As businesses continue to seek better ways to work more efficiently, a pioneer in low-code tools to automate the collaboration of apps announces a funding round based on impressive early stage funding.
Berlin-based company n8n, which provides both technical and non-technical employees with a framework for synchronizing and integrating data and workflows, has raised $ 12 million in a Series A financing round.
The startup plans to use the money to further expand its team, which now has 60 employees, and to expand its platform and the services it offers users.
Currently, n8n can help link and integrate data and functionality between 200+ established applications as well as custom apps or services that you may be using in your specific organization. And since launching in October 2019, the startup has added an impressive 16,000 users – including both developers and “citizen developers” (those whose jobs may be labeled non-technical, but they’re not afraid to try more hands-on building in ways to work better).
Now, the idea is to make the service easier for more members of the latter group to stick to using it.
“We are still seen as a technical product and less than one for community developers,” said founder and CEO Jan Oberhauser in an interview. “Our plan is to simplify the use of n8n so that it is much easier to adopt. We want to give all technical superpowers, whether it’s the marketing team or the IT department. “That means, for example, not only creating chatbots, but also creating more intelligent or new ways of visualizing data in Slack or something else. N8n’s platform can also be used to create automations in products, for example to monitor performance and to mark when something needs maintenance.
The round is led by Felicis Ventures, which also includes Sequoia Capital, Firstminute Capital and Harpoon Ventures. Sequoia and firstminute jointly led the starting round of n8n about a year ago, which included Kevin Hartz from Eventbrite, Ilkka Paananen from Supercell and unnamed early employees from Google and Zendesk. The startup has now raised around $ 14 million and is not disclosing a valuation.
There are a number of low-code and no-code startups in the market today, and many of them have seen a surge in interest over the past year. It’s a trend that I suspect was not least triggered by the arrival of Covid-19.
Not only did the pandemic lead more people to work remotely, relying on apps and other cloud-based services to get what they needed to do, but in many cases it caused companies to focus again on how they did worked and what could be improved. In some cases this also meant tightening the straps too much. Therefore, companies need to do more with less human effort. This is another factor that leads to more proactive efforts to use software to get more out of … software.
This puts a greater burden on the IT teams, and it has also resulted in more people in the departments themselves actively improving their own workflows.
Other startups in this space include Bryter (who raised a Series B worth $ 66 million earlier this month) and Genesis (who raised $ 45 million in March), as well as Zapier, Airtable, Rows, Gyana, Ushur , Creatio, EasySend and CapivateIQ that come out with a variety of solutions targeting a range of general tools while others develop solutions for narrower use cases.
In the case of n8n, the company could be considered a “pioneer” in this field not only because of its focus on the growing area of low-code tools, but also because of its perspective on the world of software.
The basic approach of n8n is based on the idea of the “fair code”. This is similar to open source and is a freemium model for the concept. The code is available in a public repository and the idea is that this will never go away (a problem many state-of-the-art companies face: companies and their services sometimes shut down). However, N8n itself limits how much it can be used for free before users start paying for it so that n8n can monetize its work, which it does in the form of advisory and integration services. (In the case of n8n, that limit appears to be up to a limit of $ 30,000 in support revenue.)
Oberhauser was an early proponent of the concept of n8n and runs a website devoted to spreading the word. (You can also read about the different approaches to fair code and some of the reasons for creating the concept here.)
While basic and limited access to the code remains free, and a company like n8n always wants to make it easier for non-developers to create integrations, there will be areas that require attention in order to make these services available to the people within the code Organization. For starters, there’s the problem of setting up the basic integration connectors, especially in cases where the software a company uses is proprietary or customized.
There is one more problem that is likely to become more prominent as low-code and no-code tools grow in popularity and that is security. While IT departments may not have control over every single integration, neither may the security teams, which means new data vulnerabilities may also be more common. For all these reasons, n8n is counting on the fact that the implementation still requires a certain amount of integration and advice.
“Almost every company needs help connecting external and internal systems to make it easier to get started,” said Oberhauser.
Aydin Senkut, founder and managing partner of Felicis Ventures, who chaired the round, said that n8n was interested in the extensibility of the platform – that it was not only for the app integration and workflow automation in these apps, but also for a A number of use cases – and the very early pull of 16,000 users captured with very little fanfare, a sign that the service has some stickiness and usefulness.
And the fact that developers – “Citizens” or others – can play with so many options is an integral part of that too.
“W.We believe data is the new oil, and one of the special things here is not just low or no code per se, but how n8n makes it seamless and easy to connect dozen or even hundreds of apps. “Senkut said it reminded him a little of Felicis’ early investment in plaid. “The more data and APIs you have, the more valuable the company can be. I think to measure a company’s potential, look at the APIs. If you can connect different things together, that is the key. “