Seattle Techstars Grad Shippable Gets $8M for Better Software Tests

A year ago, Avi Cavale, co-founder of Shippable, was on stage at Techstars Seattle Demo Day, pitching his company’s solution for software development and testing headaches.

Thursday, as another crop of Techstars Seattle company founders prepare to go before investors, Shippable is announcing an $8 million Series A funding round, along with a fast-growing user base of more than 25,000 individuals at 1,700 organizations.

The funding will accelerate development of a new version of its Docker-friendly tools for continuous software testing and integration suitable for the larger and more demanding enterprise market. Docker is an open-source technology, similar to virtualization, that packages applications as “containers,” separating them from the computing infrastructure they run on.

For Cavale, who co-founded Shippable in 2013 with Manisha Sahasrabudhe, the last year has been a whirlwind.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he says. “I cannot believe it’s been one year since we actually did Demo Day. I’m definitely 10 years older in terms of dog years.”

Reflecting on the experience of pitching to the audience at Techstars Demo Day—which attracts a who’s who of the Seattle technology and early-stage investment community—Cavale says the warnings from Andy Sack were spot on. Sack, Techstars Seattle managing director, tells the companies repeatedly that Demo Day—which marks the end of an intensive, three-month startup accelerator program—is “this big high” that, like other highs, can be followed by a rough come down, Cavale says.

“Typically keeping motivated after that is a hard part, because you’re such a point of focus at that point, and then suddenly you are on your own and instead of having like 10, 12 other teams that are with you, you now are just yourselves,” Cavale says. “So, it’s a hard thing to do, and that basically was one of our biggest challenges, at least for the first two months.”

ShippableShippable managed to maintain its momentum coming out of Demo Day with a $2 million seed round announced last December from Founders Co-op, Divergent Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital, and angel investors. That same group of venture firms is re-upping for the Series A round, with Madrona leading the round, and Madrona managing director Tim Porter joining Shippable’s board.

Shippable released its first commercial offering in September. It allows software developers to quickly create virtual, cloud-based testing environments in the so-called software containers. Using this method, an individual developer’s code—written in isolation—can be tested against a replica of the full production version of the application, leading to fewer so-called “works on my machine” software bugs.

This is an improvement, Cavale says, from the status quo in which developers test their code against “stubs” that serve as proxies for other parts of the application on which their part depends. That works if those dependencies are static, but they almost never are: The other developers are updating their code at the same time. It quickly becomes a mess, Cavale says.

Shippable’s approach, Cavale says, has benefits including faster, more efficient software testing and integration, and reduced cloud computing costs.

The company has eight employees in the U.S. and six in India. It is hiring in areas including engineering and operations, and will also be adding sales and marketing staff as it prepares its offering for larger companies.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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