Factor.io wants to be a sous chef, handling prep work for developers

When it comes to adding features to an existing web service, it takes more than just sitting down and hashing out lines of code. Generally there are several steps from noting the project in some sort of project management software to creating a new entry in Github that goes along with feature you plan.

Structure_LaunchpadWhile every job has basic prep work associated with it (I hate chopping onions when I cook), Factor.io wants to eliminate as much as possible of that prep for developers. Founder and CEO Maciej Skierkowski said that about 30 percent of a developer’s time is spent getting set to code, but his startup can reduce that substantially. That’s why Factor.io was chosen as one of our Structure LaunchPad finalists. You can hear more about the company on June 20 at our Structure event in San Francisco.

Factor.io, which is based in Portland, Ore. but is spending the summer as part of the Microsoft TechStars business accelerator program in Seattle, offers a service that automates some of the grunt work of tracking and documenting code. For example, if someone goes into Trello and notes that they are going to work on feature Y, that sets in motion an automated chain of events that posts the adjustments on GitHub, opens a sandbox in Heroku and does any other steps that the company buying Factor.io has said should happen.

As companies attempt to practice continuous code deployments, where they push features live as they are built as opposed to waiting for massive releases, the emphasis on getting things done quickly has propelled companies like Netflix or Etsy to adopt homegrown solutions to help developers ship code more often. But not everyone understands those processes or has those tools. That’s what Skierkowski wants to change with Factor.io.

“Etsy, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix are investing time to build automation, but no one else has the resources they do, and empowering everybody to do continuous delivery is what we’re trying to do,” Skierkowski said.

The company currently has about five contractors working on bringing the product into a public beta and in the process of raising a $500,000 seed round of funding. It has about 300 customers (none of them pay because it’s still in private beta) that include both startups and departments in Fortune 500 companies. Other players in this space include Cloudmunch and it’s not crazy to think that testing services or other players in the devops toolchain might get into this sector as well.

For Skierkowski, who was a former employee at AppFog, one of the most noteworthy changes he’s seen in building this business is how often adoption comes from people trying out the product and then preaching its value to their friends in other departments or their managers. That’s a shift occurring across the IT landscape as the devops model infiltrates more and more companies, and one that larger companies are trying to adjust to.