APITable low-code database is another Airtable challenger TechCrunch

APITable low-code database is another Airtable challenger TechCrunch

APITable low-code database is another Airtable challenger TechCrunch

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Airtable’s massive $11 billion valuation reached at the end of 2021 has attracted a slew of ambitious entrepreneurs to the low-code database space. They even covet just a small slice of the pie enjoyed by the ten-year-old American juggernaut. While SaaS has long been a proven business model in the United States, emerging markets, and even the booming tech industry in China, many users still expect software to be free.


To grow their paying customers, SaaS startups from Asia, built by seasoned and affordable developers, are venturing to the West. The low-code database APITable, based in Hong Kong, is one of them (it is in the process of creating a Canadian base). The company is unabashed about its ambition to take on Airtable. For example, his blog featured a step-by-step guide on how to migrate from Airtable to his own platform (the page disappeared at the time of publication).

APITable competes with a handful of up-and-coming startups, like Amsterdam-based Baserow and San Francisco-based NocoDB, to provide an open-source, visual solution for building smart, elegant databases. Its name suggests emphasizing system interoperability. In the future, users will be able to connect the low-code tool to platforms such as Zapier, Slack, Google Workspace and ChatGPT using the APITable API, says co-founder and COO Gary Li in an interview.

For users wanting an out-of-the-box product that requires minimal technical skills and third-party hosting, the software comes with a paid premium version. To date, APITable has been “featured” some 6,500 times on GitHub, an indicator of a project’s popularity with developers. Although Li refuses to disclose the company’s revenue, he claims that in 2022 the “organization’s users”, including both free and paid users, have grown from 6,000 to more than 20,000. in 30 countries.

APITable’s founding team first tested the water in China. Its Chinese version Vika launched in 2019 at a time when venture capitalists, buoyed by the boom in Zoom, Stripe, Canva, Figma, Airtable and other cloud-based solutions in the West, were rushing to bet on local alternatives. .

APITable itself has secured funding from top venture capital firms like IDG Capital, GL Ventures (the startup arm of Hillhouse) and 5Y Capital, which is considered by some to be a gauge of corporate technology investment in China. The startup had raised $10 million in total funding by early 2021 at a valuation of around $75 million.

Back in China, Vika has no shortage of rivals. Companies ranging from giants like ByteDance and Tencent to underdogs like Hipacloud and Treelab have been clamoring to build their answers to Airtable. Going forward, the parent company will put more emphasis on expanding out west via APITable. “Being open-source is a way to market ourselves. To generate revenue, however, we still depend on Saas sales,” Li believes.

APITable CEO Kelly Chan seems to know a thing or two about building tools for non-technical users. He was previously CTO at HeyTea, a venture-backed company that revolutionized the bubble tea industry in China. The chain not only pioneered the new cheese-on-top flavor, but more importantly, it invested heavily in a large team of developers, a rather unusual move in the food and beverage industry. The results were reassuring. Under Chan’s leadership, HeyTea created an app to speed up orders and shorten waiting time, as well as increase recurring revenue through a membership program.


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