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What does the initial product-market fit for Airplane look like and what surprising use cases and core users have emerged?

Ravi Parikh

Co-founder & CEO at Airplane

We got pretty strong initial traction with just that scripts-to-apps idea. We launched it on Hacker News, Product Hunt, and immediately got a decent amount of interest with people signing up for the product. I think the willingness to pay wasn't quite there. We did close a couple larger enterprise contracts here and there, but for the most part, people saw Airplane—as it was then—as one small component of internal tooling that didn't really stand on its own.

Here’s what would happen. Let's say you have a data deletion script and you want to model that in Airplane. You might use Airplane to create a web form that takes in a single “user ID” parameter and kicks off this script. The problem is, you can't really just have that in isolation. The typical support workflow is you're going to want to look up the user first, maybe based on a keyword search or a username. Then, you're going to see a couple rows in the database that match, click on one of the users, grab their ID, and kick off the script to actually do the deletion. There's this read/diagnose phase before you do a write operation.

What people would end up doing is that they would use Airplane and then they would also use Retool or an in-house tool to have direct access to the database.

They’d copy-paste across tools, so Airplane didn't stand on its own—in the sense that the specific workflow that would happen for a support person or an ops person didn't fully live within Airplane. That was confusing for a lot of end users.

We ended up having to build a way to let users read and explore data as well, which we call Views, and which competes more directly with tools like Retool or Appsmith. 

You can use Airplane as an end-to-end internal tooling platform. That's pretty recent, maybe seven, eight months ago that we've really made that available to people. Since then, we have seen a significant uptick in our ability to close larger agreements.

Find this answer in Ravi Parikh, CEO of Airplane, on building an end-to-end internal tools platform
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