How a weekend project turned into a successful startup

 Photo by Robyn Twomey


Back in 2007, Chris Wanstrath and Tom Preston-Werner, the initial co-founders of Github were discussing the frustration of not being able to share code easily after a programming meetup. They decided that they could build a platform to share code more easily for their own needs.  So, they started to meet during the weekends to build the site piece by piece and test it at their day jobs and kept improving the site. They then launched a public beta for their friends and the site started taking off rapidly. PJ Hyett who was already working with Chris Wranstrath at another start up eventually joined them as Cofounder at Github. That's how Github got started. Fast forward, Github has attracted hundreds of thousands of users, tens of thousands of paying customers and have more than a million repositories on their platform, and in just over 2 years.


As of 2016, Github has received more than $350 Million in funding, is valued at 2$ billion and has more than 11 million active users. They have been bootstrapped and profitable for several years before any outside funding.


Some key points in their early  success:

  • They developped a product that solved one of their own current problems and that they were passionate about working on

  • They kept working at their own jobs and did consulting in the initial phases so they could support themselves and keep growing their product

  • They had a "ship it now fix it later" approach to quickly see the interest and get feedback from their customers. They then improved their product and business model incrementally


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