Stacker, a company that helps non-developers create software from spreadsheets, announced that it has raised $1.7 million in a seed round.
Stacker fits inside the growing no-code, and low-code niche that TechCrunch has explored at length over the last year. But its approach to the topic is worth examining, as is its new funding round.
According to Stacker CEO Michael Skelly, the idea for his company came from his time at an asset management company where he had helped build internal apps using Salesforce’s platform. Later on in his career, he found the process more difficult without as assistive service, and noticed that teams in need of engineering time — even for more modest changes to how something worked — were stuck waiting in a long line for developer attention.
Thinking back to his former experience building tools on Salesforce’s platform, he decided to build something that would help non-technical end-users at companies build their own apps, as they know best what they need.
By now this concept should be familiar to anyone who has spent time in the no-code space; allowing non-technical teams to build their own app is a somewhat normal effort. But Stacker is betting that people already know how to get data into a spreadsheet, and that they don’t want to build an app from zero.
So, users of Google Sheets and the popular Airtable, can use Stacker to build apps from their spreadsheets. In Skelly’s view, lots of people already use spreadsheets as a way to make software of a sort; spreadsheets are a workaround, in his perspective, used by non-developers to get as far as they can towards building their own solution. So, turn those into real apps, let the end-users tinker with them, and presto, non-technical teams are off on their own.
Stacker’s method also solves the issue of expecting users to start from scratch, adding buttons to a blank screen, as the service will make users an initial app from their selected Google Sheet, or Airtable.
If that seems like a narrow use case, it isn’t. Skelly was clear during an interview with TechCrunch that he is not trying to help non-developers build the next mega-product. Instead, he wants to help teams build neat internal apps. And that market is proving out so far, with Stacker racking up 500 customers so far. TechCrunch noted that the company had 250 in August of 2020, when the startup took part in Y Combinator’s demo day. Today the company has reached $1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), it said. You can infer growth rates from the three data points.
Initialized Capital led the startup’s round, with participation from Y Combinator, Pioneer Fund and Makerpad. The capital was closed in September of 2020, but announced today as Stacker wanted to skip the holiday dead zone. That makes the round about as temporally laggy as most seed deals.
What’s next for Stacker’s distributed team of 12? Skelly told TechCrunch that some folks are using Stacker not just for customer portals or other simple uses, but to create daily-use apps. So the startup wants to invest in making that better, and bring the ability to link even more data sources — think SaaS apps, and the like — in time to allow for what we reckon is more rich app use-cases.
Finally, to whom does Stacker sell? On the customer front, it said that most of its customers are SMBs. That makes sense, as larger companies have more internal development resources. But to whom might Stacker sell? At the end of our call, TechCrunch jokingly enjoined the company not to exit early to Airtable. The CEO said that he tells people that in five years that his company will buy Airtable. That was a good answer.