Breakout Startups #16- Retool

The startups helping companies operate faster

Ankit Kumar Singh
Oct 26, 2019 · 6 min read

“If you join a company, my general advice is to join a company on a breakout trajectory.” — Sam Altman, President at Y Combinator

In this second edition of Breakout Jobs Memos, we profile Retool, the compan

What is a Breakout Job?

We, at Xpo Network, define a Breakout Job is that one role that puts you on the map. The best examples which hit my mind are Andrew Chen heading Growth at Uber, Erik Torenberg leading Community at Product Hunt.

Retool enables a drag-and-drop interface for frontend components and connects them to any database or API to built internal tools for your company.

They have put up a list of the impressive templates you can make using Retool.

You can browse Retool Template Library here👇

David Hsu- Founder and CEO, Retool. Ex- Oxford

Jane Kelly- Growth at Retool, Previously: Led Director of Data Products at Buzzfeed

David Reinfeld- Products and GTM at Retool, Previously: PagerDuty, Box.

Matt Tindall- Customers and Product at Retool, Previously: Sysdig, Stitch Labs.

Retool very recently raised a $20M Series A Round from Sequoia Capital.

Retool is backed by marquee angel investors such as Nat Friedman, CEO of Github, Patrick and John Collison, Founders of Stripe, Paul Graham, Founder of Y Combinator, Greg Brockman, Chairman and CTO of Open AI.

The company was also a part of Y Combinator W2017 Batch.

The global enterprise application market size is estimated to be worth USD $259.51B by 2022.

A good amount of companies prefer to make internal tools by themselves rather than relying on external products.

Stripe, for example, has a history of building phenomenal internal tools.

Similarly, Uber also uses a forked[and customized] version of an open-source communication tool named Mattermost instead of relying on a communication tool such as Slack.

But, a lot of companies prefer to outsource such tools. Salesforce has been able to grow up to more than $120B in market capitalization by pretty much inventing the “enterprise tools” industry. The company has grown strength to strength by acquiring new players in space and building products on its own.

Coming to our Breakout Startup, Retool, the company has got a lot of competitors in the space ranging from Google App Maker to a range No Code tools such as Bubble, Adalo.

  1. Zoho Creator
  2. Google App Maker
  3. ChartIO
  4. Tray
  5. Zapier
  6. No Code tools such as Bubble, Adalo
  7. Parabola
  8. Linear App
  9. Personal CRM Solutions

However, one understated thing here is how the number of apps used by employees in an enterprise has increased rapidly leading to increased spending. Tools such as Retool can takeover a sizeable amount of this market.


Retool claims to “integrate with anything that has an API. We also have an ever-growing library of native integrations that make it even easier to connect with data sources”.

  1. Easy to Build

Building an internal tool in Retool usually takes a few minutes. The company says,

“Retool is easy to extend. Because building tools in Retool is so easy (a typical one takes just a few minutes), it’s easy to build new tools on top of Retool. So if you need a tool specifically for managing a sign-up workflow (e.g. you’re a bank and need to approve their ID before sending our their card), you can build it in Retool in minutes, as opposed to days.”

In fact, this company was able to build an entire prototype using Retool in a few hours.

2. Early Stage and Rapidly Improving

The product is still very much in infancy and the team is working on improving the product day by day. Even, the company has been bringing in significant revenue and is already profitable.

The team has been releasing updates every once in a while and you can check it out here.

  1. Potential Competitors include a Google Product

The product competes directly with Google App Maker, which comes under the Google Enterprise Suite of Products. One of the concerns is that the company can simply copy all the features of Retool and put it under the GSuite Pricing essentially making it free.

However, given the product hasn’t received as many updates in the previous years, it doesn’t seem to be a major focus for the company.

The product is used by companies such as Amazon, Doordash, Plaid, and several others.

At this point in time, the company has a good amount of paying customers and is bringing in significant revenue and most importantly, is profitable.

All these pointers indicate that the company is in a very healthy position.

In a Hacker News Post, this is what the company wants to do next:-

But there’s plenty of stuff to figure out as well. For example:

- How can we quickly ship new products while keeping current customers happy?

- How do we design the UI/UX for a new programming environment?

- How do we concisely explain what Retool is, without a 4 minute demo video (

The company was also recently mentioned in The Cloud 100 Rising Stars 2019 by Forbes Magazine.

The team launched on Product Hunt last year and was the #1 Product for the day.

The Hacker News Launch was also quite successful!

The product has also received a huge amount of appreciation from its users of Twitter.

The Spectrum

Thoughts of Prism Labs