Neelan Choksi on Tasktop’s VC Round and Austin “Growing Like a Weed”

Tasktop Technologies wants to help improve the operations of the brains behind technology companies: the staff that makes the software.

What Tasktop does is develop tools for customers that allow their developers to make software more efficiently. With the dozens of tools now in use for each part of the software development process, organizations are finding that the process to develop software—code being developed and tested on the way to a final product—has become less productive.

“Now, the tools don’t talk to each other and that’s the problem we solve,” says Neelan Choksi, Tasktop’s president and chief operating officer, who’s based in Austin, TX.

The company’s main product, Tasktop-Sync, supports about 70 tools made by IBM, Microsoft, and other companies, which are used by developers, testers, and business analysts at software firms. This week, Tasktop said it has raised $11 million in venture capital to help the company accelerate the marketing of its products. Among the investors are Austin Ventures and Yaletown Venture Partners, a Canadian investment firm. The funding marks Tasktop’s first dip into the VC pool since it was founded more than seven years ago.

The company’s origins stem from the PhD thesis of CEO Mik Kersten, who suffers from repetitive strain injury and realized the condition was exacerbated not by the coding work he was doing—which he enjoyed—but from the repeated need to stop and search hundreds of classes of code to find the one he needed. That research led to the development of Eclipse Mylyn, an interface that organizes developers’ work by tasks rather than files that must be searched, as my colleague Greg Huang has reported.

“Historically, the way people solved what we do is manual process, e-mail, or spreadsheets or a meeting. That’s to have a tester talk to a developer, or a business analyst talk to to them,” says Choksi, who is also an Xconomist. “In a lot of cases, we’re putting systems in place to replace these processes or for where communication didn’t happen at all.”

The company is based in Vancouver, BC, but has its U.S. headquarters in Austin. I caught up with Choksi this week to talk about Tasktop’s expansion plans, how improving productivity makes for happier workers, and why his team waited more than seven years before taking on venture capital. (More background on Choksi here.)

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:

Xconomy: The company went from organizing developers’ work by tasks to broader application lifecycle management. Tell me about this evolution.

Neelan Choksi: If you go back 20 years, a big code base was 100 files. In that world, … Next Page »

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