Raycast: Built In Private

We have seen a trend the past few years of startups who are building in public. Founders share their daily successes and failures to build an early community, usually on Twitter.

We often tell our founders to build in public, but for productivity software, we recommend another approach.

Raycast is the opposite of building in public. They have instead been building in private for the past year, which is oddly refreshing to see in 2020.

Beyond a few screenshots that have been shared on Twitter, the Raycast founders have been heads down since finishing Y Combinator W20 in early 2020.

Instead of making a ton of online noise, they released the product to a small set of beta customers and have been iterating on product, with an obsessive focus on getting the tiny details right.

Productivity tools, and specifically developer tools, have an insanely high quality bar and the built in private approach allowed the founders to create a world class product, without overpromising release dates to the broader community.

When the Raycast product showed signs of developer market fit, the team made the decision to launch publicly. Today they are coming out of stealth, along with the news that Chapter One is investing alongside Accel.

Raycast is a productivity tool that saves engineering teams time on non-coding tasks in apps like Jira, GitHub or Slack.

These tasks take up to 50% of a developer’s day. The product will eventually become “Superhuman for engineers” — a premium software product that saves expensive engineering time.

After two weeks in beta, thousands of developers signed up for the waiting list. Engineers from top companies use the product several times a day.

Thomas Paul Mann and Petr Nikolaev (co-founders) started building Raycast in January. They are both ex-Facebook engineers with exceptional product taste. At Facebook, they built internal tools that gained widespread adoption with engineers at Facebook and showed they can build products which developers love.

One of the most exciting parts of the product will be seeing what developers can build with the Raycast API.

Alongside the public product release, Raycast is launching their developer program today, which gives developers early access to the API.

A Raycast API will allow developers to build custom shortcuts via integrations that can be shared with coworkers to make teams more efficient.

Every developer within an organization can build their own commands and shortcuts, which can be shared via Slack and internal forums. This will create virality internally and give developers who build cool workflows “bragging rights” within their teams.

If you’ve ever built software, you have likely spent time with productivity obsessed engineers who champion their own workflow hacks internally. They are wonderful in the most nerdy way and often celebrated by teammates. Raycast will let these productivity heroes shine.

Raycast is a product purposely designed for community.

Custom workflows built on Raycast can be open sourced for teams outside your organization if you want to share with the developer community.

Imagine Airbnb engineers creating an interesting Raycast shortcut and sharing that with the broader engineering community. With the right community adoption, the API will create goodwill like you see on Github when a startup open sources an internal product.

Welcome to the world, Raycast. And thank you for building in private.



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Jeff Morris Jr.

Founder and investor @ChapterOne. Previously led revenue @Tinder ($MTCH). Became #1 top grossing app. Follow me @jmj.