Investing in Stacker

One of the biggest trends emerging in the enterprise space over the last five years is the concept of “no-code” — a programming mechanism that uses a visual development interface to enable non-technical users to build applications. 

We have reached an inflection point where millions of websites and thousands of mobile apps have been launched without a single line of code ever being written. No-code has democratized the ability to build applications, technical or not.

Most of these no code app builders start with a blank canvas and an assortment of drag-and-drop fields, buttons, images, and other widgets. These tools are well suited to build new landing pages or the next marketplace app, but they often break down when faced with the additional security and control constraints of business applications for business operators. 

The fundamental difference between non-business apps and business apps is, the latter always starts with data and requires a shorter “time to MVP”. The former strives for pixel-perfect fidelity, while the latter emphasizes security, flexibility, and efficiency. When designing apps for existing workflows and schemas, there are more constraints to consider. Counterintuitively, these constraints also provide a finite amount of design choices, which leaves breadcrumbs to a preordained final outcome. This is a design philosophy uniquely held by Stacker, a no-code app platform built for business operators to instantly generate a functional app that perfectly fits existing business processes. Creating an app can be as easy as connecting to an Airtable or spreadsheet, modifying a few configurations, then boom, you have a full-fledged app that has a sleek UI with user authentication, permissions, and control built-in. 

Millions of business processes run on spreadsheets that perform basic create, read, update, and delete actions (also called CRUD apps). However, as soon as the spreadsheet is accessed by more than five people, the table interface typically becomes ill-fitted and requires an app with proper login, version control, and access settings to ensure that data remains intact and federate maintenance to each user. Take a CRM, for example. The basics are creating new rows or updating existing records in a database/spreadsheet, but the enterprise version will not only require restrictions on access to certain fields based on user groups, but also joins with other data sources. 

No matter how hard we try, there will never be enough SaaS products or internal engineering resources to fill in these CRUD app gaps. Every operations manager has a long wishlist of internal dashboards, customer-facing portals, but only the top one or two can be addressed by existing vendors or technical resources. A better approach is to give the power of building to business users. 

Michael and Sam have been working on a no-code tool for business apps since 2017, way before the no-code trend took off. In the first three years, they ran through multiple iterations, talked to thousands of business users, deprecated five early prototypes, until landing on the current version of Stacker in early 2020. Since then, hundreds of teams built apps on Stacker to power their most critical business processes, from onboarding new vendors to managing existing client interactions. They quadrupled revenue and their user base in nine months. Stacker apps are used at large enterprises, like Adobe, Samsung, and Segment, and at government organizations and nonprofits, like TED, which uses Stacker to create the complex, bespoke software required to filter through the thousands of applications for their TED Fellows Program each year.” 

This is only the beginning of their journey. Teams in large enterprises are building not just one, but multiple apps in Stacker. As Stacker supports more data sources beyond Airtable, Google Sheets, and Salesforce, we’ll see more functional teams become Stacker builders and join data across several internal systems. What used to take weeks, or even months, for internal engineering teams to build will be achieved in hours by a business operator. The apps will be ready-to-use and version controlled, with role-based-access-control and SSO built-in. What’s more, they’ll be perfectly tailored to existing business processes rather than re-configuring those processes for an external software vendor.

Both Michael and Sam are incredibly humble, thoughtful founders who carry tremendous empathy for builders. They deeply hold the belief that with the right tooling, anyone can be a builder. We couldn’t be more excited to join their journey as they raise their Series A, alongside Initialized and Pentech to support the Stacker team fulfilling their vision. 

It’s time to build more business apps, with Stacker.

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this post was first published on Andreessen Horowitz

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