Howie Liu is the co-founder and CEO of Airtable, a low-code platform for building collaborative apps. The company has taken the world by storm since its creation and has recently raised $185 million in a Series D round, reaching a valuation of $2.585 billion. However, even as the company’s valuation soars, Howie has clearly expressed no interest in exiting.
In this episode, Howie walks us through his entrepreneurial journey – from building his first company Etacts (acquired by Salesforce) to launching Airtable. We talk about product development, the low-code movement, Airtable’s long term vision to democratize software creation, and a lot more.
0:22 – Intro
1:12 – Why getting acquired is not an end goal for Airtable
2:40 – Howie’s background: Etacts (first company acquired by Salesforce) and launching Airtable
4:03 – How the idea of Airtable came about
5:20 – Building a product that goes up against big players: Salesforce, Excel, Google Sheets
8:02 – Building Airtable: what did the V1 of Airtable look like, how did they iterate subsequently, the importance of changing how did they get people to use the product, etc.
12:40 – The importance of picking a smaller sub-problem rather than taking on big players head on
13:16 – Why did Airtable take 3 years to build: focus on the technology
15:18 – Investors
16:22 – Number of businesses that use Airtable
16:40 – Airtable’s growth story
18:47 – Airtable vs. a productivity tool: a distinction in product depth
21:20 – The low-code movement
25:19 – What can we expect to see from Airtable in the coming months and on the long term
27:13 – The most surprising use case of Airtable (spoiler: 🤠 included)