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What are No Code Builders and are they the future of software? - With James Wood
James Wood: [00:00:00] Yes totally. I think that's, as a key part of it, you can build really complex stuff with it, but it's all very visual and it's using essentially this concept of workflows is prevalent through pretty much every no code tool and it's, essentially what a programmer will probably call an 'if then else statement', but that anyone can write without necessarily, I guess the most basic example would be Zapier of a tool that does that.
[00:00:27] But, yes, I think your point on developers, is really valid and I think it's something that is, really interesting to dive into because the thing is no code technologies aren't taking, er, they're not at war with developers, and in fact, I think they make developers' lives better. Because from two ways, it frees developers up to work on more interesting problems than perhaps building a very simple UI of like a crud app, basically that has been done a million times. Why would a developer want to work on that? If it could be done in no code, you could go and work on something that was a problem that actually needed to be solved with custom code. And on the other side, I think it's really exciting for developers in that product managers, people like me, can actually prototype ideas at that very early stage. Whereas before I might have been writing a ton of specs and getting a Figma thing, designed with a designer, now I could actually go and make a test app and try it and hand that over to the developer and say, productionize that, and removing a load of risk and a learning in the process so that you hopefully would be going through fewer development cycles, working out the kinks, because you'd effectively validated that the idea was worth pursuing before you even went to the developers.
[00:02:09] Chris O'Hare: [00:02:09] I'm Chris O'Hare your Quick Win CEO, and as a CEO, I've run businesses, founded startups, consulted for others, and even won awards. But in this show, we'll be talking to entrepreneurs and experts to help you understand key concepts for your business. Along with three quick wins that you can take away and apply to your business today.
[00:02:30] And every week we'll be finding out about the entrepreneur themselves and diving into a different but important topic. And this week we're talking all about how to build apps with no code and yes. You've had me right. You can build an app with no code and James Wood will be enlightening us a product expert who has gone from having his own VC back startup with many developers to take him back the power and creating his own apps, using no code platform, Bubble. James, even created and sold his own no code app over lockdown and even built a new app over his Christmas break and already has monthly subscribers. He's not building no code apps. James is a chief product that's officer at software company User Replay. This episode is highly recommended for those who have considered making their own app.
[00:03:25] Honestly, this is one of my favourite episodes. Your minds will be blown. So here we go. James Wood. Thanks for coming on this show, James, firstly, tell me the last thing that you read or watched, or did that left an impression on you and it could be anything, it could be a Netflix series, a funny video, a book that you read.
[00:03:47] I read a fantastic book recently, called, Angel by Jason Calacanis. So it was like one of the first investors in Uber and it was, it's just a fascinating, kind of book that gives- its a guide to angel investing basically, but it's also really candid advice to founders from an investors perspective about how to approach that relationship and how to manage it.
[00:04:14] And it's just really fun and entertaining read. I actually going to read it again. It was so good. It's just a real good one.
[00:04:23] Sounds Epic. I mean, I think it's really important that people actually think about the side that investors a coming from as well, because you always hear it the other way. You always hear it from the founders, that came from nothing and conquered, and disrupted an industry and made all this money. But yet you never hear it about what does an investor actually one and I think that's really good. So I'm definitely out to pick that up. But soon as you said that the first thing I thought about was the Lost and Founder book by Rand Fishkin. I don't know if you've read that?
[00:04:59]James Wood: [00:04:59] I've got it on my shelf, but I haven't got to that one yet. I've heard its Very good.
[00:05:03] Chris O'Hare: [00:05:03] Yeah. It's good. I mean, Ran Fishkin is a controversial fellow in his own. And he's always, hot on his social media. So I knew it was going to be a good book and it was. But that's exactly what it was. It was about, that candid advice that you could give, to founders and some of the stuff that I've read in that book, it stuck with me. And I still think about it quite regularly when I'm making decisions about where I want to go, what direction I'm going to take in terms of startups.
[00:05:37] So I really liked that. I'm definitely gonna read that one. That's going to go on my Kindle.
[00:05:43] James Wood: [00:05:43] Awesome. Yeah, and I think it's great advice, even if you're not interested in getting an investor, by the way, if you're not looking for investment, it's still really good stuff that is just great foundational stuff that everyone should do, whether they want to find an investor or not.
[00:05:58]Yeah, it's fantastic.
[00:06:00]Chris O'Hare: [00:06:00] Okay. That's good to know. So in your own words, give me an understanding of what you do, what should business do, and kind of what's your skill set.
[00:06:10] James Wood: [00:06:10] Great. So, in my day job, I'm a chief product officer. So I look after, the product that a company builds.
[00:06:19] So, I work for a company that we UserReplay and we're like an online digital experience analytics. Platform. So for big retailers, helping them to identify how to, improve their websites basically. So what users struggling with? So day-to-day, I look after the product on that, and that's essentially, managing our product managers and working with our engineering teams to build the right thing and to help make our customers happy, basically.
[00:06:48] So that's what I do in the day job. But in all my free time and pretty much any moment I'm awake, I'm also working on tons of, no code stuff. So I say I also build loads of, no code apps. A few of them have been acquired, and also, continue to build them and launch them as well.
[00:07:10] But yeah, that to me is, such an exciting topic and it's, one of the things I'm most passionate about is it's really a kind of a transformational technology that is, is really changing. How. Ideas come to life and how companies can get started. So, that's what I'm most excited about right now.
[00:07:31] Chris O'Hare: [00:07:31] So tell me what a chief product officer does. What is it? You look after the product, but give us a bit more detail for the people that don't necessarily know what that means.
[00:07:40] James Wood: [00:07:40] Yeah, absolutely. So the first thing I would say is it tends to, -it varies by company wildly. Like I've also been a product manager for years at different companies, and I'm sure a lot of other product managers will probably agree that the role varies from organization to organization.
[00:07:58] It's a, it's one of those interesting ones that it really depends on the company. But yeah Chief product officer, what they are really responsible for is guiding the product vision and organizing the teams around, make you bringing that product vision to life. And really making sure that what you're building as a company.
