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I co-founded Airbyte and raised $31M within 10 months. AMA!

Hey! I’m John, co-founder & COO of Airbyte, the leading open-source data integration platform.

Airbyte helps you replicate data from APIs, databases and files to data warehouses / lakes / DBs.

We started working on Airbyte in July 2020, launched a MVP 2 months after with only 6 connectors (in full refresh). Since then, we built 80+ connectors (incremental too), and 3,500+ companies have been syncing data with us for analytics or data science purposes, but also to offer our connectors on top of their platform to their customers, or in operational use cases such as database replication for instance.

In March 2021, we raised a $5.2M Seed round with Accel, and in May a $26M Series-A with Benchmark. Our goal is to commoditize data integration, and disrupt how data is moved.

We don’t make any revenues for now, but will release Airbyte Cloud in October.

Got any questions for me? Ask away!

  1. 2

    Curious what you had to give up for the investment...

    How did the founders do on the equity side?

    1. 4

      I can just give you market practices: Series-A is in general between 20 to 25% dilution.

  2. 1

    Curious about the DevOps and Agile practices you guys follow.

    How does your deployment pipeline look like?
    What's your time to production?
    What's your deployment frequency?

    Cheers!

  3. 1

    As someone that hates dealing with integrations, do you find it's hard for you and your community to keep up with changes from your connected sources, or do the bigger companies that you're building connections to not change that often?

    1. 3

      It changes every 2-3 months for most connectors, even bigger companies' ones. That's why Airbyte has a lot of value. You don't have to shoulder the maintenance of your in-house connectors yourself. It can be shared with Airbyte and our community!

  4. 1

    Hey John!

    It's nice to see you here and also to known that's you raised a series A a few months ago. Congrats!

    Do you know how much being a YC helped you succeed?

    1. 1

      Hey Xavier! Long time no see. Enterpreneurs often consider 2 dimensions: valuation of their company, and how much equity they have. But there is a 3rd dimension that is the most important of all. It's either 0 or 1. 0 you fail, 1 you succeed.
      YC brings you much closer to the 1 (a lot more than just 7%). So for us, YC was a no-brainer, and no regrets at all. The YC alumni community is very useful! But you need to understand how to leverage it best.

  5. 1

    Congratulations on your success so far. How have you found 3500+ companies to use your tool?

    1. 1

      Being open-source definitely lowers the barrier. It changes the build vs buy consideration, because you're part of the build. Also, we're addressing an old problem. Building and maintaining data integration is being done across all mid-market and enterprises. So this context helps.

      We got now about 70% of inbound coming organically. We have been focusing on content marketing until now. With developer tools, it's all about providing value and publishing your content where your audience is (Dzone, KDNuggets, Towards Data Science, etc.). That's what we've done.

      1. 1

        Got it, thank you for letting me know @JohnLafleur

  6. 1

    @JohnLafleur I am going to shoot my shot here. 😜 I see you guys are using Drift for chat... Any chance you would be interested in using Median's Drift Integration?

    1. 2

      Interesting. Shoot me an email at john [at] airbyte.io

  7. 1

    Well done! How does your product differ from Stitch.

    1. 1

      So we wrote this last year: https://docs.airbyte.io/faq/differences-with/stitchdata-vs-airbyte
      But essentially, Stitch is no longer really supported anymore. It doesn't support Singer for sure, but also as a company, Talend has stopped investing in it. So support and data connectors are getting worse with time.
      The support we provide in our Slack - https://slack.airbyte.io - for free to our open-source users is way better than the premium support you pay with them.

      Some big technical differences:

      • Airbyte has been designed for connector standardization, so we can make maintenance a lot easier for us but also on community-contributed connectors, and a better SLA overall. Stitch and Singer treated every connector as its own open-source project, so no standardization, and in the end you only have 30 connectors that are high quality
      • Airbyte is containerized, and works out of the box.
      • Airbyte will keep all its connectors open-source
        among other differences :).
  8. 1

    Hi John,

    Congrats on the investments!

