I got into no-code before no-code was nearly as popular as it is today. But that was back in 2017 and I really saw the rise of design tools with Figma, Sketch, and Invision — all those tools becoming really popular. But there wasn't really anything that took what you built and translated into a real product. So what I wanted to do is basically take that and build a product that let you build a fully functional mobile app, but not having to know how to code.
I think that these days, a lot of people are clumping together a lot of things that wouldn't traditionally have been called no-code and putting it in that mix. I think, really, what no-code is, is technology that enables people to build technology. It enables people to build things that they would not have been able to build without code before.
It actually really started probably in early 2019. The whole Product Hunt team, really, in my opinion, coined the phrase because Ryan Hoover, the CEO of Product Hunt, posted a blog post about no-code in early 2019. And then shortly afterward, Ben Tossell launched Makerpad. So somehow there was magic within the Product Hunt organization that just came up with this thing, but I don't know exactly how else it came to fruition.
I think it's just the hashtag — #nocode — all one word.
I think for startups, it really just lets you get your first product built much quicker than you would have been able to do before. When I started Adalo, it took me about seven months before I actually had a product shipped that had real users on it. And I think that obviously took a little longer because we were building no-code tool. But, I think that that will go down so much. I know that there're companies, already, that have built tools with Adalo that have shipped their products weeks after getting started.
For small businesses, they will be able to build apps themselves that can be useful for various things — like restaurants can build ordering apps, and stores can build curbside pickup, and things like that. But I think there's also going to be a whole segment of startups that serve their needs a lot more specifically, because it's cheaper for those startups to build products.
I think that within larger enterprises, there's a lot of things that people want to do and there's a lot of initiatives that various teams want to build, but they just have never gotten the development resources to really do those fully. So as a result I think it enables them to do interesting things that they wanted to do for a long time and kind of that — what you would call a digital transformation, but just things that aren't the top of the spear.
I think that the thing that I've always talked about with developers is that developers really like building functionality that's reusable, and general purpose, and can be used for a lot of different things. So most developers that I know who are really skilled, they would prefer to write a general purpose component that can be reused somewhere, or an open source library or something like that, as opposed to writing this one off thing that will only ever be used here once. I think really leveraging developer skill sets to build reusable functionality that can then plug in and be applied on top of something like Adalo, that provides the baseline standard functionality, is really the best of both worlds.
For designers, there's going to be somewhat of a shift where the lines are blurring between what the initial design phases — like the design phase all the way through the prototype, all the way through the development with developers, to production. If what I was describing with the components really becomes a reality, then design systems combined with no-code tools will mean that designers can actually build the product to a basic extent, and then plug in the things developers are building.
For PMs, they’ll no longer have to ask permission, they can just go build something themselves and then say, hey, designer help me fix this thing. Rather than having to go through the traditional channel of — I want to build a product, I need to get a designer on board, get a developer on board, get my boss to authorize this project. They can just go build it themselves in a weekend and then show it. That's gonna totally transform how fast organizations can move because often one of the things that slows people down most is just dependencies within an organization and resource availability.
I think that we've already seen a lot with what are the “new” no-code agencies, so that's a new thing that's already sprouted up. I think for existing dev agencies, they will often want to leverage this as much as possible, because it's a question of, how can I do something as cheaply as possible and still charge the same amount, right?
I think the design guys are a little more interesting. It's TBD what will happen there, but I think there's an opportunity for them to kind of go upstream and do more of the development themselves.
I think that there's a lot of things where consultants are supposed to solve some of some specific initiative, and they have a limited amount of time to do it and a limited amount of resources. And so a no-code tool is a perfect way to prove something out and show that it's possible. I think no-code will start to be super, super popular within the Accenture's and those kinds of companies.
I think that this is a great example of something that can provide a way for smart, creative people to work, where they didn't previously have a way to actually make a reasonable income. Previously, you could be an entrepreneur and if you wanted to be in technology, you could either make a billion dollars, or you could make zero dollars, and most people made zero — so you kind of had to choose. Now, you can make $10,000 a month and really support yourself and your family but not have to be raising venture capital or on that kind of level of constant uncertainty around the next phase of your business.
I think that we've already definitely seen that kids are some of the people that pick up Adalo the fastest and I'm sure it's true with the other platforms, as well. When you grow up around technology things that are little builders in themselves, you just have a deeper understanding and each next generation will be better at it. I think that now people in high school have the opportunity to make money and try things and do things of their own that are totally entrepreneurial and unique.
I think that no-code enables more people to build more products that serve smaller individual customer bases. So rather than having Facebook and Google that each have billions of users, I think you're gonna see a lot more companies that have a few thousand users, and are a two person team that built that product. And I think that does really help the economic disparity part of it. And it also just helps a lot more people actually take themselves out of poverty or kind of provide a career for themselves and generate new ways of working.
I think that with some of the tools that are out there, you already see it happening pretty frequently. I think that will probably happen within the next three or four years, I think, where the audience of no-code apps will be greater than the audience of people listening to or watching PowerPoint presentations.
There's a lot of need and interest there. It's just a question of when, when the teachers and when everybody involved gets around to thinking that it's the right thing to do and it'll probably have that next couple years.
I think we've already gotten to the point where at least a third of the things that launch on Product Hunt on are no-code or related in some way, or built with no-code — one of the two, I think we’re basically already there.
I think that adoption is gonna start for enterprises for no-code really in full force sometime in, you know, 2021, 2022. People are trying to really do important things, they'll be looking at no-code tools to do that. And the low code tools just won't be able to keep up. And so we'll have to either modernize or adapt or go away.
Probably more on the five to seven year time horizon. The reason being, it takes three to five years to build that tool, just from a growth perspective. And so even if you got started next year, it's still gonna take you a while to get to the point where you are a fully competitive, massive market player.
I think that's probably the same time (as to get high popularity), it's like five to seven years.
I think that every freelancer and agency needs to use no-code tools to stay competitive, just starting in 2020. So probably this year already, like we're kind of already there, where it really matters, and people are asking for it.
I do know that an app that was built with our platform, Adalo, is already in talks with one of the government agencies in Europe. I know that there have been a couple others that have been in final stages of an RFP processes and those kind of things. I don't know that they necessarily knew that they were no-code, and that's okay. But I think no-code will be very important in terms of just job growth, like I mentioned before, and I think that will be what gets talked about most.
I think what never fails to surprise me is just the amount of different types of things that people build with no-code. One of the benefits of no-code is that it lets people who actually have the problem solve the problem. And so I, as an engineer, I'm not the one gating this and saying, like, that's a bad idea. I don't think you should do that. You get to make your own decision and build whatever you want. And so I think that the number of different things is really the most exciting.