Rows, formerly dashdash, raises $ 16 million to build and populate web apps using only spreadsheet skills – TechCrunch

Spreadsheets, led by products like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Apple Numbers, continue to be one of the most widely used categories of business applications, with Excel alone registering over a billion users alone. on his Android version. Now a startup called Lines which builds on this ubiquity, with a low-code platform that allows people to complete and analyze web applications using only spreadsheet interfaces, announces funding, and launches a freemium open beta of its extended service .

The Berlin-based startup – who renamed from the dashboard at the end of last year – closed a $ 16 million Series B funding round, money he uses to continue investing in his platform as well as sales and marketing. Along with the platform’s move to an open beta comes around 50 new integrations with other platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and more, as well as 200 new features (using sheet shortcuts known calculation methods) to use.

The round was led by Lakestar, with former investors Accel (who led its $ 8 million Series A in 2018) and Cherry Ventures also participated. Christian Reber also invested in this round. Reber knows a thing or two about software that disrupts legacy productivity software – he’s the co-founder and CEO of presentation software startup Pitch and the former CEO and founder of Wunderlist, which Microsoft acquired – including he. joins Rows advisory board with investment.

A little detail about this Series B: CEO Humberto Ayres Pereira, who is based in Porto, Portugal, where some of the staff are also based, tells us that this round was actually quietly closed more than a year ago. year, in January 2020 – just before the world stops amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The startup chose to announce this round today to coincide with the addition of additional features to its product and its move to open beta, he said.

This open beta is free in its most basic form – the free tier is limited to 10 users or less and a minimum amount of integration usage. Paid tiers, which cover more team members and up to 100,000 onboarding tasks (which is measured by the number of times a spreadsheet polls another department), start at $ 59 per month. .

A strong sign of interest in this latest iteration of the software is the enduring popularity of spreadsheets. Another is Rows’ pull to date: In invite-only mode, it has removed 10,000 users from its waitlist and hundreds of businesses as customers. Currently, most of them are free, Ayres Pereira said.

“Our goal is to have 1,000 paying businesses as customers in the 12 months,” he said. This process is only just beginning, he added, with numbers paying off in the modest “dozens” so far. He pointed out, however, that the company is very efficient in terms of cash flow and has, even without raising more funds, two years of track on the money it currently has in the bank.

The growing appeal of low-code

Codeless, low-code software, which allows people to create and work with applications and other digital content without delving into the lines of code that underpin them, have continued to gain traction in the market over the years. in recent years.

The reason is simple: non-technical workers may not be coding, but they are increasingly adept at understanding how services work and what can be achieved in an application.

Codeless, low-code platforms allow them to become more familiar with customizing and building the services they need to use every day to do their jobs, without the time and effort required to involve an engineer.

“People want to create their own tools,” Ayres Pereira said. “They want to understand, test and iterate.” He said the majority of Rows users so far are based in North America and typical use cases include marketing and sales teams, as well as businesses using Rows spreadsheets as a dynamic interface to manage. logistics and other operations.

Stephen Nundy, the Lakestar partner who led his investment, describes the army of users using no-code tools as “citizen developers.”

Rows is precisely the kind of platform that fits in with the low-code trend. For people who are already familiar with the types of tools you find in spreadsheets – and something like Excel has hundreds of functions – it presents a way to build on those familiar functions to trigger integrations with other applications, and then use a spreadsheet created in Rows to analyze and update data from other applications.

Image: lines

You might ask yourself why is it more useful, for example, to watch Twitter content online rather than Twitter itself? A Rows document can allow a person to search for a set of Tweets using a certain string of keywords, and then organize those results based on parameters such as the number of “likes” those Tweets have. Tweets received.

Or users responding to a call to action for an Instagram promotion can then be crossed with a company’s existing customer database, to analyze how those respondents overlap or present new leads.

You may also be wondering why existing spreadsheets may not have already built features like this.

Interestingly, Microsoft tried to create a way to link Excel to some rudimentary computer functions, in the form of Visual Basic for Applications. This, however, achieved the dubious distinction of outdoing the developers “the most feared”List of languages ​​for two years in a row, and as you can imagine, it’s kinda dead.

However, this indicates an opportunity for incumbents to disrupt their disruptors.

Besides these more obvious and entrenched competitors, there are a number of other startup building tools that offer similar no-code and low-code approaches.

Gyana focuses more on data science, provides a graphical interface to integrate how applications work together, Zapier and Notion also provide simple interfaces to integrate applications and APIs together and Airtable has its own approach to reinventing the spreadsheet interface. For now, Ayres Pereira considers them more as compatriots than as competitors.

“Yes, we overlap with services like Zapier and Notion,” he said. “But I would say we’re friends. We are making all people aware that people are capable of doing more and should not be stuck with old tools. This is not a zero sum game for us.

When we covered Rows’ A series two years ago, the startup had built a platform to allow people who are comfortable with data in spreadsheets to use this interface to create and populate content in web applications. It had a lot of extensibility, but was aimed primarily at people who were always willing to do the job of making those connections.

Two years later, while the spreadsheet remained the anchor, the platform grew. Ayres Pereira, who co-founded the company with Torben Schulz (both pictured above), said there are currently some 50 new integrations, including ways to analyze and update content on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, CrunchBase, Salesforce, Slack, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as some 200 new features in the platform itself.

While people can import data into rows from Google Sheets, he noted that everyone’s big daddy Excel is not supported at this time. The reason, he said, is that the vast majority of product users use the desktop version, which has no API.

Meanwhile, Rows also has a number of models available for people to guide them through simple tasks like finding LinkedIn profiles or emails for a list of people, tracking social media count, etc.

One of the most common aspects of spreadsheets, however, has yet to be built. The interface is still structured around rows and columns, but without graphical tools to visualize the data in different ways, such as pie charts or charts, as you might have in a typical spreadsheet.

It is for this reason that Rows has not yet exited the beta. This feature is in high demand, admitted Pereira, describing it as “the last frontier”. When Rows is ready to ship with this feature, probably by the third quarter of this year, it will upgrade to general version “1.0”, he added.

“Humberto and Torben really impressed us with their ambition to disrupt the market with a new spreadsheet paradigm that fills significant gaps in today’s solutions,” said Nundy of Lakestar. “The data integrations are native, the collaboration experience is first class, and the ability to share and publish your work as an app is unique and will create more ‘citizen developers.’ This is essential to meet the growing needs of today’s tech-savvy workforce. The level of interest they have received in their private beta is proof of the interest of platforms like Rows, and we are delighted to support them throughout their public beta launch and beyond with this investment. Nundy also joins the Rows board with this round.

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