What if someone told you that you can bring your startup idea to life with very little cost, very quickly and with no to very little technical background? Yes, as the title suggests, I am hinting at no-code solutions. At least this is what I managed to do with my project (more on it later*), and that got me thinking – what different use-cases of no-code are there and how can it benefit early stage startups, in particular? I am by no means an expert, so I reached out to other no-code and low-code enthusiasts** in the region to learn about their experience and share it with you. Hopefully, to inspire those who want to test their ideas but don’t know how to start.
This article sums up the main benefits of using no-code tools for your startup, lists some of its limitations, touches upon other (non-startup) use-cases, and in the end provides some useful links and resources if you got hooked up and want to learn more!
Where we are now and what’s ahead – expected growth of no-code
Why consider no-code for your startup?
If you ask ChatGPT about the benefits of no-code, you will get an extensive list (and definitely feel free to check it out). I will, however, emphasise the main points that kept coming up in all my interviews.
- Time. No-code platforms enable startups to develop and iterate on their ideas quickly. What quickly means will depend on the project – it can be a couple of days (for basic prototypes or mini projects) or a couple of months for more complex solutions. Either way, the first prototype or MVP does not have to be perfect or too sophisticated. It has to be good enough to be validated on the market quickly.
- Cost. Hiring experienced developers is expensive, whereas no-code tools can be a more budget-friendly alternative, especially for early-stage startups struggling to raise external funding. According to several founders and investors I spoke to, it can even be a good sign for future investors – the fact that the startup was able to build their MVP with little cost proves that they can be inventive and cost-effective (and will not waste the investor money once they get it). Now more than ever, investors want to see traction before they invest – and no-code MVP can help to show it quickly.
- Accessibility. No-code tools open doors to non-technical founders to launch and test their ideas, as well as empower other non-technical team members to contribute to the development process. Even technical founders can save time and resources using no-code or low-code (that do require technical knowledge but can speed up the development). In fact, most of the no-code early adopters are still people who do know how to code.
- Flexibility. Thanks to no-code prototypes and MVPs startups can gather feedback and iterate their offering before committing to full-scale development. It can also mean less painful pivots and radical change of direction (which could potentially kill the startup very early on). And even if your no-code MVP does not prove to stand the test of the market and you end up killing it – at least you have not invested too much time nor money in it. Learn from it and move on.
What are the limitations of no-code?
And while you can guess that this article advocates for the no-code revolution for startups, it is important to mention some of its limitations (take them as things to consider, not necessarily as show-stoppers).
- Complexity. No-code can be great particularly for SaaS startups that are innovative from a business (rather than tech) standpoint. Think Uber for X or Airbnb for Y – those are the prime examples where no-code tools with their pre-built templates make sense. It may not however be suitable for highly complex or specialised applications with an innovative technology. It is up to you as a founder to decide whether this is the right path for you, the only thing I can suggest is – do your research and look for the tools out there. First, the landscape for no-code development is continually evolving with new tools and updates to existing platforms. Second, even in highly complex solutions, there might be a way to run simple no-code experiments to verify your hypothesis.
- Security. While doing your research and exploring all the different alternatives, you might realise that determining the right tool can be tricky. Moreover, no-code can arguably also introduce one of the most significant challenges for startups – security, data protection and compliance (especially for startups with industry-specific regulations). And this is not to scare you off using no-code tools, as most of the big platforms have been developed by big developer teams for years and are under pressure to be well secured. Just a friendly reminder – make sure you check your vendor’s policies, and when unsure – look for an online community and support network to assist you (keep reading to find links to some of these communities).
- Learning curve. Building simple landing pages with no-code has never been easier. After the first initial steps (as a non-technical founder) you might find that the learning curve can be quite steep though. If you decide to go down the no-code path, it can make sense to bring on board an experienced advisor, as the tech stack selection will make a big difference. Good news is that there is a growing number of no-code development agencies or individuals that can guide you through the journey (some of them who contributed to this article are mentioned below).
- Scalability. Last but not least question you might want to ask (at least it’s the one I’ve been asking myself since I started my no-code journey) – but can you scale with no-code only? And here comes the expected answer – it depends on the business model and how you operate. As a startup grows, it is likely that there will be a need for custom code to address unique challenges. It does not necessarily mean you have to throw out everything you’ve created in no-code, you can still continue using it alongside traditional coding to accelerate the growth.
Other use cases (in case you’re not a startup but still reading this)
This article is aimed at early-stage startups and aspiring entrepreneurs (which I believe most of the Startup Kitchen readers are). But no-code is definitely not limited to startup use cases and quick prototyping only.
All of the no-code benefits apply also to bigger enterprises – no-code enables them to keep up with market demands, have an instant conversation with the customer, validate and introduce new features, and find a competitive edge in the market. All of that, without overwhelming developer resources and allowing their tech team to focus on more large-scale projects. We are likely to see more and more enterprises, and their innovation departments, in particular, turning to no-code, and education in the area will be a key to this.
Last but not least, no-Code also presents a real opportunity to empower NGOs and citizen developers. For instance, during unforeseen crises, these platforms can allow for the rapid and scalable development of applications or websites (like this simple no-code app that provided direct relief after the earthquake in Turkey).
As mentioned before, the landscape of no-code platforms is continually changing and new tools are being built every day, but for starters – feel free to check out this list of most common use-cases and tools created by Kiuub studio.
And if this article sparked your interest and you are ready to go down the rabbit hole of the no-code world, this is probably the most extensive global list of online no-code communities.
Among those, you will find Makerpad – the biggest no-code learning platform with plenty of courses, tutorials, and community success stories. Fun fact – Makerpad itself is a no-code success story, as it was acquired by Zapier after just 18 months of operations and the acquisition was driven pretty much by a single tweet.
If you are looking to connect to no-code enthusiasts in the CEE region:
- Polish No-code Starter Discord group (main communication language – Polish, but you can always ask in English)
- No-Code / Low-Code in CEE Whatsapp group (main communication language – English)
Last but not least, feel free to contact me or any of the low-code enthusiasts I spoke with directly.
** Sintija Meissner – author of this blog post and startup generalist who got into the world of no-code thanks to her own side-project mamamapa – one-stop-shop for all the family friendly places in the city. The prototype of this platform was built entirely in no-code within a couple of weeks and very quickly. Now in the phase of adding the traditional code to turn it into a crowd-sourced platform.
** Michał Sukiennik – COO & Co-founder of Personit – software development agency building applications in no-code / low-code technology (Bubble.io & Flutterflow). In the current economic climate with development costs getting higher and VCs being more cautious about their early investments, he saw the crisis as an opportunity. His agency offers 5x faster MVP app development for startups, based on use-cases from different industries (from e-commerce to agri-tech).
** Ivan Homola – serial startup founder and indie maker who knows how to code himself but uses no-code to save time and launch mini projects quickly. He is a founder of FoxyApps – AI-powered no-code tool helping businesses grow and convert website visitors to leads. His target audience ranges from individual entrepreneurs to SMEs and startups. It also gives an opportunity for creators to build their own projects, based on ChatGPT and using their no-code app builder.
** Slavo Tuleya is an entrepreneur and a no code fan. He leads Kiuub, an innovation studio & no code agency, which helps startups and SMEs digitalize operations and launch their ideas faster & cheaper. On top of that, he invests into Boring Businesses with the aim of digitising and scaling them further. Slavo is a Forbes 30 under 30 alumni and co-author of the CaffeineCapitalist.com newsletter.