To celebrate the milestone of Gearset hitting its 5-year anniversary this year, we wanted to take a trip down memory lane to share some insights from the early days of Gearset, and how those formative years helped shape the company you know today.
Where it all started
Our co-founders Kevin Boyle and Matt Dickens, both software engineers by background, met while working at Redgate Software in Cambridge. Redgate had a hand-rolled CRM that was starting to show its age, so they turned to the market for a solution. Like most companies, they found Salesforce to be the obvious choice.
The internal dev team found that Salesforce lived up to the hype when it came to flexibility and ease of customization. But coming from a C# background, they were used to relying on automation to release repeatedly and reliably. And here the team found a gap - the sorts of tools they’d expected didn’t really exist for Salesforce. They were stuck with a largely manual release process, and suffering all of the pitfalls and downsides that come with it.
After 6 years together at Redgate, building software tools used by developers on the Microsoft platform, Kevin and Matt noticed that the challenges Salesforce teams were struggling with had a lot of similarities to those faced by Microsoft devs and DBAs.
Like all good product people, Kevin, Matt and a small team of engineers and UX specialists took to the phones and spoke to nearly a hundred Salesforce developers and admins, to understand whether the pains Redgate experienced were common among Salesforce teams. The response was resounding: Redgate was not alone.
The team began building what would become Gearset as you know it today. After some prototyping, a whirlwind trip to Dreamforce, and sharing mockups and prototypes with countless Salesforce teams, the team had validated the idea. The founding team - Kevin, Matt, Jason, Oli, Luke, Andrew, and Stephen - left Redgate in February 2017 with the full blessing of Simon Galbraith, Redgate’s then CEO, and Gearset was born.
Gearset launched into the world
A little bit of Gearset trivia for you: why the name “Gearset”? Well, aside from the practical considerations like needing an SEO-friendly name with an available domain, we wanted something with a connection to what we actually did as a company. At the time, Salesforce developers thought more often in terms of the Force.com platform, and a gearset is something that transfers force from one place to another - just as Gearset moves your code and configuration from one environment to another. Decision taken.
In March 2017, we had a team of 7, a skeleton of a product, and a vision of where we wanted to go. We became a team obsessed with understanding how Salesforce devs and admins worked, the problems they struggled with, and building new solutions tailored to those problems.
By the summer of 2017, our focus and hard work had started to pay off with the onboarding of our first paying customers. We used Dreamforce that year as our launchpad in a ‘make or break’ moment for the company - prove product-market fit by adding enough value for Salesforce teams that we could break even. We came back from Dreamforce, stopped coding (except for bug fixes and minor improvements!) and took to the phones once again, this time to sell. Thankfully, it was ‘make’ rather than ‘break’, and the company’s gone from strength to strength ever since.
5 years on
Gearset now has thousands of users across the globe. We’ve doubled our headcount every year, with our team now 150 strong across the United Kingdom and United States, our most recent expansion being a new office in the tech hub of Belfast.
The original 7 who started the company (featured in the photo below) are still instrumental in Gearset today - quite rare for a startup to scale-up company. They even went to the same restaurant they did to celebrate starting the company, 5 years on! We’ll be sharing personal stories of their Gearset journey in the coming months, so look out for them.
Reflecting on the last 5 years, Kevin, our CEO said:
“When founding Gearset, Matt and I wanted to create a product that would solve real issues for our users, and build a company that we loved working for. Seeing how Gearset has grown over the years gives me the confidence that we’ve created just that.
We’ve assembled a team of smart, driven, and passionate people, with a drive to make things better for our users as our main focus. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved so far and look forward to what’s to come.”
Want more information on Gearset?
If you’re interested to find out more about Gearset, and how you can join our fast-growing team, take a look at our new roles.