Back in the day when you wanted to build a startup you either needed to be or to find a skilled developer in order to get anything done. This hard requirement was one of the reasons why developers generally won the designation ‘rockstars’ on most ambitious startup teams; you simply couldn’t do without them.
You still can’t if you want to build something that’s solid enough to scale. But in order to figure out whether your idea has any merit at all, there is a lot of things you can do with No-code tools; software platforms that basically allow you to configure your application rather than code it from scratch.
There is an argument to be made that No-code tools have been around for years. Some say that Object Oriented Programming tools were essentially the precursor to the No-code tools of today with the UI being the main differentiator. Whether that’s true or not, I do not know, but fact of the matter is that the ability to ‘build’ applications have been democratized to people outside the hardcore developer realm.
And that’s a good thing. Because it allows more people to build more applications. And aside from the proportion of duds among them, chances are that more really cool applications – small scale, yes – will be built as a result of this. And that’s all good.
For founders it is amazing because it does three things: It solves the problem of having to find a hard-to-find-hard-to-get developer, before you can get anything done. It allows you to roll the sleeves up yourself and put your money where you mouth is and just get something out there to start getting some feedback from the market. And it allows you to get an understanding whether there is anything there there, before you go out and look for investment in order to build the full-blown thing, which also means you will need to give less equity up in order to get the investment, you need. In theory at least.
But aside from the lack of true scalability there is one obvious pitfall from betting on No-code platforms that founders should be aware of;
No-code tools shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for not being diligent about delivering real value to users and customers. It shouldn’t be an approach used on the ‘Fail fast’-terminology that IMHO has mostly been used as an excuse for not really caring about quality of what you offer.
What founders need to be mindful of is that it’s real people – potential customers – they are putting their solutions in front of. And with the competition in almost every sector out there being rampant, you as a founder can little afford to basically p*** off the same people that are going to be your bread and butter in the future. If you do so they will have plenty of other opportunities to get the problem solved, and they will – most likely – never look your way again.
This also goes to a point which I think is often sadly neglected, when we talk about startups and founders venturing out to do great things: It’s never about you. It is about the customers you serve, and the problems they have that you help them solve.
That is – front and center – the recipe for your startups success, and thus it would be helpful, if we got a bit more empathy for the customer into a lot of startup conversations rather than focus most of our attention on the founders and their credentials. Yes, they are crucial. But successful founders don’t exist without happy customers.
Why is this a relevant discussion in the context of No-code platforms? It is because with the ease of shipping also comes a responsibility to ship something that’s worthwhile. The good things about things being hard to get out the door is that you have amble time to reflect during the process and ensure that things work, when they go out, and that the things, you ship, are shipped for a reason. While it obviously slows founders down a bit, I think the process is overall healthy and has a net positive long term impact on both the product and the ultimate success of the startup.
For that same reason No-code platforms shouldn’t be seen as a shortcut to success but as a way to get more insights quickly on what’s truly worthwhile building in order for a startup to achieve ultimate success.