At the ripe old age of 25, Mitchell Hashimoto, CEO and co-founder of a promising young startup called HashiCorp, has already had a lucrative 12-year career in tech.
He launched his first tech startup when he was 12. “I wanted to cheat video games,” he laughs.
“I did Cheat Neopets, web game cheats. For $US25/month you got whatever cheats I found. It did well until Neopets sent me a cease and desist letter.”
“I was 13. I thought I was screwed,” he told us. “I remember sweating and freaking out. My parents thought I was just playing video games. When the cease-and-desist letter came they were like, ‘What are you doing after school?'”
Hashimoto’s dad, who he describes as “a very nice but very strict” Japanese father, didn’t think much of his son’s love of computers. The cease and desist letter didn’t help. His parents limited him two hours a week of computer time. He had to sneak in his coding after they went to bed.
$US500,000 And Dad Still Isn’t Thrilled
When Hashimoto went to college, his dad told him he had one year to pursue “that computer thing.”
“If I couldn’t prove to him in a year it was useful in some way, I either had to pay for college myself or become a lawyer or doctor,” Hashimoto says.
That first year, while registering for classes, Hashimoto saw a business opportunity “Kids had to wake up at 6 a.m., stand in line and they still couldn’t get the courses they needed. So I wrote some software to automatically register students for classes if they paid me.”
The service was an an instant hit. “Over the course of four years, I gathered 80% of the student population,” he said.
He was spending about 20 hours a year working on that program and “I was making way more money than a college student should make,” he laughs.
“It was pulling in about a half a million a year,” he said. He sold the business when he graduated; the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
His dad, however, still wanted him to pursue another job.
“My dad wanted to see me in a real career and not just doing a website making money,” Hashimoto says.
So, in addition to the class registration business, Hashimoto got a job his freshman year at a web development company.
A ‘Real’ Job Leads To A Real Future
That real job won his dad over; Hashimoto received his father’s blessing to stay in his school’s computer science program.
It also led him to create an open source tool called Vagrant, which would make him famous in the coding world by age 23. Vagrant would become the foundation of his startup, HashiCorp.
Vagrant is a tool that helps you easily set up a programming environment using whatever platform you want (VMware, Docker, etc.) and then move it from computer to computer. Download and install it on your Windows, Mac, or Linux PC and within minutes you’re ready to code. He wrote it during his junior year to help him with his job at the web dev company (He’s not the only one working on this problem. As Business Insider previously reported, 21-year-old Zachary Hamed and his NYC-based startup Bowery, is doing a similar thing).
Today, Vagrant is used by millions of people worldwide, from individuals to the Fortune 500, and Hashimoto is a popular speaker at developer conferences.
Hashimoto created a few more development tools as part of his company HashiCorp.
While in school, he met his co-founder, Armon Dadgar. At first the two of them launched a paid add-on app for Vagrant. “We made enough money to support me, Armon and one employee for two years. We were profitable for the three of us,” Hashimoto says.
A Better Way To Grow
But the business model wouldn’t let them grow. It was too much hands-on work to maintain these projects.
So they built a project called Atlas, a cloud service that stitches all of their other development tools together and automates everything. The basic tools are open source products that anyone can download and use for free. Companies pay for Atlas on a subscription and they get the whole thing, development tools that can take an app from development to production, tracking its performance, its location in the cloud, and so on.
Hashicorp names some big customers already, including the BBC, Mozilla, Nokia, and Yammer, and it just set itself up for more growth. Last week, HashiCorp announced a $US10 million Series A from Mayfield, GGV Capital and True Ventures.