A Dunedin software engineer’s bad code experiences have led to the development of a tool that could save the world billions.
At a glance
Dunedin startup Codelingo is helping the world solve a multi-billion-dollar problem.
Software now underpins practically every area of our lives, and it would surprise many people to know that developers spend almost half of their time fixing problems rather than developing life-enhancing new features.
Codelingo has launched an app that tackles the problem of waste and rework when writing software code.
Founder Jesse Meek says there are industry estimates that the problem is costing companies US$85 billion annually.
“It seems like every week you’re hearing new reports of security breaches, of systems falling over,” he says. “These breaches have huge financial and personal implications and people’s lives are on the line.”
With the help of a Callaghan Innovation R&D Project Grant Codelingo has developed a tool that scans computer software code for errors and automatically corrects them.
“Our work not only stops bad software but allows good things to happen,” Jesse says. “We want to see how much acceleration we can bring to the creative side of software if problems are taken care of.”
Coding for the coders
Jesse is a software engineer by trade and got the idea for Codelingo from his experiences at UK-based software company Canonical. As the company’s software engineering capability grew, code quality issues began to develop despite the team’s considerable depth of experience.
Two years ago he quit his day job to focus on the problem, and Codelingo was born.
“All software development teams struggle to find efficient ways to capture knowledge from across the team and ensure everyone follows the same practices,” Jesse says.
Traditionally developers either laboriously read through code to check it, or they use one-size-fits-all tools which are akin to doing a spell check, he says.
“In the middle there’s a whole section of automatable judgement calls, and that’s where we sit. We code up the best practices and the standards of the particular project.
“We’ve developed a search engine and a query language that allows you to find patterns in your software stack.
“We take these patterns and automate common development work flows,” Jesse says.
‘Just a guy in a t-shirt’
Two large Australian venture capital firms have already seen the potential in Codelingo, putting $540,000 in seed funding into the startup earlier this year.
Callaghan Innovation’s support in getting to that stage was “absolutely key”, Jesse says.
“You’re running on the smell of an oily rag, so any extra dollars are a huge boost.
“The $47,000 Project Grant gave us the extra runway to build the first proof of concept, which allowed us to secure that first round of VC funding.”
Codelingo has had incredible support from the Dunedin startup community, he says, especially from Callaghan Innovation’s Regional Business Partner in the city, Ross Grey.
Ross took him through the steps of launching a company and helped him apply for the Project Grant.
“I was just a guy in a t-shirt with an idea. Ross actually took me seriously.
“It’s valuable to have local, face-to-face contact with someone from an established, authoritative organisation like Callaghan Innovation.”
Codelingo also went on the Callaghan Innovation-led mission to the giant US software-as-a-service conference SaaStr earlier this year, which was a valuable networking opportunity, Jesse says.
Codelingo is now working with a handful of key local clients to make sure its product is functioning well and to build up a quality story. But ultimately its customer base will be international. “The developer community doesn’t really have a geography,” Jesse says.
Codelingo is in a heavy development phase and is working towards another capital raise next year, he says.
“We’re transitioning from an interesting software project with potential into an actual company with a good revenue stream.”
Ross Grey says it was satisfying to help Jesse access the support and see how it’s enabled him to develop his unique product at a much faster pace.
“Having a Government agency involved has also helped him to bring in further investment by making it more attractive to investors,” he says.
“This has been an exciting business to work alongside, and I’m sure this will be just the first of many products from this company.”
Updated: 8 July 2019