[00:08:17]It's what the customer wants is what the business wants the finance team want. But most of all, it's really customers, I think we're most obsessed with, but yeah, it's it, we're really trying to bring all those different components together to drive the company forward from a product perspective.
[00:08:33] So it's usually software companies I think of, but nearly every company is becoming a software company now, but yeah, that's that's what I, it means to me anyway.
[00:08:44] Chris O'Hare: [00:08:44] Yeah. I've heard that stakeholders is is a really keyword when it comes to product. Like you're bringing all these stakeholders and you're trying to make everything fit.
[00:08:53]This jigsaw puzzle to get the best product there is. That's that you can actually deliver and what I love about product managers and that whole realm of it is that you're coming at it almost from a business analyst type of approach, where software has added its own agile, scrum kind of methodology. Kind of terminology into it and made it more fluffy, but essentially it's very much a business alumni, but also you bring it in UX UI and that kind of whole side of it. Would you agree?
[00:09:30]James Wood: [00:09:30] Absolutely. Yeah. I think a lot of what a product manager does is to really. Almost get out of the way and free up the path ahead to make good things happen.
[00:09:42]But I think sometimes people describe being a product manager as the CEO of the product, or, the product CEO. I don't always think that is a good way of describing it because that implies. The product manager is the person who makes all the decisions about, this is everything about the product is my decision personally, for every detail of his product.
[00:10:03] And I think, really good product managers, they really. Drawing those ideas from teams and, they're not there to dictate everything and they're really to that to get pic and almost curate the best bits from different parts of the company. That's certainly something that I always encourage is that, really believe that the best ideas usually come from the people who are on the frontline, talking to customers every day, whether that's in customer support or junior engineers, anyone at life.
[00:10:33] So really the best ideas should come from anyone in the team. And it's really the product manager's kind of role is to. Curate those and bring them to life really, rather than say, this is what we must do. So I, that's my take on product management. Anyways. It's very much, clear the path ahead, get rid of all the distractions and enable good things to happen rather than be dictating what should happen all the time.
[00:11:00] Chris O'Hare: [00:11:00] A really good definition. I labor. So I'm going to go back and listen to that one again. That was pretty Epic. But you're a product guy, so you've got your mind on products and how apps should work and how to make them succeed as the end goal and you're doing all these other things that you're doing.
[00:11:22] So you've got your own entrepreneurial ventures. These other, no code ups that you're doing, surely the two kind of overlap in some respects, which you feel that being, having so much experience around product means that you know exactly how to create a decent. Entrepreneurial app and make it a success.
[00:11:42]James Wood: [00:11:42] Wouldn't be so bold as to say that, but I would say I I know I would hope I know how to measure what's working and to know the right ways to test it. Things and to get things out there. Again, like in my kind of day job, the whole product of user replay is essentially for product.
[00:12:01] The product itself is for product managers and e-commerce retailers and stuff to help them build their products better. So really trying to figure out, what's. Broken on my side, what are users struggling with? Yeah, I think it is quite an interesting perspective that are come from it from, yeah, I'm making a tool.
[00:12:19] I would want to use myself, which as a product manager is, it's a great place to be really because you've you are the customer at the end of the day as well. So you have a bit of an insight into exactly, what the best way might be ahead. But of course, with checking it as well and measuring for actual kind of results.
[00:12:37] Chris O'Hare: [00:12:37] So let's talk about these apps that you've the one that you built and sold over, locked down. Tell me about that. What did that do?
[00:12:45] James Wood: [00:12:45] Yeah, so that's a funny one. So I think at the beginning of lockdown, we were probably all playing a load of zoom quizzes. I know I was, and I was, at the time they were really fun and it was like, it's the only thing we could do.
[00:12:59] So with loads of them happening, I was arranging loads of them. And I just found, Oh, this is, it's actually quite a lot of work to organize a quiz and to go and find loads of questions of difficult, like different difficulty levels, organizing them all. Like sending out this answer sheets to everyone and collecting the answers and marking and all of that.
[00:13:21] So I thought, I'll just build a quick app to do this from, for the next quiz I was going to do with my friends. Built a no-code app that showed the current question. Everyone could answer through the app, worked out the scores. So yeah, it took me a day or two. It was just a nice hobby.
[00:13:37]I put it together. And in the end I ended up publishing it on Twitter. I ended up getting thousands and thousands of people install it, installing it. Over the next few weeks, I added more and more features to it. So I connected it to a questions database and did tons of mobile optimization and everything like that to try and make it work as smoothly as possible.
[00:14:01] And Yeah, it was really fun to work on. It was yeah, it was one of those things that kind of almost kept me going a bit because it's a, such a fun thing to do to build these apps, especially when you've, you're using them yourself. You've got your friends using the getting loads of feedback.
[00:14:15] So yeah, it was really enjoyable,
[00:14:18]Chris O'Hare: [00:14:18] but then you sold it, but what happened.
[00:14:20] James Wood: [00:14:20] Yeah. Yeah, I did. So I wasn't, to be honest, I didn't see myself wanting, working on a quiz app for the next five years. So I'm trying to be strict with stuff that I'm working on is, especially at the moment that I'm really focusing on stuff I want to work on long term.
[00:14:37] Yeah, I thought, I think I'll. Put it, put this out there and just see if anyone else might be able to take it on and take it in a new direction. But I was also getting a bit sick of zoom quizzes by late summer as well. So I think I was like my enthusiasm for this project is waning a bit.
[00:14:54] So I think I would, it'd be a good time to pass it onto someone who might want to carry it on and take it to a new direction. So yeah, I put it on a last marketplace. I has loads of offers. It was a very time-consuming to be honest, to go through and actually work out or any of the serious.
[00:15:11]But yeah, I found a fantastic guy in the States in the end and he's taken it off and pivoted it slightly, but yeah, no, it's been fantastic to see it carry on. Yeah. And and carry on, be successful and it's still around. It is still around. Yeah, I think he's, he did pivot away from quizzes to more educational content.
