Airtable’s whopping $11 billion valuation attained in late 2021 has lured a raft of formidable entrepreneurs into the low-code database area. They covet even only a small slice of the pie loved by the decade-old American juggernaut. Whereas SaaS has lengthy been a confirmed enterprise mannequin within the U.S., in rising markets, and even in China’s burgeoning tech business, many customers nonetheless anticipate software program to be free.
To develop their paying prospects, Asia’s SaaS startups, constructed by seasoned and inexpensive builders, are venturing into the West. Hong Kong-headquartered low-code database APITable is certainly one of them (it’s within the technique of establishing a Canadian base). The corporate is unabashed about its ambition to tackle Airtable. Living proof, its weblog featured a step-by-step guide on find out how to migrate from Airtable to its personal platform (the web page disappeared on the time of publishing).
APITable is competing with a handful of rising startups, like Amsterdam’s Baserow and San Francisco-based NocoDB, to offer an open-source, visible answer for creating sensible, sleek-looking databases. Its identify suggests a give attention to system interoperability. Sooner or later, customers will have the ability to join the low-code instrument to platforms together with Zapier, Slack, Google Workspace and red-hot ChatGPT utilizing the APITable API, says the corporate’s co-founder and COO Gary Li in an interview.
For customers wanting an off-the-shelf product that requires minimal technical expertise and third-party internet hosting, the software program comes with a paid, premium model. As of at the moment, APITable has been “starred” some 6,500 instances on GitHub, an indicator of a mission’s recognition amongst builders. Whereas Li declines to reveal the corporate’s income measurement, he claims that in 2022, “group customers”, together with freemium and paid ones, grew from 6,000 to over 20,000 throughout 30 international locations.
APITable’s founding staff first examined the water in China. Its Chinese language model Vika launched in 2019 at a time when enterprise capitalists, buoyed by the growth of Zoom, Stripe, Canva, Figma, Airtable and different cloud-based options within the West, had been speeding to guess on native alternate options.
APITable itself landed funding from outstanding VCs like IDG Capital, GL Ventures (Hillhouse’s early-stage arm) and 5Y Capital, which is taken into account by some as a bellwether in enterprise tech funding in China. The startup had raised $10 million in complete funding as of early 2021 at a valuation of roughly $75 million.
Again in China, Vika has had no scarcity of rivals. Firms from giants like ByteDance and Tencent to underdogs like Hipacloud and Treelab clamored to construct their solutions to Airtable. Wanting ahead, the mother or father agency will place extra give attention to growth within the West via APITable. “Being open-source is a manner of selling itself. To generate revenues, although, we nonetheless rely upon Saas gross sales,” reckons Li.
APITable’s CEO Kelly Chan appears to know a factor or two about creating instruments for non-technical customers. He was beforehand the CTO at HeyTea, a venture-backed firm that revolutionized the bubble tea enterprise in China. The chain not solely pioneered the novel cheese-on-the-top taste however extra importantly, it invested closely in a large developer staff, a slightly uncommon transfer within the meals and beverage business. The outcomes had been reassuring. Under Chan’s helm, HeyTea made an app to hurry up ordering and shorten wait time in addition to enhance recurring income via a membership scheme.