TL;DR – What if the founders of Snapchat, AirBnb or Pinterest had no-code tools for their initial concept? Would no-code be a game-changer, even for these now successful unicorn start-ups. How might no-code help you and improve your odds of success? See if one of the three Maker personas identified below is an opportunity for you.
Is No-code A Game-Changer?
Let’s take a trip back in time.
Imagine it’s 2009 and you have an idea for the next big thing in tech. But no one knows it yet. You believe in your vision and you’re putting together a startup.
Your idea: A collections board.
You want to allow your users to pin collections of your favorite things and share them with your friends. But most you talk to about it, do not fully grasp it.
Explaining new things in tech is a lot easier when they can see it and use it. So you create a prototype.
Now, this presents another challenge. You need to write some code to create it. One big problem. You have little background in coding anything. And your co-founders don’t have an overly technical background either.
Somehow, you are able to hack together a prototype that works…kind of.
It takes a long time to create it. You go through 40-50 tedious iterations. The design is very important to the value of your product.
It takes months to build.
Finally, you get your first users. Growth is painfully slow. Investors ignore you, and even when you do pitch it, they just don’t get it.
Even infamous Angel Investor, Naval, passes on you.
If that startup story sounds familiar…it’s because it describes what happened to Ben Silberman of Pinterest.
The frustration that Ben Silberman had when he and his co-founders first developed Pinterest is well documented.
Ben wasn’t a developer. His co-founders weren’t overly technical either. They had the major obstacle of finding technical talent to create it. Their initial network didn’t produce anything fruitful. In order to hire talent, they needed funding.
But in order to get funding they needed to convince someone to give them money.
In order to convince investors to give them money, they needed some proof that they were on to something.
But without a solid working prototype or exciting story of users frantically flocking to use Pinterest, Ben and his co-founders had a really steep hill to climb.
“With the prototype, it was a pretty rough process”, Ben explained about trying to secure meetings with VC’s to get funding, to get a better working application.
There in lies the catch-22.
How do you convince investors to give you money, when you don’t have any good proof that people need that thing you are building and you don’t even have a good working prototype, validation from users, or good data.
The Power of No-Code
The power of no-code is it can drive you from idea to high fidelity working application in a fraction of time. (If you are not sure what no-code is, then read about it here.)
Is it a game-changer?
Here’s a look at three personas of Makers who are taking advantage of this new wave and proving to be early game-changers.
Which one do you most closely identify with?
Maker Persona #1:
How They Operate:
Build a fully functioning web application or native mobile application. Without code. No developer experience required. No computer science degree required.
Why This Matters:
- Eliminates the need to find an early technical co-founder to code
- Eliminates the need for a prototype
- Create a very high fidelity – fully functioning web application
- Iterate faster
Real Maker Story:
Pinterest Timeline Review:
- In November of 2009, Ben and his co-founders started building Pinterest.
- Ben talks about laboriously going through 40-50 different versions of the initial site for Pinterest to get the new grid design layout created.
- Four months of building and the first hacked together prototype was created
- March 2010 Ben wrote an email to investors potentially interested in funding and initial concept is available
Fast forward ten years later. March 2020.
Meet Karthik Puvvada (KP) and Michael Gill. Founders of Cuppa.
KP launched the idea and initial landing page on March 13, Michael Gill built the initial fully automated beta version of Cuppa with no-code and in the span of 20 days went from idea to working application to discussions with Investors:
How is this possible? Cuppa’s technical stack was built with these no-code tools.
How Can No-code Impact Early Investment
In a Startup Grind Interview, Ben was asked, “Why didn’t people jump on it and why did everyone pass?”
Ben remarked, “People didn’t really understand the concept of the product ..don’t know if we didn’t communicate it well… or it didn’t resonate with folks… it didn’t help that none of us founders were really technical…”
Investors didn’t get it.
Ben later talked about gaining leverage in negotiations to get funding, “Venture capitalist can see your app and its kind of crappy, nobody really uses it, there’s nothing you can do unless you hack that system, unless you somehow turn the tables and give them a reason that you should have a leverage…”
Can no-code be the hack to give Makers more leverage?
