Two former Nokia engineers did what Google and Apple couldn’t do

Two former Nokia engineers did what Google and Apple couldn’t do “Coming up with REALM”

The success story of Realm is
annoyingly simple.

”We were a couple of Danish
engineers with an idea but no
connections to Silicon Valley
whatsoever. So we contacted Y
Combinator by filling out a form and
then they invited us over for a

That was three years ago when
Alexander Stigsen and his co-founder
Bjarne Christiansen came up with the
idea for a mobile database while
working for Nokia in Denmark.

Databases need to run on the device
itself, not on some remote server.
Today, Realm is running on more than
1.5 billion devices. Apps using Realm
include Netflix, Starbucks, Ikea,
Samsung, and BBC.

”Every interaction is moving to
mobile. That means more and more
data on the device, hence the need for
a mobile database at the same place.
The more data you can keep within
the actual app the faster the app can
work and respond to the user.

Traditional databases run on online
servers. Our database runs on the
devices themselves,” Stigsen explains.
The Realm Mobile Database is now
the most popular third-party database
in the world replacing SQLite, the
default database for both Android and
Too overwhelming for Google and
Apple, so this startup stepped up.
While the need for mobile databases
is evident, the development is a
complex endeavor.

”It takes a long time, three to four
years, to build a modern mobile
database. That is why even the big
vendors like Apple and Google do not
have their own mobile databases. It
just seemed overwhelming and they
never really got started. This is where
we saw a market opportunity”
The market is about apps and getting
through to the user. In order to
achieve that, apps need all the speed
and responsiveness they can get.
”The mobile space is extremely
competitive. The average users have
20 apps on their phone while they
have millions to choose from. You
need a high performing app to be part
of that club.”

Serverless is the new black in mobile
apps development.

The impatient user is also the driving
force behind the latest trend in
mobile, serverless. That doesn’t
actually imply not having servers, but
a new degree of cloud computing
where the app developer gets cloud
functionalities such as code execution.
”Serverless is a huge trend right now
because the traditional way of running
apps is too slow. With a fully
serverless interface, you can build an
entire app on your platform in the
cloud. That is why we see a move
towards serverless with services like
Google Cloud Functions,” Stigsen

The need for faster data is ever
increasing as the developers are
pushing new functions craving data
such as Augmented Reality (AR) and

”We see a clear move towards
interactive features and AR where the
user interacts with the surroundings
in a digital way. There are lots of
opportunities for developers but they
still need the app to be fast. We also
see an increase in the use of
collaborative tools for the workplace
such as Slack. It is a natural next
step towards the mobile platform for
the enterprise.”

Realm has received a total of $29
million in funding to date. Investors
include Y Combinator, Khosla
Ventures, and Scale Venture Partner. 

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