Thunkable raises $30 million after no-code mobile app development platform reaches 3 million users and 6 million apps – TechCrunch

Mobile apps have become part of a cornerstone of how the world gets things done and spends so much of its free time, so it’s no surprise that their development is becoming increasingly democratic as well. Now, a startup that built a platform to facilitate mobile app creation is announcing some funding to continue its expansion after passing 3 million consumer and business users and more than 6 million apps developed on its platform.

Thunkable, which provides a suite of “no-code” tools — that don’t require coding or developer skills — for app development, has raised $30 million in a Series B funding round. The money comes from an interesting group of investors: education technologist Owl Ventures led the round, with previous backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA and PJC also taking part; DJ Diplo Sky9 Capital and others that have yet to be revealed. The startup has raised $41 million so far, including a previous round when it was part of Y Combinator.

There are a number of apps (and more in the making) for creating mobile apps without requiring coding experience. They include media-funded efforts like FlutterFlow, AppyPie, Builder (more VC muscle here: it raised $100M just last week), Universe (also backed by VC), Kooply (still stealth and gaming focused) and many more. . Even the likes of Amazon want to get in on the game. However, Thunkable thinks he cracked the code, so to speak, about this challenge.

“We believe we have created the simplest tool for anyone to build mobile applications,” said Aaron Segal, CEO, in an interview.

To that end, they plan to use the investment in a few different areas to expand upon this belief. They include developing more of their own tools for building Android and iOS apps; a broader market so that third-party creators can also add their own templates and other tools to the mix; And a bigger push to meet the needs of a wave of businesses and organizations that have recently turned to Thunkable for their in-house and customer-facing mobile application needs.

(Think of WordPress, but for native mobile apps.)

Code-free and low-code tools have played an important role in the past several years in making technology – and specifically the ability to create custom technology tools – accessible to more people than those with specialized training. But Thunkable isn’t a startup grounded in trend concepts: co-founders Saigal and WeiHua Li (CTO) are veterans and pioneers of the concept of no-code as applied to mobile apps.

The couple first came up with the idea for the startup a decade ago, when they were working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on an App Inventor project, breaking new ground on how to design visual and intuitive interfaces so that people without programming skills could create apps for smartphones and tablets. .

“We wanted to bring the community of passive app consumers into the realm of active creators,” Saigal said in an interview.

Thunkable relies heavily on the concept of simple-formatted blocks and commands that you can group together in a drag-and-drop interface to build different functionality and overall app design. Its approach is to provide tools that are easy to use in their simplest form but for those who want or need them can be expanded in complexity (by more options) to become more effective.

Saigal said his initial focus was on consumers, which in itself is another big concept right now, which is the creator economy and the users — not professional publishers and others — who create content that the mass market consumes.

He said that B2C gaming experienced early traction, and while consumers still make up the majority of its 3 million users, it has seen a significant increase in the B2B segment. This includes small businesses that may not have the in-house human capital or budget resources to bring in outside developers but need mobile apps for their teams or clients. But surprisingly, larger companies wanting to bring more development closer to teams needing apps have turned to Thunkable, with about 40% of the Fortune 500 now listed among the startup’s customers.

“Marketing and logistics, apps for those not sitting at desks,” Segal said, are among some of the most popular types of apps being created by the latter category of users.

The list of investors in this roundup talks about how Thunkable has targeted its services so far, as well as what market potential investors see in the company. Being a graduate of MIT with a ethos of making computing and coding more accessible to the masses means that Thunkable has also been adopted in computer science courses, in both K-12 environments and in additional/continuing education. That was part of a first appeal, Segal noted.

Amit Patel, MD at Owl Ventures, said in a statement. “From students learning computer science concepts to organizations that empower employees to accelerate innovation, Thunkable makes app creation easier to access in a world where the majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices and mobile apps are expected to play an even more important role in the world of online activity.” .”

Segal said Diplo came to support Thunkable as part of his greater interest in technology that appeals to fans, and “the apps are cool” was how he marked the DJ’s involvement. His portfolio also included banking app Dave, sneaker community SoleSavy, HiFi (the music industry’s “financial rights organization”), and reportedly also tried to support music-making platform Ableton.