Announcing the 2023 Tyk Side Project Fund champions!

Every great adventure begins with a vision of what could be. Years ago, Tyk embarked on its journey as a humble side project, born from the ambitions of a frustrated engineer – now our proud CEO, Martin. What started as a pipe dream evolved beyond imagination, becoming a globe-spanning business.

At the heart of Tyk’s inception was a burning desire for a performant, cost-effective, and open source API gateway. Despite searching far and wide, Martin needed help finding exactly what he needed. Undeterred, he rolled up his sleeves and decided to build it himself. And thus, Tyk was born.

The Tyk side project fund

The Tyk story is a familiar tale. Many remarkable companies owe their beginnings to the same spark of ingenuity – realising that what they sought didn’t exist, so they set out to create it. However, it is no easy feat to nurture a side project and take it to new heights. It can be a solitary pursuit, making receiving valuable feedback and guidance difficult. Moreover, financial constraints often hinder turning that brilliant idea into a tangible reality.

This passion and appreciation for side projects sparked an idea: Why not lend a hand to others who share our drive? Thus, the Tyk Side Project Fund was born – a platform to support and nurture incredible side projects that have the potential to revolutionise industries and make a lasting impact.

Our selection process

The Tyk Side Project Fund judging panel comprises our three founders, Martin Buhr, James Hirst and Andrew Murray. Their combined knowledge spans various domains, from software development and API solutions to business strategy and innovation.

With their deep understanding of the challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs and side project creators, they are dedicated to identifying and supporting projects that exhibit passion, creativity, and potential for real-world impact.

The selection process is thorough and meticulous, designed to identify and nurture the most promising and innovative side projects. The panel assesses the project’s viability, alignment with Tyk’s values, potential impact, and commitment to solving real-world challenges. Bonus points go to projects that are heavily reliant on or are APIs.

Meet our 2023 winners

Our fund applications opened in March, and we’re delighted to say that we now have our three winners! Choosing the champions was no easy feat; we received over sixty innovative and forward-thinking applications from what we only describe as a group of massive geniuses…so you can imagine how tough the selection process was.

Chosen projects are awarded £500 each, which has to be used to move the project forward – training, software, hosting, – anything that will make a tangible impact.

Here’s a quick snippet of each of the three champions….drum roll, please!


Classboard is an innovative educational technology company that offers a comprehensive platform for teachers, students, and parents. Their user-friendly software streamlines classroom communication, assignment management, and progress tracking.

With a focus on enhancing the learning experience, Classboard empowers educators to create engaging lessons and enables students and parents to stay connected and informed. It aims to revolutionise how schools and educators manage and optimise their daily operations by providing a centralised hub for educational resources and collaboration.

Martin’s feedback: “All class-management software is poor – anyone working to improve this is cool in my book!“.


Otterkit is a free and open-source COBOL compiler, enabling developers to use its newest features. It aims to break barriers by supporting the latest COBOL standard (ISO/IEC 1989:2023). While the market is dominated by vendors focusing on COBOL 85, an almost 40-year-old standard, Otterkit is bringing innovation and modernity.

Our founders were impressed with Otterkit’s disruptive potential. Here’s what Martin had to say: “This is pretty disruptive, COBOL is a closed ecosystem with extremely expensive contractors for maintaining insanely old software that still runs many critical infrastructure systems. Bringing COBOL to mass-market – .Net devs would absolutely wreck that! Super niche – I love it“.


PipeOps is on a mission to revolutionise the DevOps experience. Few organisations have access to or can afford the expertise required to set up, manage, and deploy on a scalable cloud infrastructure, so they settle for inefficient remedies that will inevitably lead to problems in the future.

PipeOps goes beyond just provisioning; its platform handles all the necessary add-ons, allowing businesses to manage and monitor their entire infrastructure efficiently.

Our panel believes this project will solve fundamental pain points seen by most growing businesses. Some feedback from James – “Just like PipOps, Tyk is the result of taking a big enterprise concept and democratising access to organisations of all sizes. Empowering organisations with the tools and capabilities they need to thrive regardless of their scale is an exciting challenge.”

Watch this space

Here at Tyk, we firmly believe in the power of creative engineering. We want to support engineers who create exceptional products, enhance existing ones, and put open data to meaningful use. This very energy is changing the world, one innovation at a time. As a company, we thrive on the vibrant community surrounding us, making Tyk better for all.

This is why we’re on a mission to amplify the work of daring change-makers. Over the next few days, we’ll publish our interviews with all three Side Project Fund winners. We chat about who they are, the stories behind their innovations, their work, and how the fund will help them grow.

Our winners will also be featured in our upcoming community call on the 16th of August. Here, we’ll share the news of our winners with the community and allow them to talk about their projects. More details coming soon.