commercial space.
After moving on to Synethego, an open-source project Horwood had been tinkering with on the side took off, and Polybit, the parent company behind StdLib, was born.But he needed help.
I was a solo founder; that was extremely difficult because I didnt have a network, he tells. I didnt go to a top-tier Ivy League school.
San Francisco, with its notoriously high cost of living, was a tough place to live at first, too. My first year here, I lived in a tiny, tiny room in a house full of five people that had no external windows, remembers Horwood. It was essentially a closet. But it was just $700 a month and I saved every penny.
When it came to attracting outside funding, Horwood supposed the ton of open source stuff that he had released into the world would help, but it didnt. It was hard to get initial proof that we have a vision its this new market that[ investors didnt] understand[ early last year] but where were at the forefront.
Horwood adds with a giggle that hes happy I underestimated how difficult it would be to build a company from the ground up.
Its still early days, of course. StdLib has just one other employee: co-founder, Jacob Lee, a Princeton Computer Science graduate who Horwood met at a hackathon early last year.( The two also work with two full-time contractors .)
Still, a little funding has understandably put a skip in Horwoods step. You have to find the right people, who really believe in you. He says he wouldnt be where he is today without the help in particular of AngelPad co-founder Thomas Korte. Hes very tough on startups, but when he believes in you, he helps you to believe in yourself.
Asked if he could have built StdLib back home in Toronto, Horwood says he thinks it would be possible, dedicated Torontos vibrant and growing tech scene.
Having transgressed through the first barriers to creating a startup, though, he isnt looking back. Maybe it voices corny, he says, but I wouldnt trade the experience of the last three years, of living here, of satisfying the people Ive met, for anything.
Picture courtesy of StdLib. Featured above, left to right, Lee and Horwood .
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