[00:15:30] So for, I think he pivoted it towards American education quizzes for their education systems. So yeah, he changed it a bit, but yeah. Great to see it still going and that he was able to pick it up and, change it so quickly as well, which is, a Testament to building it in.
[00:15:48] Chris O'Hare: [00:15:48] Yeah, a hundred percent. What are these other apps that you've built? So what are you +
[00:15:52] focusing on now? You're you have a no-code app.
[00:15:55] James Wood: [00:15:55] Yeah. So right now I'm focusing on an app for Shopify. So I got I'm really interested in Shopify as a platform. It's there's some fantastic products for, it's a really nice ecosystem.
[00:16:07]So yeah, my My current product is a, is all for Shopify sellers. So essentially with one click, a Shopify seller can install it. And my app will then survey their customers constantly. So every time a customer places, an order, we'll send them a customer satisfaction survey, and then you can track through the software.
[00:16:28]What products are performing best, what customers are happy, which ones aren't. And you can also trigger them from. When a customer abandons a checkout, for example, then you could survey them automatically say, why didn't you check out? So yeah are doing that all through Bubble.
[00:16:43] So it's with a deep integration with the Shopify API. Yeah, and again, amazing stuff you can do with Bubble without being a programmer. I have had a little bit of help on that one. From a programmer to, to do some of the API integration with Shopify because there is some complexities there, but for most use cases, there's a plugin already.
[00:17:06] So for most platforms, there is already a plugin for Bubble in this example to, to integrate with it. But for Shopify there wasn't. So I created one. I'll probably release it publicly as well in case anyone else wants to build a Shopify apps on Bubble. Because it's a, yeah, it's you need to have a little bit of coding knowledge in this example, but for most projects, you don't at all.
[00:17:29]Chris O'Hare: [00:17:29] That's really interesting because you're using a, another platform that's seen as relatively user friendly, like Shopify or, and then taking something else. That's a no code platform. And then building another thing that works so well with it. It's something I hadn't even thought about three on us, create an integrations and plugins and And I think that's what the real power is a lot of people don't really understand the power of API APIs and what you can get out of these apps and apps like Bubble and no code platforms like Bubble and allow the everyday users to be able to access this information.
[00:18:08] So I think it's fantastic. I think that's a really good Testament to anyone can do it right. In terms of Going into something like Shopify and creating an API. And you've got a whole business model out of that. What's that called?
[00:18:21]James Wood: [00:18:21] UserLoop. Yeah. Yeah, dot io so yeah that's coming along pretty well hoping to have the new version, which fully integrated with Shopify out there in the next week or two, but yeah, it's amazing.
[00:18:33] Again, amazingly quick, it's come together. Started it over Christmas. So that was my Christmas project. So you can put stuff together pretty quick.
[00:18:41]Chris O'Hare: [00:18:41] Wow. Okay. And I'm assuming it's still in beta phase. You have users on there.
[00:18:48] James Wood: [00:18:48] Yeah. So it is launched. It is launched and live right now and people are using it.
[00:18:53]B*/ut it isn't at the moment you can use it with any any shop platform. So there's a bit more manual setup involved. Like you actually have to go and install the survey snippet yourself. And I after a bit of research, I really decided to go all in on Shopify and make it a Shopify only product, really for the benefit of you can install it with one click then, and there isn't any more configuration.
[00:19:16]There was a little bit of friction with that signup process. And I decided to just put in that little bit of extra work with integrating the Shopify API so that it's a very smooth sign-up process.
[00:19:28]Chris O'Hare: [00:19:28] That makes a lot of sense. And the fact is by niching yourself down into Shopify. You're probably going to get a lot more customers as well.
[00:19:36]And the fact that you're removing all that friction again, that's that's exactly what a product manager would do. They see from the customer's perspective. And he goes, you know what? It's not smooth enough. How can we make this better? So I love that.
[00:19:48] James Wood: [00:19:48] Yeah, no it's definitely yeah, because obviously I'm using all of these analytics tools myself and he would watch customers maybe struggling with that sign up process.
[00:19:58] And then that maybe leads you to think how, people are obviously not finding this clear, how could I make this better? And that may be, is then driven me down that angle to say, okay, Let's just niche it down just for Shopify. But for those Shopify users, it's going to be very smooth process.
[00:20:14] So it's not going to maybe appeal to as many people, but for the people it does appeal to, it should be a lot nicer to use.
[00:20:23]Chris O'Hare: [00:20:23] Okay. So as an entrepreneur, I think we've got a bit of this already. What drives you to get out of bed in the morning? What's that thing that makes you hungry?
[00:20:33]James Wood: [00:20:33] I think it's really the excitement of creating something. And there is a lot to be said as well for just the thrill of sales as well can be really fun. If when you see an order come through for your app somebody maybe you've never spoken to has, Put faith in you.
[00:20:48] And even if it is only $5 a month or something that they've signed up for, it's really exciting. And it's it keeps you going and makes you want to do more of that. So yeah, I think it's that combination of being able to. Create stuff, quicker than ever on a shoestring budget in a way that was never, not possible three, four years ago.
[00:21:09]And being able to make SaaS apps that people love and happy to pay for. And. Hopefully then to scale them as well. Yeah, so it is a really exciting time now to be building a software company. There's, this is probably always been true, but I don't think there's been a better time than now to start one.
[00:21:28] I'm sure that will also be true in a week because things continually evolve, but this is a really exciting time I think for people to get started.
[00:21:37] Chris O'Hare: [00:21:37] Yeah. A hundred percent. It's one of those things that people are becoming more of a with the software world, because actually having to learn and spend time with these digital tools, because the work is requiring them to write.
[00:21:52] It was before in the past, they could rely on the old. Kind of style types of tools, but they also had a lot of communication and verbal communication and actually going around and speaking to people in meetings. So I think the fact that people are more comfortable with digital tools means that they are using more digital tools in the other parts of their life.
[00:22:15]And I think that's what the power is of what's happening now. But in terms of like this. Epic topic, of no code builders. Let's talk about you, obviously you've explained how how you've blossoming into this no code expert. But what would you say your definition of a no code builder is?
