Dyn is an old-fashioned American tech startup success story.After 11 years of growing a business he started in college by—wait for it!—making money from customers, CEO Jeremy Hitchcock raised $38 million from North Bridge Venture Partners, the first outside money he’s taken.
Dyn offers a DNS and email service, used by 2,000 enterprise customers including Bitly; Twitter; Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds; and Salesforce.com.
DNS, or domain-name service, is what directs people to websites. It translates the URL typed into a browser into a numerical Internet address.
Hitchcock and his cofounder, Tom Daly, are both 31, and started this company in their early 20s as a free, open-source project while attending the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. They almost shut it down when they ran out of money.
“We put up a ‘donate’ button but there was not much money coming in and so we said to our users, if you don’t give us $25,000 in the next week we’re shutting down,” Hitchcock told Business Insider.
“We got $40,000.”
The reason why customers were so enthusiastic: Dyn’s early offerings made it vastly easier for ordinary people to run a website. Instead of needing specialised business hosting, Dyn made it possible to run a site from almost anywhere—even a computer installed at home.
Hitchcock and cofounder Tom Daly were stunned. They realised they were now on the hook to make Dyn into a real business. Hitchcock called up an acquaintance from high school, Kyle York, living in L.A. and asked him to move home and help them do marketing.
Since then, without taking a dime of VC cash, Dyn blossomed into a company employing 170 people and serving 2,000 enterprise customers and 4 million users (including the free service). It has offices on both coasts of the U.S. and in London, too. It’s done four acquisitions.
Dyn also helped spawn a tech startup community in Manchester, New Hampshire. Its founders and early employees have backed or helped launch about six other New Hampshire tech startups, Hitchcock says.
Dyn is also known for a superhip culture. Employees work in a cool, 30,000-sq. ft. office, a formerly abandoned lumber mill.
“We have three Segways, one climbing wall, two chefs, a speakeasy, a stage, a deck and a tree fort,” York laughs.
Some of the cash will go to Dyn’s founders. The company will also hire more people, particularly senior-level managers.