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. How many investors have you initially reached?
    2. What were typical questions from investors about your product?
    3. Don't you mind giving a small interview for our blog (https://reprezent.us/en/blog/) about the investment raising process? We have many start-up founders among our audience, and your experience could be precious for them.
    1. 1
      1. For Seed, 45 of them.
      2. If they ask dumb questions, that means they don't understand what we do. So that was an indicator for us whether or not we wanted to work with them. But product in itself is not enough. It's product > persona > ICP > benefits > etc. it needs to display a relevant GTM.
      3. Unfortunately, we're pretty packed, so we need to choose when and where we speak. Any indicator about the size of your audience would be helpful.
  9. 1

    Looks like a great tool!
    but in the java space and in the ETL space there are many competitors.
    Questions :

    1. how long it took you to build the tool?
    2. Why ETL ?
    3. did you talked with companies before building? and more interesting did you talked with companies that looking for Saas ETL?
      Im asking it as most companies have internal Data which is not shared with the outside world .
      so .. how you going to overcome this as Saas And not on-prem ?
    1. 2

      So Airbyte is EL(T), and is completely containerized. So you can build connectors in whichever language you want. It also takes you literally 3 minutes to deploy Airbyte and start syncing data, so the speed to value is something completely new. That could also explain the success.

      1. We started in end of July 2020 with a team of 4 engineers, released a MVP end of September with only 6 connectors (in full refresh). Right now, we're a team of 10 in-house senior engineers (and 15 engineer contractors full-time), and we're still at the beginning of the open-source project we envision.

      2. It's an old unsolved problem that every company needs to go through. Every customer of Fivetran / StitchData / Matillion / etc. needs to build and maintain their own connectors on the side. That was our observation. Plus, our user community is data engineer, as is our developer community. This enables us to have a lot of contributors to the open-source project, which will enable us to address the long tail of connectors. Our goal is to be the platform with the most connectors at the end of this year, and we would only be 18 months in then.

      3. We interviewed about 45 Fivetran / Stitch / Matillion customers and they were ALL building and maintaining connectors in-house on the side. We also saw that they were not using ELT solutions for internal data, which is another opportunity for the open-source approach. A lot were not using ELT solutions because of the volume-based pricing, so we will disrupt this model with Airbyte Cloud to make database replication possible again pricing-wise. Regarding companies that have security concerns, we will release a self-hosted offer in early 2022 :).

  10. 1

    Hi John! Thanks for the AMA!

    Very cool product and congratulations on your achievements.

    How did you find the needs for a product like Airbyte initially?

    You mentioned that there are over 3,500 companies on your platform. How did you reach this goal in such a short time?

    1. 1

      Being open-source definitely lowers the barrier. It changes the build vs buy consideration, because you're part of the build. Also, we're addressing an old problem. Building and maintaining data integration is being done across all mid-market and enterprises. So this context helps.

      We got now about 70% of inbound coming organically. We have been focusing on content marketing until now. With developer tools, it's all about providing value and publishing your content where your audience is (Dzone, KDNuggets, Towards Data Science, etc.). That's what we've done.

  11. 1

    Hey, thanks for sharing!

    Congrats on your achievement! To achieve all of that within the space of around a year is pretty impressive.

    Just a few questions:

    1. Was it always your intention to raise money? Or was the opportunity to good to resist?

    2. How do you plan to spend the money? (Feel free to pass on this one)

    I’m sure I’ll have more questions later haha

    1. 1

      Sure! Thanks for asking!

      1. The open-source approach is a long-term one, so you need capital for it. Also, open-source is kind of a winner-take-all approach, so you need to invest a lot in your open-source project and community. All this to say we knew we needed to raise money, but we didn't intend to raise that much in this short period of time. I feel we had the opportunity to raise from the 2 of the best VCs in the world (even more in open source), and felt they would add tremendous value in addition to just the money.

      2. We're very transparent as a company. You can learn more about our strategy and business model in our handbook: https://handbook.airbyte.io/strategy/business-model
        We will soon release Airbyte Cloud and intent to disrupt the ETL/ELT industry with this. And then you get the details in the handbook ;).

      1. 1

        Thanks for replying! Love it when a company is transparent! Really enjoyed going through your Company Handbook.

        Just another question on my part...

        I'm building a site where people like yourself can share the tools/tech stack that you used to build your company. Would it be possible for you to share your stack? e.g dev, design, marketing, businesses.

        https://www.stackii.dev/

        Thanks.

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