The year 2023 was indeed a remarkable journey for Daytona. On the eve of 2023, we made the hard decision to reject an acquisition offer for a previous company, setting the stage for Daytona's inception. On the bright side, the offer instilled a sense of motivation, marking our definitive "Yes, we can" moment.
This meant that we had to go on from the start! We had to assemble a capable team, develop a minimum viable product (MVP), attract actual customers, and secure funding. Remarkably, we achieved all these milestones while surpassing our initial funding goals with an oversubscribed round that exceeded every expectation.
Indeed, it was an extraordinary year.
Decision at a Crossroads
As 2023 approached, Vedran Jukic, Goran Draganic, and I were standing at a crossroads. We had founded Codeanywhere, the first Cloud Integrated Development Environment (Cloud IDE), 15 years prior. Over time, despite its varying fortunes, we persevered, navigating the usual complexities and challenges of life alongside managing our business. Despite its challenges, the company gained interest from numerous parties, including three potential acquirers. We felt an excitement we hadn't felt since 2014 (when we were accepted into Techstars with Codeanywhere).
We were very excited; thoughts of "It's finally happening. We were right." ran through our minds as we contemplated all the years invested in the vision of revolutionizing the developer experience.
On the eve of 2023, a term sheet came in, and we had to decide whether to sell or not to sell. We deliberated intensely, weighing the immediate benefits against our long-term aspirations. The decision was tough. They were excellent individuals, and we were excited about the potential partnership.
Although initially leaning towards accepting the offers, we found ourselves needing to reevaluate. Had the offer come in two months earlier, we would have gone for it, but the sale would mean the end of the journey. We felt something in the air and couldn't help ourselves, so we decided to give our vision another go.
With the entry of major tech leaders into the scene, the market for development environments was rapidly approaching its pivotal moment. At the same time, there was a noticeable increase in the complexity of client demands. The landscape was undergoing a transformation. One that Codeanywhere was never designed to handle.
The potential to reshape the future of the developer experience presented an opportunity we couldn't pass up, even at the cost of short-term financial losses.
The validation of our work and the potential for the future sparked excitement among us. At the same time, we were inspired by emerging technologies and our team's inherent desire to innovate, so we began sketching a new product.
Turning down an acquisition offer meant we now HAD to go out on our own. We were not merely transitioning from one project to another; we were embarking on a mission to challenge the status quo in the development environment management space—a challenge that had remained unmet for over 15 years.
Before incorporating the company, we worked on the MVP, getting it to a stage where customers were willing to pay. This took the better part of the first quarter of 2023. Once we were ready, we sent it to the handful of potential customers we had ready. They were eager to use and pay for our new product—but we didn’t have an entity they could pay to! It was a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
In the first week of April, we were heavily brainstorming a new name for the company. As trivial as it sounds, this was just a first step to enable us to send the invoices. We eventually chose the name Daytona—why? Well, that's a story for another day. The team was fond of the name, and it stood out as a fresh alternative to the common 'Code', 'Git', and 'Dev' names saturating our industry.
By the second week of April, we had our first earnings in our account and a rough but functional MVP. The next step was clear: we needed to build quickly, which meant assembling a capable team.
Our focus turned to building a team that could bring Daytona to life. We sought individuals who not only possessed exceptional skills but who also shared our passion for the project. We also had little time as other companies already had more polished products, so we contacted experienced experts who had worked in the dev environment space.
Initially, the obvious move was to bring back Toma, Ivan, and Fabo, who had previously collaborated with us on the Codeanywhere project. Niko, with whom we previously worked together through the Shift Developer Conference, joined as our Head of Growth. We then welcomed Chad, renowned for his work at Docker, and Zoran, a senior infrastructure engineer from FreshBooks. Finally, Sara came aboard to bring order and organization to our growing team.
Our team boasts a cumulative 75 years of experience in development environments, and we take pride in each individual's contribution as a member of the Daytona team.
With a product (or at least an MVP), first paying customers, and now a small agile team pumping out features weekly, the next step was raising capital. We focused on who, rather than how much, as we believe this market will be won by the ability to execute and the support of the right partners.
That’s how we structured our round. We aimed to raise $1M from the best of the best in DevTool founders, operators who know the business, and whom the business knows. And we got them—even more than we had planned.
The fundraising journey was a rollercoaster—from securing the initial 30% in just ten days to navigating a slower period before we exploded past our $1M target. We had to put a hard stop once we exceeded our goal by double. With the best of the best, from the founders of Postman to Netlify, we had $2M in the bank and were ready to take on the world.
Pacing the Launch
The next milestone is the general availability (or GA) of Daytona. While pacing ourselves to launch publicly when ready, internally we adopted an aggressive work ethic, initially setting bi-weekly update goals but quickly accelerating to multiple releases per week, both from a product and awareness standpoint. This pace was not just about speed; it was a testament to our team's dedication and the ability to deliver on our mission.
With this momentum, we carefully speak to select customers to ensure Daytona works in their use cases, helping us mold a finely-tuned product.
Outlook for 2024 and Beyond
As we approach the close of 2024, Daytona stands on the cusp of a significant breakthrough. Our journey from a fledgling idea to a potential market disruptor has been a testament to strategic decision-making, perseverance, and innovative thinking.
The imminent launch of Daytona's General Availability is not just a milestone; it's the beginning of a new phase where we anticipate seeing the full impact of our efforts on the market. With further funding rounds on the horizon, new customer acquisitions, and ongoing team expansion, we're poised for even greater achievements.
This year's story has been about laying a solid foundation and overcoming challenges, setting the stage for Daytona to soar in 2024 and beyond. As we look forward to the new year, we're fuelled by excitement and optimism, ready to embrace new opportunities and continue our journey of revolutionizing the developer experience.