Launching the open source version of Otomi and getting funded

Finally we break the silence. Today we announce the release of the Otomi Container Platform Community Edition and a EUR 1.2 Million seed investment.

In this blog post, I personally look back at a year with ups and downs, but we closed 2020 on a high note. When we started Red Kubes in 2019, I never thought we would be where we are now. 2020 turned out to be a year of extremes. In this blog post, I’ll share my journey towards getting funding and some background on why we’re going open source.

Getting Funding

At the beginning of 2020, I actively started looking for capital to grow our company. I remember coming home after pitching our company for the first time at a Money Meets Ideas pitch event. The response was positive, so I thought we were safe. How wrong can you be? Getting an investment involves far more than pitching a group of investors. Anyway, after weeks I spoke with a couple of interested informal, and my god, did they have a lot of questions. They asked things I never thought about. And although we already had done a Proof of Concept at a very large dutch company, they did not believe our product was ready. Neither did they understand that a product like we developed is not bound to a specific market segment. Any fast-moving software company developing containerized applications and running them using technology like Kubernetes is a potential user.

After my first experiences, I fine-tuned my pitch deck and started to contact multiple Venture Capital firms. I also got in contact with Thomas Mensink from Golden Egg Check and participated multiple times in the StartupRoulette. If you’re a startup, I would definitely recommend doing this. During the StartupRoulette, I spoke to a lot of interesting people from different VCs. Some of the ‘dates’ resulted in a second virtual meeting (thanks to COVID), some did not. After talking to a lot of VCs, I found out that although most of the investors were very enthusiastic, they had no clue on what we’re doing or were only looking for investment opportunities in companies with an MMR of around 100k (yes, the Dutch go for safety). There were also VCs that liked what we were doing but wanted us to follow a different strategy. So no, the investment climate in the Netherlands is not ideal for technology startups who are not building some kind of SaaS or marketplace solution. And also COVID didn’t make it any easier. Getting in a meeting or a call with people seemed to be challenging — like they were all stuck at home and doing chores in the barn at the back.

And then out of the blue, Barry de Kock from Capital Mills called me. Capital Mills understood the problem we are solving and gave us carte blanche to execute a plan based on our own strategy. After intensive due diligence, including a technical audit from MadeWithLove (who said our product is top quality!), we closed the deal in December last year.

Going Open-Source

Today is not all about the funding announcement. We also launched the open-source Community Edition of Otomi Container Platform. And believe it or not, this is even more exciting than getting funding. This is the moment where we are going bare buttocks. Going open-source means really everybody can see what you’re doing and how you do it. And we all know developers especially are very critical. But this is also the main reason for going open source. We started building Otomi because we saw companies are all trying to invent the wheel for themselves. We don’t wanna become one of them. So why not join forces and let anybody have the opportunity to participate and last but not least, help us improve the quality. On the other hand, Otomi is a framework that serves as the glue between dozens of open source projects. We thrive on open source projects, so it seems logical that Otomi itself should be open source too.

Another argument for going open source is the fact that government organizations (like here in the Netherlands) promote its use. We saw that here in the Netherlands local government organizations are also struggling with Kubernetes. A national initiative even tries to provide a kind of Kubernetes reference implementation. Yes, they also are trying to invent the wheel themselves. By making Otomi available as open-source software, local government organizations can now stop worrying about building a Kubernetes-based platform and focus completely on software to make the lives of citizens more pleasant.

But now you might wonder: how are you going to earn money? Well, next to the core of Otomi (included in the CE version) we have also developed an EE version that offers features like self-service and delegation. This makes it even easier to use Kubernetes. With self-service, we offer a way to deploy containerized applications in a couple of minutes and expose them publicly within just a couple of minutes without writing any YAML code. Where the CE version can only be used with a single (administrator) role, the EE version supports multiple roles (super admin, team admin, and team member). Using the self-service, a super admin or team admin can onboard DevOps teams onto the platform with just a few clicks, and team members can log in into their own Otomi Console (that allows teams only to do what they’re allowed to do). Next to the EE version which we sell as Enterprise Software, we also offer Otomi as a managed service.

Thanking Everybody

If I have to start by thanking someone, it is definitely Maurice Faber. Maurice is the founding father of Otomi and without him, we would still be in the dark ages. Maurice, of course, did not build everything himself. It was a team effort. So a big thanks to the whole team.

I would also like to thank Barry de Kock and Erwin van Veen for their trust in us and the very pleasant cooperation up till now. We are going to make this a great success together.  

And I would also like to thank everybody else who was involved in this deal or who played a role in this journey. Thank you!

Sander Rodenhuis

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