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The burgeoning no-code / low-code movement is showing little sign of slowing down. There are countless new products and companies hitting the market to help coders and non-coders alike make the most of the skills that they have.

By way of example, at the tail-end of last year, Amazon launched a no-code AI model development tool called SageMaker Canvas aimed at business analysts. Softr, meanwhile, recently raised $13.5 million to help non-technical users create business apps atop Airtable.

While no-code platforms go some way toward democratizing the software development process, low-code holds the potential to be just as transformative in terms of how it allows developers to create without having to hand-code everything from scratch. IDC estimates that 40% of “low-code developers” are already full-time developers, while Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications will use low-code or no-code technologies — up from 25% in 2020.

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It’s against that backdrop that Budibase went to market with a low-code platform that helps developers and IT professionals build business apps in minutes. This could be anything from inventory management platforms and applicant tracking systems (ATS) to customer help desk applications.

Budibase applicant tracking system (ATS) template

Anyone who has followed this space of late will be well aware of the myriad website and web app building tools out there aimed at the less technically minded people, from the well-funded Webflow through to Stacker and Softr. But Budibase is approaching things from a slightly different angle.

Open source meets low-code

Budibase is open source, meaning that companies are able to host everything themselves on their infrastructure and retain full control of their data and applications while avoiding proprietary lock-in. Moreover, the GPLv3 license means that there is low friction for adoption. “Users don’t have to ask their legal team to install the software,” Budibase cofounder Joe Johnston told VentureBeat.

On top of the free open source Budibase incarnation, the company also offers an enterprise version which includes several premium features such as service-level agreements (SLAs); a dedicated account manager; and onboarding support. And back in November, Budibase launched a hosted cloud service, which has gone on to garner some 10,000 paying customers, including waste-management giant Covanta.

Covanta was forced to quickly build its own timesheet app after its usual service provider Kronos was impacted by the widely-reported Log4j vulnerability — and this is where Budibase entered the fray. “With a week to Christmas, Covanta employees had no way to record their working hours, which was critical for the Christmas bonus,” Johnston explained. “Thankfully, the IT team was able to build a replacement app with Budibase in just a few hours.”

It’s worth noting that Budibase also claims open source users from mega tech giant such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google, though it’s not clear to what extent these companies are using the product.

A glance across the competitive landscape reveals some similar propositions, including Joget which recently closed a $2.2 million pre-Series A round of funding, while Appsmith disclosed $10.5 million in funding. So, it’s clear that there is growing demand to bring the benefits of open source technologies to the low-code development realm.

Budibase’s open source credentials are only part of its appeal. The likes of Webflow aim to help non-technical citizen developers build fairly non-dynamic websites, and Softr and Stacker target non-technical users with what is effectively an interface-builder on top of Airtable. Budibase can be used in a similar way, but it’s ultimately targeting developers, as it allow them to add their own JavaScript to extend the utility of the built-in features, for example.

With Budibase, technical users can connect to external sources such as MySQL, CouchDB, PostrgreSQL, MongoDB, Rest API, Airtable and more. And if they don’t have their own existing data, they can tap Budibase’s built-in database and tables to build apps from scratch.

Elsewhere, Budibase packs a pretty powerful arsenal of tools spanning the data, design, and admin spheres, while users can tap pre-built automations powered by webhooks, triggers, and actions which can be tailored if the developer wants to add their own scripts to the mix.

Budibase: Automation example
Budibase: Automation example

Target market

While Budibase could appeal to companies of just about any size, it’s ultimately vying for the mid-sized to enterprise market. “Larger organizations have more internal operations, [and] therefore they need ways to build internal apps to automate and digitize these operations,” Johnston said.

Moreover, as the developer talent shortage continues, this will mean that companies have to use their existing resources more intelligently — which is where Budibase and its ilk stand to benefit.

“There’s simply not enough development resource to meet demand, plus developers are expensive and hard to source,” Johnston said. “Budibase allows these companies to develop more internal apps, using less development resource.”

Budibase last year raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Angular Ventures, Snyk cofounder Guy Podjarny, and Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, and the company said that it plans to raise its series A round later this year.

The company is also gearing up to launch a host of new features in the coming months, including auditing capabilities and a “global design system” that helps ensure companies remain on-brand through the app development process.

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