These engineers quit their jobs to start LeChat

Since leaving Google I’ve had the chance to meet many entrepreneurs to share stories about their projects and passions. Many have very compelling and personal founding tales. Andrei Soroker, cofounder of group communication tool LeChat, is first up. By the way, LeChat has just started raising an angel round if you’re interested [LeChat AngelList Profile].

1. What led you guys to start LeChat and how did you decide to make it a company vs a side project?

For years we’ve worked in small, distributed engineering teams and we’ve always struggled to find the right tool for communication. We primarily use chat because software engineering is very text-oriented. We tried many different products: free, paid, basic, complex. None worked well for us. We needed fast, integrated, as-you-type search across all history, the ability to see multiple conversations at the same time, good support for copy and paste of source code, and great integration with development tools.

We decided to try to write our own, so we built LeChat. It happened pretty quickly, over a few weeks in our spare time. We wrote the search function and multiple layouts first. We quickly saw that our chat made us more productive as developers and realized that we have an opportunity to build a great business.

2. What qualities are you looking for in your angel investors?

We found that it’s easiest for us to talk to people who really get the value in a user base that consists of software developers. Early on, a lot of people didn’t realize how incredibly important GitHub could become. We’re looking for investors who understand, even in hindsight, why GitHub became what it is today.

3. Advice for engineers who are thinking of founding companies?

Every company has people who are rarely in the office — they are going to conferences, meeting with clients, always on the phone, always moving. Get to know these people — they are your tunnel to the other world, where people make money by selling the stuff you make. If you start a company, you will have to quickly adopt that world as your own.

Keep in touch with former colleagues. This world is about people, not companies.