It's easy to create an SQL database from your messy spreadsheet using Dropbase

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

It's not uncommon for tech companies to be born by accident. The now-defunct gaming company created Slack as a byproduct. Drop base founders Jimmy Chan and Ayazhan Zhakhan also accidentally stumbled upon the product that would become Dropbase when they were in the Y Combinator Winter 20 batch.

It's not uncommon for tech companies to be born by accident. The now-defunct gaming company created Slack as a byproduct. Drop base founders Jimmy Chan and Ayazhan Zhakhan also accidentally stumbled upon the product that would become Dropbase when they were in the Y Combinator Winter 20 batch.

To work with the spreadsheet data, the founders had to move it into a SQL database. Even though they were technically inclined, they had to tinker with everything before they got it working. They developed a tool to make it easy to drag and drop a .csv file onto a Postgres database and run queries.


The eureka moment came for them when they realized if they were having trouble doing this, so many people would be as well, and Drop base was born. The thought occurred to us that there should be a simpler way. A .csv file needs to be dragged and dropped directly into a SQL database. Drop base was born out of the need to drag the .csv file into a Postgres database and provide you with the credentials for the database, so you can access that .csv file immediately in your cloud database. According to Chan, that's how the project began.

Those working with data would understand the challenges they faced, such as reconciling data differences that can confuse a conversion filter. It is common for .csv files to still have a lot of problems after they are dragged and dropped. The encoding of .csv files varies from country to country. France, for example, uses semicolons instead of commas. The first step is to make inferences. Based on a sample of data, we try to guess how the file should be opened." he said.


Additionally, he said the data in the table isn't always formatted in the way you expect, so how do you make it consistent? Attempts were made to make sure that the data was in the proper format for the conversion filters, but Chan says there is more to these than just syntactic checks.

It's a semantic check. By that, I mean we can check not only if your postal code is of a certain format, but also whether your dates are within a certain range, whether they are after a certain time or before a certain time, or whether your numbers should be at a minimum. In other words, it's a little bit more checking," he explained.

After they show the user the issues, they can fix any remaining problems, and then load the database, which is available for SQL queries. Data stored in a SQL database can be queried quickly, which is one of its advantages. First of all, that's important. Additionally, it can be easily linked to downstream tools such as BI tools and other data tools. Then you can build a bigger historical dataset as time goes on," he said.

Among the most recent features are Dropmail, which allows users to email a .csv file to create a SQL database, and Snowflake integration for hosting your data. YC, Google's Gradient Ventures, and others have already invested in the company, raising $1.75 million in pre-seed capital.

More Tech