Is Airtable the right choice for our company?

Hi everyone, hopefully this is posted in the right category, I had a hard time finding a better fit. Let me know if its not though, and I can move/delete the post.

I was hoping to get some feedback on whether or not Airtable might be a good fit for our start-up. Parts of this may be vague, as I can’t get into specifics, but hopefully I am still able to convey our concerns/needs.

We are a company that sells a hardware/software bundle to larger companies to be used for collecting and storing text data (imagine we sell a barcode scanner that collects data about various barcodes). Currently, the hardware uploads the “barcode” entries into an excel sheet that is accessible via the hardware/software bundle (it comes with a small tablet like device that can access the excel sheet). We are looking to transition into storing each of our client companies’ data on separate cloud databases.

We are considering using Airtable to host the cloud database, but had a concern about the pricing:

I am aware of the pro plan which offers 50,000 records/database/user, but the per user portion is worrisome. The database would only be edited using python requests sent from the company’s hardware device after every scan, so no single company employee would ever need to edit their company’s database manually. However, anyone in the company would need to be able to view the database entries. This brings me to my two questions:

  1. With the pro plan, would it be possible to allow anyone we chose to view a particular database? We will initially be working with <10 companies, and providing each of them with a small website that has an embedded Airtable in it so that they can view the entries that that company’s hardware device scanned.

  2. Furthermore, since we were planning on using distinct databases per company, would it be possible to allow separate devices to modify our different databases? We will initially be sending out a single hardware device to each company, so it will be 1 company with 1 hardware device that submits entries to that company’s Airtable, but we may ship more hardware devices to the companies eventually.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is much appreciated.

You can have unlimited read-only viewers for free. See this support article for more info. Read-only viewers can be base collaborators with only read-only permissions, but they do not have to be. You can create a shared view of a table that does not require logging into Airtable to view (but it can be protected by password or domain). Keep in mind that a collaborator for a base can view all the data in the base.

I’m guessing that you will be using Airtable’s Standard API to access the Airtable data. With the Standard API, you can access any base for which it has a valid API key. Each collaborator for a base has exactly one API key. Theoretically you could have one api key for all of your customers, since they would never access the api key directly. However, if the api key is stored on the hardware device, it would be better for each company to have its own api key for a collaborator that has access to only that company’s database.

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