Earnest has been live for two months and we have been slowly working our way through conversations with hundreds of amazing founders. We make investments on a rolling basis and have quite a few more founders joining soon, but we have also backed two awesome founders in recent weeks and just can’t keep it quiet any longer ?
HostiFi was founded by Reilly Chase. Reilly used to run an IT managed service provider in Grand Rapids (on the side with a day job as a security engineer) and noticed that 1) Ubiquiti’s wifi platform was becoming very popular and 2) their Unifi software platform is a pain to set up repeatedly for every client. So he built HostiFi, a cloud wrapper for Unifi. The business is B2B2B, so his customers are IT service providers who deploy more HostiFi instances with each client they set up. Reilly has plans for a small suite of services built around the same model—making open source software easier to deploy—for the same customer base. A really cool constellation of Micro-SaaS. CaptiFi for wifi portal software was just launched. FYI: Power users with Ubiquiti at home can use HostiFi for free for up to 25 devices. Reilly recently sold his house in Grand Rapids and went full-time on his business and has been documenting his hardcore year here.
Callingly was founded by Leon Klepfish. Leon developed a popular WebRTC click-to-call button that found a broad user base but struggled to build a business. So he asked his users what they would actually pay for and the result was Callingly which is a platform for distributed sales and support teams to manage inbound requests for a call back. The product sounds simple: when a visitor fills out a form requesting a call, Callingly dials the distributed team until it reaches an operator, then connects the call with the requester. But the real trick is building an intuitive UI for the complex routing rules and reporting requirements that large teams and companies demand. Post-investment Leon is going full-time on Callingly while he and his wife Tyler raise their 1-year-old Calvin in Phoenix.
Both of these businesses fit a broad pattern of B2B SaaS that we really love, where the founder has spend quite some time working with or in an industry, notices a niche problem that every business in the industry has, and launches a SaaS to solve that particular problem for the whole industry. Both of these founders are inspiring makers that we are excited to be working with.