The ‘You Tube of Code’: With backing from some big-name investors, Runnable wants to make it easy to discover and reuse code

By Editor November 13, 2013
Courtesy of Runnable.

Runnable logo

A Q&A with Runnable founder and CEO Yash Kumar. The Palo Alto-based startup, which has built a platform that enables in-browser code discovery, testing, and implementation for developers at all skill levels, closed a $2 million Seed funding round at the end of October. Investors include Sierra Ventures, Resolute VC, AngelPad and 500 Startups. It was founded in 2012, and was part of the AngelPad Spring 2012 accelerator class.

SUB: Please describe Runnable and your primary innovation.

Kumar: Runnable is a platform that allows anyone, regardless of their programming skill level, to search for and discover code, test that code right in their browser, and implement it directly into their own projects. We’re really the only destination right now that allows anyone to discover code, not to mention we’re running a virtual machine for each piece of code—letting users test that code in their browser, as opposed to having to write the code themselves and test it, only to find there was an error in their code.

A good analogy, and one others have used before, is that Runnable is the ‘YouTube of Code.’ Think about how difficult it was to find a video online before YouTube—you had to comb through websites to find the particular video you were looking for and try to download it, and more often than not the video wouldn’t even work. In the same way that YouTube took the fragmented world of online videos and brought them all to one place, we’re taking code from across the web and bringing it to one place—allowing anyone to quickly search and discover completely reusable code.

SUB: Who are your target markets and users?

Kumar: Our target audience is definitely programmers, but the beauty of Runnable is that anyone, no matter if they’re a pro or just beginning to learn, can go on the site and immediately gain something of value. We make it extremely easy for users to take that code and put it right into whatever projects they’re working on; you can literally copy and paste the code. And, as I mentioned, this isn’t solely for experienced coders. Runnable’s code snippets can be easily implemented into things like WordPress blogs.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Runnable from the competition?

Kumar: There isn’t anyone in this space that’s doing quite the same thing as Runnable. We’re trying to fix the discovery element of code—there is no one centralized place on the web that brings snippets of code all to one place. There are over 200 million searches every month for code, and until now, there hasn’t been any one place to go find it. This is what we’re really focused on, this discovery element.

SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $2 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?

Kumar: We think that the next Industrial Revolution is on the horizon—this being in software development. Studies have shown that in five years, nearly 85 percent of all companies will have an API; and that means that the number of developers is going to skyrocket—in fact, it already has. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific number of developers in the world, but we estimate there are about 25 million developers globally, and we think this number is going to double by the end of the decade. The need for developers is greater than ever, and we’re empowering these people to stop wasting time, get to work and build great products.

SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?

Kumar: We’ll be adding new members to the team to expand our library of code. What it boils down to is the more people we have, the more work we can get done.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Runnable? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?

Kumar: I was working as an engineer for Amazon, and in short, Amazon has this whole internal catalog of APIs solely for internal programmers. Developers would waste hours, even days, reading through internal wikis and documentation pages to try to understand how each API worked. And this can be translated to the programming world in general as well—there are APIs, frameworks, and libraries that most developers use every day, but are constantly changing and are tough to find. What if there was were one place where all this information could be aggregated, and then copied and pasted into your own code? Why waste time relearning these languages and searching far-and-wide for one piece of code or one API? We decided to do something about it, so we founded Runnable.

Courtesy of Runnable.

SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?

Kumar: The first steps I took were to quit my job and start building a prototype. During this process, I also met my first Angel investor, who not only offered tons of valuable product feedback but also connected me with other investors, fueling my Seed round.

SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?

Kumar: One of the key features of Runnable is running code, hence the name.

SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?

Kumar: At the moment, no.

SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?

Kumar: This is something that we’re really excited about. There are several routes we could take and we’re looking forward to exploring these options. When it comes down to it, we want something that will be mutually beneficial, and provide value to us and to our users.

SUB: What are your goals for Runnable over the next year or so?

Kumar: We’ll be focused on adding new coding languages and frameworks, and building out our library. We’re working on some great new product features that will be announced in the coming months, but we’re hard at work adding new types of code and making the user experience impeccable. We’re here to help developers, so we’ll continue to do that and find even more ways to fuel the next Industrial Revolution.

Runnable –