What is a no code startup
I am constantly asked by students I mentor: what is the most important factor of startup success? Product-market fit? Scalability? Great team? All these factors are definitely important. But if you listen to founders who have created something worthy (like, unicorns) you’ll be surprised to find out that they consider the most important success factor to be the right timing. Meaning, if you have an idea and you see an opportunity you should move real quick, to get your product to the market. Otherwise, it’ll be captured by someone else. Usually (and, fortunately) good ideas tend to come into many heads all at once. But again, competition is a cornerstone of progress.
Be the first to the market
Basically, no code is a “vehicle” that helps you get your idea to the market in days or weeks, instead of months. In a world where competition thrives, and the fastest one is the winner, it becomes one of the crucial factors of your success.
How exactly does no code help you get your product faster? No code platforms provide founders with standardised “building blocks” to create design elements and workflows behind them. When you code “from scratch” you have to create these blocks manually. Then create connections between them. Then write unit texts and run them. Finally, remove bugs and run system testing. When the source code is created, you have to deploy it using one of the popular platforms (like, AWS or Google), run tests again, optimize application performance… And on, and on it goes.
No wonder, it takes several months even for experienced developers to build the simplest app. Besides, if you don’t have a developer among co-founders, and have to use hired labor. Which might cost you a fortune. At least, that was my personal experience a couple of years ago when I launched my first startup and made every mistake a first-time founder might make.
No code = no postman
With no code you skip unit testing, block connections, deployment and many other steps that eat up on your precious time and money. Does it mean, that you’ll get malfunctioning or “too primitive” app? Definitely, no. To insist that you will, — is like saying that only because you don’t write you mail on a paper any more, call a postman or drop envelopes in post boxes, instead letting gmail.com run all these process for you, your letters will be less creative, primitive or won’t be delivered.
To illustrate this idea, let me give you a recent example. When coronavirus crisis first hit local businesses suffered greatly from mandatory shutdowns and economic upheaval. Brent Summers, an experienced no-coder reacted very fast. In just three days he build a full-fledged web app GiveLocal that let people buy digital gift cards to struggling local businesses. The app was launched in March 2020. Within just one week, GiveLocal was acquired by USA Today and is now known as “Support Local.” Isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it what all startup founders dream of? Less then 2 weeks from idea to a successful exit.
Fine, but can you create a really complex app using no code? And are investors really up to supporting you? And who actually “own” the technology?
The answer to the first question is simple. Yes, you can. Entrytoo that I have found last year is a pretty complex application with many tools (from interactive survey makers to quizzes and tests, to cashflow forecasts, to ML connection). It was fully build on Bubble.io — a no code platform. As well, as App DuJour, — an application which connects restaurants and food trucks to local “foodies.” The platform has multiple user roles, with restaurant-seekers being able to search and discover for free, and restaurants/food trucks paying a subscription-based fee to maximize their reach. Another good example is Marlow — a platform to connect users with coaches to help improve professional skills. To get started, users sign up, complete an onboarding questionnaire, and are then taken to their dashboard area, where they can connect with their coach.
Most modern no code platform support API or Zappier connection. It, basically, means that you can add all fancy hot features (like AI, VR, ML etc.) to your no code app. And if you use Amazon Honeycode, it’s even easier. As many AWS functions connect directly to your no code app without additional “layers”.
Ah, finally, the money. And the answer again is “yes”. https://www.comet.co — a French platform for free-lancers, raised their first round of €1 mln with an MVP built with no-code. Moreover, Plato has been admitted to YCombinator and raised $3,3 mln with back office build on Bubble.io.
Finally, do your possible concerns about ownership of technology have a solid ground? If you have ever applied to an accelerator you’ve definitely seen this question on the list (“do you own technology”). But the good news is still to come. Even if you build your app with no code, you still own it. Therefore, you own the technology. You don’t own the building blocks because they belong to no code platform. But the way you’ve placed them, how you’ve “glued” the whole structure, the feel and “flavor” of your app, as well as the features you’ve managed to build. All these belong to you. Moreover, with some no code platforms (like UI Bakery, Retool or WaveMaker) you can download your source code in a couple of clicks. You might choose to deploy your app somewhere else then (in AWS, for instance).
But most importantly, code or no code — you still own the unique understanding of customers and their needs reflected in your application. And that, according to Paul Graham from YCombinator, is what really matters to worthy investors.