After 10 months of work and $30,000 spent, Singulution ran out of money before finding any capital.
The founder, Hunt Burdick, spent every waking moment during those 10 months building the product and never got a single customer from it. He even used his 401k as stock options as a runway for it.
It wasn’t that the idea was bad. He’ll tell you himself: the greatest lesson he learned was that he should’ve focused on building an MVP.
Later, Singulution got absorbed by E-DealerDirect, which was already past the MVP stage and they were able to get traction with the tech he built. So there’s a silver lining to this story.
But not all founders get as lucky.
Sure, he was lucky and learned a lesson, but one that cost him $30k and approximately one gagillion hours he’ll never get back.
His main failure was that nobody ever tried the app before he ran out of money. With an MVP, he would’ve been able to get feedback and iterate on his tech. Maybe he’d still have his 401k.
Hunt’s failure story has a relatively happy ending, but that’s not the case for everyone.
That’s why today we’re going to tell you about the hows and whys of building a no code MVP for your startup.
Why you should build an MVP using no code
The main reason you’d want to build your MVP is pretty obvious: you don’t want to invest a ton of money for an idea that might fail. We also know the consequences of running with an untested idea on not much more than a hunch.
We wrote another post in this blog about how to validate your idea with pocket money. It’s not just a tip - this is the way of the future.
No code tools let makers take ideas to MVPs without needing to dump your life savings into it.
Let’s break down the reasons why you should build a startup with no code:
It costs less money to build a startup with no code
Not even considering the no-code aspect, building an MVP is cheaper than going all-out on your product development. But having a developer build your MVP can cost anywhere between $4,000 to a number so high I’d feel uncomfortable telling you.
No code tools cost anywhere from free to around $140/month.Which means you can start iterating without taking on any technical debt and operating with very little overhead.
A no code MVP is more flexible
The whole point of an MVP is to be able to easily iterate and improve.
So if you use a stack that’s flexible enough to change it yourself, without needing a dev team or a technical founder, you can iterate without a headache.
Even if you just need to make a few tweaks here and there, or add a whole new feature, you can just do it yourself.
It’s way faster to market
Fast to market is better than perfect to market, and you can build a product way faster in no code than from scratch. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said “If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Plus, you don’t need to wait (or rush) to find the perfect technical co-founder or build a dev team. You can take your time to find the right one while you build your MVP.
You are in control of your startup
If you aren’t a technical founder and don’t know anything about code, how can you tell if your devs are even doing a good job or not?
You can spend 100% of your time talking to customers and getting feedback and literally 0 minutes managing a dev team and trying to understand what they’re doing. You’ll know exactly how your product operates.
Successful startups that built a no code MVP
There’s nothing quite like learning from the failures and achievements of others.
Nocode isn’t a shortcut, it’s a movement. It puts power in the hands of visionaries who don’t know how to code. They don’t need to depend on programmers anymore.
So let’s take a look at a few Startups that have built their businesses with no code:
Product Hunt doesn’t need an introduction. In case your house is, indeed, built of rock sediment, Product Hunt is like Reddit for startups - you can submit and upvote apps and products.
AngelList acquired Product Hunt in 2017 for a reported $20 million. Not bad for a product that was originally built in 20 minutes without code.
Tools they used
Lauren Sturdivant, a personal injury attorney, didn’t like having to spend most of her time answering calls to tell her clients the status of their case. So like any sound-minded entrepreneur, she created the solution.
Case Status, what feels like a real, coded app, was founded in 2017 and received $725k in seed funds last year. It was built without any code.
Tools they used
Qoins, a venture-backed personal finance app, helps people pay off debt. They run their client-facing apps on Bubble and have already helped people pay off $3.5 million in debt.
Tools they used
No code tools you should know about
Which tool you choose depends on what you want to build. There are so many different tools available and you can combine them to create whatever you want. Here are some tools we think you should know about:
Responsive web design tool, CMS, and hosting platform
Founded in 2012, Webflow is a web design tool, CMS, and hosting platform. You can drag and drop your dream website into life and it translates it into code for you. It’s extremely powerful and versatile but there is a steep learning curve.
You can use it to build a prototype or your whole website. It’s a great tool for designers, front-end developers, or founders that have a clear and specific vision of how they want their website app to work.
Webflow’s pricing structure is a little hard to understand - it’s based on either a site or account structure - but basically runs from $12/month to $212/month depending on your needs.
Visual builder for mobile applications
It's the Webflow of mobile. You can use their app builder to create any app you want.
They prepared many templates and design app screens, which saves you a lot of time.
The output of their editor is a native app with a source code you can customize.
