Funding Lab: Meet Rasmus Stjernström, Co-Founder of Silo Team.
Meet Rasmus, co-founder of Silo Team. Silo Team is an onboarding platform for technical talent, which aims to solve the challenge of retaining and empowering developers.
Rasmus was one of the 12 founders who joined us at this year's Funding Lab, our new fast-paced, two-part programme for founders looking to raise investment from a VC. The course is designed to help early-stage founders tune their pitch and prepare for a raise with straight-talking, actionable learnings direct from our VC investors and industry specialists from our Studio team.
We caught up with Rasmus in London to discuss how the idea for Silo Team came about, what it’s like starting a business with his sister and where he’s planning on taking the business in the future.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Silo Team is a technical documentation and developer onboarding platform.
How did the idea come about?
The idea came about when I was part of scaling a large distributed engineering team in Australia. It was very challenging, to say the least. It not only involved communicating all the product and technical documentation but also organising the responsible stakeholders and understanding and determining who is responsible for what and when.
The poor onboarding tools and methods unfortunately resulted in time wastage, disappointed new developers, and frustrated stakeholders. After experiencing firsthand how onboarding could fall apart I decided to do something about it and started sketching on Silo Team.
What's the story so far?
I started reaching out to engineering teams to understand if the challenges I’d experienced were unique or if other teams had similar pain points during technical onboarding. I ran a pretty large survey for a few months and conducted 273 discovery sessions and was absolutely blown away by the numbers; it turns out that 71% of responsible technical onboarding stakeholders conduct the majority of the onboarding manually and 65% think that their organisations do a bad job onboarding new developers. I guess this was the aha moment for me, and it was full steam ahead designing the solution and assembling a dream team.
Since the discovery phase, I’ve been talking to engineering teams; working to understand how the turnover rate for software developers affects their business, and how Silo Team is able to support them in this challenge. Thankfully, it’s a conversation most teams are willing to have as the recent economic downturn has pushed companies to streamline their workforce, including engineering teams. Given the macro environment, most businesses now recognise that they really need to work hard to retain top talent and that developers are arguably businesses’ most important assets, and giving them a poor onboarding experience isn’t going to help.
What is it like starting a company with your sister?
It all comes down to trust, and we have had 29 years to actively build a strong foundation. By now, we certainly know each other's strengths and weaknesses! I’ve also had the opportunity to work closely with my sister, Ida Stjernström, in the past and we have a very good professional dynamic. What’s also great about it is that her strengths in B2B sales really complement my technical ones. I believe our shared vision of the enormous potential of Silo Team, to bring tech teams closer together, mixed with a unique level of trust, will take us all the way.
It's true you don't often hear about technology startups being built by siblings. Some role models of ours are Rashmi Sinha and her brother Amit Ranjan, who sold the world’s largest slide-sharing site, SlideShare, to LinkedIn a decade ago. Or the online payment firm Stripe, founded by brother John and Patrick Collison. If they could navigate the startup jungle, so can we!
What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
A major achievement announced just a few days ago was that we got accepted to Sting Accelerate with an optional investment from Propel Capital. As a team, we're very proud of this as it will allow us to come out of the garage and plan for the launch ahead.
From a product point of view, the main thing is to finalise and launch the Silo Team technical onboarding platform. Engineering teams have already told us what they need, so now it's our job to obsess about building a tool that makes them more productive during onboarding.
It’s important that Silo Team becomes a true painkiller and not a vitamin, and we are relentlessly improving the platform as quickly as possible. This means improving reliability, speed, and growing a world-class engineering team. A team that's hyper-focused on every feature and is working closely with our users to understand their needs. If we work hard and smart as a team, we can achieve this.
One other thing we hope to achieve, and that I am personally most excited about, is the skill testing layer that provides feedback to the responsible stakeholders on how much information has actually been understood. This will act as a smart assistant and give advice to the stakeholders on what in the onboarding process needs extra attention. It’s a big bet of ours, but I believe it will change the way technical onboarding is done forever. We have carefully started testing parts of this layer on a few teams and the response has been amazing.
If Silo Team, at the beginning of next year, is close to product market fit, has a high-performing team, and is filling up the sales pipeline, we will raise a venture capital financing round and go into hyperdrive mode. A part of me thinks VCs are keener than ever to invest in startups that understand who their customers are, in our case Engineering Managers, have crystal clear research, and have a team in place that is able to do more with less. I see it as start-up realism for a new era.
What advice would you give to other early-stage founders looking to launch a company?
Build something people want and make it simple, period. Do the research and then do it again. Be objective and be prepared to be rejected. When conducting discovery sessions, it's key that you let the participants talk and express themselves. If you set the stage too much, it will just be in vain.
It's important to know your strengths and weaknesses as a founding member because then you will know how the rest of the founding team should be structured.
Lastly, be humble and kind and practice a compassionate leadership style. This way, you will attract the right people.
What did you learn during Forward's Funding Lab?
The support from Forward's Funding Lab was key to understanding how we should structure our pitch and tell a compelling story, and this resulted in our first check from Propel Capital right after the Funding Lab program ended. Our mentor during the program, Esha Vatsa, helped us break down all of our research and advised us on selecting the right path forward.
We wish Silo Team all the best and look forward to watching Rasmus and Ida continue their journey. You can find out more about Silo Team here.
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