Meet Budibase, a low-code, open-source web app builder with automation

While there are Different points of view on the extent to which no-code or low-code development tools could eventually displace human software developers, it is clear that any software that takes care of the technical “heavy lifting” is has a huge impact in business — in terms of opening up app building to more staff, filling the talent gap and helping existing developers focus on more demanding tasks.

A quick look at the recent funding landscape shows little sign of the no-code/low-code movement slowing down. Only in 2022 did we see the like Webflow earns $120 million for a no-code website builder; Softr Raises $13.5M Series A to help companies build applications on top of Airtable’s databases; Appsmith has secured a $41 million Series B round to power custom internal business applications; Retool attracted a cash injection of $45 million for such a proposal; and An incredible $30 million lock-in investment for a no-code mobile app development platform.

So despite a wider declineit seems that 2022 may have been relatively kind to startups operating in the no- and low-code space, something that the newly formed Northern Ireland startup Budibase capitalized with the announcement of a new $7 million tranche of funding to further develop the open source web app builder.

Founded in Belfast in 2019, Budibase allows users to connect to an external data source – such as Postgres, MySQL, Oracle, Google Sheets or Airtable – and develop internal tools or business applications in minutes. Such applications can include everything from customer service applications, application tracking systems and inventory management systems to administrative panels, portals and forms.

Budibase: A sample business application in action

It’s also worth noting that Budibase also has its own built-in database based on CouchDB for those who want to build apps entirely from scratch.

“Every enterprise we talk to says the same thing — ‘we have a big backlog of internal tools tickets that are holding us back,'” Budibase co-founder Joe Johnston told TechCrunch. “With Budibase, enterprises build internal tools and transform workflows in days, not months, which is a huge cost savings and a catalyst for innovation.”

Open source

One of Budibase’s main selling points is that it’s open source, which gives companies more flexibility and extensibility, but also allows them to host everything themselves – this is especially important for businesses with sensitive data who may want to protect against the SaaS-y claws of third-party infrastructure.

In addition to the free self-hosted version of Budibase, the company also offers a range of premium and enterprise plans with additional features (such as SLAs and unlimited automation logs) and a fully managed hosted implementation.

Budibase is somewhat similar to other players in the low-code open source development space, including the aforementioned Appsmith and Joget which, as it happens, announced its first institutional funding earlier this year through a $2.2 million pre-Series A investment. So this underscores the demand for not only no- and low-code app builders, but also the ability to maintain full control over company data and gain full visibility into what’s going on under the hood.

“Enterprises like this because they have access to the code base and can fix it if they need to [which is useful for] risk reduction,” Johnston said.

Automation for people

Budibase seeks to differentiate itself in a number of ways, through more subjective elements such as usability, but also through specific differentiators such as built-in automations comparable to something like Zapier.

Indeed, Budibase includes automations that are powered by webhooks and actions that are good to have out of the box, but which can also be customized by the more technically minded who want to throw their own scripts into the pot. Such automations can cover any number of use cases, such as automatically approving (or denying) an employee’s time off request via an internal form or issuing a new lead inbound notification to the sales team at the start of their shift.

“We want to provide a platform that helps developers and non-developers — but technical employees — innovate and accelerate their workplace,” Johnston said.

Budibase automation in action

A quick look at Budibase’s home page reveals a pretty impressive list of company logos, from Google and Netflix to Tesla and Disney. At first glance, it looks like these are fully registered Budibase customers, but alas, they are not — Budibase uses a tracking tool called Scarf to detect which domains are downloading Budibase open source software. So that doesn’t really tell us that much how Budibase is used in these companies, whether it’s being tested internally or just curious employees downloading it for their own interests.

“Employees from some of the companies mentioned are active in our community,” Johnston said. “For example, Scarf told us that Google has downloaded the Budibase Docker image over 150 times.”

So far, Budibase had raised $1.8 million in seed funding, and the latest round of $7 million “seed II” funding included investments from SignalFire, Angular Ventures, Techstart and a host of angel backers.

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