Years after crashing on Travis Kalanick’s couch, this Italian founder just raised $18 million for his startup

by admin March 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm

For Mashape CEO Augusto Marietti, the Silicon Valley dream is playing out as well as could be imagined.

In 2009, Marietti and his cofounder Marco Palladino — who’d formed a software company in Milan a year earlier — learned of and were accepted into TechCrunch50, a pitch competition that has evolved into today’s giant TechCrunch Disrupt events.

As the event approached, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick — then an active angel investor who was just beginning work on the ride-sharing service — posted an ad on Craiglist, offering his home to founders coming in from out of town. Three teams responded; Kalanick chose Marietti and Palladino, providing them a bedroom for a few days and, more importantly, a lifeline to Silicon Valley after they returned home. Indeed, Marietti says he was back in California six months later, negotiating $100,000 in convertible notes with several early YouTube employees at Kalanick’s kitchen table.

At the time, Mashape had just $2,000 in the bank. Fast forward, and today, Mashape has now raised $28 million in funding, including a fresh $18 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from earlier backers Index Ventures and  CRV.

It’s been a battle that has gotten easier to fight over time, as Marietti, tells it.

New Enterprise Associates led a $1.5 million seed round in 2011,  then the company “struggled and made it to the Series A,” a $6.5 million found that closed in 2013, including with a bit of capital from Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

But Mashape’s company’s newest round “happened quickly because we found a gold mine,” says Marietti of his 25-person company. How, exactly? The company had built for itself an internal technology to help navigate the API marketplace it began building years ago; at some point, it realized that “air traffic controller” like technology was the most valuable aspect of its business, and it began to make it available to enterprises.

Companies finally get it, too. They’re embracing microservices — functional blocks of software — in waves, and they need help in getting their APIs to communicate with each other. You can see this in excitement over Mulesoft, an integration platform (including for APIs) that went public last week and saw its shares soar more than 45 percent.

As for Mashape, more than 30 companies are currently paying it a six-figure annual subscription for its core product, called Kong, and the company became cash-flow positive in December.

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