Announcing Adalo’s Series A

And Our Plans for the Future of No-Code | By David Adkin

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TLDR;
We've got so many exciting things to share with our Series A announcement that we split it up into 5 different parts. Feel free to read every last word or just hop around!
Part 1
Our $8M Series A Funding 🤯 
I have the honor of announcing that just 17 months after launching & 14 months after our Seed Round, we’ve closed an $8M Series A Round led by Tiger Global. To be backed by one of the top VC firms that’s also backed companies like Airbnb, Stripe, Uber, Square, Squarespace, InVision, Wordpress, Facebook, LinkedIn, Coinbase, (and so many other incredible companies that I can’t even name them all) is surreal to say the least, and with this funding we’re ready to take no-code app building to the next level. 
I’m also excited to announce that joining Tiger in our latest round is Wade Foster, the CEO of Zapier, Jason Warner, the CTO of Github, Ben Tossell, the Founder of Makerpad, Oceans Ventures, and the OldSlip Group. It’s humbling to have these leaders that we truly respect believe in us and what we’re building.

Before diving into what we’ve got planned for the future of Adalo and no-code, I wanted to take a moment to thank a few groups of people. Thank you to our makers for creating so many amazing things on Adalo. Thank you to our Adalo Experts, Community Leaders, and everyone that’s made an Adalo tutorial, participated in the forum, or helped anyone out with their apps. Thank you to the entire no-code community for creating a place for people to connect and show others that it’s possible to create software without coding. Thank you to all of our initial investors, from our earliest angels to Rainfall Ventures, for believing in us to take Adalo to the next level. And thank you to everyone on our team here at Adalo. You all have poured your hearts into everything we do here at Adalo, and it’s been a complete team effort.
Part 2
Looking Back to See What’s Ahead 🔮 
Back in 2013, I made the switch from architecture to the still relatively new world of UX design. And to a lot of people (myself included), it felt like I was throwing away 7 years of education to try something I had no idea about. But it was this (maybe questionable) decision that would set off a chain of events, full of hard work, amazing people, and a little luck to where we are today.

My intro to UX was at a startup in St. Louis, and it was there that I would meet my now co-founder, Ben. It was also there that I got to experience what I consider to be quite a magical time for UX design. Because everyone in the tech world was finally starting to realize the power of good design, there was a boom in new design tools that all built on top of each other in quite an incredible way. When I first started, we were all making static sketchy squiggly-line-looking “wireframes” that would give developers, in all honesty, just a vague idea of what the software was supposed to look like. Fast-forward just a few years and design tools had evolved to the point where when I would present the mockups, some people would actually think that what I was presenting *WAS* the real software. Every last detail, pixel, and interaction looked and felt like the real thing (if you were to click in the correct sequence 😉).
Also during this time, there was a big debate brewing in the tech world. There was a strong belief held by some in the community that if you didn’t know how to code then you weren’t a “true” UX designer. This idea was everywhere —  at conferences, in blog posts, at meetups. And seeing as I considered myself to be a “true” UX designer, I figured I should probably learn to code. So I took a couple of courses on Treehouse and…. immediately stopped. There were a couple of reasons. The first was that it seemed so daunting. There was so much I felt like I had to understand before I could really build anything meaningful. But the other reason I stopped was because of this evolution in design tools that I was experiencing first hand. I remember thinking to myself one night, by the time I learn how to code someone’s just going to come up with a drag & drop way to do this.

In all honesty, at that time I really didn’t think that I would play any part in creating what we now call no-code. It seemed impossible. But for every “impossible” big idea that becomes a reality, you need someone who really does believe. And that’s most certainly Ben. After about 5 years of working together at our previous jobs, we started talking about what we were really passionate about and what we wanted to create next. And this idea of building something that would allow anyone to create software without coding kept coming up. And it was Ben that pushed us head-on towards attacking the problem from a different angle than everyone else — what if instead of trying to make a programming language visual, we made design tools functional?
The Road Less Traveled 🛣
Fast forward a year or so, we had teamed up with another co-founder Jeremy, spent waaayyy tooo many hours working on everything and… we had built the first version of Adalo! We had truly done it — anyone could publish an app to both Apple & Google, and to the web all without writing a single line of code. It was an amazing feeling to see it in action and it certainly wasn’t easy to design & build, but there proved to be an even larger complication. 

People didn’t really believe us.  

For some of you in the no-code space this might sound a little strange, but this was back in late 2018 before the term had really caught fire. 🔥 At the time, people believed that it was possible to make templatized websites without coding, but making application software, both natively in the app stores & on the web, seemed a little too far fetched. I can distinctly remember when we started to run some of our very first ads, some people actually flagged them as fake “propaganda” and “just a fake cash grab that won’t work.”
Because the term no-code wasn’t really around yet, we didn’t have a community to launch to, and we didn’t have the confidence that people would be able to use Adalo on their own. So we actually started out as a little dev shop, slowly but surely designing & building apps totally on Adalo. As we started to gain confidence, we began charging more and more for these apps — to the point that we were making a good amount of money for each app. But as we began to make more complicated apps, we found ourselves in a little bit of a pickle. While creating apps on Adalo as a full service shop for people was rewarding (and nice to have a little income), it was starting to take up a lot of our time — to the point where it felt like we had a decision to make. Either we continue building apps as a service or we stop, give up the revenue we were generating and focus on becoming a true no-code platform where anyone could build their own apps.

