Meet The Berkeley Dropout And Berkeley MBA Who Just Raised $3.25 Million For Their No-Code Platform For E-Commerce

Builder, a no-code platform which targets e-commerce websites and was cofounded by Berkeley dropout Steve Sewell and Berkeley MBA Brent Locks, announced today that it has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Greylock. Other investors include Warby Parker’s cofounders Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, Allbirds’ cofounder Joey Zwillinger, Harry’s cofounder Jeff Raider, and PopSugar’s cofounder Brian Sugar.

Builder is a full no-code tool which means that the user can simply drag and drop to create any type of content, particularly in the marketing section.

Steve Sewell, who serves as the company’s CEO, says that when he used to lead web engineering at a company called ShopStyle, they identified that one of the biggest problems was that once a website was built, there wasn’t a lot of tooling around it. 

Sewell says that it would often happen that the marketers found themselves unable to change anything without the help of developers. 

“The marketers were eager to run tests on various pages and when they encountered that they couldn’t we were like ‘oh wow we didn’t think of this,’” Sewell says. “It’s a moment when you realize that when you built this from scratch there’s no way for a marketer or any non-coder to have control over the look of it.”

Sewell and his longterm colleague Locks decided to create Builder, a full no-code tool which allows users to just drag and drop to create any type of content throughout the site.

“It’s a page created by the marketing section and it generates code just like a developer would,” Sewell says. “So instead of a developer typing out all these different code variations you can just put it in the marketer’s hands and they can create it themselves.”

Builder offers a headless CMS infrastructure not tied to any specific technology stack, so it can deliver content in any format, and allow any website to display it. 

Most of Builder’s users are within the e-commerce space, and include companies like ShopStyle, Vistaprint, Everlane, and Afterpay. 

Brent Locks, who serves as the company’s president, says that the company operates as a subscription-based SaaS, where Builder charges clients per number of users and offers different tiers depending on how many features the user gets.

“We are already growing 4x compared to last year, and hopefully we will exceed 5x and maybe 6x by the end of 2020,” Locks says. 

Sewell and Locks met at UC Berkeley where Sewell was an undergraduate student pursuing business and later computer science, while Locks was an MBA student. Sewell eventually dropped out and went to work for Pict, a photo technology platform and application cofounded by Locks, which was sold to PopSugar (PopSugar’s cofounder is now an investor in Builder) for $10 million in 2014. The duo later went on to work for ShopStyle (which is now a client) from which Sewell left in 2017, and Locks in 2019.

Mike Duboe, a partner at Greylock who led the seed round in Builder says that one of the most important challenges that e-commerce companies face is the problem of converting website visitors into customers. 

“The key pain point for most of these direct to consumer brands is converting as many of  their leads,” Duboe says. “Builder offers a fantastic solution to improve conversion without using developers or engineers.”

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