We’re very excited to announce our First Angel Round. Almost all startups have to pass over this step. So there is nothing surprising with that. But our story till now wasn’t so easy. Most of the time Americans don’t understand how harder is to achieve the same milestones if you are outside of this world, than in the USA, if you are just a little guy with a big dream 7000 miles away from San Francisco. You have to get into the network when nobody knows you. We grew up in Italy; it’s not the kind of place where you can build the next big thing, you can do startups, obviously, but just into the fashion industry :) Down there nobody really believes in technology. For almost 2 years we tried to raise money from all the Italian investors (very few, I have to say). Someone said that this idea was too big, someone else that we were not good enough to realize it and was technically impossible to do it, others that we were too young, etc…
So, instead of giving up, we crushed in a garage in Milan on April 2009, to build up the alpha of Mashape. We coded for 10 months in a row, making more than 90.000 lines of code and creating an entirely new language, XML based (2 developers). On September we went at the TC50 as a Demopit with just a prototype version of the platform, but it was valuable and we started making some connections. Once the product was ready enough we moved (me, Mark and Mike; on late January 2010) to San Francisco with just few grants. We knew that we had to do something as early as possible because we were running out of money day after day, and our bank balance and pursuit of success were starting to die. So, we crushed at all the events, we called all the people and asked them for help, we presented at SFNewTech, and walked around the city up and down like homeless…I think that we were everywhere in SV during these last months, if something was up and running, well, mashapers went there!
During the last month we were approached by a couple of investors, and eventually we decided to keep going with a group that looks great and works very fast. It has passed less than 19 days since our first meeting to get the money in the bank. In Italy the same process could take 6 months: a startup has two main critical points, money and time, you can’t wait on these things.
The investment comes from admirable and expert people, someone call them YouTube guys others YouTubers; I just call them: Kevin, that was the 14th employee and VP of Contents at YouTube; Dave, that was YouTube’s second lawyer and before a Senior Corporate Counsel at Yahoo; and Dwipal, that was a PayPal engineer and later the 9th employee at YouTube, so a very early engineer, and he has built the 80% of the features that all of us are using now, and scaled the service from a couple of thousand users to dozen of millions; he’s now the founder of PickV with Christina, YouTube’s first employee. We got the money when we still had just $2000 in the bank (oxygen for no more than another month).
YouTube is backed by Sequoia Capital and later acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 Billion, now a +500 employees company that is making hundreds of millions a year and is almost profitable; it has changed all the media industry”.
Finally, we got a new advisor, Jude Gomila that is the founder of HeyZap, a powerful gaming startup that is revolutionizing the distribution and monetization of Flash games; it’s backed by YCombinator and Union Square Ventures . Most important I have to say a huge thanks to Travis Kalanick (almost everyone knows him in the Valley) that is a kind of our “Secret Weapon” that helped us on get things done, many thanks!
I know that we are just at the beginning of our road, but we’re going to work as much as possible to deliver real value to our users!
Last, but not least, whether the world recently is talking badly about United States of America, I still believe in this country and I believe that the “American Dream” is still alive, because if someday we’ll be somewhere with our company I have to say thanks to Americans.
Thanks to those people who believe in us!
“The mind is everything. What you think you become” Siddharta, Buddhism’s founder