[00:22:38]What is it that, that makes you go that's exactly what I know code builder is. Do you have a definition?
[00:22:45]James Wood: [00:22:45] I think the interesting thing is that, no code technology has been around for a crazy long time. Like even if you want to define it as being a website builder. You could imagine back to things like Moonfruit in the two thousands, you could probably call a no code builder in some way.
[00:23:02] I think that what's happened now is that it's the things you can do with no code is. Way above what it was two or three years ago. Whereas you might've been able to build a marketing site with no code. Now you could build a data pipeline an iOS app, a SAS app, you can really build.
[00:23:24]Proper applications using this technology without having a programmer. So yeah, for me, I think I would really just classify no code is any technology, which is empowering people to build. Build things without necessarily having any training or very technical knowledge.
[00:23:43] So it's really leveling that playing field and making, creating a SAS startup access accessible to. Many more people, like probably 90% more people before you had to be a programmer really, or you had to go out and raise money to hire programmers, to build your app.
[00:24:00] Now things are changing. And that's, it's going to mean a lot more competition. So you're gonna have a lot more people building apps, but ultimately the world needs more software. Th there's a lot of stuff still to be automated. So it's gonna just mean that. People can, there's going to be more people coming in and building great stuff.
[00:24:18] So I think it's good for everyone.
[00:24:21] Chris O'Hare: [00:24:21] Yeah. a hundred percent. And the thing is there's a shortage of developers right at the moment. So if you want a developer, then the price tends to be quite steep. And that's because there's just not that many of them to go around. But there's also for me, a no code builders about a.tool for. Democratizing the ability to create your own ideas as well. And that's what I love about it. And I think it's really beneficial for the non-software developers, but I actually think it's really beneficial for software developers as well, whether that's from the customer side, but then to say, look, this is the product we want.
[00:25:02] Here, you go, can we take that product and turn that into something with bespoke code? Because we've reached the end of his life or a developer turns around and says, look, let me whip you up something quick to see if this is actually an idea that you really want to pursue and go ahead with using something like that.
[00:25:22] Bubble. And actually it gives them the opportunity to give that back to the customers, say, look this is what you can use. Go test your idea, and you can make changes to this if you wanted to. So I think for me that's a big part of the definition. And obviously another big part is the fact that it has like a drag and drop interface to it.
[00:25:44] For me, if it's drag and drop, it's usually an element, a no code there. Would you agree with that?
[00:25:51] James Wood: [00:25:51] Yeah. Yeah, totally. I think that's, as a key. Part of it, you can build really complex stuff with it, but it's all very visual and it's using essentially this concept of workflows is prevalent through pretty much every no coat tool.
[00:26:05] And it's Essentially what a program would probably call like an if then else statement, but that anyone can write without necessarily, I guess the most basic example is happier of a tool that does that. But yeah, I think your point on developers is really valid and I think it's, something.
[00:26:23] That is, that's really interesting to dive into because the thing is no code T technologies aren't taking they're not at war with developers. And in fact, I think they make developers' lives better because, from two ways it frees developers up to work on more interesting problems than perhaps building a very simple.
[00:26:43]UI of a crud app, basically that's been done a million times. Why would it develop one work on that? If it could be done in no code, you could go and work on something that was a problem that actually needed to be solved with custom code. And then on the other side, I think it's really exciting for developers in that.
[00:27:03] Product managers. So people like me can actually prototype ideas at that very early stage. Whereas before I might have been writing a ton of specs and getting a Figma thing, designed with a D with a designer, now I could actually go and make a test app and try it and hand that over to the developer and say, yeah, Productionalize that.
[00:27:27] So like and removing a load of risk and a learning in the process. So that hopefully would be going through fewer development cycles, working out the kinks because you'd effectively validated that the idea was worth pursuing before you even went to the developer. There's a couple of ways.
[00:27:44] I think it makes their lives better. Definitely.
[00:27:47] Chris O'Hare: [00:27:47] I think that whole piece around MVP and ideation and understanding the customer's needs and solving their problems is massive when it comes to no code. And if you could leave everything else all its benefits, that is the thing that I always love.
[00:28:03] And I'll always come back to people and say, look, you don't need this. You don't need this. You need to go down a no-code route. Validate your idea. Dan, come back to me and say, I want an app, right? And then you'll know if your app is essentially worthy of the money that you're going to spend on these things, right?
[00:28:23] They th they're not cheap. Mobile apps are not cheap.
[00:28:28]James Wood: [00:28:28] No, absolutely not. Anything you can do to de-risk that and, build it and test it yourself before you go and give away half your equity to an investor to go and hire a developer, to build something, build it yourself, and really say, validate.
[00:28:43] Is there a demand for this before you put. Too much of your own money at risk, or you go and give away half your equity. So yeah, it's a it's a powerful tool from that perspective. Definitely.
[00:28:54] Chris O'Hare: [00:28:54] And what about the price? That's gotta be a massive benefit.
[00:28:58] James Wood: [00:28:58] Yeah. Yeah. So obviously you've got a huge saving in terms of building yourself using it.
[00:29:05] So you've, you can build an amazing app. Yourself. If you're willing to put the time in, do the tutorials, watch the YouTube videos, read the docs. Completely taught myself pretty much from you from that and over the last couple of years, so that there's a ton of resources out there. The cost of running the apps is pretty it was very competitive as well.
[00:29:27] So I think that's the other interesting thing. Is they remove all that decision-making you have to make around. Am I going to be on AWS? What programming language am I going to use? How am I going to host this? What servers should I have? You don't have to think about any of that stuff. It's obstructed and.
[00:29:44]The NOCO platform managers have for you. So pretty much all you have to do is, your app and then the no code platform runs it for you. So there isn't any dev ops to deal with it. The no-code platform takes care of that for you. Yeah, both from a build perspective and from an operations running perspective.
[00:30:06]Super competitive and B can start these projects for free basically. So most platforms have a pretty, okay. Free plan for you to build it. Then if you want to do certain custom things, add a domain, more storage, more capacity prices go up from there from probably around $30 a month.
