Building your MVP with no-code tools

Published on
November 11, 2022
7
min read
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If you’re someone with an idea, passion, or urge to create, it’s never been easier to go from idea to minimum viable product in a day rather than weeks or months.

The growth of the no-code movement has democratised the ability to build, enabling anyone and everyone, regardless of their technical ability. Although no-code tools will never replace developers, they help savvy founders quickly test their idea or set up infrastructure for their businesses. 

What is no-code?

No-code and low-code (NC/LC) tools are software that converts technical work into user-friendly interfaces. 

The term has boomed since 2016 with the adoption of tools such as Webflow and Bubble. But the concept has existed since 1985, through an app installed on every office computer: Microsoft Excel. This was the original “no-code” tool that allowed users to manipulate data without code.

No-code use cases developed from data analysis to web development (WordPress, 2003), forms (Formstack, 2006), eCommerce (Shopify, 2006), apps (Bubble, 2012), and now, well, basically any tech product imaginable.

Here’s a snippet of what this landscape looks like in Australia and New Zealand.

NC/LC startups in Australia and New Zealand

Did we miss a NC/LC tool built in ANZ? Tell us about it.

What are the benefits of no-code?

Before jumping into the tools, here are a few reasons why you might consider hopping on the no-code train;

  • You want to build, but don’t have a technical background
    No-code has got your back! These tools are designed to support non- and semi-technical users in building simple applications with intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces.
  • You want to launch quickly, but your technical team is strapped for time
    In the early days, everyone in your team is juggling multiple time-pressured balls. Using a no-code tool lowers the burden on your technical team and lets them focus on the more difficult and custom parts of your product.
  • You want to validate your idea and demonstrate traction and functionality to investors
    We love to see founders who take the initiative to build and test their ideas. Getting early user data and giving us a prototype to play around with helps us understand your overall vision and potential better!
  • You want to get feedback on your product design and user experience
    Rolling out early prototypes also has the added benefit of understanding what UI features users like at a low cost, giving you confidence about what to invest in for your end product.

We asked some of our founders in our Pioneers community who’ve used no-code to build out MVPs and platforms what they thought about these tools:

“As a non-technical founder, no-code tools have changed the game for me. [They offer] tonnes of functionality for free or minimal cost, [which is] great support when you’re in the early days of a startup.”
Dr Tanya Pelly, Founder of peopleLOOP (Using Carrd and Bubble)
“Love no-code, especially as a technical founder - making anything when building a startup a little simpler and giving everyone the same power to build is always fantastic!”
Nivaaz Sehmbhi, Co-founder of Insider (Using Rowy and Webflow)
“My go-to’s are Bubble, Softr, Airtable, Notion, Alteryx and Zapier. I love these tools because they allow me to build, launch and iterate quickly. I’ve met a lot of people who spend months, even years, in development trying to build something. No-code helps me direct my time and resources toward getting usable things out there into the world.”
Shenal Harakh, Founder of Introspect and Shenal Online

How should you choose a no-code tool?

As with all software, there are a range of variables that influence your decision on what tool to use. Here are a few specific to NC/LC:

  • What balance of power/ease do you need? All NC/LC tools lie on a continuum, trading off ease of use for functionality. For instance, a newer tool like Pory.io is effective for converting databases to apps but limits how else you build them. Bubble.io is an all-encompassing app builder, but it’s more difficult to use.
  • How much time are you willing to invest in learning? This will depend on what use case you’re looking at; if you want to quickly mockup a website for temporary use, quicker website builders such as Carrd or Typedream may be the play. However, if you’re looking to start building something which grows as you grow (and crucially, you have the time to learn), tools like Webflow or Squarespace fit better.
  • How strong is the community around the tool? Strong communities mean more publicly available learning resources, do-it-yourself walkthroughs, and forums where you can ask questions and learn from others! Users also attests to the importance of this:
“YouTube is your best friend–there are heaps of free masterclasses on it. Use the forums. Read people’s questions and answers–you will learn a lot.” - Jacqui Burfoot, Founder of OnlyCoLabs

Now that you have this lens to evaluate tools–what tools are out there? Here we’ve compiled a short list of the most-used builders around for websites, apps, and more.

