We raised $5M to enable anyone to grow on the world’s best codebases
TLDR: GitStart has raised a $5M seed round to help understaffed tech teams distribute coding tasks to junior engineers worldwide. Neo led the round alongside Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, Google VP Parisa Tabriz, Andela founder Iyinola Aboyeji, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Instagram VP Maria Zhang, Circle CTO Li Fan and VP Yongsheng Wu, Robinhood VP Surabhi Gupta, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, GitHub technical advisor Omoju Miller, Gigster founder Debo Olaosebikan, BloomTech founder Austen Allred, Replit CEO Amjad Masad, Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk, Mike Schroepfer and others.
The opportunity gap
I lost 6 years of my life getting rejected from every job I applied to — until Microsoft took a bet on me. When I started recruiting for my team as a staff engineer, I quickly learned that years' worth of rejections had a lot to do with me being from Pakistan. I was enraged.
So I intentionally set interviews with people from developing countries who had been screened out based on their CVs. One of these candidates was David. His coding interview didn’t start well - he typed painfully slowly yet seemed smart. Why the disconnect?
Turns out he learned how to code on a blackboard. He didn’t have access to a computer until he became a cyber-cafe janitor but knew most Linux kernel functions by heart. This felt like a Hollywood kind of story.
Still, I couldn’t hire him because he was born in the “wrong country”. His English was broken, the culture gap would make integrating him in the team difficult, and working together would be a nightmare: his northern Uganda city was plagued with electricity blackouts.
I considered hiring him as a contract, but realized another challenge: he was just too junior 🐣. It would take longer to explain tasks to him than to do them ourselves. I’d rather wait for another company to bear his training cost.
And that’s what everyone is doing! Some companies are even vocal about refusing to hire juniors, like Netflix.
Covid aggravates the situation - an early employee at Elastic told me the single rule that helped them scale one of the first large remote companies was: “no juniors.”
With GitStart’s developer community, engineering teams farm out coding tasks without the challenges of integrating junior engineers worldwide.
The secret sauce has 3 ingredients: Community, abstraction, and security.
1️⃣ GitStart Bot pulls juniors together and automatically assigns reviewers until everyone agrees the code is perfect. Juniors ship code on production codebases with users years before they could do it on their own. Seniors save review time.
Joining the Community also makes a huge difference for juniors! They get to bond with people from 15+ countries over online and offline events, mentoring and pairing sessions, game and movie nights, etc.
2️⃣ To remove discrimination, GitStart abstracts away the engineers. Users assign coding tasks to the GitStart Bot and receive Pull Requests.
In other words, it’s 100% about code quality and 0% about accent, cultural (mis)fit, and CV formatting.
3️⃣ Airbnb’s biggest challenge was to get people comfortable letting strangers in their homes. In software, we can go a step further by eliminating the need for trust altogether.
One example is a tool that enables teams to share only a subset of their codebase. It scrubs the git history, syncs updates, and enables GitStart engineers to get CI-CD checks results without ever accessing the whole system.
In summary, seniors save time, and juniors accelerate their careers.
It’s changing lives
Alumni got into Google, Amazon and Facebook. Star engineers include Afghan women who struggled because of the Taliban (in partnership with CodeToInspire).
It’s also changing lives for users. 2 senior engineers used GitStart to build a C++ compiler now worth 9 figures. The catch is that the GitStart Bot managed up to 35 engineers, all hidden in the cloud.
Engineers are humanity’s bottleneck. If we succeed at building a tool that accelerates engineering teams by growing promising talents, we have a shot at bringing humanity closer to a state of abundance.