While in retrospect this might seem like an easy decision, it was pretty tough for us to give up a steady stream of customers, the security of working at a smaller level that allows you to fly under the radar without much pressure, and not having to completely evolve our platform to be self-service. But that wasn’t the big vision we had for Adalo.
Going All In 🎰
The fact that only 0.3% of people know how to code today means that there are over 7 billion people that can’t easily create software. I think it was this missing potential that really pushed us forward with our decision to go big. It felt like we were onto a fundamental change in how people create, work with, and view apps; and we didn’t want to hold that power back from anyone. We felt like the only way to truly democratize the creation of software was to go all in and to go down the venture funding path. 
So we evolved again. We stopped taking on clients, we made our platform self-serve, we focused on making Adalo even easier to create with, and on November 12th, 2019 we launched to the world at the first ever No-Code Conf! It was exhilarating and exhausting and set us up for absolutely crazy 2020. Just a few months after launching we were fortunate enough to close our first round of funding. In January, Rainfall Ventures led our $1.7M Seed Round. In case you don’t know Rainfall, Ron, the General Partner over there, is absolutely amazing, and we wouldn’t be here without him or the team there. (They were also among the first to back Webflow, so it seems like they’re doing something right over there 😊.) Along with Rainfall, we want to thank our initial angel investors led by Doug Villhard. He's been an incredible mentor to us since before we even started Adalo and we've enjoyed the entire ride with him by our side.

After we closed our seed round, we were able to expand our team throughout the next year to 18 amazing team members, and each and everyone of them has helped push Adalo to greater heights than I ever thought possible. We launched External Data Collections (so that you can connect your database to any 3rd party API as well as your built-in Adalo database), Custom Actions (so that you can have your app trigger an action to happen in other software and even return that information back to your app), our Component Marketplace (where developers can create their own coded component to add to any app in Adalo), App Templates to jumpstart your app, and countless other amazing things. We’ve also been able to connect with and grow our amazing community to help play a part in pushing no-code to even great heights! We launched our Adalo Experts program, we dropped The Future is No-Code Series, we made it possible for anyone to make their apps cloneable to share everyone, along with chatting with so many of you at digital conferences, webinars, on Twitter, our Forum, and wherever anyone wants to chat about no-code.
But most importantly, you all helped us prove the doubters wrong and created so many incredible things on Adalo that words can’t express how awesome it is to see. Pretty much every day I come across a new app that blows me away. (In case you haven’t had a chance please check out our showcase page to see what I’m talking about.) We most certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without the creativity and hard work that you all have put into building your apps. So thank you all and thank you for believing in us.
Part 3
So, What’s Next... For No-Code? For Adalo? ⏭️
It feels like every time we reach a major milestone, we have to evolve again to get to the next stage. We went from a little no-code dev shop, to a simple way for anyone to build the first version of their app, to a platform that’s both simple & powerful so that you can build complicated apps without feeling like you’re stuck in some rigid system. And now we’re here today, asking ourselves ‘What’s next? What do we need to prove to keep pushing no-code forward?’

Hold Up, I Need Some Coffee First ☕
When we first started and even today there are still a lot of people that view no-code and coding as in direct competition — like there’s this finite amount of dev work and that we’re fighting over the same portion of the pie. And it’s this competition that pins code and no-code against each other and makes some people dig their heels in worrying about losing their jobs and claiming that traditional coding will always be better. And whenever I hear these arguments, I oddly enough always think of Starbucks. (🤷Wut?)

After becoming a sensation in Seattle, Starbucks started to spread across the nation. And local coffee shops were absolutely terrified. Some big ole corporation was going to come in, operate at economies of scale that they couldn’t match, and take away their coffee drinkers! But a funny thing happened. Wherever Starbucks would go, profits at the locally-owned shops would actually increase — by as much as 25% in some areas! Why? Because they weren’t fighting over the same pie. It turns out that Starbucks was actually attracting a new crowd that previously didn’t consider themselves to be coffee drinkers. And those people, after trying out a couple of frappuccinos, would realize that they actually liked coffee and would start to venture out to the local coffee shops as well. So in the end, the entire pie of coffee drinkers actually grew.
The same exact thing is happening right now with development. For years, so many software ideas have been trapped inside of people’s heads — either because creating it was too expensive to justify or because the people who couldn’t code weren’t able to convince people that could code to work on solving those problems. But with the power of no-code, that’s all changing, and we’re growing the entire pie of the development market. From new startups to apps built for specific businesses, the market for creating apps is exploding.

