Started as a side project, JDoodle, which lets developers practice more than six dozen programming languages on one website, hit 800,000 users while being bootstrapped. Now the Sydney, Australia-based startup has set a goal of 8 million users within the next 24 months after getting $3.2 million AUD (about $2.2 million USD) in new funding. The round was led by Main Sequence, the venture firm founded by Australia’s national science agency.

JDoodle has tools aimed at software developers of all levels, ranging from students to professionals. These include zero-set up IDEs (integrated development environments) for more than 76 coding languages, including Java CloudIDE, that lets users write and run code in their browsers without having to set up local software or libraries.

Over the past year, JDoodle hit 800,000 users, including 3,000 educational institutions. JDoodle was started by software developer Gokul Chandrasekaran, who spent seven years working on it and reached 500,000 users before quitting his job to focus on it full-time. It grew out of a side project with one page and programming language that Chandrasekaran set up for $20, before spending evenings and weekends adding new features based on user feedback.

Chandrasekaran told TechCrunch that he wanted to start JDoodle because of the inefficiencies he encountered, like expensive and complicated development tools, while working on his bachelors and masters degrees in computer science.

“Those tools force every developer to waste so much of their time just getting the software environment ready for us to do our jobs. Even running one line of program is a headache,” he said. “You need sophisticated hardware and hours to set up a development environment with libraries, compilers, editors and more,” only to risk everything breaking if there’s an update to their operating systems.

For teachers and students, this means wasting time fixing development environment issues and manually verifying programming assignments. For professionals, this means time spent away from actually developing and instead used to manage their software development environments. By using JDoodle, Chandrasekaran said, they can get inexpensive access to programming environments and practice programming in a browser even on basic smartphones.

Main Sequence partner Mike Nicholls and JDoodle founder Gokul Chandrasekaran

“Software developers spend so much time setting up and managing their software development environments and focusing on small, unimportant tasks like changing the color of a button,” he said. “We need to free up developers to focus on the tasks that really matter because I’d say that organizations are currently wasting 20% of their software development budget.”

JDoodle’s growth to 800,000 users was organic, and it didn’t spend time or money on marketing until recently. “I believe the reason we’ve amassed so many users so far is because I listen to them,” said Chandrasekaran. “Over the years, I’ve taken so much feedback on board from developers and built the platform according to their needs. Every single feature in JDoodle exists as a result of a user request or feedback.”

Some examples of JDoodle’s customers include edtech Outlier, which offers accredited college courses. JDoodle’s plugins are embedded into its computer science courses, so students don’t need to switch between the class and a local practice environment. Another example is South American recruitment platform GeekHunter, which has used JDoodle since 2018 in its vetting process. Candidates pass coding exams produced by JDoodle before they are approved.

JDoodle monetizes through a freemium SaaS subscription model. Chandrasekaran said most of its revenue comes from its API and plugin solutions, which include standard and custom plans, but the startup is planning more income streams, including premium IDEs, hosting, courses, assignments and a talent marketplace.

The new funding will go toward JDoodle’s plans to scale up to 8 million users, including marketing, product development and hiring for its team in Australia.

Main Sequence met JDoodle while the startup was participating in The University of New South Wales’ 10x Accelerator Founders Program. Partner Mike Nicholls told TechCrunch about the investment that “Main Sequence has invested in more than 50 deep-tech startups and almost every one of them ends up hiring large numbers of developers and software engineers. Every startup is looking for a competitive edge and higher productivity from their software and hardware team. Essentially we want to turbocharge how companies and developers create the next generation of business systems.”

Backstrapped to 800,000 users, online programming community JDoodle lands funding by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch