- DevZero is a company that makes developers more productive by offering a platform for cloud-based software development environments. This is the story behind the company.
DevZero is a company that has a goal of making engineers happier and more productive by enabling them to ship better products and setting up an environment where writing code is exactly like production. To learn more about DevZero, Pulse 2.0 interviewed Debo Ray, co-founder of DevZero.
Debo Ray’s Background
Ray is an engineer by training and spent six years as an infrastructure engineer at Uber before founding DevZero in January 2022, with his co-founder, Rob Fletcher.
How The Idea For DevZero Came Together
As Uber’s team was scaled, the DevZero team went through various iterations of an internal development environment platform until they settled on the current iteration called Devpods and Ray was involved in that process. After looking at the entire market, and understanding what companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google were doing, it made sense to start a company in this space that took somewhat of an enterprise-friendly angle.
DevZero’s platform offers engineers a complete production-like environment to directly code and test in. And the platform capabilities range from being able to support monoliths all the way through to companies that have microservice architectures on Kubernetes or serverless infrastructure.
“Engineers can spin up a brand new environment in seconds and have their very own sandboxed copy of production. We also allow engineers to share links to running applications inside their environments, as well as bring their debuggers into long production-like request chains. It’s really next-level tooling,” said Ray.
Taking DevZero To A Full-Fledged Business
Ray was working at Uber on a work visa. And one of the biggest challenges was to figure out how to start a company while on a work visa even though popular opinion suggested that this would not be possible.
“I wrote a few prototypes until I landed on one that people found promising. After that, my co-founder and I chatted with a few investors, acquired some funding, and got started. A few of our former Uber colleagues chose to join us and that’s how our team started to form,” added Ray.
DevZero went from a basic set of prototypes into a proper SaaS platform – which required quite a few modifications and fundamental rearchitecting.
“The first few months were focused on rapid product iteration and closely working with some customers. We didn’t have any support for Kubernetes or Serverless back then either,” revealed Ray. “What was once a single engineer writing prototypes is now a team of over 17 engineers so we keep incorporating lots of changes but the core platform is a lot stronger now.”
When I asked Ray about some of the company’s biggest milestones he replied that the first goal was to get to a world where the whole of DevZero was getting built on the company’s own platform.
“We arrived at that around the middle of last year. Our next goal was to have our first paying customers – we also hit that around the middle of last year,” Ray explained. “Our next set of goals is around having users on the open internet use DevZero and have it be successful at their company (with their teammates), without any involvement from our internal team – it’s a lofty goal for an early-stage SaaS startup but our team is definitely up for it and aim to hit it this year!”
Customer Success Stories
I asked Ray about customer success stories and he noted that there are quite a few, but a recent one that came to mind was when a company that worked on very advanced data technology that requires very bespoke (GPU-enabled) infrastructure came to them.
“They were having a hard time onboarding engineers around the world and were often experiencing 2-3 months long wait time to just get a powerful laptop. With DevZero, we managed to get those engineers onboarded and all configured in less than an hour! And now we see the new engineers encouraging other engineers on the team to start using DevZero,” Ray told me. “It makes me very happy to see our existing users talk about and encourage their teammates to use DevZero.”
Funding And Revenue Goals
The company has raised $26 million in funding to date. And the company’s main focus is on onboarding increasingly larger companies and making their engineers successful.
We had one user say that if they were running out of money, DevZero would be the second last tool they would get rid of before Google Suite. And another user said that without platforms like DevZero, modern technology stacks could never really realize their full potential.
Distinguishing From The Competition
There is a combination of things that distinguishes DevZero from its competition.
“I want to emphasize that we really believe that our competitors are doing great work at helping evangelize and improve a software development lifecycle stage that’s often overlooked,” Ray acknowledged. “This is a new space where I believe the biggest competition is the status quo of coding on the local laptop. At DevZero, we try to take an approach of not only being the developer’s best friend but also staying very cognizant of the engineering leader’s needs and requirements. At the end of the day, this is a fundamentally large change in how software is developed, and we believe that while an engineer has to love the products we build, the engineering leaders also have their requirements (cost control, security, etc.) that need to be met for the company to be truly successful.”
Last month, DevZero Serverless won a 2023 DEVIES Award in the Microservices & Serverless category. And the 11th annual DEVIES Awards are the definitive annual awards for the software industry recognizing outstanding design, engineering, and innovation in developer technology across 31 categories.
“It was a fantastic process. We put a lot of hard work into supporting Kubernetes and Serverless within our platform,” Ray observed. “We understand how hard microservice development has become and we try out best to make it as painless as possible. I feel proud that our hard work has been recognized.”
Future Company Goals
What are the future company goals of DevZero?
“World domination,” Ray quipped. “Just kidding. Our main goal right now is to make the onboarding process to DevZero a lot smoother so that engineers can perceive value as fast as possible. Engineers are fundamentally impatient beings (being an engineer, I have first-hand experience with this), and we need to help them as fast as possible. Once we sort that out, we want to enable a larger number of companies to use DevZero. Then we’ll start to think about other areas of the SDLC that we might potentially be able to impact with our platform.”