What no-code unlocks is the ability to create a real app, not prototype. That user experience can propel the Maker with very actionable feedback. Now the Maker can quickly iterate with visual development without having to re-codify. The time saved in visual development is far less than rewriting actual code.
Cuppa was able to build a working application in one week. Build buzz about their product instantly rocketing to 500 users waiting list. Then up to 1000 weeks after.
Momentum can be everything.
Will Cuppa be a unicorn like Pinterest? I have no idea. But I’m raising my cuppa to the idea that it can be. And that no-code was a major factor in their success story so far.
- Prototypes are dead. Why not create a working app the first iteration. A working application without code will take you less amount of time as a hacked prototype that isn’t fully functional
- Got a side project or startup up idea? Don’t use code. Use No-code to validate AND scale it
- No-code drastically reduces time to market by shipping something in weeks, not months
- No-code empowers non-technical founders
- No-code significantly speeds up iteration using feedback and development loop in the product life cycle
- No-code empowers Makers to gain more leverage than before when talking to investors
If you have an idea you’d like to make. But don’t know what no-code tools are best to create it, I’ve launched a web app (with no-code) to send you the best no-code tools to use for your idea. Check it out for free.
Maker Persona #2:
The Peter Thiel aka Contrarian Maker
How They Operate:
Make something that is contrarian and may not make sense when you first hear it.
Why This Matters:
- If 90% of startups fail, what’s the % of contrarian startups that fail?
- Building something is risky
- The opportunity cost has never been more favorable to make something that is contrarian. There is significantly less risk in cost and time in development because you can build it with no-code
Real Maker Story:
Meet Whit. He is a no-code Maker who built RandomPizza.
RandomPizza is a subscription service that sends a random pizza delivery to your house, and you have no idea when it’s being delivered.
You might say, that’s random…because it is.
Why is this an example of no-code being a game changer?
When Snapchat burst onto the scene. Many including myself were perplexed about disappearing messages.
Before Snapchat caught on, no-one grasped the idea:
Even the original developer of the app wasn’t initially convinced. “After Reggie Brown talked with Evan Spiegel they then had to convince someone to make it. Evan would talk to Bobby Murphy in hopes of developing the app.” – Techcrunch
“Evan was sure he could convince Bobby to work on the app. He called Bobby and explained Reggie’s idea. But Bobby wasn’t convinced. Would people really want to use this? Evan nervously urged him that this idea was different from anything other people were working on.” – Techcrunch
When Evan went to present to his Stanford class that had 6 VC’s present, you could probably hear a pin drop in the classroom based on the reactions we read about:
“The response? Less than enthusiastic. Why would anyone use this app? “This is the dumbest thing ever,” seemed to be the sentiment underlying everyone’s tones. One of the venture capitalists suggested that Evan make the photos permanent and work with Best Buy for photos of inventory. The course’s teaching assistant, horrified, pulled Evan aside and asked him if he’d built a sexting app.” – Techcrunch
With no-code what’s the risk in trying something totally off the wall?
Wow, today has been an incredible day. 🙏 I’m super grateful for everyone who tweeted, upvoted, and especially subscribed to RandomPizza!— Whit Anderson I🍕 (@whit4th) January 7, 2020
It’s currently sitting at #5 product of the day on @ProductHunt. Far beyond my expectations. What a day 🍕🙌 pic.twitter.com/aDltntwFNX
Previously, trying trivial things that are contrarian was higher risk.
The business model for snapchat – disappearing messages. huh? Random pizza. huh?
What’s the risk? Take a few hours or days to create it and ship it.
What do you have to lose? Your time? You don’t need to binge watch another Netflix series. Let’s build.
Just make something. See what happens.
