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OCS 2020 Breakout: Paul Copplestone

jj profile image JJ ・3 min read

Paul Copplestone is the cofounder and CEO of Supabase, an open source Firebase alternative which is backed by Y Combinator.

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Paul is the founder and CEO of Supabase, a new and exciting BaaS powered by Postgres and several FOSS technologies.

Tell me about your background, what made you interested in database building, and what got you interested in open source early on as well? - 0:00

(In response to Paul introducing Supabase as a Firebase alternative) Probably a good chunk of the audience doesn’t have an understanding of what Firebase is. Could you explain? I think it’s more than just a database too, it provides lots of other powerful capabilities. What is Firebase? - 2:12

Why is open source so attractive here? Especially, for a founder like yourself, building this kind of new solution, that addresses scalability limitations? What is so interesting about open source as a primary approach you are taking? - 4:29

So you’ve decided to build Supabase on Postgres (PostgreSQL). Postgres is one of the most well known open source relational database, up there with MySQL, its ecosystem is huge, very active and broad. Going back to Firebase, you mentioned that it abstracts all the backend infrastructure for developers, it does analytics… how do you think about the choice of Postgres as a primary path to build on? What are you getting out of Postgres and why did you choose it? - 6:04

Postgres built this incredibly rich codebase over the last, probably close to 30 years. (Paul interjects: 40 years). So you have all these features that are really deep, reliable, well implemented, but people don’t really know how to incorporate them. Supabase is making that possible, and that’s really cool. - 9:12

I want to dig more into technical dimensions that Supabase is providing, also your overall vision and your roadmap. When was Supabase conceived and launched initially? - 10:45

How do you build an open-source community, how do you get people to care? There are hundreds of millions of open source projects out there. How did you get the first 50/100 people to care? What are you optimizing and paying attention to, whether it’s metrics or specific things that drive engagement? How are you thinking through adoption and building awareness? - 13:35

(JJ and Paul talk about and its founder, Ben Halpern, and their role into spreading the awareness about Supabase) - 16:45

(JJ talks about building a company through the lens of building a team.) What are your opinions about hiring, culture and building out your company? - 18:04

(JJ talks about hosting and infrastructure in database/cloud world) Are you fully focused on hosting Superbase or are you open to supporting customers who might run it on different devices? - 20:59

(JJ talks about tension between database security and open source) What is the division of responsibilities in your team? Between building the infrastructure/scaffolding and committing to the open source projects/tools? Is it separated or fully integrated? - 23:29

You founded the company in one of the most chaotic and crazy times for humanity… (JJ talks about 2020, juxtaposing the pandemic and growth experienced in the tech industry. Talks about distributed companies.) Can you talk about how you grew from 2 people to 10 in 2020? -27:58

Supabase is grounded in open source. What benefits have you received from open source that were unexpected or surprising? - 31:28

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