Baserow challenges Airtable with a no-code open-source database platform – TechCrunch
The burgeoning low-code and no-code movement shows few signs of waning, with many startups continuing to raise large sums to help the less technical workforce easily develop and deploy software. Arguably one of the most notable examples of this trend is Airtable, a 10-year-old company that recently reached a whopping $11 billion valuation for a no-code platform used by companies such as Netflix and Shopify to create relational databases.
At the same time, we’re also seeing an increase in “open source alternatives” to some of the big names in tech, from Google’s backend-as-a-service platform Firebase to the open source planning framework that seeks to supplant the mighty Calendly.
A young Dutch company called Baserow sits at the intersection of these two trends, marketing itself as an open-source Airbase alternative that helps people build databases with minimal technical prowess. Today, Baserow announced that it has raised €5 million ($5.2 million) in seed funding to launch a suite of new premium and enterprise products in the coming months, transforming the platform -shape its current database-driven foundation into a “complete, open-source no-code toolchain,” co-founder and CEO Bram Wiepjes told TechCrunch.
So what exactly does Baserow do in its current form? Well, anyone with the most rudimentary spreadsheet skills can use Baserow for use cases spanning content marketing, such as collaborative management of brand assets across teams; management and organization of events; help HR teams or startups manage and track candidates for a new position; and countless others, for which Baserow provides pre-made templates.
A specific real-world example cited by Baserow Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Olivier Maes, involved a regional municipality in France that was looking to create a platform to help local farmers register their produce and declare where they are sold in the region. This allowed customers to see what products are available and where, with local retailers able to use the same app to source specific products. An underlying database infrastructure was needed to store and display all of this information, which is where Baserow entered the fray.
“In this case, all data behind the website is managed by Baserow and integrates with n8n for workflow automations to external website portals,” Maes explained. “This is a typical use case with multiple stakeholders needing to enter, view, and modify data [and need to] do it without any requirement of technical skills.
The open source factor
Baserow’s open-source credentials are arguably its biggest selling point, with the promise of greater extensibility and customizations (users can create their own plugins to enhance its functionality, similar to WordPress works) – this is an especially enticing proposition for businesses with very specific or niche use cases that aren’t well supported by an out-of-the-box SaaS solution.
Additionally, some industries require full control of their data and technology stack for security or compliance purposes. This is where open source comes into its own, given that companies can host the product themselves and bypass vendor blocking.
“If a business or public sector entity uses Baserow to collaborate on sensitive data and builds all sorts of processes around it, they don’t want to face the risk of losing that work or those applications in the future” , explained Wiepjes. “Offering open source software mitigates this risk, because the source code is in the hands of our users, forever.”
It’s also worth noting that open source generally lowers the barrier to entry, as it usually comes with a free version that anyone can deploy themselves. Typically, this requires significant technical know-how, which is why business entities often monetize their product with premium features and services that make it easier and faster to use. However, since Baserow’s core purpose is appealing to the less technically savvy people in the workforce, he had to make his core product usable as an out-of-the-box SaaS tool.
“Baserow can be used by anyone who needs to organize and collaborate on data – we believe we will appeal to SMBs, public sector organizations and enterprise users,” Maes said.
With €5 million fresh in the bank, Baserow plans to double down on its commercial efforts, starting with a premium incarnation that officially launches an early access program later this month. This offering will be available as a SaaS and self-hosted product and will include various features such as the ability to export in different formats; user management tools for the administrator; Kanban view; and more. An additional “advanced” product will also be made available for SaaS customers only and will include a higher data storage limit and service level agreements (SLAs).
Although Baserow has been operating somewhat under the radar since its official founding in Amsterdam last year, it claims to have 10,000 active users, 100 sponsors who donate to the project via GitHub, and 800 users already on the waiting list for its premium version.
Later this year, Baserow plans to introduce a paid enterprise version for self-hosted customers, with support for specific requirements such as audit logs, single sign-on (SSO), security control, and more. role-based access, etc.
Until then, Baserow and its no-code/low-code cronies will continue to tout their abilities to fill the much-discussed tech talent gap by giving anyone in an enterprise the ability to build their own databases — that’s is a problem that affects companies of all sizes, from small independent companies to the largest global conglomerates.
“There is a huge global shortage of developers today and a huge need for apps that meet the specific needs of teams in companies,” added Wiepjes. “A lot of data is still captured and manipulated in Excel spreadsheets by – often understaffed – operational teams trying to deliver insights, track progress and create dashboards.”
The Baserow round was led by Amsterdam-based startup investor Inkef, with participation from Firstminute Capital, Seedcamp, Frontline and angel investors including Remote’s Job van der Voort and Pipedrive’s Martin Henk.