Xata raises $5m to build the next-generation database for serverless and low-code apps

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In this post: Erin Price-Wright, Xata

Xata.io, a pioneering database service that allows everyone to build and scale serverless apps, has raised a $5m seed round to grow their engineering team and prepare for public release. Xata’s vision is to develop a serverless database that’s intuitive to use, operate and scale, for both experienced developers and those with little to no technical expertise.

The round was lead by Index Ventures with participation from Operator Collective, SV Angel, X-Factor, and Firstminute, alongside well-known tech founders, Shay Banon and Uri Boness from Elastic, Neha Narkhede from Confluent, Guillermo Rauch from Vercel, Elad Gil from Color Genomics and Christian Bach and Mathias Biilmann from Netlify.

Xata was founded to meet two pressing needs. First, there’s an increasing demand for products that allow people with limited technical knowledge to build websites and apps – groups of users known as ‘No-Code’ or ‘Low-Code’ – but often, the complexity of dealing with servers and databases is too much for them to handle. While the software development industry has a proliferation of resources that allow novice developers to create websites and prototypes, the data storage industry has not yet been made accessible, due to the complexity of solutions.

Secondly, even experienced developers are increasingly looking to outsource the hassle of managing servers, clusters, or nodes. They would much rather let experts deal with configuring the database servers, setting up replication, backups, caching, and so on.

Hence the idea for a ‘serverless database’: a place for developers to store data that can be accessed from anywhere, via a single API that shields the user from the complexities of scaling a database. Xata aims to position itself in between the 'No-Code/Low-Code’ products and the traditional databases, and therefore to attract a new generation of developers. Unlocking this piece of the puzzle is the natural next step in unleashing the talent of millions of people who could create custom web apps, discussion boards, news aggregators, education platforms, games, and more.

Xata was founded in April 2021 by Monica Sarbu, an entrepreneur with many years of experience in building open-source tools for developers that deal with large quantities of data and with managing globally distributed technical teams. She co-founded Packetbeat, an open source monitoring solution that was acquired by Elastic in 2015. At Elastic, she and her team developed Elastic Beats, lightweight agents that were deployed on millions of servers.

“User needs have evolved. Low-Code and No-Code enthusiasts expect to define the data model via a user-friendly web interface and they expect the data model to have high-level data types,” says Monica Sarbu, founder of Xata. “That means, not only strings, numbers, booleans, but also images, multiple selects, checkboxes, email addresses, and so on. They also need the data to be as close as possible to their users, wherever they are in the World, so that it is always fast and reliable, similar to how the CDN is serving static files.”

The genesis for Xata was when Monica founded tupu.io, a non-profit organisation that supports women and under-represented groups in tech via mentorship. To create a platform to match mentors with their mentees, Monica and tupu.io’s volunteers wanted to use serverless technologies to reduce the operating burden and while Jamstack platforms like Vercel or Netlify made it easy to host the application’s static files and serverless functions, managing the data was far more difficult. The team needed to store all the mentors, mentees, and the relations between them, and despite their experience with various database services, they decided to use Airtable because it allowed them to rapidly prototype and evolve the platform. However, Airtable is not meant to be primarily consumed via the API and they soon came up against limitations in terms of number of rows, rate limits, and flexibility. From this experience, the concept for Xata was formed.

“Today, teams are increasingly relying on self-service tools like Airtable and Google Sheets, to model their data and build prototypes – but these tools don't scale well,”.says Erin Price-Wright of Index Ventures. “Engineering teams struggle to manage and leverage the data across other applications as they would with traditional databases. But Xata solves this problem by building a new category of tool – a product that's easy to use but that can also function as a production database. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to back Monica and her team.”

Neha Narkhede, the co-founder of Confluent and co-creator of Apache Kafka, says: “Xata is a critical step forward in the evolution of Cloud database services; it is a serverless database that integrates analytics and free-text search. As a result, Xata makes a wide range of applications really easy to build.”

In order to execute on this vision, Xata has secured partnerships with the two most popular Jamstack platforms, Netlify and Vercel, to support them in deploying dynamic websites.

Guillermo Rauch, the founder of Vercel, said that "When I started Vercel and Next.js, I dreamt of a data layer that'd be friendly for devs and non-devs alike. It's finally here: Xata delivers on a great developer experience and a gorgeous admin UX”

About Xata:

Xata.io is a serverless database service that is a joy to use by anyone from users with no coding experience to professional principal engineers. Xata was founded in April 2021 and is hiring remote employees anywhere in the world. Among Xata’s investors are Index Ventures, Operator Collective, SV Angel, XFactor, Firstminute, and well known founders like Shay Banon (Co-Founder & CEO Elastic), Neha Narkhede (Co-Founder Confluent), Guillermo Rauch (Founder Vercel), Elad Gil, Charlie Songhurst.

Published — Sept. 20, 2021