Whether you’re building a chip or an airplane, you need to measure the effectiveness of the product at each step of the manufacturing process, much like you do with developing software. Flojoy, an early stage startup, wants to help with a new open source tool that lets companies typically left out of the automated testing process, take advantage of no-code Python testing to build test scripts in an automated way.
Today the company announced a $1.3 million seed round to build out the vision. The company is also announcing the first public release of its open source software.
CEO and founder Jack Parmer says that he started his career building Plotly, an open source Python-based data visualization company that he grew to 300 million users. For the new company, he wanted to explore using Python programming in a new way.
“We’re focused on this particular niche of test measurement and control, which you really only hear about in R&D industries or heavy industries – so companies building boats, planes, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals – and test measurement and control in those industries is like the equivalent of software testing in the technology industry,” Parmer told TechCrunch.
Much like software, these physical elements are tested while being built, and then once completed, tested again before sending it to the end consumer. Parmer saw this space as a kind of last frontier for Python-based testing and he set out to build the solution.
“Specifically, it’s about providing the connections to the standard suite of scientific equipment and instrumentation that’s used to make these measurements, whether that’s in an R&D lab or on a manufacturing line,” he said.
He started by building a slick online catalog of popular instruments and provided the Python code to connect to each instrument automatically to collect the data coming from it into Flojoy. “So this is the first time that this kind of information, how to connect to these instruments in Python, has been consolidated into one very easy-to-digest readable place,” Parmer said.
The idea is to be able to take this data and put it to work and use AI to help improve the process. The data in these instruments has been traditionally left out of the model building process because it was so difficult to get at. Flojoy is designed to make it easier.
“So we’re trying to be the go-to resource for people who want to connect to this instrumentation with Python. And to me, that makes a lot of sense, because Python is so great at AI. It’s so great at machine learning. It’s a great data visualization and ML apps. So if you can integrate that kind of downstream pipeline with this upstream pipeline of connecting to these machines, that’s a really natural thing to do,” he said.
Flojoy already has an enterprise version with at least one paying customer. He hopes to reach $1 million in ARR and a million users on the open source version by next year. He says having grown Plotly to 300 million users, that it’s goal he feels is reachable.
The company has 20 employees already. As he continues to grow, he says it takes a diverse team to build a popular piece of open source software. “Any company, and especially open source companies, need to dog food their software, and you need a diverse team to do that because if we’re going to reach millions, and then ultimately hundreds of millions of users, we need to authentically accommodate all of those use cases,” he said.
Today’s investment came from Flybridge Capital Partners, Boreal Ventures and BDC Capital.