We Aim To Create Digital CIO Of Future Within Enterprise: Sachin Dev Duggal, Builder.ai
In an interview with BW Disrupt, Sachin Dev Duggal, Chief Wizard & Co-Founder, Builder.ai, spoke about the company, expansion plans, CIO and more
What led you to start the venture? When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I have always been an entrepreneur –I built my first business building PC’s when I was in school. Realising that the PC business wasn’t going to be my future, I joined Deutsche Bank as an intern when I was 17. I was there for five years while I was in college where I met my co-founder. Once I graduated, I realised that my future was not in banking and my bosses gave me $1 million to create an idea outside of the bank. We started one of the first cloud computing companies, in fact, it was so early on that we actually own the trademark for the word cloud.
Builder.ai started in 2016 after my co-founder and I were rogered trying to build a photo sharing app. We thought that by being based in San Francisco, we’d have an easy time finding developers or working with an outsourcing company to help us build the app. Sadly we were mistaken and it was a horrible experience. Realizing how hard it was for us to get an app built, we understood how hard this is for the small business owner. My team and I believe that tech is an equilibrium creator but only if access is available for everyone. Personally, I don’t want a future for my kids, our kids, to grow up in a world where their ability to impact is capped by their tech skills.
There is a big problem in that as the world digitizes, there is a massive gap between the software that is being developed and the amount of developers. The problem of idea-to-code needs to be solved. To achieve this, we went back to explore how software is made today - what best practices we could find across various industries. We were intrigued about how Ford worked with an assembly line producing cars by a small group of people that did everything from the engine to the seats.
We are applying this methodology to custom-built software by employing a human powered AI assembly line. Sort of like legos - we build frequently used features like “building blocks” alongside the best human talent from across the globe. The result is often delivering 3x the speed and a quarter of the price. We like to think that we are flipping software development upside-down by enabling customers to “order” software on the world’s first software creation assembly line.
What services are you offering, and how are they niche?
Builder.ai offers a 360-degree software service for entrepreneurs and enterprises to build, run, and scale any idea, without the need for coding. We aim to encourage entrepreneurs to build their dream businesses without experience in design or tech and enterprises to move their operations to the cloud with confidence. We are democratizing software for the non-tech business user. Unlike traditional low-code/no-code apps platforms such as SaaS/low-code/no-code (LCAP), Builder.ai’s differentiated solution is a new way to create custom software, as we believe customers want software “built for them” rather than build it themselves - quickly and accurately with scale. Builder.ai’s innovative approach is to start with templates - as easy as ordering pizza.
The benefit of building an assembly for software production means our customers get the benefit of seeing a copy of the code; having it deployed to dedicated cloud accounts and being able to customize to exactly what they need it to do.
What is your target audience, who are your clients and what are you offering them?
We cater to the SMB and anyone with an idea! We’ve worked with everyone from big global brands, to growing small businesses and innovative entrepreneurs. We build software and apps up to 6x faster and up to 70 per cent cheaper than traditional human teams, without users needing to speak tech.
35 per cent of our revenue comes from enterprise customers but the bulk is SMB and entrepreneurs. From a volume perspective 90 per cent of our customers are non-enterprises and the biggest volume being the micro SMBs.
What is your revenue model? How much do you typically charge customers for your products/services?
We charge for a feature (either as a one-time charge, or a rental) and feature subscription (annual subscription for updates); customization (our marketplace of experts) and a consumption based cloud marketplace (hosting to payments).
Over Covid, we launched the Studio Store, offering a range of pre-packaged apps — beginning with e-commerce and delivery — aimed specifically at small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic - this is a 24m fully wrapped price.
What is your current funding status? Are you looking to raise funds?
We just announced our Series C raise of $100M led by Insight Partners, a New York-based global venture capital and private equity firm. The round, which brings the company's total funding to $195 million across three total rounds, includes participation from existing investors in combination with new individual and institutional names that include the IFC & Jeffrey Katzenberg's WndrCo.
How much growth have you seen since inception?
Gap Revenue has grown 300 per cent YoY and run rate revenue is 18x since April 2020 (6x YoY)
What are your expansion plans in the near future?
We are very excited to continue our tailwinds - scaling the platform to reduce human effort and growing self-serve so that our SMB customers can accelerate through the build process even more.
We are also heavily focused on making sure our customers are successful beyond code; from guidance to marketplace service expansion.
We are keenly looking at how we move to create the digital CIO of the future within the enterprise allowing the thousands of smaller projects in a large company to be built on the edge yet with the power of central standards.
What is your ultimate, audacious goal for your business?
We believe that everyone should be empowered to unlock their true potential in being a Builder, irrespective of what they know, what they have and what they are afraid of. In everything we do, we believe in pushing the boundaries of conventional thinking – to look at every problem differently and from the ground up.
We want the ability for everyone to be able to build software by simply talking about their idea. Software built at the speed of thought.
What is the core vision of the company?
We started Builder.ai with a dream to be the connection between every great idea and a fully realised product. The mission is to empower everyone to build their ideas, especially given that only a few successfully take their idea to a live software product.
At the core of Builder.ai’s order-to-create model is a paramount need to remove the human variance from software development, whether it’s using natural language to convert a customer problem into code or dynamically allocating an army of experts from around the world to work on customer workloads without the customer ever having to speak to a developer.
Different teams from around the world work on their specific areas, bringing their core competencies to the final product. We apply this methodology to tailor-made software by employing an AI-powered assembly line. This brings together building blocks of frequently used features alongside the best human talent from across the globe.
Every time someone builds an app with the help of automation, AI and machine learning, it reduces the costs and time for each person that comes after. That creates a flywheel effect, democratising software development for all, not just the few technically capable with big budgets.
Ultimately the perfect relationship is having technology mediate and orchestrate the relationship between the people ordering the software and the tech savvy developers and designers who can customise the software.”
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