What Wildcard is trying to achieve might resonate with some startup team members more than others. If you are a developer or work with a team of developers, you might be aware that a lot of a developer’s time isn’t spent on coding but on non-coding tasks. Wildcard builds a solution to help automate some of these tasks and, in turn, help dev teams boost their productivity so they can focus on where they have the most value-add, in coding. We interview Hélène Wolff, co-founder and CMO of Wildcard to learn more about their team and dive into the details of their technology.
STATION F: Can you tell us a bit about Wildcard?
Hélène Wolff: Wildcard is a SaaS (software as a service) solution for developers and teams of developers to increase their productivity by automating their DevOps tasks, which basically is everything that a developer has to do outside of coding.
Wildcard has specifically been designed for cloud-native app developers who code in Node.js and Flask Python, two highly-used frameworks. In Wildcard, we have developed an embedded AI that is able to recognize code, generate the right configuration files, and define and execute CI/CD pipelines. However, even though the pipeline definition and execution is automated, Wildcard will make sure that these functions stay under the control of its owner at all times.
SF: How do you explain what you’re doing at Wildcard to someone with zero technical knowledge?
HW: I like to use the analogy of baking to explain what our product does: to successfully make a complex cake, you need solid task management and complementary skills that are not all focused on the “core baking” task. That includes supply management, cake decoration, tool cleaning, etc. These functions are all critical to the successful making of the cake. Once they are individually fulfilled, they are put together to build the cake.
When a team of developers builds an application, it’s really similar: the “core product” is made of code, but in order for the app to exist, there are a lot of side tasks to decide, organize and execute continuously. Wildcard automates almost all of those tasks, from their definition to their execution. In other words, we want to make life easier for developers so they can focus on their code. After all, our motto is “code your best, we do the rest”!
SF: I saw that you come from a business background. Prior to starting your own company, you were a digital marketing executive working on the agency side, both in Paris and in Tokyo. How did you go from working in a corporate business world to building your own high tech cloud solution?
HW: In general, we have very diverse backgrounds at Wildcard! Our CTO Jumpy was the deputy director of the coding school Epitech in Paris. Our CEO Sylvain has spent over 15 years managing DevOps teams. Most of us in the team studied at coding school 42, where everyone has an unusual background: Pierre-Yves was a musician, David was an engineer, Ibrahima was a math teacher, Anselme was also studying math, Lucien was in marketing.
In my case, I quickly got into international business management at the start of my career, led by a strong love for video games and Japan, where I worked as a web-marketer and web-developer. At that time, 42 opened in Paris, I was amazed by the concept (peer-to-peer code learning, with no classes nor teachers). I was already interested in coding, so I made it an objective to pursue studies there later.
I worked 5 years in the digital advertising industry in two agencies, and I had the chance to handle yearly budgets of up to €16 million for amazing brands, including many video game editors. I even launched the first audio dynamic creative campaign in France! We used and mixed many different technologies to create more intelligent and creative tracking systems, I had to rapidly upskill to understand how these technologies worked and very quickly felt restrained by my limited coding skills. In advertising, you have to quickly adapt to new digital techniques if you want to follow the trends and offer the most creative ideas to your clients. That’s when I decided to go further and complete my career with some coding skills: I joined 42 and learned how to code.
Two years later, I’m building a startup, leveraging my multidisciplinary skills. I helped build our platform w6d in its first year of development and I’m now back into a marketing function as the CMO of Wildcard, discovering the pleasure of advertising my own product!
SF: What is the ambition of the company? How important is the challenge that you are solving?
HW: Wildcard is a revolution for cloud-native app developers and the CI/CD market. On average, developers spend around 40% of their time on non-code related issues. Not only does our platform w6d execute these time-consuming tasks for a developer, but it also decides how to configure them.
There’s nothing like Wildcard on the market yet. Our ambition is to push the CI/CD tools market to enable developers with more (controlled) automation and with more time to focus on their code.
We plan on expanding our offer to all known programming languages.
STATION F: What can we expect to see from Wildcard in the upcoming 6 months?
HW: After almost 2 years spent on developing the core technology of Wildcard, we are now focused on delivering the best product possible. Our platform w6d.io is open (for free!) to anyone who has a Github account. In other words, it’s basically accessible to all developers around the world. We are currently focused on improving the UI and UX to accelerate the adoption of our product.
In the upcoming 6 months, we plan on supporting at least two more languages on w6d. We also have a heavy work in progress in Machine Learning: two members in our team are already working full-time on making our artificial intelligence stronger and faster, by feeding and training it with millions of use cases that will allow automation to go even further.