Stacker lets anyone turn spreadsheets and databases into web apps
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Low-code and no-code development tools were one of the big trends that emerged last year, with Google taking over enterprise-focused AppSheet and Amazon’s AWS launching Honeycode. This trend appears to be accelerating in 2021, with no-code development platform Webflow raising $140 million to a $2.1 billion valuation earlier this month and new entrants such as the platform Reflect automated web test builders bolstering their coffers.
Of course, the low-code movement is far from a new phenomenon. Microsoft’s ubiquitous Excel is a good example of this, as it allows financial analysts and other non-coders to manipulate data and generate insights using the software’s built-in functions and cellular structure. WordPress, which powers about a third of all websites, adheres to a similar philosophy for web developers.
The fact that almost all companies are now software companies at some level means that this trend will continue to grow.
According to some reports, the global low-code development market is expected to generate $187 billion in revenue per year by 2030, up from $10.3 billion in 2019, while Gartner predicts that “citizen developers” within large enterprises will outnumber professional developers by at least 4 times by 2023. It is in this context that Stacker sets out to help enterprises transform spreadsheets and databases into applications and portals fully functional in minutes, without typing a single line of code. The company announced today that it has raised $1.7 million in a funding round led by Initialized Capital, with participation from YC, Pioneer Fund and Makerpad.
Founded in London in 2017, Stacker was originally a no-code, drag-and-drop app builder that could be used to build marketplaces, social networks, and any type of web app. Although users weren’t technically writing any code, the company found that they still needed programming knowledge and a developer mindset to use the app builder to its full potential. is why the company pivoted and exited the Y Combinator (YC) summer. 2020 program in its current form.
Stacker aims to get to the heart of the humble spreadsheet’s biggest problem. They’re great for modeling and managing data, but spreadsheets aren’t particularly friendly when it comes to sharing data with other people. Sharing spreadsheets with team members or clients can open up a Pandora’s box of potential problems – users may not understand the data to begin with, and there may be huge segments containing confidential information. Stacker serves as an “application layer” above the spreadsheet, providing a user-friendly interface for raw data along with additional functionality such as user logins, access controls, etc.
For now, Stacker officially connects to data in Google Sheets and Airtable, which is a kind of database platform with a spreadsheet interface and is firmly integrated into the low-code movement. “Stacker is like the app that adds to that database,” Stacker co-founder and CEO Michael Skelly told VentureBeat. “It’s suitable for your customers or people in your organization who don’t understand how the spreadsheet works but still need to interact with it.”
There are already a bunch of similar tools on the market, such as Retool, another YC alum from Stacker, which raised $50 million in a funding round led by Sequoia a few months ago; Quickbase, in which private equity firm Vista Equity acquired a $1 billion majority stake in 2019; and publicly traded Appian, whose shares have risen more than sixfold during the pandemic, giving the company a valuation of $13 billion. Add to that Google’s AppSheet, Amazon’s Honeycode, and a host of smaller players such as Bubble, and it’s clear the low-code space is busy.
But Stacker thinks most of the existing no-code app builders are either aimed at entrepreneurs trying to build a big business, or engineers and IT departments looking to build apps faster or at lower cost. Skelly said he hopes to differentiate his platform by enabling people with zero coding knowledge to build web applications for internal and customer-facing scenarios. It could be a custom CRM, a self-service customer account portal for tracking orders or viewing project updates, or a field application for main- mobile workforce.
Among Stacker’s customers is Segment, a customer data infrastructure unicorn and another former YC alumnus. “Segment has created a fully customized portal for its customers to access their Starter Program offerings,” Skelly said. “People have [also] created learning platforms, CRMs and even two-way marketplaces using Stacker. ProjectN95 has created a marketplace for healthcare providers and PPE manufacturers to connect during COVID, powered by Stacker.
Stacker is also rolling out support for additional enterprise tools and platforms as part of an early alpha program, including the Intercom messaging platform, Stripe, and SQL databases.
“Over the next year, we’ll be expanding this to cover the most popular SaaS tools and data sources,” Skelly said. “What really excites us is enabling you to bring all of your organization’s data together in one place for your team and customers to interact with.”
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