Today’s featured Startup of the Day is Linxter. Linxter allows developers to rapidly build connected applications using Microsoft developer tools without needing to invest in the skills and infrastructure to do all the messaging themselves.
Linxter’s SDK and back-end infrastructure was built leveraging the latest .NET 3.5 technologies and will help to reinforce the ability of .NET and WCF to provide a robust, reliable, and secure messaging backbone for a variety of distributed applications. Linxter also provides an on-ramp for developers to start using cloud messaging solutions sooner than Microsoft technologies will, but with an offering that does not directly compete with the upcoming offerings in the Azure platform.
Interview with Jason Milgram, Founder and CEO of Linxter, Inc.
Who are you?
Jason Milgram, Founder and CEO of Linxter, Inc. Linxter is message-oriented cloud middleware. It bundles and automates the complex tasks that software engineers face when creating communication-based products and services. The goal is to provide developers with an easy-to-use, ubiquitous communications framework for IP addressable endpoints. Any application, device, or system that can connect to the Internet can utilize Linxter’s secure, reliable, and dynamic communication channels to connect to each other.
How do you feel being the most promising 'company of the day' per Microsoft?
We’re very excited, and honored, to be the company of the day. It’s reinforcement that the timing for Linxter is right. When we started our development, we often had to explain how our market would be changing and growing very quickly. Now our target market (developers) is much more aware of the opportunities being created as more and more things are becoming IP addressable and more and more services are moving to the cloud.
What did you do before creating your company?
Prior to founding Linxter, I served as a technical consultant in both the public and private sectors, to include IBM, the U.S. Department of Justice, Florida Power and Light, Chase Manhattan Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kodak and Iris Associates (creator of Lotus Notes). I was also a sergeant in the US Army Reserves which I served in from 1990 to 1998.
How did you get the idea? What’s the genesis?
Back in December 1999 I was contemplating what was going to be the next big thing. To be big, it had to be inevitable and that meant it had to be part of the human condition. Being a tech geek, I just knew we would end up embedding a microchip in everything. Every industry would figure out what benefits would be of doing this. They did and they are! We’ve embedded chips in clothing, shoes, light bulbs… and the list expands each day.
The implication was that everything would become smarter. Applications, devices, and systems would be able to talk (send and receive data). I saw a missing link, but it would be about 8 years before the timing was right to act on it. We would need a way to ensure everything could talk to each other in a secure, reliable, and dynamic manner. This would require a ubiquitous communications framework – and so Linxter was born.
What do you sell? What is your company's mission?
We sell message-oriented cloud middleware. There are a few pricing scenarios. Customers can pay monthly fees based on usage, enter into a license agreement for dedicated resources, or even purchase an on-premise implementation of Linxter. What’s special about these implementation options is that our customers can switch between them at anytime without service disruption. The ease and flexibility of implementing Linxter reflects our mission as a company: to reduce the cost and technical barrier to entry to digital communication, and subsequently create new paths and opportunities for information exchange.
What is your market?
Linxter does not discriminate, but our sweet spot is the SMB market. We appeal to small and medium-sized technology firms that want to focus on the core value proposition of their products or services, and not get bogged down with communication plumbing (either the coding or infrastructure headaches). Linxter has been designed so that a developer with only one year of experience can master the use of our technology in less than a day.
With the commercial availability of Linxter projected for January 2009, we look forward to growing our channel partner relationships around the globe.
Any clients, references or partners you want to quote?
Our first public beta was released May 2008. Our last public beta was released December 2008. From these releases, we have heard back from a number of developers, representing a variety of vertical markets from around the world. Here are a few of their comments:
Username: dreksler from Florida, US "Big time savings for developing secure messaging! Very cool SDK… pretty easy to use in a couple of hours…"
Username: Elan from Rostov, Russia "The main advantage is a very simple integration of messaging functionality to any program."
Username: MrFond from Islamabad, Pakistan "Development time will be reduced because messaging is done by this sdk and it is also secure."
Username: Gechevery from Envigado, Colombia "All of the messaging paraphernalia is 'outsourced' so a lot less trouble to go, specially ensuring messaging delivery and reception. Helps bring SOA architecture to a lot of application islands out there."
Username: TwinBridge from Lapulapu, Philippines "I have worked on several projects where we need to get tha data from one to multiple points. Using Linxter would greatly simplify the process with more security and reliability"
Username: Wolfgang from East Sussex, United Kingdom "I have worked on a number of SOA projects. Linxter takes away the headache to implement the middleware that is necessary."
Brian Noyes, Microsoft Regional Director, posted this blog entry about Linxter
Funding history? VCs? BA?
We have been funded by individual angel investors.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
4 employees and 4 consultants – 6 of which are technical folk.
Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?
Yes, we are looking for a Marketing Director and a Sales Director.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
For our backend, we standardized on Microsoft Windows, SQL Server and .NET. Our SDKs vary depending on the platform they support. The unified stack provided by the Windows operating system, SQL Server for data storage, and .NET for application development offered the best option for building a highly cohesive and loosely coupled solution with maximum productivity and robustness. Additionally, the broad availability of .NET and SQL Server talent and knowledge made it the clear choice over competing development technologies. The cost of the server licenses is easily offset by the time and cost saved in development thanks to the productivity benefits of the platform and tools.
Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?
We currently have 4 patents pending. I believe Linxter is the first company to commercially offer message-oriented middleware completely in the cloud.
Who’s your role model?
Someone who in part I owe my professional career to is Ray Ozzie. I began developing client/server applications with Lotus Notes version 3 and really, really enjoyed it. From there I set out to learn as much about his creation as I could, and eventually ended up at his company, Iris Associates in 1997. The knowledge I gained while working there has been invaluable.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?
Innovation through interconnection. I think one of the most exciting areas will be in the creation of new products and services through the interconnection of IP addressable things.
Looking for funding? If yes, how much?
Yes, looking to raise $1M for bringing Linxter to market.
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think?
We recently joined the BizSpark program and are very pleased with the whole experience so far. BizSpark is providing us with resources we need to bring Linxter to market.
Any advice to young software entrepreneurs?
Before you set off on your quest, be sure to log in hours with a firm that has an established and adhered to software development lifecycle methodology in place. Learn as much as you can about the different kinds of roles needed for successfully developing and bringing to market a product or service.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Despite the severe economic downturn, I think the market is hungry for new products and services, especially ones that help consumers, businesses or governments (local to federal) better meet today’s challenges.