Long story short, I went to Silicon Valley and raised $55,000 seed funding for my Browserling startup that I am doing together with James Halliday (SubStack).


James Halliday, our lead investor and advisor David Weekly, Peteris Krumins

Here is how I did it.

Last year in March, James offered me to do a startup. He had this idea of putting virtual machines on the web. I knew he was really good at functional programming and the idea was solid, and I had been wanting to do a startup for years, so it didn't take me long to agree to do a startup with him. James already had a prototype in Haskell but it was too slow, so I rewrote it in node.js and wrote several C++ node.js modules for fast encoding. In July we had a solid working prototype and I announced on my blog that I am doing the StackVM startup. We had decided to apply to Winter 2010 YC, so we hacked some more, and applied to YC in October. I was super sure we'll get accepted as I had done various interesting projects in the past for reddit, digg (this project had 100,000 visitors in 20 hours), hacker news, I had over 50 unique projects on github and my programming articles were getting millions of views. I bought a ticket to USA on October 20, before the results were even announced. Meanwhile, James took a car trip from Alaska, where he was residing at the time, to Oakland. On October 27 I took a flight from Riga, where I live, to Frankfurt and then took a flight from Frankfurt to SFO and arrived there at around 9pm on October 28. Then I took BART to Oakland and met James for the first time. He was a good guy, so everything was fine.

The YC results were to be announced on November 2. November 2 came and to our horrors they decided to pass on us and we didn't even get an interview. Here is our YC application and 2 minute YC video if anyone is interested. The video isn't great but it was like the 100th time we tried to record it and we were out of energy to do more videos so we just went with what we had at 100th take.

Fortunately for us, I had saved some money from all my previous jobs and my projects and decided to put $15,000 into our startup myself. I had been willing to do a real startup for years so I was fine with putting $15,000 in and we just started coding and not thinking about much else.

James had heard about Hackers and Founders meetup that's organized by Jonathan Nelson and Laura Nelson, so we decided to attend all the Hackers & Founders meetups. When I first met Jonathan I was really surprised cause he knew me already from this blog! He had used my xgoogle Python library for scraping Google search results for his Newsley startup. That was thrilling! The goal of this blog from the beginning was to get me well known and my blogging efforts had paid off. Success, I was known in the Silicon Valley! So we'd continue to go to Hackers & Founders meetups in SF and Mountain View, and we'd show everyone we could what we had made, and things were going really well. People loved what we were doing and we didn't worry much about anything, we'd just code and improve Browserling. We launched beta on November 24th and added paid plans in January. The moment we launched the paid plans we got our first customer, and then a few more, and then a few more, and by the end of January we had 10 paying customers already! Things were looking fantastic, but the time was ticking and the $15,000 was running out. It was now February and we had just a few $k left, so we decided it was time to raise money. At one of the Hackers & Founders meetups Jonathan introduced us to Adam Rifkin and he was really excited about StackVM and Browserling. We told Adam that we were looking for a small investment of $50,000 that would keep us going, and he introduced us to David Weekly. So we went and met with David Weekly and he was also really excited about Browserling. He was actually so excited that he wrote a check for us on the spot! Haha, how awesome is that! That's the Silicon Valley I had read about! A check on the spot!

David Weekly decided to lead the investment round for us and help us structure the form of investment. We went with a convertible note, that's the best form of investment. He also introduced us to his friend Ulrich Gall. We took a trip to meet Ulrich Gall, talked for a few hours and we had another committed investor. We actually didn't have phones so he gave me a HTC Nexus One that he had gotten at one of TED conferences. Awesome! Now we were connected, too.

David also got his girlfriend Rebecca Lipon to invest. Meanwhile Adam introduced us to Nick Heyman, who's friends with Mike Tsao. We met with Nick and Mike, and they agreed to invest as well. Mike loved that we had paying customers already.

Now we had 5 investors but we didn't yet have a company! So we had to incorporate. We met with several lawyers from Orrick, Feynwick & West, and some more, and we liked the lawyer from Fenwick & West the most, so we went with him. A few days later we incorporated as Browserling INC. Then we took another trip to meet David Weekly and we signed the investment documents with him and Ulrich. On the same day David Weekly also interviewed us on his The David Weekly podcast. We were super excited.

Next we setup our advisors. David Weekly, Jonathan Nelson, and Adam Rifkin were the most helpful and the awesome people we had met so we set them up as our advisors!

At about the same time we also joined Jonathan and Laura Nelson's new startup incubator called Co-Op. We had discussed this with Jonathan before and we had said that if he ever did an incubator that we'd join in right away. And we did. We are the Reddit of Jonathan's incubator. Also it's funny how at first we didn't know what to call the incubator, so we called it secret super ninja turtles meetup. That's what I still call it when talking with James. :)

That's the story. Now we're adding all kinds of cool features to Browserling. Just last week we launched tunnels for Browserling that allow you to access your localhost or local network from Browserling, and we're launching Testling soon, that's an automated test framework for Browserling.

I have a dozen more blog posts prepared about Browserling. Such as how we open-sourced 40 node.js libraries, how open sourcing them made Browserling easy to maintain, how Browserling works internally, details of new features such as tunnels, resolution changing, testling. If you wish to hear more about it, I suggest that you subscribe to my blog and/or follow me on twitter!