[00:30:25] Something like that to run a basic no-code app. So yeah. Yeah. Pretty competitive. I'd say.
[00:30:32] Chris O'Hare: [00:30:32] Massively competitive. The thing is a lot of apps don't go anywhere because they don't have to start up capital to invest into these things. Or you have to get a co-founder and that's a job in itself trying to find a co-founder the amount of apps I've tried to help people get co-founders.
[00:30:49]And to get someone who's passionate about your product is really difficult. And that's. The key factor, isn't their passion like the, these, they say that it takes 10 years to take an app from nothing to something's worth exiting. So do you really want to start this up today? If it's going to take you 10 years to get there?
[00:31:10]Obviously there's other people that are very lucky and they get away with it in a few years because I've hit on something, but. Yeah, that's a long time. But in terms of the hosting, I love the fact that you mentioning the hosting, the maintenance, the ops dev ops side of it. The fact is they handle all that without you even having to think about it.
[00:31:30] So at the scale they do what you needed to do. And I don't think people realize what a big job this is for developers. Like a lot of what. What we do as developers is manage and maintain the kind of packages and the fact that any three updated the security holes. These are all things that are handled by the likes of.
[00:31:53] Bubble of a no-code platforms, but also the worrying about the server and the scaling and the performance of that, which is not necessarily the forte of something like Bubble. And actually that's something we can cover after, but initially you don't need to worry about that. And I think that's something that's a massive benefit, especially when I've worked with customers before in the past where I've said, where do you want to take this?
[00:32:19] Do you want me to build an app now for an MBP? Or you want to think about scaling? Do you want to think about that performance of it? So it's a massive issue and that's something that Bubble doesn't Doesn't allow you to think about cause you don't need to, right?
[00:32:34]James Wood: [00:32:34] No. I would say to people who who are getting started, don't worry about scaling being a problem especially if you're building or something like Bubble because if scale becomes a problem for you, then you're in a really good position.
[00:32:47] That means you're doing great. And you can worry about that then, but don't yeah. At the beginning of your project, I think the most important thing is. Get it shipped as quick as possible, with a version that's going to make customers happy and try and get as many customers as you can using it.
[00:33:02] But if scale becomes a problem, that's actually a really good thing. And, you can decide then, do we want to. Migrate off of no code or do we want to try and scale up on using the no code platform? But that's a really good position to be in like definitely don't worry about scaling at the beginning.
[00:33:18]Just try and get to a pro a place where it is, scale is becoming a problem because then, you're doing something right. Basically.
[00:33:26] Chris O'Hare: [00:33:26] And what about the plugins? Bubble has this library of plugins that you can plug in and use to develop some of these features almost like WordPress or other platforms like Shopify now.
[00:33:42] With bespoke coding. It's not quite as simple as that, you there's packages that you can use, but there's still a lot of customization and manipulation to make them do what you want them to do. What would you say that's a big benefit to no-code platforms?
[00:33:58] James Wood: [00:33:58] Yeah. Yeah. So I think the one that there's probably two platforms that really stand out for me in terms of plugins.
[00:34:05] One is, as you say, Bubble, they have a plugin for pretty much any service you could imagine that allows you to interact with it a data level. So a couple of examples of the most popular plugins they have are things like Google sign-in. So go and grab someone. Let someone authenticate with Google, pull data from their Google account air table, let someone log in with their table and.
[00:34:29] Interact with their air table account and, doing all of this through the workflows within Bubble it's really quite amazing what you can do. There's thousands of plugins as well. So there's paid ones and there's community ones and there's ones that are made by Bubble themselves. So there's a lot of variety there.
[00:34:48]The other platform that strikes to mind about just having share. Huge amount of integrations is happier and there's a lot of the same concepts that are in Zapier, in Bubble at a workflow level. But obviously Bubble takes it to a completely another level because you're controlling the UI and the database and everything else as well.
[00:35:07] But I think Zapier has around 2000 apps that it's integrated with. I would guess Bubbles around a thousand,
[00:35:14] Chris O'Hare: [00:35:14] really powerful, and that's the way that. Software is going these days. It's this integration of things that they're good at. So if you have a CRM and it's good at that, then let it stay a CRM and not have these massive platforms which do everything and anything.
[00:35:35] And actually you can pick and choose what you want to use and have this free flow of data exchange between. All these platforms connected by the API APIs. And again, coming back to that point earlier that I made that people don't realize how powerful API APIs are in consideration of what they can do with this free flow of data.
[00:35:56]Now when you're thinking about Bubble as well, I think about the fact that it can be quite easily changed and it's flexible in terms of the way that a customer has as a need. And you're not serving that need. And you could then essentially jump into the Bubble and change to be able to, to better service your customer or service your ideal user.
[00:36:22] Would you say that's a benefit for you?
[00:36:25] James Wood: [00:36:25] Yes, definitely a benefit for me. And it's something I see a lot of people who build apps on Bubble, say is actually a competitive advantage for them is that if a customer comes to them and says, why isn't this button here? Or why can't I do this? They can literally add that feature within five minutes and, deploy it to live.
[00:36:45] And it's there. And it's that kind of the speed and the ability to do that kind of stuff. That really can make competitive against bigger software companies. If you can get that speed. That also comes with risk and responsibility is you've got to be testing this stuff and make sure that it works and be doing it in a responsible way that you're not constantly breaking your app because.
[00:37:08] You can break your app with something like Bubbles. So you do need to be careful with what you're doing, but the power is there that you can, for most features that customers would ask for in a SAS app, you can add them within, within an hour certainly quite easily.
[00:37:23] Chris O'Hare: [00:37:23] So let's talk about the disadvantages of using something like Bubble. We've touched on some of them previously, but when would you feel that Bubble or Doko platforms are not suitable?
[00:37:37] James Wood: [00:37:37] So yeah, they're definitely not suited to every kind of app. I think that would be the first thing, is to really.
