James is a programmer and technical leader, with experience in most areas of software development and web technology. His current project, WebMynd, builds tools which make cross-platform app development easy: it was founded in 2008 with backing from the Y Combinator incubator in California. So far, the company has raised $1.5m, generated a number of patents and is doubling revenue roughly every 3 months.
James came to programming relatively late, switching to do Computer Science after a year of Physics at university. Although always interested in entrepreneurship and creating a business, the pathway to get started was unclear and James chose instead to join IBM as a software engineer after graduating.
After two years of pedestrian programming with IBM, James realised there were no jobs he wanted in IBM, and instead focussed on starting a company with Amir Nathoo – a fellow frustrated IBMer. After a couple of months contract work while throwing ideas around, James and Amir heard of Y Combinator through recent alumni Songkick, and resolved to apply for the programme.
Despite being turned away at the initial interview and being told to return the next day with a better idea, a last minute brainstorm over breakfast begat the initial idea behind WebMynd: a DVR for web browsing. After completing Y Combinator their initial product met with a lukewarm reaction, and James and Amir began iterating on their idea roughly every 3 – 6 months, with Amir’s fundraising abilities being sufficiently well honed to keep bringing in small rounds of funding while James led the development of several different products based around browser extensions.
Towards the end of 2010, a casual conversation with a fellow Y Combinator company led to the realisation that over the last two years, we’d created a valuable tool: a way to easily create cross-browser extensions with a single consistent API.
After resetting the company to make the most of this opportunity, WebMynd grew rapidly, winning a TechFellows funding award and hiring rapidly to improve the product and take advantage of the emerging demand for mobile support.
Today, WebMynd is still hiring hard, in both London and San Francisco. An enjoyable side-effect of the geographically split team are regular coding “workations” where the whole technical team meet up for a fortnight, normally in a tropical location. The challenging periods in the company’s history have instilled in James and Amir the need for team-members to be energising and optimistic: team spirit and the happiness of its members are taken extremely seriously.