Airplane soars with $8.5M to make creating internal tools less burdensome

Airplane on Thursday launched runbooks, a developer tool for automating internal workflows, in private beta and on Product Hunt.

Runbooks enables engineers to compose tasks and built-in integrations, like SQL, REST APIs and Slack, into workflows that run JavaScript code, can feed that into a SQL database or combine data from Stripe and be accessible to non-engineering team members.

Airplane was founded in 2020 by Josh Ma, former CTO at Benchling, which is also backed by Benchmark, and Ravi Parikh, co-founder of digital insights startup Heap. With developers in mind, the pair wanted to give engineers back the time they were spending building internal tools and away from product engineering.

Image Credits: Airplane / Airplane co-founders Josh Ma and Ravi Parikh

“We spent time brainstorming ideas, and one of the big pain points we both saw at our companies was the lack of internal tooling,” Parikh told TechCrunch. “Tools let people deal with customer data and resolve issues, like deleting data or merging accounts, but sometimes, a customer success team would ultimately have to escalate a task to engineering teams.”

That could mean dozens of tickets every day piling up and interrupting the engineering team, he added. Its first product was Airplane tasks, which transforms duct-taped scripts and cron jobs into safe, reusable tools, Parikh said.

The remote-first company has hubs in San Francisco and New York, and though it has been around for a short period of time, it already has a couple of paying customers and hundreds of users building and running on Airplane in various use cases, including administration operations, customer onboarding, approval flows and long-running tasks.

The product unveiling was buoyed by $8.5 million of Series A funds in a round led by Benchmark. As part of the investment, Eric Vishria is joining Airplane’s board.

In the past year, the SaaS company grew into a team of 10 people across three countries. The new funding will enable Airplane to double its employee headcount and invest in product and technology development, like building self-service products.

“What used to take hours, days or even weeks now takes between two and five minutes with Airplane,” Parikh said. “All an engineer has to do is run a deploy command and configure the user interface. We had a customer even tell us that adoption of our product enabled them to clear out a queue of requests to zero, for the first time, that had piled up over five years.”