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The demand for software development far outpaces the supply of software developers. While movements such as open source have made it easy for developers to build and share tools, the skillset to write software has only gone up with ever-evolving programming frameworks and technology stacks. No-code and low-code tools have definitely attempted to enable users with little or no coding skills - a business owner, a teacher, or an accountant - to create their own software. However, those have fallen far short of truly unleashing the full potential of no-code. For that to happen, we believe that no-code tools:
- Must be able to work with “source-of-truth” data - real production data stored in databases, data warehouses, and SaaS applications - that every single business runs on. Else, the resulting software ends up being another data silo of a business.
- Must be able to scale with customers' data needs. Current no-code systems have the lowest possible ceiling to build data-oriented apps - a few 100k records translate to 10s of MBs of data.
- Should thrive on community-driven software than gatekeeping - critical APIs, webhooks, and extension mechanisms.
- Cannot get unreasonably expensive for the value provided.
Why we built NocoDB
I originally built NocoDB because I was frustrated that I could not find a tool that would let me create instant API access to an existing MySQL database without writing a custom application from scratch. So, I built a prototype to do exactly that and open-sourced it. The initial reception - over a quarter million downloads with the pure word of mouth - surprised me.
Then adding a UI layer surprised us even more as the users who were really passionate were not just developers, but also business users. Unbeknownst to me, the prototype had unlocked a whole new persona of users who wanted to access production data without writing any code or query.
We set out to build NocoDB so that for the first time ever, business users could access all organizational data and build applications and automation without relying on and waiting for developers to build custom applications for them.
What is NocoDB
NocoDB is an open-source, no-code platform that connects to source-of-truth data sources - relational databases such as MySQL and Postgres, data warehouses such as Snowflake, CRMs, and SaaS APIs - and enables users to work with that data via a spreadsheet interface and build applications and workflow automation on top of it. We envision NocoDB as the platform that empowers every software user to become a software creator, irrespective of their coding skills.
NocoDB offers the following key benefits to its users:
- Instant access to all organization's data. Instead of depending on data teams and developers, business teams can instantly and collaboratively work with real, source-of-truth data via a spreadsheet-like interface.
- High data integrity. Unlike traditional business apps, NocoDB lets the user work with data wherever it lives instead of replicating it to yet another system. This not only unlocks tremendous agility and flexibility but also ensures data integrity by removing the need to manage multiple copies of data.
- Easy and intuitive interface. NocoDB hides all its computational complexity behind a metadata engine that automatically creates user interfaces for the programming models teams collaboratively create and edit. This allows the creators to see an immediate connection to what they are creating, as well as collaborate easily with others.
- Lower the barrier to creating software. NocoDB allows any user, irrespective of their coding skills, to easily build solutions without ever having to know SQL or any other programming language.
- No vendor or data lock-in. Finally, because NocoDB is open source - and will stay that way forever - users have complete control of their data and can host NocoDB in any infrastructure of their choice.
Looking forward: The road ahead
While NocoDB began as a hobby project for me, it quickly became a full-time passion. Since launching the open-source NocoDB project only a year ago, it has seen several millions of downloads, over 100+ contributors, and more than 30,000 +stars on GitHub, making it one of the fastest-growing open-source projects in the world. More importantly, the open-source project is currently used by 2000+ organizations worldwide on a daily basis including several Fortune 500s. These companies are using NocoDB not just as a smart spreadsheet to work with source-of-truth data, but also as a no-code platform to easily build custom applications and automated workflows on top of it.
With great progress, comes great responsibility! As exhilarating as the NocoDB journey has been so far, we are at just step one where we are unlocking source-of-truth i.e data to unleash human creativity. And creating software without having to code will be a fundamental need for every business. At NocoDB we are here to turn that "Fundamental need into a Fundamental Right" of every internet user and business. And are uniquely positioned to help bring a Cambrian explosion of software creation in the next decade.
Therefore, I am incredibly thrilled to announce that we have partnered up with Decibel and OSS Capital, fellow compatriots who understand open source, and had them lead our $10.5M Seed round with participation from Uncorrelated Ventures, Together.Fund and other prominent investors such as early Google investor Ram Shriram, Automattic/WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, Cloudera co-founder Jeff Hammerbacher, CockroachDB co-founder Spencer Kimball, Red Hat co-founder Bob Young, BrightRoll founder Tod Sacerdoti, Talend co-founder Bertrand Diard, Freshworks co-founder Girish Mathrubootham, Eka co-founder Manav Garg, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, and Nestaway co-founder Jitendra Jagadev.
This financing, the first one in the company’s brief history, will allow us to continue building a world-class team and a great product and meet rapidly growing community requests.
We are well on our way to empowering the next billion software no-coders - and we hope you will come to join the revolution!