“This is your captain speaking, welcome to AirTable”

Today, Airtable has shifted from being just a productivity tool to an app development platform that is essential to workflows in large enterprises. Airtable allows companies to “do more with less,” and deliver value faster.
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Maithreye Murali Reddy
September 27, 2022

A spreadsheet on steroids - Pivot, future, and positioning

The company has always been misunderstood, even in its own market. Despite being a cult classic among designers and developers, raising a massive amount of funding just last December, the productivity tool makes is not on many analysts’ and investors’ radar and is a mystery. So what is it exactly? How is its growth so large? And what is the company’s latest strategy?

CEO Howie Liu insists that the company is anything but just a spreadsheet and offers much more to many more people. Howie redirects comparisons from peers like Asana, Notion, or Monday.com to giants like his previous employer Salesforce.

Howie Liu - Founder and CEO  (Source)

“We are trying to position ourselves more against ServiceNow or Salesforce, not from a CRM standpoint, but from a platform standpoint,” said Liu. “We always intended to become an app builder,” he said.

Today, Airtable has shifted from being just a productivity tool to an app development platform that is essential to workflows in large enterprises.  Liu believes that Airtable allows companies to “do more with less,” and deliver value faster.

He also knows that Airtable has to build a strong position with enterprises if it wants to beat Salesforce and ServiceNow in the long term. He believes that Airtable can do that by leveraging its consumer-like interface, relational database foundations, and relationships with business users to convince enterprises that it can service their more complex needs. If Airtable succeeds in all of this—and if it doesn't become too distracted by its own success—it might just give Salesforce and ServiceNow a run for their money.

Airtable workings overview -

Airtable is a database that helps you organize the information that matters to your work. Get all the tools you need for better business intelligence and data usage, without having to build solutions from scratch. Airtable makes it easy to get started, by providing everything you need including helping you set up a database with fields, data connectors, and powerful analytics tools. Built for fast iteration, Airtable enables self-serve solutions that are built for performance with a variety of features.

Fundamentally, Airtable allows you to easily create a database that holds the information that matters for your work. What it does differently and more than just a spreadsheet is that it uses the power of visualizations, processes, and integrations to custom an app that makes it entirely singular to you.

💡 Airtable is an easy-to-use, intuitive, and powerful platform that helps you organize your data in a relational fashion so that you can create solutions just by dragging and dropping tables.

Creating a UX Research System with Airtable

An IPO, maybe?

Airtable is in an enviable position: With millions on hand after raising a huge round last December, the company has less pressure to cut costs or ramp down investment. Still, the company is being conservative, keeping cash on reserve to weather the uncertainty. Liu is preparing for an IPO by being prepared to do whatever it takes.

Funding

Just last December, the company raised a whopping $735 million in a Series F funding round that values the enterprise software company at $11 billion ( OMG!!) — nearly double its valuation from earlier this year. The San Francisco-based company, ranked No. 46 on last year's CNBC Disruptor 50 list, has now raised nearly $1.4 billion to date. The last funding round includes investment from Salesforce, Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, and many others along with the existing investors including Benchmark, Coatue, D1 Capital Partners, and Thrive Capital participating in the round.

The Code-for-everyone approach

To many, the company remains shrouded in mystery, a cult classic among designers and developers but relatively unknown to the mainstream. Some may not even know what Airtable is exactly. But if you're a graphic designer or developer, or can dream up some new way to create awesome products online — chances are you're already familiar with this one-of-a-kind product creation platform.

There's been a surge of interest in no-code technology over the last few years, and one of the fastest growing is code-for-everyone offerings. The code-for-everyone approach allows professionals who aren't fluent in coding languages such as Java or Python to create applications that can then be integrated into existing systems. This allows organizations to move quickly when deploying new features without having to hire expensive developers. As a result of the pandemic, the low-code movement has gained traction over the last few years, making it clear that this paradigm shift is not just a fad. As organizations face increasing pressures to be more agile and efficient in their business models, there is a growing need for modern solutions that fit these needs.

The San Francisco-based startup builds low-code and no-code tools that allow everyday people — without coding backgrounds — to build and collaborate. With the belief that people should be able to build software that works for them and not the other way around, Airtable believes in simplifying the complex world of software.

“We want people to use Airtable to do everything from cattle tracking to filmmaking. We think this is a huge category. Almost every single knowledge worker could be a customer of Airtable in the future,” Liu said. “We’re seeing a lot of expansion from our existing accounts ... We think we have a really strong story about how we can win this space."

The company’s clients include a wide range of well-known organizations such as clients like Netflix, Shopify and a substantial amount of Fortune 500 companies. Airtable boasts a staggering 300,000 + companies as clients.

Care to dare, build on Air

More often than not, people have a misconceived notion that only complicated stuff needs solving. Well, what about the simple stuff? We think it can be argued that, contrary to popular belief, most things that need solving are simple day-to-day tasks that are massively overlooked. All Airtable did was reinvent one of the most widely used products - spreadsheets - and gave people an everyday tool that words without code.

On one side, Fortune 500s could save hours interpreting data, and on the other, people could solve everyday, mundane tasks not just for themselves but for their neighborhood, and eventually, for the world. Airtable ignited a movement that led people into discovering fascinating things they could do with it. A community took shape, a community of people whose lives changed began to change with Airtable.

Airtable’s community on Discourse

Airtable’s community on Discourse is a 46,000+ strong community of users who indulge in discussions to help one another make ground-breaking innovations.

Airtable’s community on Discourse

The community has a deck of interesting categories where for people to be able to have organized conversations and maintain a comprehensive guide for people who are new.

