Starting your business for some begins easy, but what happens when you begin expanding and your RDBMS can’t hold what you need? You are sick of splitting between two servers and your NoSQL does not give you the quality you want. Introducing Cockroach Labs’ CockroachDB. The company that started from a frustration the founders had at Google, is becoming big and like a cockroach can survive whatever data issues may come your way. With the simple goal of making your data easy the company that has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, BI and Venture Beat is looking to do great things for our community of Tech Startups.
Cofounder and CEO Spencer Kimball spoke with AlleyWatch about their latest round of funding and gave us the insider info on what their name is about.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $20.25M in our Series A1 round, led by Mike Volpi at Index Ventures and joined by GV, Benchmark, FirstMark and Work–Bench.
Tell us about your product or service.
Cockroach Labs builds next generation open source infrastructure, starting with CockroachDB. CockroachDB is a distributed OLTP SQL database that provides transparent scalability with inherent resilience, allowing business continuity even in the face of datacenter outages.
What inspired you to start the company?
My co-founders and I each spent roughly 10 years working at Google and then moved on to a series of startups, culminating at Square. At Google and at every startup after, we ran into the same database headaches:
Either you’re using an RDBMS and your data gets too big for the database, forcing you to manually split amongst multiple databases (app-level sharding), or you opt for a NoSQL database – designed for horizontal scalability but lacking the rich functionality of an RDBMS (transactions, consistency, and a powerful query language).
We founded CockroachDB to bridge this gap and provide true horizontal scalability with all of the well-established guarantees and capabilities of a SQL database.
How is it different?
In addition to providing functionality that only Google currently enjoys, CockroachDB is first and foremost an open source product. Open source is a requirement in 2016 if you want to create a new OLTP database, as developers are driving software adoption within enterprises, and developers aren’t big on closed source solutions.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The OLTP database market. ~$40B
What’s your business model?
Open-core. Open source software with proprietary offerings built around it.
We have to ask – what’s the story behind the name of the company?
CockroachDB is meant to survive disk, machine and even datacenter outages. Resilience is a primary motivator for this database and is clearly an impressive attribute of its namesake.
What was the funding process like?
Relatively straightforward. We had a lot of interest from great venture capitalists for both of the rounds we’ve raised and we had the opportunity to select exactly the investors we thought would provide the most help.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We had an embarrassment of riches and luckily our biggest challenge came down to the difficulty of choosing between several top-notch investors.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The team is the most commonly cited factor by our investors; we’ve put together an accomplished group and the culture is great. The business opportunity is also compelling. After all, it’s been a pretty good indication that where Google has gone with their big data efforts is where the rest of the industry ends up, just five years later. CockroachDB is inspired by Google’s most recent database design (Spanner). The key difference is we’re bringing it to everyone via open source. Today’s startups are reaching for open source, and as they grow, there’s plenty of opportunity for Cockroach Labs to provide ever more capable enterprise functionality to the core open source products.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Production readiness and adoption.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Be a cockroach obviously!
Even though we’ve now got enough capital in the bank to splurge, you won’t see us moving into a ridiculous new office, commissioning murals for the walls, hiring yoga instructors, or providing day care for pets – and you can never spend enough money to compete with the likes of Google on perks anyway. Find the people who want to work for you because they believe in your mission and prefer equity over salary.
And stay focused on giving everyone at your company what really matters: responsibility so they grow professionally, freedom to manage their own time, and a resolute emphasis on life / work balance.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Moving from just building CockroachDB to getting it into the hands of developers around the world.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Rose bar @ the Gramercy Park Hotel