[00:37:44] You really go and take a look at what other products have been built with that platform and to look into their communities. They're often really helpful. Particularly Bubbles community is, at a generic level. What they really Excel at is building SAS applications that are run by database and the user is interacting with everything through the browser things like CRM, social networks Back-office systems, things like that, that pretty straightforward web applications that can be integrated with other services through API APIs as well.
[00:38:17] But I wouldn't say it was suitable for something like if you gaming for example. So if you were trying to do something that was like an interactive game, it's not really designed for that. It really is it's. Best placed for manipulating data through a a fairly standard interface. But that's what most applications we use every day are.
[00:38:41] So you can build most kinds of things that you want with it. But yeah, I would definitely look into it because it can't do everything, but what it can do, it does very well.
[00:38:53] Chris O'Hare: [00:38:53] It's a really good point. The fact is something I should have brought up earlier is the fact that it is very database centric. These no code platforms and that's the power, right? It's the fact that you have a database and the likes of air table. The reason why they've been so successful is that they combined a spreadsheet when a database And then Bubble takes us a step further and says, you can customize your whole front-end your user interface again.
[00:39:21] On the back of a database and that database can be manipulated and all sorts of ways. And you can pull data in how you want that data to, to be retrieved in a very quick way, in comparison to the old school ways of having tables and especially in the likes of Excel. So if you think about. Do I need that from a, a data point of view, the power is massively there.
[00:39:48]When you start thinking about corporate companies that have all these data analysts. And they are using the likes of Excel all the time to pull this data. They could control that data far more fluidly through a platform like no a Bubble or no other, no code platforms, or even use something like add table to get this information out of it that they want.
[00:40:13]But there's still a massive learning curve though. Yeah. It's not easy.
[00:40:17]James Wood: [00:40:17] No, it definitely isn't. Especially if you're new to. Database core concepts. There is some stuff that is a bit, you do have to get your head around just the fundamentals of how to structure a database.
[00:40:30]That's actually with Bubble. One of the most challenge, challenging things when you're getting started is how to structure your database. So you've got your users and your things and how are they connected and how should that be organized? So that is something that you really do. Want to spend a bit of time, when you're beginning with no code is to go and watch a load of YouTube tutorials around that.
[00:40:52]There's a fantastic channel called coaching, no code apps. That's the one I got started with. And there's fantastic advice on there just around the fundamentals of how a database works in the no code world, for example, how do you structure things in a logical way? Because yeah, that, that's certainly one of the things that you could end up.
[00:41:11]And I certainly have, built apps that weren't optimized in the best way at the beginning, and it can make things difficult later on. But the thing I would say is just get started and try making a very simple app with a very simple database to learn those key concepts. I think on Bubble, for example, there's actually, when you sign up, there's a tutorial that it takes you through in just creating a very simple web app.
[00:41:35] And it's really just. Learning through doing, I think is one of the best ways to get to grips with that database concept. Certainly what I did. And you eventually just start picking it up, but it's yeah, I would just try and start with something simple because if you go in there trying to build like a massive CRM at the beginning, it's probably going to be a bit overwhelming, but if you try and build something simple and then.
[00:41:58]Add on to that and build up. It's going to be, it's going to be more fun and more rewarding as well, because you can have more wins along the way, rather than getting frustrated because I certainly was frustrated the first time, few times I used public, you really do have to persist through it.
[00:42:13] There is a learning curve, but it really does pay off. So yeah. Get on the community, go on YouTube podcasts even books. Now those books about Bubble. So there is a lot of materials out there and once you start picking it up, it's addictive and you're you'll be really building stuff.
[00:42:30] You never thought you would be able to.
[00:42:32] Chris O'Hare: [00:42:32] And coming from a developer's perspective and looking at the likes of Bubble, your software engineering skills that you've built really do come to an advantage and you can start to whip up things quite quickly because you've got that logic and that mindset there already.
[00:42:50] But there's things you can't do. And I think that's a, that is a frustration that is a limitation. You feel like you want to go and do this thing that you're used to doing elsewhere and you can't do it. It also feels pretty slow as well to a developer to build something out. And we're so used to having our keyboards, your cuts and we're whipping round an idea and a development environment and building out these things that we want to.
[00:43:16] Do but you just don't get that in the likes of Bubble. You have to do things very manually, very systematically in a structure that it wants you to do. But in terms of that software engineering, it sounds like you've picked it up quite easily, quite nicely.
[00:43:32] James Wood: [00:43:32] Yeah. I think the thing is has probably different perspectives because I've tried, do you know, being a coder and learning actual programming, language, languages and stuff.
[00:44:05] But if you're more programming client, like you it's quicker that way. So it's just different tools to different people, but yeah tried to code several times. I couldn't get into it. But so for someone like me, something like Bubble was really exciting because I could suddenly actually build things and myself.
[00:44:20] Yeah. No it's nice to have that variety, yeah. Like for me, it's there's a limitation, there are things I can do. And I'm touching on that briefly, but what would you say the limitation is for you? Where would you say the Bubble would stop? And you need to take it a bit further.
[00:44:36]I'm probably, if the few that I would try and stay on Bubble for as long as possible, I think one of their core things they're trying to do is help apps scale to bigger user numbers. The thing is there are some wildly successful. Companies using Bubble to make real money. So I think the example that comes up the most often, there's a company in America called a dividend finance.
[00:45:02]So it's a company, they install solar panels on people's roofs and there's financing around that. And it's all built through Bubble and they've processed over a billion dollars worth of installations through their Bubble app. There are like you, you can build serious stuff with it. Would Personally, I would ordained to try and stay on it as long as I could.
[00:45:23]But I know it really comes down to the use of experience as well. If the user experience continues to be good, even at scale, I would be fine with staying on Bubble. I think the only reason I would move off as if There was a if it wasn't able to cope with load or the, or it was too slow things like that, but I'm quite optimistic that they're working on that.
[00:45:44] And you can get to a very decent scale on Bubble without having to move off. If you wanted to,
[00:45:51] Chris O'Hare: [00:45:51] would you say, is there any complexity there that you can't get. From Bubble that you might feel like you would need in the future, or would you do work arounds to try and stay in on the platform?