The categories include -

  • Announcements - Everything new on Airtable - updates, improvements, fixes - are here. Basically, a routine cadence of keeping users always informed and up-to-date.
Jordan Scott - Head of Community at Airtable - recently announced the winners of a community contest
  • Ask the community - Any questions you have or any help you need using Airtable, this is the place to be. This category is further divided into sub-categories that highlight specific areas or use-cases of Airtable.
  • Show and tell - This is the place to give back to the community. Any resources, tips, tutorials, and even projects, you can share with the world what you’ve achieved with Airtable and it might just be what someone has been looking for.
  • Featured resources - These are a collection of some of the most amazing resources presented by both community users and Airtable themselves to help solve common problems for the masses.
  • Development and integrations - Taking Airtable beyond Airtable with discussions around customizing capabilities and using it with other platforms with APIs and integrations.

Community badges keep a gamified approach to keep up community engagement. Anyone can view members with different badges and that can make it easy for them to understand and even approach them better.

Badges to better understand the community and encourage engagement

Airtable’s new and improved Help Center

They’ve recently announced Improvements to the Help Center which is the go-to learning resource to find documentation about every Airtable feature - from automation guides to formulas, the goal is to ensure the Help Center has the answers you need.

The Help Center guides you through the entire journey of working with Airtable right from the basics, to integrations, formulas, automation, and much more.

Airtable Help Center

In the new experience, users have:

  • Improved search capabilities to more easily discover content.
  • A dedicated page to see articles that have been recently updated.
  • Better navigation to visually browse through specific product areas.
  • Integrated article feedback for the folks at Airtable to let them know how they can improve it.

Airtable Universe

Yes, Airtable Universe is exactly what it sounds like: A vibrant collection of bases built and shared by users. Step into an intricate web of databases, explore and discover real-world projects that people have not just completed but have been able to add meaning to their lives.

Airtable Universe is a living, breathing example of everything Airtable has been able to accomplish; from an idea to a testament to community-led growth. This universe epitomizes what all people are capable of with the right tools and with the power of sharing.

Airtable Universe

There are plenty of categories spanning from arts, culture, and design, to technology, entrepreneurship, and even sports.

An Airtable user, Chris Dancy, shared their base of how he provided neighborhood support during the Covid 19 lockdowns. The base was designed to help local neighborhoods facilitate volunteers with skills and resources to support people in and around their neighborhoods. Volunteers could sign up and people around the area could request help. Depending on the skills and resources available, one would be allotted to the other.

A still of the base featured on Airtable Universe

You can even copy this base and build one for yourself. Isn’t that amazing?

Airtable Marketplace

Airtable doesn’t just restrict users to visualize and manage data but its extensive capabilities let you analyze, enrich, and take action on the data using an amazing stack of other tools that you can work with.

Import responses directly from Typeform, or quantify collaborative ideas from Miro; Airtable Marketplace features all possible extensions, each expanding to a different horizon of possibilities.

Build amazing workflows, design flawless pages, and conduct collaborative marketing campaigns, all from one powerful visual tool.

Airtable Marketplace

Guides

An open opportunity to level up your Airtable skills and become a true master in every sense of the word. Learn what Airtable can do for you and your team, collaborate on major projects, create optimized workflows, and then scale your work.

Airtable Guides

Articles

Best practices and how-tos of working with Airtable, divided between marketing and product-oriented articles. Read articles to start working with data visualization, product & content marketing, data management, marketing strategies, and more.

These articles aim to purely educate the community about the intricacies of product and marketing even independent of using Airtable. How can you better design and market a product? How can you visualize user behavior and collaborate with your team to step up your strategies?

Have your questions answered with these amazing and insightful articles.

Airtable Articles

Templates

Great no-code tools are incomplete without templates, and you can find a template for almost every use case possible to build a base.

You have some of the most practical templates across a plethora of categories spanning industries, types of work, and even everyday life. Find simple and effective templates for everything from planning, product, and development, to calendars, events, initiatives - you name it.

Airtable Templates

For the record

For the record, if you’ve missed anything from all those guides, articles, bases, templates, etc., Airtable’s blog opens up a new window for people to explore new avenues of working with the product.

The team constantly puts out great content around use cases, product updates, and even tips & tricks to stretch Airtable to its limits.

Airtable - For the record

Table Talks

A recent addition to their community initiatives has been their Table Talk series: a weekly stream where an Airtable expert answers questions live.

Airtable’s community goes beyond Airtable

Rarely do we see a community that extends beyond the confines of “how things were meant to be”. We’re sure where Airtable’s community stands today isn’t something they could’ve imagined when it started. It’s fascinating to see people connected and brought together, bonded by a single source of relevance, yet navigating through thick clouds of discoveries, together.

Daretable, for example, is an unofficial conference for Airtable users that brings together all users from different parts of the world and from different walks of life. The first conference was a resounding success, so much so that Airtable recognized it themselves. It’s truly significant to see what people can do when you give them a platform.

There are people whose lives have changed because of the community. There are people who’ve leaped across their potential to build things that were undreamt of. There are people who’ve realized a new meaning because of not just one simple software, but because of the community that revolves around it.

A now unicorn, Airtable realizes they wouldn’t be where they are without a community. And they constantly take steps to empower all no-code creators around the world to challenge their creativity and make incredible things come to life.

This community is a constant reminder that if you’ve built something amazing, and if you give people a platform to explore it, and then you move out of their way, the community essentially builds itself and better yet, goes on to do things you couldn’t have done yourself. You’ve united people and facilitated a self-sustainable engine of growth, learning, and innovation. That’s quite magical if you really think about it.

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