Ever since the term no-code took off, we’ve seen a rise in new startups & side hustles come to life. It’s been incredibly powerful to witness so many makers be able to quickly create, iterate, & pivot their ideas at such a low cost, that otherwise would have required funding first. There’s truly a wave of amazing new products that are underway right now.

We fundamentally believe that every business, no matter the size — from SMBs all the way up to the Fortune 100 — have so many processes (both internally, externally, and often a combination of both) that would be a much better experience for everyone involved if they were turned into custom apps. We’re at a very exciting moment in history, where we’re about to enter a new phase of digital transformation. People are going to think of apps and software as completely different tools than they do today. Right now a lot of people still view them as just massive social networks and not actually a way to better facilitate processes and certainly not something that anyone can build for themselves. But just as spreadsheets and docs have transformed the way we work, creating software without needing to know how to code is going to transform the set of tools that we use on a daily basis.

To usher in this new era of app creation, we’ve got to stop thinking about no-code and coding as being in competition, but instead how can they be used to transform the process so that we’re truly working together. And this is where we see where things are ultimately headed. For the last 10-15 years the dev world has been trying to optimize the handoff process between designers & developers. We moved from Waterfall to Scrum to Kanban and our design tools have gotten better and better so that we’re able to more efficiently translate the idea from one team to another. But at the end of the day, those are still two different sets of tools. Which begs the question, what if everyone was able to use the same tool? What if instead of a handoff, developers were able to actually add code back into the same system that makers, designers, and product managers were creating in? (And no, we’re not suggesting that the future of no-code is to work more like the low-code tools today, because those still require that you know how to code to create things.) Whether you know code or you’re no-code, we should all be building together.
Part 4
Our Roadmap For The Next Evolution Adalo 🗺️
In order to pull this off we’ve got a series of exciting projects in the works for both our product and our community. 
We could not be more pumped for what we’ve got planned for our web apps. Our origins were mobile first but creating apps that can work across every screen size on the both app stores and the web has always been our ultimate goal and completing this will really prove that no-code software has made it. Expect big changes here this year. #ResponsiveDesign

We’ve also got some big plans for our Marketplace. When we launched our component marketplace last year, we created a way for no-code and code to truly merge, but this was only for components. This year it’s time to drop the “Component” from the Component Marketplace. We view our next evolution of the Marketplace as being for Components, Templates, Actions, Database Integrations, & Experts, along with a way to sell & monetize everything! 

And finally on the product side of things, we’ve already made a big push forward on our infrastructure but it’s time to take that to the next level. We’re doubling down on our view that no-code isn’t just for MVPs.

We also couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming launch of the Adalo App Academy. On top of all of the enhancements to our product, our community team has some equally exciting projects in the works. A big part of proving that no-code is legit to everyone is all about education. If we think about the 7 billion new people that are now able to create apps, there’s a lot we've got to teach everyone. We’re going to be taking a new approach to education, working together with the community and expanding our education mission from teaching ‘Where do I click in Adalo to make that happen?’ to the broader questions of ‘How do I become a product designer to best solve my problem and turn my idea into a reality?’ 

We’ll also be expanding and better helping our Adalo Experts connect with their clients — from webinars to courses to a system that puts Experts in touch with people who need help as they build.
Part 5
Pumped? Here’s How You Can Help 📣
There’s a lot we have to do to bring the power of software creation to everyone. And by “we,” I mean all of us here in the community. For starters, there’s going to need to be a whole new set of infrastructure and services to help people create all of these new apps — app freelancers, designers, agencies, consultants, you name it! Think about what’s happened over the last 10-15 years with websites. Before that, only bigger companies could afford to hire a team of developers to create their website. But then everything changed and now everyone’s got a website. And in order to help make that happen, tons and tons of new companies were born to help these businesses better use no-code website building tools to bring their websites to life. So there’s most certainly never been a better time to get into the app freelancing business. 

We’re also going to need to branch out of our comfort zone even more. Sometimes it feels like we’re just in our own little #nocode Twitter space, and (while I absolutely love it) it’s time to branch out and tell everyone about no-code! Go find a local business and revolutionize the way they work by telling them about a new app they could build to better improve some process they have. Go to your local schools and start teaching everyone what no-code is and why it’s so important to start thinking like a maker, creator, or product designer! Or just start by telling other people what no-code even is! Only by working together can we pull this off.
And finally we’re hiring! We view Adalo as a purpose-first driven organization and we’re proud of the principles & practices that support our purpose to empower makers to bring their ideas to life. If you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Adalo check out our ‘Inside Adalo’ page. And if you consider yourself to be a maker, you love the no-code space, and you’re ready to have a fun time with us please check out our available roles. (We’ve got positions open in literally every department so please apply!)
Thanks again! 👋
I can’t wait to see what the future holds. And I can’t wait to experience it with you all. Cheers!
David Adkin
Co-founder & CEO of Adalo
On top of no-code, I love design, dogs, & basketball.
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