Airbyte was founded by Michel and Jean in January 2020. Our first idea was to help companies exchange data, starting by building a customer portal for data providers so their clients can easily evaluate and pull data however and wherever they want. We applied to YC W20 (January to March 2020) with that idea.
But, during our time at YC, we pivoted to a data unblocking product that allowed website owners to get 100% of their customer traffic data for analytics, even when visitors are using ad blockers. The product was getting good traction until COVID-19 hit, and marketing priorities shifted, making this product a nice-to-have rather than a must.
At the time, we were meeting with a lot of companies. As we were discussing their data problems, a pattern started to emerge. All were building in some way their own data integration pipelines, even though there were already strong cloud-based solutions for them. We understood that data integration was not a solved problem. So we decided to go back to our roots—making moving data easy—and address this issue.
From July to September, we did two things: built our MVP with only 6 connectors, and made as many customer discovery calls as possible with customers of the leading ETL/ELT tools.
During those calls (45 within 3 months), we learned that all of the customers, even though they were paying for these solutions, were also having to build and maintain connectors on the side, as they were either not supported or supported but not in the way they needed. This was one of the key insights that led us to believe that the future of data integration is open source.
In addition to this, most ETL/ELT platforms are cloud based and entail moving your data out of your infrastructure. Besides adding unnecessary costs, this poses a data privacy and data security risk for more and more companies. In the end, engineers still have to develop and maintain these connections themselves.
That’s why we decided to build Airbyte as a new self-hosted, open-source data integration platform.
When we announced our MVP in late September on LinkedIn, we only had 6 connectors and only supported full refresh syncs. We didn’t provide incremental syncs. Our goal was to start to get feedback and see how to prioritize our platform development.
Since our MVP soft launch, we got more and more traction every week. November was 2x what October was in terms of usage. We achieved this monthly 100% growth until February 2021, at which stage we got 500 deployments every month. That’s when we decided to raise a seed round with Accel.
Accel shared our ambition to commoditize data integration and to solely focus on the open-source edition until we had fully resolved data integration. But to do that, we needed to grow the team and therefore needed more capital, hence the seed round.
Our sole focus is to make data integration work with Airbyte, whatever your connector needs, your infrastructure and data stack!
Benchmark contacted us at the end of February, and we had our first call with them in March. Although our seed round wasn’t public information, they already knew about it, as most VCs did.
Several long form conversations followed which allowed us to get to know Benchmark and, at the same time, allowed Benchmark to get to know us as well as our plans for Airbyte. We knew that we were going to take on a board member with the Series A and it was critical to have clarity before starting the 10+ year journey together.
In April, we presented to the Benchmark partnership, and negotiated and signed the term sheet.
Our Series A funding was led by Benchmark, with participation from additional investors including 8VC, Accel, SV Angel, and YCombinator, as well as Shay Bannon, co-founder and CEO of Elastic, Auren Hoffman, co-founder of LiveRamp, and Dev Ittycheria, CEO of MongoDB.
Our goal is to become the industry’s open-source standard.