Snapchat was also hugely expensive and risky to launch. Bc at the time it seemed like a toy with no real value. Disappearing messages? Who tf would want that.— Michael Novotny (@MichaelJNovotny) January 10, 2020
Not saying https://t.co/wWq4VyJGdC is Snapchat. But it’s contrarian. Random pizza, is something you wouldn’t try unles
It’s the opposite of what you think might be a good idea to spend your time. But with nocode thats the magical part. What’s the risk when you can build an app in an afternoon?— Michael Novotny (@MichaelJNovotny) January 10, 2020
Check our more here for an interview.
still time to sign up if you want tohttps://t.co/kifVDrWGaB
- Distribution matters: It’s the spark that gets your product noticed over the noisy world we live in. Creating something contrarian will rise above the noise.
- Not all of us have family members to float you thousands of dollars to develop an app that doesn’t have precedence to be successful. Now with the power of no-code, you can make it your self. And the only risk is your time making it.
One more take-away about no-code: You can also iterate insanely fast. Like during a world wide pandemic.
If you’re interested in getting started with no-code, try Get Stackd. Its an app I created that uses actual data from talented Makers who have launched successful projects made with no-code to recommend which no-code tools to use.
Maker Persona #3:
The Niche Insider Maker
How They Operate:
A non technical niche expert like a photographer can solve their own problems with technology. Dogfooding on steroids. (Definition: Dogfooding is the practice of an organization using its own product.)
Why This Matters:
- Is there anything more liberating than being able to solve your own problems?
- If you are a professional in industry x, y, or z that knowledge you have of what the core problems are, is an advantage.
- Selling is hard. It’s much easier if you are an industry expert/insider and you can “sell” your product from inside using your connections and relationships.
- It is a risk to hire a development firm that may have suspect execution. Especially if you don’t have experience working with developers or experience with the product life cycle. There is an entire profession specialized in this, Product Management.
Real Maker Story:
Meet Andrew. A professional photographer by day. And now a no-code Maker by night.
Andrew is building a SaaS to solve a particular problem in a niche that he is very familar with, photography. He is uniquely qualified to solve it because he is an expert at what his niche is.
If Andrew were to hire a development shop, he would face an really hard problem of communicating to someone who is not an expert in the niche of what exactly needs to be built. This process, would be long and expensive and a large risk for Andrew to take on.
Instead Andrew builds it himself:
Andrew also has a unique advantage. Not only can he test on himself what the product needs to be he also has an inside track to selling his product to others in his profession.
At the national convention for volume photographers this week & have been giving demos of my #NoCode business management app to people each day. Amazing how motivating it is to get positive feedback & hear how others envision this tool helping them run their business.— Andrew Vernon (@Andrew_Vernon) January 25, 2020
- No-code empowers niche makers to solve their own problems. Take out the risk and cost of hiring a development agency. Just build it yourself.
- The best way to sell a product is helping, not selling. If you’re an industry insider, you immediately have an advantage with an immediate trusted contact list of industry folks that are willing to try a product that you know can help them. That’s an incredible advantage.
What industry are you in? Real estate? Photography? Now you can create an actual working application that works and sell it.
Building software was previously met with having to write code.— Ben Tossell (@bentossell) April 27, 2020
The % of people who avoid that problem and continue building their ideas is increasing every day.
No-code is enabling software development for the masses.
No-code by itself is interesting to hobbyist, but why should you care?
Because no-code + ___________ can be a game-changer.
No-code + startup idea.
No-code + a contrarian idea.
No-code + niche market insider.
All three, nocode + _______ is going to prove to be absolutely lethal.
What’s next? Ill be adding to this as more persona examples are developed. To stay in the loop, I’d love to update you by subscribing to my no-code newsletter here.
Call To Action
Have an idea that you’d like to try but don’t know where to start?
I’ve created three tools to try for FREE, to help you get started.
- Get Stackd – a tool to get a custom recommended stack of no-code tools to use to turn your idea into a reality. Based on actual tools used by talented Makers.
- No-code wiki (beta) – get access to what Makers are actually saying about the tool, what they built with it, what tutorials they used, what templates are available.
- Get inspired – What are people actually making? See a complete list of products and the exact tools they used to make it.
Are you looking for more about how you can get started?
I recently gave a presentation about the different types of no-code Makers with HelloMeets. There are some added visuals and excerpts from slides of the presentation that you might find helpful. Check it!
Hi👋🏼, I'm Michael.
The maker of this site