[00:46:05]James Wood: [00:46:05] Th the thing is you can so you can get into writing your own plugins, so you can run your own server side react code things like that. You can write your own API connectors, so you really can push it to the limit and. I've not come across anything in my recent projects that I haven't been able to do with it.
[00:46:25]Even quite advanced data things like encoding videos and things like that using external API has been able to do through it. So I think for most SAS apps, you could, you can get a long way with it. I guess it, that there will, there would come a point. Yeah. Diminishing returns where you were trying to hack Bubble too.
[00:46:46] Do more than it maybe was intended to do, if you really were pushing the bounds of trying to build a huge SAS business on it then you probably would, there's gonna come a point where you're probably better off switching to a coded, proprietary code base. But I think for most people that's quite far down the road, like you can get too, I would imagine, you could get to 10 K to 50 K a month monthly run rate on an app, built on Bubble.
[00:47:13]And many people are doing that in their community. So it's a, it's definitely possible to get a good way down the road. Just by using that.
[00:47:22] Chris O'Hare: [00:47:22] That's I think that's what I really wanted you to dig into so people can hear that actually, they can take this quite far, because I think that is a big concern.
[00:47:30] So they feel like they're going to put all this energy into one platform and then they're just going to have to take it off because it doesn't give them what they want or they feel like there's a limit there at some point in the future and they don't want to rely on it. So I think that's really important that you elaborated on that and.
[00:47:48] What about intellectual property of the actual code itself? You all were very much reliant on say if you built it and Bubble on them, hosting this in a way that suitable for you. If they decide to shut down, which they won't, but there's an op there's a, there's still a possibility there.
[00:48:09] And especially if you have investors that they could see that as a risk and they might want to take that away.
[00:48:15] James Wood: [00:48:15] Yeah. So there in the specific case of Bubble, it's quite an interesting setup that they have. So they public, they publicly put a declaration out there for anyone who's building on Bubble, a kind of a commitment that if the company was acquired or if they went out of business, they'd open source the Bubble engine so that you could run it yourself.
[00:48:35]So I think they've put that out there to reassure. Investors who might be investing in a company built on Bubble, but essentially there is some risk there, they could go out of business there, it could stop working and you are quite invested on that platform. Personally for me, the benefits outweigh that risk and there's always some risk with whatever back into the technology you're using.
[00:48:58]Pause, for example. The backend company that Facebook bought and shut it down and, left a lot of people hanging, they did open source a bit of it. But with that, with whatever technology decision you're making, there's always that kind of risk inherent in it, I would say. And I think for me, the benefits outweigh that risk and I really hope that a Bubble continued to be independent.
[00:49:20] I think they will, per se. Quite public about their revenue. And it's very significant revenue they have now. But yeah, I think it would be a disaster. So if they were to be acquired by Google or someone like that, but I, it does reassure me that they've gotten a got back commitment that they would never shut the company without open sourcing the engine so that your app could continue to run.
[00:49:44]So for me, that was a reassurance with them.
[00:49:47] Chris O'Hare: [00:49:47] So you've clearly demonstrated that people should definitely look at building a no-code app. If that's the route they want to take in terms of getting into software, how did they get started with this? How do people get started with a no code builder?
[00:50:04] James Wood: [00:50:04] So I think first of all When you sign up for like Bubble, for example, there are about five to 10 coached projects.
[00:50:14] So you sign up and then it will guide you through building some very simple apps and definitely do not skip over those lessons. So follow them through. And it really is introducing you to pretty much all of the courses. The core concepts of building a no-code app, and you'll be able to do things like write to the database, create tables, and it guides you through every step of the way.
[00:50:37] So first of all, follow the tutorials. Second of all, I would say, get on YouTube. There are fantastic walkthroughs of how to build apps and a lot of apps even you can. Open them in editor mode and see how their bill, so a lot of apps on Bubble people will just leave public and you can go in and see how they're put together.
[00:50:57] And for me, that's quite helpful. But also just get involved with the communities. There's some really fantastic MoCo communities out there where. Any question I've asked people are, get several answers and people pile in to help me out. So it's a really it's a really nice community. So the Bubble community no code founders is another fantastic one and make a pad is another one.
[00:51:19] So there's a few of these places where you can really go and seek advice on on how to get started. But yeah, I would just, first of all, run through the tutorials, watch some YouTube videos and get involved on the communities.
[00:51:33] Chris O'Hare: [00:51:33] What about if they don't necessarily have the idea fully fleshed out?
[00:51:38] How what recommendation would you give to them? If they haven't quite started with bottle Bubble, but they don't quite know what they need to do. Should they just get going, building something or would you recommend they talk to their customers first?
[00:51:50]James Wood: [00:51:50] Personally, I would there is a lot to learn through just going and building something simple to learn those key concepts.
[00:51:58] So maybe try building a very simple CRM or a very simple e-commerce store or whatever, the very most basic version of that thing. Just build it. And it, even if no one uses it, you'll have learned a huge amount. Just. By going through that exercise, I've probably built a hundred apps and only maybe five of them, anyone else actually used, but it's it's that process of going through learning it?
[00:52:24]It is fun as well. I feel like it's a game for me. Like it's fun putting all the building blocks together and connecting it up. So yeah, I would Just get building something. Don't worry about the idea too much, because the whole point of no code is you can change it anyway. So if your idea changes, just change it.
[00:52:42]So no problem. Yeah, I would I go on that route?
[00:52:46] Chris O'Hare: [00:52:46] The power of actually having an MVP in front of a customer is mighty powerful. Yeah. If they can see it and they can touch it and change it and fiddle with it, then you're going to get far more insight from that than you would ask them a question.
[00:53:01] Would you buy this? And actually you could stick a landing page out with a a payment gateway to really understand if they would actually, after they've used it, will they pay for it? And that's something that. It's highly valuable. You're never going to get that kind of information if you don't necessarily have something for them to play with and use and see that it's real.
[00:53:23]You've always going to be slightly worrisome in terms of is there something we're investing in? Is it really, I think that they want to buy.
