This summer, Kinvey, a Boston based startup launched out of TechStars‘ incubator program in Boston, Mass. Pronounced like convey, Kinvey is a “backend as a service” that makes it incredibly easy for mobile app developers to focus on making beautiful, user-friendly apps. At TechStars’ Demo Day on June 15th, Kinvey wowed investors on the idea that its service would be the hub for the next generation of wireless devices and apps to empower billions of people across the world in ways that will change the face of learning, communication and commerce.
In fact, investor Fred Destin (pictured below), a partner at Atlas Venture, even stood up at the end of Kinvey’s presentation and announced to the entire room that he would provide $1 million in funding. “It was one of those California moments,” describes Kinvey founder and CEO, Sravish Sridhar. This changed Kinvey’s initial plan to raise $1.5 million, and with the support of Destin and Atlas Venture, Kinvey has just closed a seed funding round of $2 million.
“We’ve put a stellar syndicate together,” says Sridhar. “Our investors are folks who have run mobile development companies, they’ve been completely immersed in the mobile space.”
Part One. When Sridhar decided to start a company, he wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do. He reached out to a few people, like Bill Burnham, who were successful VCs to get their support to assess ideas, raise capital and build a team. He raised a small convertible note to iterate on a few ideas and find some customers.
“Sravish was the part of the founding team at United Devices. I led the Series A investment in the company in 2000 when I was a partner at Mobius Venture Capital . Sravish was a star at United Devices. Even though he had just an undergrad degree in Computer Science, he led development efforts that would have stumped many PhDs. Then we sent him to India to build a development team, and he grew it from 0 to 60 people and took the initiative to create re-seller channels in Japan and South East Asia. That proved to me that in addition to strong technical skills he could also build and lead a team. His success in India, prompted us to send him to Europe to set up and grow European Operations, where he became the #1 revenue generator for the company.
It’s pretty rare that you find someone technically trained who can also lead and sell so when Sravish came to me and said he wanted to start a new company, I invested after the first conversation even though he didn’t know exactly which idea he was going to focus on. He could have told me that he was going to sell steak knives and I probably would have invested.”
-Bill Burnham, Founder and Managing Director of Inductive Capital
Part Two. When the team finally came up with the idea for Kinvey and pursued it, they kept hitting resource constraints. Forming a core team at a startup is hard and it’s even harder when your has families and thus real risk to consider before putting their heart and soul into a startup. But Sravish knew the idea was still great so he continued to get the team together, making slow progress as they bootstrapped it.
Part Three. Getting into TechStars prompted the team members to quit everything and commit to Kinvey 100%. TechStars gave Kinvey access to all the top angel investors and VCs in Boston but the team didn’t have it easy to begin with. “You start pitching to a lot of investors and each one has a team, each one has a preference of the kind of company they want to invest in. You get more no’s than yes’s, so you develop thick skin,” says Sravish. Sravish says TechStars Boston’s Managing Director Katie Rae was a constant support to the Kinvey team.
Now Kinvey has 5 people full-time and will use the funding to scale the business and hire core platform developers who have built back-end services at scale as well as an internal mobile app team. This team will operate like an internal startup to come up with cool mobile ideas, which will then be open sourced. The team is also looking to build a developer evangelism group to reach out to developers all over the world.
Since its launch on May 15th, over 500 people have signed up for beta.
Check out Kinvey’s Demo Day Pitch here.
Any mobile OS platform can use Kinvey including iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, HTML5, etc. Kinvey’s backend middleware and data layers sit across multiple cloud service providers including Rackspace, Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure, so if one goes down, Kinvey is always up.
To read more on TechStars, don’t miss:
An interview with: TechStars’ David Cohen on startup rockstars.
TechStars Boulder: Inside the magic and mentorship of the top startup accelerator.