Comments

July 26, 2011, 17:39

Extremely awesome! Can't wait to see you make it awesome and make a great impact which you naturally deserve! :)

July 26, 2011, 17:52

Thank you sir!

Spammer Permalink
July 26, 2011, 18:26

looks like a great service, I like that you can test different versions of IE...since that's the biggest culprit for huge changes to the design.

i think the long queue to try the free service is really going to be counterproductive, since the second the service gets popular people would have to wait for hours/days just to get their turn.

So the freebie should probably be eliminated all together.

July 26, 2011, 20:39

Think of it this way - the more people are waiting in the queue, the more people are interested in the service, the more paying customers we have, the more free servers we can afford.

At the moment there is huge spike, that's why the free plans are full.

July 26, 2011, 19:44

Well done. I've read your blog since the early days and have always thought you will succeed.

With browserling, are you monitoring 'cpu usgae'? What if users do heavy javascript code? Just curious.

July 26, 2011, 20:26

We are not yet doing that but it's a good idea. At the moment someone usually reports that Browserling is slow. Then I just terminate that EC2 instance and boot up a new one. Also I am adding VM cycling soon, then I'll just terminate instances every hour, and boot up new ones, so we never have crappy (or hacked) ones running!

July 26, 2011, 20:14

Hi, I'm wondering what visa you are on in the United States and how you managed to found a company in the US without being a citizen or resident? As a foreign citizen I've been looking into ways to do start a company here but it looks like I would have to be a majority investor myself, which I can't currently afford.

July 26, 2011, 20:39

That's why I have the awesome co-founder James Halliday. :)

rnsanchez Permalink
July 26, 2011, 21:19

That's great news!
Best wishes for you guys and the new company! :-)

July 26, 2011, 22:47

Have you seen Scout from http://saucelabs.com/ ?

July 26, 2011, 22:58

Yes, I have. :)

jaysunn Permalink
July 27, 2011, 00:34

Peteris,
Congratulations mate!! I have been watching your website for a year or so. I have read your google interview and I have always known that you were ready to get some funding.

Great luck to you and do not forget about the little people / blog readers.

Jaysunn

July 27, 2011, 10:39

Thanks, and I will not forget about my blog readers. Many more interesting posts coming!

July 27, 2011, 06:11

Congratulations! I prefer this kind of posts to the Awk ones ;)

July 27, 2011, 10:39

Awk ones are fun, too. :)

Aleksejs Permalink
July 27, 2011, 06:13

Apsveicu! Malacis! Turies! ;)

What kind of visa/permanent stay permit do you have and do you have to go back and forth LV <-> US a lot?

July 27, 2011, 10:40

Paldies!

I went to get the funding on a B1 visa. I do not have permanent stay permit. B1 allows you to stay in the US for up to 6 months at a time.

July 27, 2011, 07:30

Truly Inspirational! Keep going guys! :)
Your hard work will definitely pay off!

July 27, 2011, 10:40

For sure!

July 27, 2011, 10:13

Awesome! You guys have done really well job. I kinda get inspired by posts like this. Hopefully, some day I will also write my own success story in Silicon Valley, and may be we will also have a chance have a tea-meeting together. All the best guys. Thanks for posting.

July 27, 2011, 10:42

Just do it. ;)

Gordon Freeman Permalink
July 27, 2011, 11:17

Take my crowbar and antiradiation suit. It will help you in your startup journey.

Piyush Goel Permalink
July 27, 2011, 12:47

Nice post Peteris !! All the best for your startup !! :)

July 27, 2011, 15:19

Thanks Piyush!

July 27, 2011, 12:54

Nice story and best of luck.

July 27, 2011, 12:58

Good work guys! Your hard work and dedication rewards you, hope your company will also grow fast.

July 27, 2011, 15:22

Thank you!

_pingu Permalink
July 27, 2011, 13:08

That's so inspiring. All the best!!!

July 27, 2011, 15:52

One of my favourite start-ups, nothing beats personality in my opinion.

Daquan Wright Permalink
July 28, 2011, 20:42

I don't know you personally Peter, but I wish you much success.

I'm branding myself and pushing my knowledge for making websites for people because I love it.

You inspired me to start self-studying math as well. :)

Good luck!

July 31, 2011, 12:43

Thanks and good luck to you too! Keep me posted on how your self study of math goes!

Yaam Permalink
October 17, 2011, 16:02

First time on your website !

I wish you good luck for all your projects.
You have good motives and I fell like you got passion for what you do so keep going..

We need more people like you!

knowledge is power and needs to be shared

Yaam

The Gogans Permalink
May 06, 2012, 06:35

Browserling is great, but I can get most desktop browsers as PortableApps. You want money? Add mobile browsers. And not just latest-generation iOS - fight the "320x480 is the smallest device" ignorance by including a 240x400 Android phone.

December 02, 2014, 15:17

all project very nice http://www.softwaresdownload.in/2014/11/viber-free-download-for-blackberry-z3.html#more

December 06, 2014, 12:13

Seems very inspiring. You success story is much related with one of my dream. You make it true. But I don’t know what will happen with my dreams. Anyway thanks for sharing ...

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