The no code revolution: How to build a startup with just an idea
My learnings from pitchblak's no code session.
Building an app as a non-technical person sounds almost unachievable.
Do I have to spend months learning HTML? Do I need to attend a coding bootcamp?
Turns out, not at all. Lucky for us, the no-code revolution is booming, with user-friendly platforms enabling users to build web and mobile apps without writing a single line of code.
During the first week of the Startmate Student Fellowship, the team at pitchblak (a Melbourne-based startup firm) gave fascinating insights into the capabilities of no code tools, helping tech and non-tech people alike to achieve what they want to achieve and to avoid the mistakes they’ve made while building their own companies.
Here are my key takeaways.
What is no code?
No code platforms enable users to build software applications without coding. With drag-and-drop capabilities, this allows users to visually form components and fully build an app. No coding experience is required at all!
For example, Bubble.io is a popular no code platform that lets you build for desktop or mobile, with full functionality to create production-ready apps. Its power lies in its ability to create prototypes, iterate, launch and scale all in one place.
Alongside no code is low code. This is a bit more complicated as it requires a reasonable amount of coding and knowledge, but still has limited drag-and-drop features. This could be great if you’re getting started with coding, and want to practice your skills.
The benefits of no code
The beauty of no code is that it can be used by anyone. It’s useful not only for non-tech people, but also startups, SMEs, enterprises, and anyone who has an idea and wants to create.
1. Easy and fast
Building using no code is 10 times faster than building with code. You can build a standard app in just three weeks. The ease of use is a big win, with already available templates and documentation which makes it easier and quicker to learn. Plus, drag-and-drop is so intuitive that you can get started straight away.
2. Reduced cost
The ease and speed of no code means that you not only save time and energy, but also resources, as less development hours are required. This is super beneficial if you’re an early-stage startup or just pursuing an idea, where funds can be limited and you can’t afford a whole team of developers quite yet. Even for larger startups or companies, this helps you get a polished product with less work.
3. Easily interchangeable
Because you’re building on no code platforms, transferring ownership is easy — all you need to do is change the email address. No code platforms also store data in the cloud, removing any worries about hosting.
1. Requirements and limitations to building
Before you start, you need to be aware of the requirements of what you want to build, especially if it’s something big.
Limited data storage and the drag-and-drop nature of no code sets limitations to what can be built, so you may need to install plug-ins for extra features.
Each tool and platform has different capabilities, so it’s important to know what you need before you’re halfway building and hit a roadblock.
2. Less control over your app
Because you’re building on these platforms, you have less control over your app, and no ownership over the source code. Prices can go up, and you have no other option but to pay as you’re stuck on the platform.
It’s important to own your own code because it’s part of your intellectual property, and allows you to customise more for your customers. Owning your code means that you can eventually sell your company, in which it should be part of its own tech stack.
Overall, at a certain stage you should get ready to raise capital, get developers to actually code your application and grow.
What is no code best used for?
No code is perfect for developing minimum viable products (MVPs), as companies often spend too much time and money building their product and end up with no customers. Fast development means that you can quickly get customers, and iterate the platform and add new features that users can test.
No code can also be used to automate manual processes, and to track customer interactions through CRM. The software modernisation of apps is also possible using no code — a process which improves already existing applications to deliver a better experience. These functions are especially useful for SMEs and enterprises.
Ultimately, no code is a powerful tool that can be harnessed by anyone at almost any stage, allowing you to test ideas, build quickly and see how it works.
How to get started
It’s time to start doing! There are many tools to check out, including Pory, Bubble.io, Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, Shopify and Airtable. For automation, tools such as Zapier and Integromat are very useful.
To learn, you can watch YouTube tutorials, attend bootcamps, or hop on a trusty search engine and search what you want to build and “no code”. There are so many resources and templates out there for you to use!
The scale of no code platforms are increasing significantly, which means that using no code to build will become fairly common. As the barrier to entry to tech lowers, so does the traction to build a startup — meaning that anyone who has an idea has the potential to create.