Dries Buytaert built what would become the open source software Drupal in his dorm room at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. What started as an experiment to build an intranet message board for his friends eventually turned into the open source software behind Drupal, and launched in 2001.
Drupal quickly grew, now boasts more than one million participants in its open source community online. In addition to a spike in individual users, Buytaert began to see an uptick in Drupal adoption by big businesses and large nonprofit organizations.
While working on his research dissertation, Buytaert began providing support to companies that had adopted the Drupal software. He recalled one particular evening when, after he was approached by a company in the UK for help, he spent the entire night working to resolve the issues it was having.
"That was my ah-ha moment," Buytaert said. "I realized there was a big opportunity to help organizations accelerate their adoption of Drupal and be successful."
Buytaert founded Acquia with Jay Batson in 2007 after the pair were introduced by Michael Skok, a partner at North Bridge Venture Networks. Acquia provides enterprise products, services, and support for Drupal, with the goal of accelerating Drupal adoption among enterprise users. Currently, Acquia works with brands such as Pinterest, Mercedes Benz, Warner Music Group, and Stanford University.
Along with businesses and nonprofits, governmental sites now run on Drupal too. The official White House site has a Drupal initiative, and Acquia published a case study on data.gov.uk, an open data project started by the UK government.
While some enterprises are hesitant to embrace open source, Buytaert believes that the collaborative software development it provides is what has kept Acquia innovative. His hope is that Acquia can be a role model for entrepreneurs with similar aspirations.
The product set
Acquia's product set aims help enterprises successfully use Drupal. The company's offerings begin with Acquia Cloud, the company's platform-as-a-service that provides cloud solutions and development tools. Buytaert said that it includes pre-built testing solutions, an API for creating custom tests, and a tool called Acquia Insight.