[00:53:33] James Wood: [00:53:33] Definitely. And like my first serious startup that I didn't have a product at all. I sold sold the product from a PowerPoint deck with a load of mock-ups of something that didn't actually exist.
[00:53:44] And that's how I got the first few orders. But today of course, I'd go out and build an MVP with this because I can now, and I like it. Wasn't possible five, 10 years ago. But yeah. Really take advantage of that and get an MVP and put it in front of customers at the earliest opportunity, you don't have to just sell based off of a PowerPoint deck or a website.
[00:54:06] Now you can in a day or two, get a little app up and running and put it in front of people.
[00:54:11] Chris O'Hare: [00:54:11] Love it. Great. Really good. So let's wrap up. What are your top three quick wins then if people want to get involved with starting or using a no code builder,
[00:54:24] James Wood: [00:54:24] So I think first thing I would say is try and automate one process in your business or your day-to-day life.
[00:54:31] Maybe try out a platform like Zapier to start with, get used to some of the core concepts of building workflows and just try and automate one thing that is mundane that you have to do every week. So whether that's sending an email invoice, Or, Slack message or whatever you have to do every week, try and automate one thing using a no-code platform.
[00:54:53] And that will get you on the journey to, automate more and building apps and all of that other stuff. But try and start simple to begin with. The other thing I would say is, like I said, do those Bubble tutorials. So if you sign up for a free account just run through those tutorials, literally guides around how to build an app.
[00:55:12] And it'll give you a real feel for what's possible and just teach you some of those core concepts without you having to put too much time in each one's about 20 minutes. So once you've done that, it's, it gives you a good boarding and the other slightly more out there, one that I would say is that One of the best things that I've done over the last few years is really learned how to use an API.
[00:55:36] I know that might sound a bit intimidating, but again, there's, it's a lot easier than you think. And if you're just dealing with something very simple, like pulling in, let's say recipes from a recipe API, there, it can be as simple as calling a URL and pausing. The data within the Bubble app.
[00:55:55] So I would watch some tutorials just around basic API APIs, how they work and try and understand that a bit, because that is something that is really going to be beneficial. If you're going to get the most out of these no-code platforms, is that understanding of what API APIs work, what they are and how they work.
[00:56:14] Chris O'Hare: [00:56:14] Love that it's really good, quick wins. And the API one. Yeah, man, after my own heart, definitely think not that I don't think people really realize the value that they can get from that. And we've covered quite a lot of the resources you can access when it comes to no code builders. Is there any others that you'd recommend over then?
[00:56:38]No founders make a part and YouTube videos and obviously the Bubble community. If we're going to go down the Bubble route,
[00:56:46] James Wood: [00:56:46] Probably the other one that I think is worth checking out is just on Twitter, the building public hashtag. So I share a lot on that one and a lot of other no-code builders do and, sharing stuff, that's, just the basics around how they're building their app every day using this technology.
[00:57:03] So I would definitely have a look at that. Hashtag, but it's yeah. You'll meet a load of other like-minded people who are also, at the end of the day, very early adopters of this technology, it's still very early days, so everyone's super supportive. So I'd definitely check that out.
[00:57:19] Chris O'Hare: [00:57:19] What other platforms would you recommend other them Bubble? If people want to have a look at the variety.
[00:57:25] James Wood: [00:57:25] There's a couple and they each specialize in different things. So for like for data manipulation. So if you want to really manipulate data and change things and right. The databases and all that kind of stuff, I would check out parabola.
[00:57:39]So that is a, it's a, it's like a super powered of Zapier basically. But it lets you manipulate data within in workflows is very powerful. Zapier is probably the one. Most people are familiar with. So it's automating workflows connecting to lots of different apps. I think you can get 20 free workflows a month.
[00:57:59] So it's great to get started. Then you've got Bubble of course, for building SaaS web applications. So those kinds of more traditional sassy type apps you would build with. A Bubble, if you're interested in mobile apps. So like native mobile apps there's a platform called Dallow which is really worth checking out.
[00:58:20] They're the leader, I would say. And in a native no-code app development. For just basic databases and things like that, then air table, I would probably check out if you just want to build a simple relational database, probably keep it simple on that. And the final one is for marketing sites.
[00:58:41] So if you do want to build a really nice marketing site and you're not a programmer, then I'll check out web flow as the one to look at. But yeah, hopefully that's a good kind of selection of ones to have a look at.
[00:58:53]Chris O'Hare: [00:58:53] Yeah, no, that's really good that you've shown the variety as well. That actually, that they don't have to be pigeonholed in one area.
[00:59:00] So I think that's really good. And if people would ask you a questions, how can they connect with you?
[00:59:06] James Wood: [00:59:06] So you can find me on Twitter at James Devonport, or you can just drop me an email anytime [email protected] So yeah, I'm pretty around, so I'd love to talk or answer any questions anyone has on no code.
[00:59:21] Yeah. I think it's such an exciting area, so yeah. I'd love to talk to you.
[00:59:26] Chris O'Hare: [00:59:26] Great. Thank you, James. Really appreciate that. I don't think everyone's going to get a lot of value from this podcast.
[00:59:32] James Wood: [00:59:32] Fantastic. Thanks for having me on it was really good, fun. It's it, like I say, it's early days, so it's going to be changing a lot, but it's a, it's really exciting to see this technology coming.
[00:59:49] Chris O'Hare: [00:59:49] What did you think of that? Are you inspired and empowered to go out and build your very own app? If so take on James is great. Quick wins, quick win number one, try and automate one mundane process in your life. Using a tool such as Zapier quick, win number two, make sure you complete the no code app.
[01:00:16] Walk-throughs as it will guide you on how to build an app and quick win number three, learn about API APIs and how to use them by watching tutorials. But what was your favorite bit of the show? Tell me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik, TOK, or YouTube, where you can find me with art head digital.
[01:00:37] I remember there are several other podcasts available to listen to. I especially recommend What is Coding with Melenie Schatynski, but you can find on Apple podcast, Spotify on YouTube. Should there. I'll be so grateful if you could subscribe a writer review and until next time, I'm your quick win CEO signing out.