Online Collaborative Databases Offer Alternative to Excel

For those of us with hobbies — from amateur sommeliers to voracious readers — our own databases of knowledge more often reside in our heads rather than on a hard drive.

At work, though, people have grown accustomed to using Excel as a poor man’s database. Luckily for them, a new, free database tool called “blist” launched in beta earlier this year. Blist appeals to nontechnical consumers who don’t see enough value in urging the spreadsheet tool to pretend to be a database program.

The basic blist offering eases users into its friendly interface with a lingo all its own, as well as simple drag-and-drop functionality. Supporting several data types, blist enables the use of numbers, names, monetary amount and more, in easy-to-create columns. Blist users also can import data directly from Excel. Its application programming interface (API) means users can link applications to their blist databases.

Company founder and CEO Kevin Merritt sees the business model growing to become the small-business solution of choice for arranging tasks, projects and inventories or for creating easily managed processes for distribution and publication.

“Excel is the most ubiquitous database in use, but it is entombed on people’s PCs. A market that obviously needs a database online with specific query ability is small businesses,” he said. “We will get to small businesses through consumers.”

Merritt envisions home users adopting blist for particular issues they face within work teams, rather than across the enterprise. “Most of the problems small businesses deal…



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