Solomon Hykes co-founder of Dotcloud – Docker

solomon-hykesSolomon Hykes (Epitech class of 2006) began his career at an SSII specialising in security. At the
same time, he thought about creating a simple and effective hosting service for developers, easily
scalable according to their needs: the idea of dotCloud was born
.

In 2008, Solomon Hykes took the first step and founded his company with Sébastien Pahl (Epitech class of 2009). The limited liability company developed a consulting business in order to finance R&D. It was hard at first, especially when it came to finding investors, complicated by the fact that there were few business angels specialising in new technologies in France.

In 2010, Solomon Hykes applied to Y Combinator, an innovative project incubator at the heart of Silicon Valley. The incubator offered $20,000 to the team in exchange for a small percentage of the company’s capital. The business had three months to develop its product and present it at a conference organised with investors: dotCloud hit the bull’s eye and raised €800,000.
A KIND OF CONTROL PANEL
“With Keymetrics, you can deploy code in production more often, while staying informed of any decline in performance or stability. Our solution makes it possible to manage several servers at once, analyse the processes under way, errors produced, etc.”

DOTCLOUD, A SUCCESS ON THE FORBES LIST
dotcloud-logo
The advent of dotCloud represented a new generation of online development platform (“PaaS”) which freed developers from the constraints of application deployment.

In 2011, the service raised 10 million dollars from investors at major companies such as Yahoo!, Apple, Benmarck and Trinity. This success was rewarded by the American magazine Forbes, which ranked Solomon Hykes among its “30 under 30”, in the “Technology” category. Source: Forbes.
WITH DOCKER, SOLOMON HYKES’ STARTUP RAISED 55 MILLION DOLLARS IN 2014
docker_logo
In early 2014, Docker, formerly dotCloud, continued its ascent and raised 15 million from Greylock Partners, Insight Ventures and the previous investors (Benchmark, Trinity Ventures and Jerry Yang – co-founder of Yahoo).
Downloaded over 400,000 times, the open source solution has already been adopted by big names in cloud computing such as RackSpace, Yandex, Open Stck, Baidu, eBay and Spotify. It plans to expand beyond the United States, where it has been present from the outset, into Europe and Asia.

In September 2014, the company raised another 40 million dollars from Sequoia and its partners. This new contribution brought the company’s value to around 400 million dollars.

Previous entrepreneur of the month : Alexandre Malsch, co-founder and CEO of meltyNetwork.

SAAS, the path to tech glory

key-metrics

Yesterday we were talking about the fundraising deadline when accelerating a startup. It may seem a long way away for the students who are due to graduate in 2017, and are in the middle of bootstrapping their EIPs. In fact that’s not the case: when you have an idea that is taken up by a whole community within a few weeks, things can move fast. Very fast, as shown by Keymetrics, a startup created by Alexandre Strzelewicz (Epitech class of 2014).


Keys and figures

Keymetrics is an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solution for monitoring and managing web applications for Node.js. Created by a startup led by Alexandre as CEO, it went through the school’s incubator, Creative Valley. Now it’s a big hit among developers.

A kind of control panel

“With Keymetrics, you can deploy code in production more often, while staying informed of any decline in performance or stability. Our solution makes it possible to manage several servers at once, analyse the processes under way, errors produced, etc.”


Techstars

After accelerating at the famous Techstars incubator in New York, the team that gathered around Alexandre has since been redoubling its efforts. The Techstars “demo day” indeed takes place on 17 April, the day when around 300 investors will be scrutinising “the startup with big potential”… “We hope to be lucky enough to raise 1 to 3 million dollars.”
Alexandre takes a look back at this amazing ascent for us.


Approved by the community

“Two years ago, during my exchange in my fourth year abroad (in Shanghai, Tongji University), I had enough free time to work at this company, Wiredcraft, where I learned Node.js. That’s where I saw a gap in the market for a tool to deploy Node.js applications in production. We ran an article on HackerNews which created a lot of traction: 70,000 visits in 3 hours…”

PM2

“I therefore developed PM2, a website manager that is becoming the most popular process manager in the Node.js ecosystem. Previously there was only one tool and it was not well maintained. The main point of PM2 in addition to the other solutions is that it enables a Javascript application to use all of a machine’s CPUs whereas a Javascript app only uses one CPU.”



A buzz around Github

“For its open source publication, many developers all over the world took part and contributed to improving it. Seeing the downloads grow month on month, I thought there might be an opportunity to create a “business” around this free product. So I send a questionnaire to the open source community and received over 2,500 answers containing feedback, emails and telephone numbers.”


Lean startup

“Given the community’s interest in this program, I therefore started work on an initial prototype during my final year internship. A few months later, I teamed up with Jérémy Boissinot (ESCP/Sciences Po) and we co-founded Keymetrics (12metrics SAS).”


