TL; DR: DbVis Software’s DbVisualizer is a tool designed to help developers access a wide range of databases on all major operating systems. The Stockholm-based company, founded in 2003, has enjoyed word-of-mouth success for its highly focused software and intuitive user interface. Today, users have downloaded more than 4 million copies of DbVisualizer’s free and paid editions — and DbVis aims to continue that growth for years to come by maintaining the company’s developer-centric values.
The software space is chock-full of serial entrepreneurs looking to make a quick buck before moving on to the next venture.
Roger Bjärevall, Founder of Stockholm-based DbVis Software, isn’t one of them.
The developer first released the company’s core database tool, DbVisualizer, in 1999. Now, more than two decades later, he’s still working closely with his user community to continually evolve the product.
“Roger’s goal has always been to build high-quality software that people love,” said Martin Engdahl, CEO of DbVis. “Today, even though he’s been doing this for a long time, he’s still that guy who sits with customers to understand what new features they need. He truly enjoys being closely connected to the community — and that’s a big part of our success.”
DbVisualizer was born out of pain points Roger, who has an extensive background serving companies like Ericsson and Sun Microsystems, said he felt in the field. His firsthand experience helped him create a product that resonated with other developers and quickly spread via word of mouth.
Today, the company has earned the trust of more than 20,500 paying customers in 129 countries, including independent developers, startups, academic institutions, renowned corporations, and Fortune 500 companies. The latest edition of the software, Version 11, features the addition of support for the popular cloud database, Snowflake, and client-side command for importing table data in SQL scripts.
Users have downloaded more than 4 million copies of DbVisualizer’s free and paid editions — and DbVis Software aims to further that growth for years to come through investments and maintenance of the company’s developer-centric values.
A Highly Compatible Tool from DbVis Software
DbVisualizer started as a project in 1998 when Roger needed a simple tool to access, visualize, and analyze various databases.
“The idea was to have a single tool that could connect to any single database out there which gives you several benefit,” Martin said. “You don’t need to purchase different tools for each database; the developers and analysts working with those databases only need to master a single tool and user interface so you also become more efficient,” Martin said.
After a year of coding, Roger made DbVisualizer available in July 1999 as freeware in beta. In December of that year, after capturing the attention of a considerable number of users, he released Version 1.0.
“Soon, people started emailing him asking for a paid version with support and extra features,” Martin told us. “In response, he launched the commercial DbVisualizer Pro edition in 2002 and created its parent company, DbVis Software, in 2003.”
Since then, DbVis Software has been fiercely committed to building upon the product to make it more convenient for customers to use. Martin said the typical client is a large enterprise with anywhere from a few dozen databases to hundreds.
“You might have a database for your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM),” he said. “You might have custom databases you’ve created. The idea is that DbVisualizer is a single tool you can use to access all that data on any major operating system.”
The DbVis team has worked hard over the years to stay true to its original objective: to build a highly focused software product that isn’t cluttered with unnecessary bells and whistles. New features are only added after feedback from users.
“It’s an efficient, well-built tool where every feature has been optimized five times over in its more than two decades of existence,” Martin said. “It is streamlined but still has the in-depth, professional features that hardcore developers appreciate.”
Free and Paid Plans with Transparent Pricing
Martin told us he joined DbVis this year after running Salesforce’s consulting business in Sweden.
“I was intrigued by the fact that DbVis was this low-key, under-the radar Swedish company that I didn’t know about previously,” he said. “As I started looking at sort of the client list and saw basically every big tech company and bank in the U.S. was using our tool, I realized this organic growth had been the result of a very close, transparent relationship with the dev community.”
For example, he said that DbVis has an active support portal that customers use to ask general questions and propose feature requests. The company pays close attention to these communication resources and is quick to respond to customers or ask for more information.
This commitment to transparency also applies to the company’s pricing strategy.
“You don’t need to talk to five account executives and have seven meetings to get a quote — it’s simple and fair,” Martin said.
The company offers both a free version and a 21-day trial for DbVisualizer Pro.
“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay for it,” he said. “Then you get discounts for more years, more users. It’s the same for everyone, democratic and transparent. Maybe it’s a Swedish thing, but that’s the way we operate — we want to be the good guys.”
Taking a Developer-Centric Approach to Support
Of course, the company’s philosophy regarding customer service is right in line with that statement. Martin told us DbVis intentionally avoids the cheap tiered support method so many other tech companies employ — because it doesn’t make customers happy.
“Our first tier is the people who build the product — literally, our core product developers take turns responding to emails every morning,” he said. “That’s why our ability to resolve customer problems, questions, or needs the first time they call is so high.”
The company would rather pay high salaries to skilled customer-facing employees than risk damaging customer relationships. Researchers agree: Poor customer service experiences lead to increased customer churn. In fact, after just one negative support experience, 50% of customers in one study vowed they would never use an offending company again.
“Once again, it’s about growing via word-of-mouth, making sure people are happy,” Martin said. “Of course, we could handle support more cheaply, but this approach results in the best customer experience.”
When it comes to future development, the DbVis team is close-knit and fully agile. The company’s vision is guided by Roger’s strategic product road map as well as that all-important customer feedback.
“We try to balance those two things,” Martin said. “Fortunately, since it’s pretty tight development, we don’t need to correct many bugs — so almost all of the work is on releasing new features, which is nice.”
Accelerating Growth While Maintaining Core Values
Martin said his goal moving forward is to speed up product development and growth. In April, DbVis announced that Industrifonden and Fairpoint Capital invested a total of 5.3 million Euros in the previously self-financed company.
The funding will help DbVis strengthen its team, expand product development, and build on its organic success.
“We’re going to scale up development capacity and do two things,” Martin said. “One is just to continue to develop the product around the people who use it, as we always have. Then, we’re going to expand the free version to reach a larger community.”
Customers can expect additional support for complex databases and unstructured data, among other resources.
“We’ll be operating at a bit higher tempo — but the core values will still be there,” Martin said.