APITable low-code database is another Airtable challenge TechCrunch
Airtable is valued at 11 billion USD achieved by the end of 2021 attracted a wide range of aspiring entrepreneurs into the low-code database space. They covet even just a small piece of cake that decades-old Americans enjoy. While SaaS has long been a proven business model in the United States, in emerging markets, and even in China’s burgeoning tech industry, many users still expect free software fee.
To grow their paying customers, Asia’s SaaS startups, built by seasoned developers and affordable, are venturing into the West. Hong Kong-based low-code database APITable is one of them (it’s in the process of setting up a base in Canada). The company is undeterred about its ambitions to take on Airtable. Case in point, its blog has a step by step instructions on how to migrate from Airtable to its own platform (page disappeared at time of publication).
APITable is competing with several emerging startups, such as Amsterdam Stadium And NocoDB is based in San Francisco, to provide an intuitive, open-source solution for creating beautiful, intelligent databases. Its name indicates a focus on system interoperability. In the future, users will be able to connect the low-code engine to platforms including Zapier, Slack, Google Workspace, and the hot ChatGPT using the APITable API, Gary Li, the company’s co-founder and COO said in an interview.
For users who want an off-the-shelf product that requires minimal technical skills and third-party hosting, the software comes with a premium, paid version. As of today, APITable has been “starred” about 6,500 times on GitHub, an indicator of a project’s popularity among developers. Although Li declined to disclose the size of the company’s revenue, he claims that by 2022, “organizational users,” including freemium and premium, have grown from 6,000 to more than 20,000 across 30 countries. .
APITable’s founding team tested water in China for the first time. Its Chinese version of Vika launched in 2019 at a time of venture capitalists, fueled by the explosion of Zoom, Stripe, Canva, Figma, Airtable and other cloud-based solutions in China. West, are flocking to bet on local alternatives.
APITable itself has received funding from well-known VCs such as IDG Capital, GL Ventures (the early stage arm of Hillhouse), and 5Y Capital, which are seen by some as a focal point for enterprise technology investment in China. The startup has raised $10 million in total funding as of early 2021 at a valuation of around $75 million.
Back in China, Vika has no shortage of opponents. Companies from giants like ByteDance and Tencent to underdogs like Hipacloud and Treelab have all called for building their answers to Airtable. Going forward, the parent company will focus more on expansion in the West through APITable. “Being open source is a way of marketing yourself. However, to generate revenue, we still depend on Saas sales,” Li said.
CEO of APITable Kelly Chan seems to know a thing or two about making stuff for non-technical users. He was previously the CTO of HeyTea, a venture-backed company that revolutionized the bubble tea business in China. The chain has not only pioneered novelty cheese flavors but more importantly, it has invested heavily in a sizable developer team, a rather unusual move in the food and beverage industry. The results are reassuring. Under the leadership of ChanHeyTea created an app to speed up ordering and shorten wait times and increase recurring revenue through the membership program.