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Builder.ai launches pre-packaged apps for small businesses hit by COVID-19

Mike Butcher

Last year Builder.ai raised one of Europe’s largest Series A investments at $29.5 million, led by Lakestar and Jungle Ventures, with participation from SoftBank’s DeepCore. The company’s platform, which allows for the fast-build of software and apps, has been used to create products for BBC, DiditFor, Manscore and ZikTruck.

It’s now launching The Studio Store, a new range of pre-packaged apps — beginning with e-commerce and delivery — aimed specifically at small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first apps will serve e-commerce and delivery -- such as flower shops, grocery stores and clothiers -- and will be fast-tracked in less than eight weeks. The first three months of live service will also be bundled in for free.

Sachin Dev Duggal, co-founder and CEO said: “Businesses need to adapt to survive… However, while businesses recognize this, a lack of skills, coding or technical knowledge has traditionally been a barrier… We make it as easy and as affordable as possible for businesses to amplify their digital presence.”

The e-commerce app allows retailers to showcase their goods with a scrollable carousel and offer a wide range of secure payment methods. The app includes features that will handle most e-commerce experiences. The delivery app has features including payment integration, in-app notifications and FedEx integration.

The Studio Store apps are currently offered in English and will cost $500 per month, although Builder.ai says it will not take any cut of sales or transaction fees (other than those charged directly by a payment gateway). All that's required will be a one-month deposit at the beginning of the engagement. Unlike other SaaS providers, the customer gets a copy of the code after 24 months of use.

The move followed the launch last year of Builder Now, an instant prototyping tool that helps anyone design an app in as little as 10 minutes. I’ve seen it done live, and to build an MVP, or even a more sophisticated app, it’s far faster than I would have imagined.

After research, the company found 20% of all app features make up 80% of all apps. So by categorizing those and putting them into what is effectively a pick-and-mix store, they could massively decrease the time to build an app.

Builder.ai competes at a certain level with Gigster, albeit it buys in excess capacity from over 100 dev shops in 10 timezones, as opposed to being a consulting shop.