Openbase founder Lior Grossman started his company the way that many founders do -- to solve a problem he was having. In this case, it was finding the right open-source components to build his software. He decided to build something to solve the problem, and Openbase was born.
Today, the company announced a $3.65 million seed round led by Zeev Ventures with participation from Y Combinator and 20 individual tech industry investors. Openbase was a member of the YC 2020 cohort.
Grossman says that being part of YC helped him meet investors, especially on Demo Day when hundreds of investors listened in. "I would say that being part of YC definitely gave us a higher profile, and exposed us to some investors that I didn't know before. It definitely opened doors for us," he said.
As developers build modern software, they often use open-source components to help build the application, and Openbase helps them find the best one for their purposes. "Openbase basically helps developers choose from among millions of open-source packages," Grossman told me.
Image Credits: Openbase
Grossman found that his idea began resonating with developers shortly after he launched in 2019. In fact, he reports that he went from zero to half a million users in the first year without any marketing beyond word of mouth. That's when he decided to apply to Y Combinator and got into the Summer 2020 class.
The database is free for developers, and that has helped build the user base so quickly. Eventually he hopes to monetize by allowing certain companies to promote their packages on the system. He says that these will be clearly marked and that the plan is to have only one promoted package per category. What's more, they will retain all their user reviews and other associated data, regardless of whether it's being promoted or not.
Grossman started the company on his own, but has added five employees, with plans to hire more people this year to keep growing the startup. As an immigrant founder, he is sensitive to diversity and sees building a diverse company as a key goal. "I built this company as an immigrant myself [...] and I want to build an inclusive culture with people from different backgrounds because I think that will produce the best environment to foster innovation," he explained.
So far the company has been fully remote, but the plan is to open an office post-pandemic. He says he sees a highly flexible approach to work, though, with people spending some days in the office and some at home. "I think for our culture this hybrid approach will work. Whenever we expand further I obviously imagine having more offices and not only our office in San Francisco."