Behind the Investment: Appsmith – Enabling the Next Billion Internal Tools

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Internal tools. If you’re an employee of a 10+ person company in any function using software, you probably know what we’re referring to. If you’re a developer – backend, frontend, fullstack – it probably rings a bell and induces anxiety. This is because SaaS proliferation – aka the organization and streamlining of every workflow you could imagine or a tool for every task – has brought enterprises forward meaningfully. Yet, you’ll often find that as companies scale there is a need for application-layer custom stitchwork across SaaS apps to compensate for gaps in SaaS app functionality.

The modern, data-driven company of 2022 is now immersed with API-first apps in need of an API-first application builder that easily integrates with data silos, enables quick drag-and-drop frontend capabilities, and offers bidirectionality. So, when for example, customer support inputs a prospect’s interest level in X product into an Appsmith widget, that information is accurately reflected in your CRM. At a fundamental level, every internal app has three components: (1) data sources integrated via API to (2) visual frontends with (3) logic built on top.

If you were to take a cross-section of a sample SMB’s software stack they likely have built and maintain a few internal apps, and this only scales to hundreds as you grow your headcount, serve more customers, and store more data in siloed sources across user permissions and functional areas. Perhaps more surprising is how much time this takes developers: anywhere from 25-45% of time depending on company size (positive correlation). To let that soak in, if you’re a software developer for a 10K+ enterprise almost half of your time is devoted to non-core applications that can be thankless work and outside of your expertise, especially if you spend more time on backend engineering.

Why is this the invisible elephant in the room?

The reality is application software (e.g., intent-based marketing, customer success, CRM, etc.) is great for a common denominator of use cases, but there are fixed dimensions to its capabilities and once you exceed those you have two options: 1) build software around those edge cases; 2) throw people at it and standardize services to plug gaps. The former is often clunky and hard to maintain, while the latter has all those problems and does not scale. Companies of all sizes, industries, and stages of technical or cloud maturity use this gap-plugging approach. These edge cases tend to be non-core on the surface, but rapidly accumulate into large developer backlogs. Frequently, these responsibilities fall on the backend developer who likely has limited JavaScript experience, so spinning up frontends becomes less trivial. The end result is a significant backlog of tasks that will take longer than they should, and are less of a priority individually, but on aggregate can meaningfully slow down the business.

Appsmith is ushering in a new paradigm for building and maintaining internal tools – the modern glue that keeps data un-siloed and employees on the same page, ridding developers of their daunting backlog and allowing for new projects to take shape that otherwise wouldn’t have been built. Appsmith co-founders Abhishek Nayak, Nikhil Nandagopal, and Arpit Mohan have an acute understanding of the gap in application software, which is immediately evident in their product: the platform is designed to provide maximum flexibility in times when developers need it. The open-source tool’s low-code approach allows for easy drag-and-drop functionality and the ability to reference code blocks in one app from another since everything in Appsmith is a JS object.

In less than two years since the project release in July 2020, it’s become clear that Appsmith is developers’ go-to platform for building and maintaining these ubiquitous internal apps. With 19.3K+ Github stars, 38K+ Commits, 7.8K+ issues and 244+ PR Creators it was quickly evident that the community love for Appsmith is unique and significant. A team that both keeps a close pulse on user behavior and exudes an unrivaled obsession for their product is required to meet this vibrant community of contributors, both of which Appsmith’s leadership and brilliant team exhibit to the maximum.

Observing the product velocity, community adoption and consistent meeting-of-goals since September 2020 has been a joy, but more than anything, Insight is honored to officially lead Appsmith’s $42M Series B with participation from Canaan and Accel India.

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  • Alex Glaubach, Investment Associate

    Alex Glaubach joined Insight in 2020. Prior to joining, he worked at Candid, a direct-to-consumer start-up, in strategic planning and analysis. He also worked in M&A investment banking at LionTree, a technology media and telecom boutique, after working at Intello, a SaaS start-up in 2017.  Alex graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of…
  • Apoorva Goyal, Vice President

    Apoorva joined Insight in 2021. He is currently driving Insight’s investments in India or cross-border focused high-growth businesses across Series A to pre-IPO stages in FinTech, internet, and software sectors. His career experience prior to Insight includes technology investments at Omidyar Network India, a leading early-stage investment fund…