Three 20-Somethings Sell College Project To Docker

It’s been quite a whirlwind journey for the three founders of Kitematic, a tool that helps dramatically speed up Docker installs. Less than two years ago they were college students working out of their apartment near the University of Waterloo when they came up with the idea that would become Kitematic.

Today, those three founders — Jeff Morgan, Michael Chiang and Sean Li — have sold their little company to Docker for an undisclosed price, and they are packing their bags and moving to San Francisco.

Docker plans to let them work as an independent unit inside of Docker. They will even get to hire some additional employees to keep enhancing the product, according to Justen Stepka, director of product management at Docker.

Currently, Kitematic is a Mac-only tool that greatly reduces the complexity of installing and managing Docker containers. It transforms a process that typically takes 30 minutes to an hour and reduces it to just a few minutes. Once installed, you can launch Docker containers in your library with a single click.

Stepka believes this will open up Docker to a whole group of users who previously might have stayed away because it required a high level of technical expertise to understand and run. There are always a percentage of people who prefer to use a graphical user interface, and that’s what Kitematic gives them, he explained.

To increase their user base even further, Docker plans to have the Kitematic port its product to Windows to attract that developer community to Docker.

The Kitematic story began when the three founders were undergrads living in an off-campus apartment and began tinkering with the idea of a product that would make it simpler for developers to manage the complexities of modern applications — a task that Docker is trying to help with as well, using containerization technology.

As the Kitematic founders tell it, they made a video of a prototype that would synchronize between cloud and desktop and posted it on Hacker News just to see if anyone was interested. Much to their surprise, they got bombarded with 700 developers wanting to sign up (before they even had a real product).

Fast forward to some grants, internships and several iterations later and the result was Kitematic, an open-source tool specifically designed to work with Docker. They put it on Github and earned 2600 stars, indicating a lot of developer interest in the product.

Docker noticed and began a conversation with Kitematic’s founders.

“We reached out to the team. We hit it off and decided it would be a good fit to bring [Kitematic] under the Docker umbrella,” Stepka said.

The product will remain open source and continue to be distributed through Github as it is now, so from that perspective little will change. The three founders are now Docker employees, and Stepka says they are incredibly excited about how this has turned out.

Not too shabby for a trio of twenty-somethings who imagined an idea and have lived the dream of every entrepreneur to build something useful, see rapid market acceptance and exit smoothly.