Startup success doesn’t always mean building a $1B business

The triumphs of Qubeship.io

“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?” – Robert F. Kennedy

We are shutting Qubeship.io down.

It certainly wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, but I know I am better for the experience. Qubeship was a project within the CA Accelerator – an incubation program for internal innovations who want to step out of the the standard 9 – 5 job and are willing to take on the challenge of launching the next great business. The statistics are clear, 90% of startups fail. Yet, the outcome often isn’t as black and white as simply winning or losing. Often, it can mean achieving something in between.

Before we go, I’d like to share some of the successes of our journey. I hope they will inspire you to take chances, experiment more, and above all, learn fast.

How it all started

As a DevOps enthusiast, I had been developing and managing Cloud and DevOps products since 2010. When I started at CA Technologies in 2014, I knew the traditional Application Release Automation market was prime to be disrupted by new container and cloud technologies that were growing dramatically.

I had a great product idea, but had grown skeptical of the typical “enterprise startup” routine. Normally, a company identifies a few competitors or technologies that threaten its business model, creates a team to develop a copycat technology and, often, gives up after a couple of bad quarters. “Tyranny of the Immediate” is what we call it.

When I heard of CA’s incubation program (CA Accelerator), you can imagine what went through my mind. However, after learning its lean methodologies and guiding principles, I decided to give it a try. I took a leap of faith.

I am so glad that I did.

Qubeship is born

After pitching the idea to the Accelerator leadership team, we were approved for funding. Qubeship.io was born.

Despite working at early stage startups and developing many products from the ground up, being an Accelerator Founder was surprisingly complex.

This is a job where you cannot delegate tasks. The hours are long. There is no definitive roadmap for success. We targeted an evolving marketplace, had limited budget, and limited time to prove ourselves. A grand vision of our solution is what kept us going. We had to be creative and innovative to keep it alive.

Our successes

While ultimately Qubeship did not succeed as the next billion dollar business, there were many successes that moved the needle for CA in a significant way.

We were the first to invent a container native, container first Continuous Delivery (CD) as a Service solution.

This was a brand-new market that CA previously did not have a presence in. By engaging customers, understanding their challenges and learning how to market to them, we acquired valuable intel that will serve the company well.

We filed multiple patents

Our product allowed you to share and reuse workflows, something that had never been built before. We filed multiple patents that CA will be able to leverage in the future.

Additionally, multiple, mature startups started copying our marketing and technical pitch. One almost recreated our entire vision by introducing the “First CD as a Service” solution. As they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

It is heartening to know we were the innovations that set the direction many others have followed.

We received significant celebrity at multiple industry conferences

Docker Inc. showed a deep interest in our solution when we introduced it at DockerCon 2017. CRN rated us among the Top 7 announcements at the event, and we received sizeable buzz on the event’s Twitter hashtag.

We received 100+ signups for our beta program at an ad-hoc “workshop” where developers were eager to try out our solution. Silicon Valley VCs started to reach out, trying to understand what was behind all the buzz.

I am most proud of the team.

We are a highly diverse team (with almost half being women), characterized by innovativeness, problem solving abilities, and above all a desire to build a meaningful solution for our customers. The Qubeship.io team delivered a highly complex solution in less than 6 months! That in and of itself is a major success.

A look back

While Qubeship wasn’t ultimately brought to market, the technology is still there, waiting to be updated, repackaged and sold to CA’s customers, once they are ready. I hope it provides them with substantial value one day.

In the meantime, I urge you to learn more about the CA Accelerator and the projects that are underway.

Being an Accelerator founder is not a traditional job. You aren’t another cog in someone else’s wheel. Rather, you own a problem, and undertake the thrilling journey of finding a meaningful solution. If you’re considering becoming a CA founder, I wish you the best of luck.

– Ankur

 


Ankur Agarwal
Ankur Agarwal is the Founder of Qubeship.io, a CA Accelerator project. As an intrapreneur he…

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