boldstart ventures

Replicated — Whiteboard to Series B

For those that don’t know boldstart, helping founders start their company is what gets us out of bed in the morning. We are fortunate to engage with visionary teams reimagining or creating entire markets, in many cases before a certificate of incorporation is filed. It can then take many years to build, and almost always there are “bet the company” moments along the way that test a team’s resolve. So we seek to partner with founders who are mission driven, relentless, and can adapt as the world unfolds around them.

Grant Miller and Marc Cambell of Replicated are two such founders, who in 2014 set out to build a better way to deploy SaaS on-premise. When they started, the prevailing wisdom was that enterprises would move to the public cloud, adopt all software as SaaS and building on-prem software was a dying market, so they were contrarian to say the least. But they saw a platform shift to containerization and the emergence of Docker made it possible to deploy dedicated, installable versions of SaaS products into an enterprise’s single tenant environments without forking the codebase. Thus SaaS vendors could offer the best of both worlds, focus on the cloud and still deliver software on-prem. Additionally, they saw the emergence of VPCs within IaaS as a way for enterprises to mimic the privacy & controls of their data centers without racking and stacking machines. This trend allows enterprises to leverage “the cloud” without needing to go all-in on SaaS… again, best of both worlds.

Having worked together on their prior company, we knew they had a relentless focus on product and customer. After many discussions and collaborative whiteboard sessions, they agreed to let us lead their first round.

Replicated Team (2015)

We got to work connecting with potential customers and advisors to help them refine the offering. One such advisor, Tom Preston Werner, deeply understood the problem Replicated was solving having deployed Github Enterprise to on-prem customers and wrote a great post about it here. This was their customer discovery email (below):

By 2017, Replicated had a growing roster of happy customers like Hashicorp, TravisCI, and CircleCI. Around this time, the founders saw another platform shift on the horizon and made the tough decision to rebuild around Kubernetes. It was a “bet the company” moment that took two years and two product iterations to get right. How do we know it was right? The inbound demand tripled and pilots started converting three times faster.

Today, nearly six years later Replicated has built a solution that will finally end traditional on-prem software. As it turns out the answer isn’t everything as SaaS, but rather everything cloud-native and modernizing “on-prem software” to be Kubernetes-based, highly automated and IaaS-compatible.

As we like to say, infrastructure startups take time to bake and mature, to build a community, to build the developer adoption, and over time if the product north star is always there, things will eventually take off. It’s been an amazing journey partnering with Grant and Marc from the very beginning, when the odds were stacked against them, and we’re thrilled to continue to invest in their Series B round with Two Sigma Ventures and existing co-investor Amplify Partners.

@boldstartvc day one first check partner for enterprise founders, chronically curious New Yorker.