The ReadMe story by Gregory Koberger, founder
Our client and friend Greg from ReadMe nicely took the time to answer questions about his company and his work day to day. Big thanks to him and the ReadMe team. 💚
What’s your background?
I studied Information Technology and Computer Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). I chose that university because of their huge focus on design, usability and creativity.
What did you do before starting ReadMe.io?
I found my first tech internship through one of my professors at RIT. One of her former students had started a company in San Francisco, so in the summer of 2008 I flew to SF. I ended up staying 6 months, before I eventually went back to school. After a few more internships, I moved permanently to California to work at Mozilla. I did that for a few years before freelancing for a few more.
What does ReadMe.io do?
ReadMe is a platform for API documentation. Companies like Lyft, Box, Zenefits, Microsoft among others, use us to help other companies integrate with them. Currently, we’re working on building out a new metrics product, so I’m focusing on that. It will make it easy for our customers to understand how people are using their API and documentation.
How many people are in your team?
We’re a team of 9 people!
Do you work remotely or not? Why?
About one third of our team works remotely, and the rest are in the office. We do have work from home Wednesday though, where everyone works remotely. People can also work from home whenever they feel they’d be more productive that way. There’s a lot of good that can come from collaborating in an office, but it comes at the cost of a great many of distractions. We let everyone decide how much or little they want to work from the office.
Which tools do you use most?
What, or who, motivated you to get started with ReadMe?
I do both design and programming, and have always been interested in developer tools. After hating most API documentation, I felt like it was the perfect problem to tackle. I really believe in the growth of APIs over the next few years: they enable people with varying levels of technical skill to build something awesome.
How’d you find the funding to build everything?
I supported myself using freelancing, right up until we launched. Our launch was on Hacker News and Product Hunt, and within a month we were making about $3k/mo. That was enough for me to support myself full-time, in the run up to securing funding. We applied to Y-Combinator, and were accepted. At the end of YC, we raised a seed round.
How have you attracted users and grown ReadMe?
We’ve been lucky that our product is very visible. Most of our new signups come from people who see other documentation they like, see that it was built using ReadMe, and sign up.
How does your business model work? What’s the story behind your revenue?
Pretty simple! We’re a SaaS company, so we charge a monthly fee for our product. We’ve been growing steadily, and are lucky that we’re able to be profitable. It gives us the opportunity to take things slowly and get things right.
What are your goals for the future?
We want static documentation to be a thing from the past! We think that documentation should know about each user’s API usage, and have a customized appearance for each person. For example, if it’s the user’s first time using the documentation, they should have a completely different experience compared to if it’s their 10th or 100th time. And if there’s a problem, they shouldn’t have to go digging for the solution: we should already know what the issue is.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome?
As a startup, it’s really hard to balance everything: new features, bug fixes, marketing, growth etc. We’ve been working harder at product management in the past few months, so that we can push forward faster.
If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
I wish I had been better at delegating. Whilst it can be really tough to let other people take over on certain things, I never feel disappointed once I do and delegating lets me focus on new things.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Having someone to talk to is really important. I understand why Y-Combinator highly encourages co-founders. It’s really easy to get lost in the thousands of things you need to do, and ignore the important stuff.
What’s your advice for ‘start-uppers’ who are just starting out?
Everyone talks about the product/market fit. But founder/product fit is the really important thing to worry about. You’ll go through ups, downs and even more downs… so make sure you’re working on something you unconditionally love and believe in. You also won’t have the time or ability to decide things every step of the way, and will mostly just have to rely on your gut instincts, which is really hard to do if you don’t know intimately the problem you’re solving.
Do you have time for side projects?
Not really, but I still make time because it’s good to take a step back from ReadMe so as to gain some perspective. I recently launched Startup Escape, which is a startup-themed escape room. It has nothing to do with ReadMe, and at the same time, everything to do with it 🙂
Interview realized by Floriane Fontaine and reread by Emily Fiennes for Muxu.Muxu.