How can I build a website?

NC/LC website builder evaluation based on power and difficulty of use
Webflow

($4B Valuation, founded 2013) is currently the industry standard for building full-scale, beautiful websites with blogging and eCommerce functionality. They operate on a freemium model, and start at $12/month for custom domains.

  • Power: High | Difficulty: High | Community: High

Recommended for long-term website projects.

Squarespace

($10B Valuation, founded 2003) is a template-based website builder which is more user-friendly than Webflow, but has limited power due to having less design customisability. Best used for eCommerce with plenty of email marketing tools. They offer a free trial and start at $16/month, with a year-free custom domain for yearly plans.

  • Power: Med | Difficulty: Med | Community: High

Recommended for simpler projects with moderate requirements.

Carrd

(Bootstrapped, founded 2017) is marketed as giving you the ability to ‘build one-page sites for pretty much anything’. Much simpler in functionality, costing only $9/year for sites and templates.

  • Power: Low | Difficulty: Low | Community: Med

Recommended for minimal effort, quick and temporary landing pages.

Special Mentions

Typedream

(Bootstrapped, founded 2021) is another site editor which integrates with Notion pages and databases, allowing you to connect the two seamlessly. They have a freemium model for one page, and start at $23/month.

  • Power: Med | Difficulty: Easy-Med | Community: Med

Recommended for builders who like Notion’s aesthetic.

Linktree

($1.7B Valuation, founded 2016) is not in the no-code category, but suitable for founders who want to aggregate their online profiles and links to a single link for easy access. Their core functionality is completely free, with more customization starting at $8/mth.

  • Power: Low | Difficulty: Low | Community: High

Recommended for personal or business audience builders.

How can I build an application?

Bubble

($100M Series A, founded 2012) is useful for building web applications; websites with extra functionality layered on top. Users have built marketplaces, dashboards, CRMs, stores and more! Bubble starts off free and then moves on to $29/month as you add functionality.

  • Power: High | Difficulty: High | Community: High
Thunkable

($30M Series B, founded 2015) is the mobile app version of Bubble, enabling users to drag-and-drop to build Android and iOS apps. It’s free initially, and their cheapest plan is $15/mth.

  • Power: High | Difficulty: High | Community: High

Special Mentions

Pory.io

An Australian-based no-code tool that enables you to build apps directly from your data in Airtable or Notion, allowing you to create portals for members, volunteers, and more. The product starts at $18/mth, with a free 14-day trial.

  • Power: Med | Difficulty: Med | Community: Med

How can I automate my processes?

Zapier

($5B Valuation, founded 2011) is the one-stop place to automate and connect all your processes and software. For example, we use Zapier to send email sign-ups from our Open Source VC forms to Mailchimp to sign people up for our newsletter! Plans start off free, and increase to $32.4/month.

  • Power: Med | Difficulty: Med | Community: High
MailChimp

($12B Acquisition, founded 2001) is your email campaign management tool - enabling mass email send offs with simple automations based on customer behaviour. Pricing starts at $0, costing $17.70/month for their standard plan.

  • Power: Med | Difficulty: Med | Community: High
Process Street

($15M Series A, founded 2014) enables you to manage any recurring team workflows, such as employee onboarding or other weekly tasks. The product is free for 1 workflow, with their Pro plan starting at $25/month. 

  • Power: Low | Difficulty: Easy | Community: Med

Bonus: How can I structure my internal processes?

  • Notion and Coda.io are excellent tools to building internal wikis embedded with databases. They’re useful for keeping a company’s source of truth, project management, and CRMs, essentially a simple build-your-own software tool!
  • Airtable is a tool in the category of “supercharged spreadsheets”, allowing you to handle data in a user-friendly way. Useful for sales, marketing, and project management.

We hope you’ve found some of these tools useful–happy building! (And when you’ve finished– get in touch as we’d love to hear about what you’re working on)

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