Meilisearch, the creator behind the open source search engine project of the same name, today closed a $15 million Series A round led by Felicis, with participation from CRV, LocalGlobe, ESOP, Mango Capital, Seedcamp and Vercel CEO Guillermo Rauch. CEO Quentin de Quelen tells TechCrunch that the new cash will help to expand Paris-based Meilisearch’s marketing and sales teams as the company transitions to an “enterprise-focused” strategy.
“For three years, we have created a product that brings a lot of value to developers, which has allowed us to form a strong community,” Quelen said via email. “The new money is to focus on the development of Meilisearch Cloud, our fully managed offering of Meilisearch instances. We will also continue to invest in our open source offering by releasing an ‘enterprise-ready’ version of Meilisearch by the beginning of 2023.”
Quelen co-founded Meilisearch alongside Clément Renault and Thomas Payet, two friends from college, in 2018. The trio worked together on search tech at e-commerce startup Veepee and then at Louis Vuitton, where they quickly realized the intractable problem that building a search engine presented.
“Building great search experiences has historically only been possible for companies with large tech resources,” Quelen said. “[Search is often] very hard and expensive for a team to maintain and tune.”
In 2020, Quelen, Renault and Payet released Meilisearch, a search API based on their professional learnings and experiences. Available on GitHub, the project grew to over 10 million downloads, making it among the most popular open source search projects.
Quelen asserts that, unlike Elasticsearch, and other freely available search engine frameworks, Meilisearch is designed for frontend applications across a broad swath of domains — not just narrow use cases like e-commerce discovery. Leveraging natural language processing, Meilisearch attempts to gain a better understanding of the queries that users make on whatever app, service or website a developer builds it into.
Meilisearch supports major languages and ships with search filters, like price and date, as well as customizable ranking rules. It also corrects for typos and mistakes, ensuring errors in queries don’t adversely impact the search experience.
Quelen claims that more than 10,000 apps today rely on Meilisearch. That’s impressive when considering the growing competition in the “search-as-a-service” space, which includes CommandBar, Algolia and Chameleon.
“[W]e quickly proved that Meilisearch was long-awaited by developers who could not find simple and powerful solutions to improve the search experience in their applications,” he said. “The open source project shows a huge adoption from the developer community and [we’re] actively working on monetization around the open source project.”
To that end, as Quelen alluded to, Meilisearch is upping its investment in Meilisearch Cloud, which is scheduled to launch in late November. In development over the past few months, Quelen says that Meilisearch Cloud — which offers the same experience as the open source Meilisearch but hosted on the public cloud, with prebuilt integrations — onboarded over 50 companies during a private beta.
When asked about runway and revenue, Quelen declined to comment. But he said that Meilisearch will take a disciplined approach to burn, spending the capital it raised from the Series A over the course of the next two to three years.
To date, Meilisearch has raised $22 million. It plans to expand its 25-person headcount to 30 by the end of the year and 50 by year-end 2023.