The New Startup: No Code, No Problem

illustration of symbols on buildings- Illustration: Elena Lacey

The New Startup: No Code, No Problem
WIRED, May 19, 2020
Business
By Clive Thompson

Now you don’t need to know any programming to launch a company. We’ve been approaching this moment for years.

 

Dani Bell was a British copywriter who hankered for her own marketing startup. Like many founders today, though, she faced a roadblock. She couldn’t code.

 

Normally, an entrepreneur in that situation would need to spend money, and maybe even raise it, to hire developers. But Bell did something different: She bolted together software from various online services.

 

Bell used a point-and-click tool called Webflow to build her site and a client-management tool to let customers order services. Airtable, an online spreadsheet, let her store details about each job. And she glued many of these pieces together by cleverly using Zapier, a service that uses if-then logic to let one online app trigger another. (Whenever Bell creates a new task for one of her contractors, for example, Zapier automatically generates a Google doc for it, then pings her on Slack when the work is done.) Nineteen months later, her company—Scribly.io—had around 23 clients and was doing $25,000 a month in recurring business.

 

In essence, Bell built a startup without writing a line of code. She did it all herself, aided by advice from folks building the same scrappy systems. Sure, it’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine. “They’re a patchwork,” Bell admits. But overall, it’s “good enough, and usually good enough is perfectly OK.” In the long run, she might get big enough to hire a coder to make a custom system. But, for now, it works.

 

Behold the trend known as “no code” (or “low code”). In the past few years there’s been a flowering of tools like those Bell used, all aimed at the nonprogramming masses.

Read the Full Article »

About the Author:

Clive Thompson is a WIRED contributing editor. Write to him at clive@clivethompson.net.