Business Monday

Don’t have the skills to build an app from scratch? This Miami tech company can help

Albert Santalo, 8base Founder and CEO

Albert Santalo, 8base Founder and CEO, at the company's Coral Gables office on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
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Albert Santalo, 8base Founder and CEO, at the company's Coral Gables office on Thursday, July 11, 2019.

If you want to build a website quickly, you can turn to Wix or Squarespace. But what if you want to build an app?

Miami entrepreneur Albert Santalo believes he and his team have the answer: 8base. Santalo created 8base as a platform for building applications with only a front-end presentation developer.

“It gets built faster, cheaper, better,” Santalo said. “You don’t have to deploy infrastructure. You don’t have to create a cloud environment. You don’t have to deploy a database. A lot of the application-level stuff is already done for you.”

The platform is a “living, breathing framework,” that developers, including startup employees and gig workers, can use to create their own apps, Santalo said. Developers just need to be able to work with JavaScript, a widely used programming language.

As the platform advances, it will enable integration of websites on different platforms, Santalo said.

Santalo is a serial entrepreneur who founded CareCloud, a cloud-based platform for managing health records and delivery telemedicine services that attracted much attention from Silicon Valley. As a software engineer and executive, he saw first-hand the headaches of creating applications.

“It was always way too hard, way too expensive,” Santalo said. “We could be talking about some great innovation we wanted to do, but the first few months, we’re setting up the architecture, the computing environment, the application infrastructure.”

The digital transformation disrupting brick-and-mortar enterprises makes the time ripe for 8base, he said. He’s not the only entrepreneur who spotted the gap: the global low-code development platform market is estimated to be worth about $27 billion by 2022, according to a report from Research and Markets.

Though 8base has been live for less than a year, it has already signed a contract with IBM, which is using the platform to develop a human resources app for a European customer.

Successes like that, and 8base’s potential for growth, caught the attention of entrepreneurship community Grind, which holds an annual global competition. In February, 8base was named Grind Startup of the Year.

“Their market has huge potential and their product was great,” said Alex Gordon-Furse, director of the Grind startup program. “We actually had a couple of investors reach out to us proactively before we even tried to find people who were interested to say, we really want to meet with 8base.”

The platform is going to “empower the whole ecosystem,” Gordon-Furse said.

Santalo launched 8base in October 2018, offering it for free as a basic service, with fees for extended use. A few weeks ago, the official paywall went up. Today, users can pay either $8 for base level or $149 a month for customization options; pricing is also available for more advanced needs. Customers can also hire 8base to develop the app for them.

To launch the company, Santalo invested his own capital as well as money from angel investors for a $1 million kitty. He has since raised another $2 million from angel investors and seed funds.

The company does not disclose revenue numbers.

Santalo moved to Miami from Baltimore when he was 11. But he considers Miami home and wants to see it thrive.

“A pure tech company in Miami doesn’t happen all that often,” Santalo said. “It would be nice to have a success like that here.”

8base

Founder and CEO: Albert Santalo

Employees: 16

Founded: 2017

Based: Miami

Milestones: Grind Startup of the Year 2019 winner

Website: 8base.com

Orlando Garcia is the Chief Technology Officer at Strety. He talks about how he makes ends meet living in Miami, one of the most expensive cities for renters.

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