A raft of well-known Australian tech investors have poured $5.1 million into a new start-up called Fl0, which describes itself as being like Canva for software engineers, by making it simple to rapidly build enterprise technology by dragging and dropping pre-configured components.
Fl0 (pronounced “flow”) is the creation of Dale Brett, the co-founder of digital twin start-up Willow, which previously drew praise from Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, and his former Willow colleague Rani Adam. Fl0 founders Dale Brett and Rani Adam both left Aussie start-up Willow to begin a new venture.
The seed funding round was led by Blackbird Ventures, but also included money from Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson’s Skip Capital, Jelix Ventures, Culture Amp co-founder Doug English, Atlassian engineering vice president Zak Islam and Canva engineering director Seb Ruiz.
Mr Brett said Fl0 was trying to create a new category called “developer acceleration”, or “DAAAS” in start-up parlance, which he said could be the future of software engineering, by allowing developers to create with minimal coding. “It’s all the power of coding, but in a low code format. So if you think like Canva, where you can easily drag and drop design components, it’s very similar but for backend software engineers,” he said.
The company has a globally distributed team of 20 people so far, and has built an early version of Fl0 for testing and feedback among a small group of customers. Mr Brett said he first met his co-founder Rani Adam through a Gumtree ad when trying to source help to build a web platform for Network Ten’s Masterchef. The duo have worked together for more than a decade since, including over four years at Willow. “We’ve learned so much about building companies, about tech, about working alongside Microsoft to build developer tools, and we’ve set Willow up in a place that we feel is stable, with a good leadership team, and we’re confident in the team’s ability to accelerate the company from where it is at today,” Brett said.
Fl0 aims to change the game for engineers in two main ways; firstly, by simplifying code so that engineers can save time by using more pre-built components in their products, and secondly, allowing engineering teams fluent in different languages from Java to Python to more seamlessly work together. Traditionally, companies post job ads calling for engineers who work with a specific coding language, which narrows their hiring pool.
The company is aiming to follow in the footsteps of other local tech companies that have made it big by targeting their products at the people building other tech products and systems. Atlassian is the most famous example, but Brisbane-based Octopus Deploy also recently burst to prominence after banking a $US172.5 million ($221 million) investment from New York venture capital fund Insight Partners.
Blackbird principal Tom Humphrey said he had backed FL0 because he believed the founders had an “acute affinity” to the problem they were trying to solve, and strong sense of what their product needed to do. “Engineering capacity and speed of development are top priorities for every growth stage company,” Mr Humphrey said. “We were immediately drawn to the way FL0 enables developers to spend less time coding and more time improving how their customers use and experience products.”