Kremlin-Bicêtre, Paris, New York City

“We soon raised the funds with Kima Ventures ($150,000), recruited developers and rented an office in Paris to keep on developing the program. Then we were introduced to Alex Iskold through Yann Gozlan (co-founder and President of Creative Valley), Managing Director at Techstars. Alex Iskold strongly recommended that we apply to Techstars… and we were selected.” Since then it’s been all hands on deck to get ready for 17 April.

Get to see the world

job-offers

The appeal of travel and foreign lands is still very strong for certain groups, especially computer specialists. Julien Barbier (Epitech class of 2006) would not disagree. The founder of while42, the international network of French tech engineers, has just started TechMeAbroad. TechMeAbroad is a job board platform to help people travel and work in any country, not just the United States.


Export and import

Admittedly, as Florent Crivello, one of the pillars of the while42 network, said one day, “San Francisco, is like Disneyland for developers”. Except that “TechMeAbroad can help you find work in any foreign country”, as Julien emphasises. It’s true that “people’s wishes vary greatly by country. In France, young people are especially interested in the USA, Canada and England,” he explains.

A global theme in a world without frontiers

Although French IT engineers are attracted to Anglo-Saxon countries, it also works the other way round: an official agency like FACC in New York can help arrange the paperwork for Americans who want to find a job in France, especially at French IT companies and startups.
Julien and his friends do the same thing but without any institutional help, just out of a desire to help others and a sense of community. Julien has managed to build up this sense of community with maestria and while42, accompanied by Sylvain Kalache in particular.


the-team
(left to right: Florent Crivello, Sylvain Kalache, Ariane Zambiras and Julien Barbier)

Expansion of while42

“while42 is an international network of French tech engineers. Today we have a presence in over 35 towns and nearly 3,000 members. As the network has grown, we have had more and more requests for help from tech engineers looking for a job abroad, and especially in Silicon Valley.”
Yet this expatriation still needs to be managed at an administrative level.


The case of the USA

“For the USA the process is extremely complicated. There is a huge range of different types of visa. The most common is H1B, which is in no way a ticket to a green card. The green card lets you stay longer and is more easily renewable. The laws change often, and everyone uses a lawyer as the subject is so complicated. You also have to bear in mind that the lawyers’ fees and US visa fees must be entirely covered by the company sponsoring you.”

Why sponsoring ?

This need to recruit talent is indeed a strategic area for IT companies in an extremely competitive global marketplace. “In the USA, they are pulling out all the stops to change the laws and open doors to talented foreigners. FWD.us for example, co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Bill Gates (Microsoft), is very active (and its list of members is impressive…).”

sponsoring


Acceleration

“Over two years ago, I started making personal introductions, until I could no longer cope with the demand. A year later, I therefore started a blog with the vacancies I heard about, so I could help more people. Today, TechMeAbroad is the logical next step. This job board will let me help even more IT engineers and startups.”

From EIP To Google Sunlights

flat

Since the 2014 EIP Forum, the team behind Flat has come a long way. Today, this online music score publisher that lets people compose music together is the number one app in Google Hangouts, no less.

The fab 4

Never hesitating to go back to the drawing board – for instance overhauling nearly all their code in winter 2013/14 – Vincent Giersch, Corentin Gurtner, Pierre Rannou and Cyril Coutelier (class of 2014) caught Google’s attention.

Catching Google’s eye

As Pierre told us, “The connection happened through the soundtrack. Corentin contacted Google with some technical questions about implementing sound directly in a browser such as Chrome. Chris Wilson, a developer advocate at Google, then took an interest in our work.”

Amazing

“Vincent then submitted the Flat Hangouts app to the Google team in charge of developing the video chat service. An engineer got back to us to ask for our application ID so he could test it. In the following hour, several engineers connected in a Hangouts bubble to test the collaborative aspect in real time and the application as a whole. Their response was: we’re really impressed!” To try it, click here.

An identified market

“We then thought about the relationship between the total population using the Goggle Hangouts application and the very low number of compatible applications on offer… We then sent an email to Google to get as much information as possible about these various points and ask to be listed in a variety of places.”

Bingo

“They agreed to give us « featured » status, meaning that we’re highlighted in the Chrome store and are among the 15 suggested applications in Google Hangouts.”

bingo

The traction of Flat

“Following the publication of Flat in the Chrome store, we noticed a high number of downloads. Within this massive influx of users, we noticed many similar e-mail addresses, which we identified as belonging to teachers in the United States.”

Growth hacking

“We found out about the organisation of « district schools » in the States to learn more about how to drive take-up through this channel. Over there, all students have a free Google app account. They are then tagged as being within the education domain, which has a slightly different offering from the Chrome store for the general public. That’s why we were keen to ask Google for the “Education” label.”

