Last week I launched a new product: http://madewithoutcode.com/ — A platform to connect with makers, non-technical founders, advisors and service providers. Here is the background story of it and some insights I hope are useful for everyone who wants to build a Startup/Product without code.
In the past few months I have seen a lot of new ideas, platforms and products built without code using tools and services like Carrd.co, Zapier, Typeform to mention only a few. Carrd, particularly got a lot of attention for rapid prototype building and it makes it really easy to create a working product.
Finding a niche
Posts like these popped up in my timeline and I noticed that there isn’t really a good place which focuses on products made without code and non-technical founders. Of course there are platforms like Producthunt and Betalist which do a great job but I thought it would be very useful to have a place where you can see startups, services and products built with third party tools and where you can connect with other makers, advisors and service providers. So the idea was born and I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could push a product without writing code.
I remember well when I started to learn to code and had to choose what to learn. It was hell! There is so much noise out there about which language is the best that it can be very frustrating for a newbie to decide which way to go. There is an awesome video about the MUST-KNOW WEB DEVELOPMENT TECH with a really good mindmap as an overview. I think more or less it is the same when it comes to the tools you can use for building products without code.
There are a lot of great tools out there which solve different problems and it can be hard to choose the right one. To simplify that process I hacked together a little mindmap [in progress]which is inspired by the must-know web development tech and perhaps can help other non-technical founders to get a better overview of existing tools.
The most difficult technical part of building a startup without code is to get all the functionality running that you need for your product. In my case, one of the features was that the user can add useful recipes or workflows to the site. This was quite tricky with my setup because you can’t do that with Carrd out of the box. To get this functionality I first used the form feature of Carrd and connected it to Zapier. I then catched the webhooks coming from Carrd form and sent it to Airtable, which I embedded on the recipe site of Madewithoutcode.
Although there are great services out there you are still limited in what you can build without code. Nevertheless it is getting easier and easier to build an entire product with Frontend, Backend, Database and working functionality and I think there are some sectors which are easier for building a startup without code.
Online course | Marketplace | Community | Consulting business | On-demand service | Pre-order website | Digital services | E-Commerce
Without having a big twitter following base it is hard to get attention early on. But of course it is very important to get early feedback for your idea and connect with potential users. I think Twitter is a great tool for that and you can still add hashtags or add people you are trying to catch attention from if you don’t have a lot of followers.
You don’ learn until you launch
Because of that I tried, from the beginning on, to document the process of building and get early feedback and attention from people I thought this could be useful to.
I think there are enough articles about how to build an online business, how to launch a project and where to submit it. Here are some links worth reading:
Even though I want to give you some insight views for my launch, overall the best channel was Producthunt for me which isn’t really surprising because obviously this is my target group. I got 316 upvotes from their community which is a good result and made it into their daily digest which gave me a lot of traffic to the site.
Hackernews and Reddit were a flop overall. I got 2 upvotes on Hackernews and 0 on Reddit. With respect to Reddit I just posted it into the wrong channel. Because of my bad experiences with reddit communities (mostly very harsh imho) I didn’t put a lot of effort into it and just posted it into the /startup channel. It also helps a lot when people from Producthunt or makers with a lot of followers are liking your product and sharing it, which wasn’t my case either. I think the launch is still a success and I got 42 new chat SignUps, 15 Product Submissions, 20 Newsletter Subscriptions and 47 new Twitter followers.
On launch day I got 1764 sessions, which obviously was an all time high so far. In the last few days, it has been around 120 and 200 sessions.
I tried to monetize the product from the beginning on. There are some obvious ways to do that although not every step makes sense at this early stage:
Charge user to submit product — doesn’t make sense and I don’t really like it.
Subscription fee for chat/community — first goal is to grow user numbers and add value for user, so doesn’t make sense at the beginning.
Sponsorship for companies —This way was in my opinion the best one to monetize the product from day one, so I added a Sponsorship section to the site and started to tweet about it.
While I tried to build and share everything in public I was super happy and proud to gain the attention of the founder of Sheetsu a super cool service that lets you turn Google Spreadsheets into a REST API.
It gave me a big pump that the thing I was building was not only a good idea in my head but apparently on the right way to be a useful product. After exchanging some thoughts and Emails I convinced Michael to be the first Sponsor of Madewithoutcode.
The most difficult part is comes now. I am very happy with the launch but obviously this wasn’t the hardest part. Launching a product is easy but building it to a profitable startup is hard. Here is a list of things I try to do to keep traction high and add more value to the product:
Adding more functionality
- Build shareable function for submission
- Add comment functionality to the sites
Adding more features:
- Get advisor/mentor
- Get investment
- Q&A Forum
Keep building it in public
Overall I am very happy so far with the launch and I can’t wait to add more functionality to the site. I think at the end there are four lessons you can take away from my story.
- Build in public and share your progress even if you don’t have a lot of followers.
2. Don’t hesitate to connect with people you think they could help you, give you useful feedback. Normally they like to do that — best tool Twitter.
3. Think about a way to monetize your product from day one on.
4. Choose your tools wisely based on the functionality of your product idea.
PS: I am going to edit this post based on your feedback. So if you want me to add something feel free to contact me or add your thoughts here in the comment section.