NocoDB is one of a number of startups emerging on the scene with plans to take over the mighty Airtable, with an open source foundation as a major selling point. While NocoDB works in a similar way to let non-technical users create new databases, its twist is that it also works directly on live “production” data residing in databases like Postrgres, MySQL or MariaDB or data warehouses, and changes them in what it calls a “smart spreadsheet.”
This allows anyone to use legacy databases without IT intervention – no SQL queries or code required. It’s all about enabling business, finance or even marketing teams to connect to live data and collaborate with developers to build no-code applications.
UK-based founder and CEO Naveen Rudrappa claims that the core open source project has already been used by more than 2,000 companies, including giants such as Google, Walmart, American Express, and McAfee.
“The adoption we’ve seen is truly unprecedented – we’ve had 7 million Docker downloads within a year of launch and over 30,000 GitHub stars, ranking us among the top 350 open source projects in the world,” Rudrappa told londonbusinessblog.com.
Just over a year after its founding, the company is announcing a sizable seed funding round from a veritable who’s who of the angel investment world.
Funding has actually trickled in more than a few tranches since its inception last June, but in total the round is about $10.5 million, with institutional backers including Decibel, OSS Capital, Uncorrelated Ventures and Together.fund. . The angel side, meanwhile, includes YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley; WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg; RedHat co-founder Bob Young; early Google investor Ram Shriram; and founders of Cloudera, CockroachDB, PipeDream, Talend, AngelList, BrightRoll and Freshworks.
The story so far
The genesis of NocoDB dates back to 2017, when Rudrappa was working on a related open source database “passion project” under a different name, one that was purely a backend with no user interface. The problem he was trying to solve was creating APIs to access a MySQL database of UK real estate data – something that was not easy to achieve.
“I realized that the fundamental problem of making a database API accessible was still unresolved,” Rudrappa said. “So I built a prototype, released it on GitHub, and the next morning I woke up to see a thousand GitHub stars for my project. The problem was much more widespread than I imagined and my first prototype had struck a chord with users This hobby project got a quarter of a million downloads, then I decided to team up with a friend and started building NocoDB.”
When NocoDB arrived on GitHub last year, Rudrappa said it racked up over a million downloads in its first ten weeks.
“Live production data stores, such as MySQL or Snowflake, are intimidating to business users, or even developers who aren’t used to working with the backend tech stack,” he said. “But they need access to this data to quickly build useful applications. NocoDB makes it possible to connect any organizational data source with the universally well-understood spreadsheet interface, allowing users with no coding experience to build workflows and automations that work together with real business data.”
With $10.5 million in the bank and the backing of some of the biggest names in technology, NocoDB is well positioned to build out a commercial component for the flagship open source project. This includes a new premium incarnation currently in private beta, one that allows businesses to connect to Oracle Database and Snowflake.
“This commercial version is a customer request because they need a work contract with us when they use the software,” explains Rudrappa. “Business customers need different support, and we want to meet those needs while balancing the needs of our open source community.”
In addition, NocoDB is also working on a managed and hosted cloud version, packed with enterprise-level features, including connectors, single sign-on (SSO), access control, auditing, and more.