A targeted target

“We have a pretty crazy amount of entry points on campuses and other educational organisations… I’d say that we get about ten every day in these circles.”

Figures

“In early January, we had 500 users, mainly from American universities, so these are qualified users. Many of them are the ones (70% of sign-ups) who spotted us thanks to the Chrome webstore. And people come back and write to us too, which is the most important thing. In mid-March we had 3,500 users. Today, we have over 10,000 with over 1,000,000 notes already scored…”

Google is smart

“Encouraged by this growth surge and by our user feedback, we decided to carry on integrating Flat into Google products. Surfing on Google products is totally in keeping with our vision: facilitating collaboration and exchange between individuals. And obviously this is a good way to confirm our traction.”

serious-stuff

French Frenzy

“We came up against a few technical difficulties. In particular there was a compatibility problem integrating Google Drive while using Hangouts. We are working with them on this issue to remove this limitation and thus provide our users with the best possible experience.”

The Social Network

“Eventually we physically met with Chris Wilson at the Web Audio Conference which took place in Paris. It’s also where we met Paul Adenot. Paul Adenot is a big name in the field of Web Audio API – which makes it possible to process sound directly in the browser. Corentin is the team member in charge of following this up, and is giving it his full attention.”

MusicXML and MIDI

The MusicXML format is a standard used by over 200 programs to store musical information. We are obviously watching this format very closely and implementing it day after day – paying special attention to visual rendering and drawings of musical symbols to ensure that our interface remains aesthetically pleasing. The same goes for the MIDI format: tomorrow on Wednesday 15 April, we will be offering that too.”

Lean startup

“This doesn’t mean launching a release really fast. On the contrary, we want to stay in beta mode for as long as possible. The TheFamily accelerator is helping us in terms of lean startup education. We gather user feedback every day and iterate by the day or by the week. As soon as we spot a breakthrough, we very quickly submit it to our users to approve our choices/designs/implementations. This is our method for all the features released for Flat.”

Timing

“A mobile app? Not necessarily for the time being, especially since we ourselves are scattered across several towns in France and China, so it’s not easy. But when I see all the potential we have, just with the web app and everything relating to it… We’ve set ourselves a target of 60,000 users by the end of June.”
One thing’s for sure, Flat.io’s growth curve is anything but flat.

Be Box Miami 2-day event

bbox

Now we’va had an introduction, it’s time for action. After the Tech Discovery Lab (TDL) #2 and other Q & A sessions to provide information for students at Epitech, Epita and Sup’Internet, it’s now the turn of the Bbox Miami hackathon.

Specific information

Organised by Bouygues Telecom and IONIS Education Group, this big event for brainstorming and development of all kinds focussing on the new Bouygues Telecom box will start on Wednesday 4 March at 7 pm and end on Friday 6 at 6 pm. It’s time to register.

A smart new world

We’ve already given a few examples of what you can imagine and then produce with Miami, its pet name among developers at the IONIS Education Group – Kremlin – Bicêtre Technology Campus. Miami is an open system that “connects feeds”, in a nutshell. It enables direct synchronisation between a smartphone, itself and the big screen.

Apps and API

To sum up, the Bbox Miami is firstly a TV-oriented interface that opens up a vast range of web possibilities. Hackathon entrants can design all kinds of apps to combine content, innovative notification systems and interpersonal recommendations; it’s a vast playground. The Bbox Miami is an open system.

And IoT too

What’s more, and we can indeed reveal that some students who have already registered are exploring this area, the Bbox Miami can serve as a hub between a smartphone and connected devices in the home. At TDL #2 for example, Lionel Laské (Innovation Director at C2S) and François Gette (Open API Chief Architect at Bouygues Telecom) mentioned the possibilities of connecting Bbox Miami and Flower Power by ParrotLG G Watchou and Awox lamps, not forgetting iBeacons of course.

Speaking of iBeacon…

iBeacon being essentially a Bluetooth 4.0 frequency transmitter, Michael Ohayon (Epitech class of 2016) attended the workshop session at TDL #2 to demonstrate how Miami can identify Bluetooth frequencies all around it, with an app made in less than 10 min. Another area where a number of practical uses could easily be envisaged…

Android and so much more

Students who aren’t well-versed in Android development don’t need to learn it all this weekend… For instance, you can develop Android apps very successfully by going via Cordova and programming in HTML5. Likewise, an iOS second screen is also an option.

One last Q & A

For latecomers, one last Q & A session is being held at the Spot Bouygues on Monday 2 March, from 4.30 pm to 6 pm. This Spot is at the usual place, on the 5th floor of the Paritalie building on 18, Rue Pasteur at Kremlin – Bicêtre. Those who don’t have time to go can find plenty of information here.