Northflank, a startup from a couple of guys in their 20s, has been working on a full-stack DevOps platform in the cloud since their first year at university in 2016. Today the startup announced a $2.6 million seed investment and the launch of that platform.
Those CTOs like that the company is building a one-stop shop for DevOps in the cloud, says co-founder and CEO Will Stewart. “Northflank is what we call a full-stack cloud platform that allows a developer to sign up, connect their version control — GitHub, Bitbucket or GitLab — and immediately build and deploy all of their repositories via a Docker file,” he explained.
The two founders, Stewart and Frederik Brix, met in 2011 as young teens through online multi-player gaming. Stewart was in London, while Brix grew up in Zurich. As they got older, they helped build online communities around their passion for gaming, and eventually decided to build an online DevOps platform together as they entered university, because they saw firsthand the issues they had running game servers in the 2015 time frame.
Even though they were quite young at the time, they wanted to take advantage of the nascent cloud native tooling like Kubernetes, and as they began to tinker with it, the idea of building their own platform began to take shape. They continued working on the idea while attending university and didn’t even meet in person until last year when they attended an accelerator together in Paris.
That led to £250,000 in angel money and bought them time to hire some additional engineers to build out the platform and get it ready for market. Today it provides a soup-to-nuts modern developer experience in a slick interface where you can schedule jobs and projects and manage and run builds.
They currently have a team of nine people, including the two founders. The pandemic did not change the way they worked, as they have worked remotely from the start. Most of the team has never met in person. He says as an international, fully remote company, he can hire people from anywhere, and he’s hopeful that will lead to a more diverse workforce as they grow and develop as a company.
Stewart admits that making the transition from full time developer to managing a company has been challenging, but he’s learning as he goes. “It’s been an interesting learning process. It’s almost like diving in at the deep end. We obviously have to get at least some things right immediately like running payroll and the legal stuff,” he says.
He has leaned on accountants and lawyers to help, as well as financial services like Revolut and TransferWise. They have also set up spreadsheets to automate some activities like managing payroll.
Today marks the first day of the company with the platform going live, and the two founders have high hopes for the product they have been working on in some ways since they were kids. Now, they will try to grow a successful company based on all they learned through all of those experiences along the way.