You can collaborate with others and share a quick preview with anyone. It's a great way to speed up the development process of your app.
Their product is still in beta. You need to ask for access. Once you are in, you can build up to 3 apps for free.
You can upgrade to a paid plan for $29/m to export your code, use more features and build unlimited apps.
Drag-and-drop programming tool
Bubble.io was founded in 2012 by Emmanuel Straschnov and Josh Haas. It’s a web and mobile app development platform that requires zero coding knowledge. It’s a super user-friendly point and click app.
Some makers even use Bubble.io beyond the MVP stage and use it for their full-feature app. That of course depends on how complex you plan to make your app, but it’s a possibility.
Bubble.io is for makers who
think they have a great idea for an app but don’t want to invest in developers or spend time learning the intricacies of code.
Bubble.io has a free “Hobby” package for those who just want to play around with it. Paid plans run from $25/month to $475/month.
Let others help you with marketing
Rewardful is a simple way for SaaS companies to setup affiliate and referral programs with Stripe. Just connect your account and let them track referrals, discounts, and commissions for you.
It's a great way for tech founders to outsource marketing activities to other people. Offer a commission for each new customer they bring.
Their pricing starting at $29/mo with 14-days free trial.
No-code user accounts & paywalls
This no-code tool lets you build user accounts & paywalls for any website.
Memberstack is especially useful for:
- Creators who want design control of their sites.
- Makers who want to get their product to market quickly.
- Marketers who want to create personalized user experiences.
- Agencies and freelancers who need to invite clients to their projects.
They offer a free unlimited trial. When your project starts to be serious they charge you anything from $25/mo. Pricing depends on the number of members.
Build your own marketplace website
Sharetribe was founded in 2011 by Antti Virolainen and Juho Makkonen.
It’s a platform to easily build a peer-to-peer marketplace without coding skills. It supports all kinds of marketplaces, has a built-in payment system and works great on mobile devices.
Studiotime, the Airbnb of music studios that was built on Sharetribe went from nothing to 1,000 users within 24 hours. It’s a good tool for makers who want to build a marketplace fast, with no learning curve.
ShareTribe has a 30-day free trial and then runs from $79/month for 100 users to $239/month for 100,000. If you hit more than 100,000 users they’ll contact you and you can combine plans.
No-code app templates, courses, plugins and more
Zeroqode, founded in 2016 by Levon Terteryan and Vlad Larin, is a dedicate service for no code development. It provides templates, training, and everything you need to start using no code tools.
They’re Bubble.io’s certified partners and help people use it more efficiently with out-of-the-box templates, training, and even custom development.
This tool is for non-technical founders, designers who want to offer more than static web designs, and coders who what to make their work more efficient.
Zeroqode offers a variety of products and services so the price depends on what you want.
Website templates run from $29-$99. Codeless app templates average at $200.
A custom-built native with a single application license starts at $790 but you can add on a ton of features.
Zeroqode offers too many things to list all the prices here but that should help you get a good idea.
Goods, rental & service marketplaces without code
Arcadier, a Series A startup was founded in 2013 by Dinuke Ranasinghe, Kenneth Low, and Paul Cascun.
From $68/monthly to $425 monthly, with custom packages available.
Design, prototype and build voice apps
Voiceflow was founded in 2018 by Andrew Lawrence, Braden Ream, Michael Hood, and Tyler Han. It’s a no code tool for designing voice app prototypes. It’s an easy-to-use, drag and drop software that you can use to create voice apps made for non-technical makers.
Runs from free for personal use, to $140/monthly for a team, or you can get customized rates for bigger projects.
Flexible spreadsheet and database tool
Airtable was founded in 2012 by Andrew Ofstad, Emmett Nicholas, and Howie Liu. It’s a cloud-based spreadsheet-turned-database used for team management. Its database properties makes it easy to combine with other no code tools, like Webflow, to build powerful interfacts.
From free to $20/user/month or a custom price. Depends on what you need!
No-code mobile app builder
Thunkable, founded in 2015 by Arun Saigal and WeiHua Li, is a drag-and-drop no code programming tool for creating beautiful native iOS or Android apps. It’s super easy and intuitive.
From free to $21/month depending on your needs.
No code tools may be the way of the future
Makers don’t need to be held back by their lack of technical skills. As more of these tools pop up, you’ll be able to get your ideas out for validation quickly and cheaply. Have you built something without code? What’s your experience?
This is a Guest post by Maeva Cifuentes. Maeva is the founder of Flying Cat Marketing, a B2B SaaS content marketing agency, a writer, translator, marketer and startup aficionado.