Because Cheerp handles the conversion automatically, developers can bring all their intimate knowledge of C++ to bear on their applications, and that has profound implications for the future of web-based applications. In short, Cheerp makes web coding simpler, and that means better apps and a more efficient development process.
Who is your startup aimed at?
Developers who wish to take full advantage of the familiarity and insights they have acquired with their preferred coding language, without sacrificing any of the functionality of their final, web-based products.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
This means simple, integrated front and back-end coding of fully-fledged Web applications in C++.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
My partners (Massimo Grava, Alessandro Pignotti) and I got to know each other amidst the ancient walls of our college, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, the most selective and prestigious Italian school of engineering. Despite having different backgrounds, we have one thing in common: we love technology. We founded Leaning Technologies because we think we can shape how the modern web is created.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Web applications have long been eschewed in favor of native apps and the speed and consistency they provide. Web applications, however, are becoming increasingly popular, a trend I see continuing well into the future.
Native apps, by nature, are always going to be faster than web apps. But speed is only one factor to take into consideration, and even on the speed question, web applications are closing ground. If you look at the broader picture, there are a number of distinct advantages that come with running applications through a server rather than a device, the most obvious one being the inherent portability Web-based technologies afford. Web apps lend themselves to cloud computing and collaborative enterprises, and as developers learn to approach the Internet the same way they do any other hardware platform, you’re going to see more and more people putting out more and better Web apps. The bottleneck, at this point, is that the coding is so convoluted.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
The founding team consists of a former Adobe IT specialist, a Harvard postdoctoral research fellow and the CTO of an enterprise SaaS firm; between us, we hold four masters degrees and one PhD.
I am the academic of the group. I work as a researcher at Harvard University. I hold a PhD in Robotics from Sant’Anna School in Pisa, and I’ve been to places like Japan, the USA and all over Europe for research. My background is in Computer Engineering.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Since the beginning we decided that the best way to organically grow our amazing technology and to protect our vision was to bootstrap the company without looking for any additional funding. So far we are very happy about our initial decision, since we have managed to stay profitable without any debt thanks to our early adopters of our product and related consultancies.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
It would probably be the launch of Cheerp. It’s difficult to exaggerate the impact of language on the coding process. The ultimate success of any coding project is determined by the ability of the developers to navigate the framework laid out for them and manipulate it to achieve their goals.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
We founded Leaning Technologies in 2013, and launched our first beta of what became Cheerp in late October of that year. Our company and effort were entirely bootstrapped, the founding team (me, Alessandro and Massimo) being back then the only people involved in the project. We later added an amazingly talented developer (Ennio Barbaro) to focus on optimizing the core technology and we are planning to extend our team further.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
I would say finding the right balance between what our commercial clients need in terms of features and support, what our free software user base requests, and what our vision of the product is.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
Our goal is for Cheerp to become a foundational, standard technology of the modern Web. Over the next year, we want to significantly expand our user base both among large software enterprises and independent Web developers. Ultimately, we want to ensure that our product gets an adequate validation from the market.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
You need a very clear vision of what your product will be one, two, 10 years in the future. More importantly, you need a vision of the impact that you are going to have on the industry, on your users. If you don’t, you will just end up playing things by ear and loose track of what your real objectives are. This is a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Do something that you are really passionate about. If you don’t completely, utterly believe in what you are making and selling, you will not be able to make all the sacrifices, and overcome all the hurdles that starting your own company entails.