One of the first things anyone working at WSO2 learns is the email system. As an open source company, we stick to the Apache way of doing things, which means that all important communication is done across email – and these emails are open for anyone in the company to read and reply to, regardless of where they work and what they’re working on.
You’d think that this means a LOT of email on a daily basis, and you’d be right. On the other hand, it means questions, like “Is there anything we can do for startups” get picked up faster than a hot Stackoverflow thread.
In fact, the exact scenario happened a couple of months ago. Over the course of a week-long brainstorm across email, we realized that a lot of startups (at least, here in Sri Lanka) were sorely in need of technical expertise. Often, business-minded founders would invest capital, hire a third-party to build their application for them – and lacking the technical expertise to make architectural calls, they’d struggle with frameworks, iterations, system requirements and everything else thereafter.
We also realized that we could help fix that. For free.
And thus the Hatchery was born.
WSO2 Hatchery (note the cute dragon) is our free CTO-as-a-service. The idea is simple: if you’re a startup, you pitch your problem to a panel of our best solutions architects. These folks have worked with everything from Fortune 500 companies to startups; you pair off with them – and get to consult them as your CTO, free, for a period of three months. They provide high-level technical understanding – the kind that non-technical founders often need.
The caveat is simple: the problem has to be something we can solve with any of our open source products.
It’s a simple way of making sure it plays within our direct field of expertise. Given the vast range of problems that WSO2 products can solve – everything from securely logging into a website to connecting two enterprise systems together – it gives us a lot of flexibility to play with.
After much back and forth across email, we went ahead with our first Hatchery event in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Our Media Partner for the event, Readme.lk, did an excellent recap of the event. To summarize, we enrolled sixteen startups in the program – and over the next three months, our team will be working with them to ensure that their dreams become reality.
What’s next? The Hatchery is not meant to be a solely Sri Lankan project. This first event is a learning experience for us, too. Once we have the data in place – participation, ideas for improvement, the kind of metrics we need to track – we hope to be able to scale this, and take it global. With our offices in the US and the UK, we have the right tools to bring everyone to the Hatchery. It’s just a matter of figuring out the tiny details.
Curious to see what it looked like? You can check out the event’s photo album on Facebook here.