Why You Should Consider Using No Code MVPs for Your B2B Startup

Imagine you have come up with an awesome business idea. You need to launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as soon as possible, but you don’t have a technical background or access to a software developer. What do you do? The answer is simple: use a no code platform, such as Zapier, Webflow, or Airtable.

First Thing First, What’s an MVP?

A Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) is the earliest version of a product with just enough features to start testing. This makes MVPs perfect for lean businesses and startups. MVPs are especially useful in the early stages, enabling you to steer clear of extensive and unnecessary work. Ultimately, it can show you the full potential of your product and give you a better understanding of how the market will react to it.

What’s No Code?

No code development platforms enable you to build basic software applications without writing code. They can allow you to create MVPs through graphical user interfaces and configuration, instead of traditional programming. This lets you increase the efficiency of your work, and save money.

Therefore, with no code MVPs, you have not one but two safety nets for your new business.

Why No-Code MVPs Make Sense in B2B

Here are the main reasons why you might want to choose them over coding your MVPs:

  • Anyone can do it: It’s widely considered that it’s impossible to launch a tech product without a certain amount of technical knowledge but, in reality, with the help of no code platforms, anyone can do it. Despite the fact that this path is frequently overlooked, more and more founders are starting to realize that they can benefit from no code MVPs.
  • Less dependence on programmers: Since no code platforms are made to be easy to be used by those who do not know how to code or do not have access to programmers, it allows them to be less reliant on developers. Independence from tech people will give you more control, as you will be in charge of your product from beginning to end. Not knowing exactly how to monitor programmers’ work might be exhausting, especially if you do not fully understand their processes.
  • It allows you to save time and energy: Time and energy are crucial when launching new products. If you go with the traditional way, first of all you will need to find a programmer. Having to search for tech co-founders before figuring out if your product really has legs is time-consuming and requires a lot of energy. After your MVP is launched, however, you need to stay focused on what’s most important: feedback from customers.
  • It allows you to save money: Since you don’t need a developer, building no code MVPs will cost you next to nothing. Sidestepping large investments will give you more flexibility. This can be crucial to any new business. Investing a lot of money in something when you don’t yet know if it will work can be extremely risky. Low budgets increase the chance of recovering from any failure as swiftly as possible.
  • It’s faster to modify: The whole point of no code MVPs is that they should be easier and faster to iterate and change. Since you have full control, the whole process is way faster. You see what the feedback on your product is and rapidly make the changes you need. Plus you understand your full product, which is even better.

There are plenty of successful B2B startups that have used no code MVPs. From their experience we can clearly see how they can lead to successful market entry.

Examples of No Code MVPs in B2B:

Parabola

Example of No Code MVPs in B2B – Parabola

Parabola is a productivity tool that is used for e-commerce operations and marketing teams. It stores, organizes, and maximizes data usage. It solves lead scoring and management problems, helps users eliminate any possibility of human error, and saves them time and energy spent on standard procedures like spreadsheets.

One of Parabola’s founders, JP Bertram, says that the reason why they went with no code is empowerment. He also states that it increases the productivity of individuals and teams working in the field and that no code is the future of business.

To put everything together, they used Salesforce as their point-of-record system, Apollo for email outreach automation and prospecting, Uberflip for content personalization and distribution, Sigstr for email CTAs and account-based marketing, Hubspot for marketing automation, Sendoso for offline mailing of handwritten notes and other collaterals, LinkedIn for research, and Google Apps for collaboration.

Adepty

Example of No Code MVPs in B2B – Adepty

Adepty is a platform for solo service providers who want to turn their unique skills into a business. By following simple steps, they can access a wide list of people who might be interested in hiring them. It does not matter whether they’re a pro or hobbyist. The best part is that there’s no subscription fee. It allows people to be in charge of their own schedule and manage their time just as it suits them.

The founder of Adepty, Ciaran O’Herlihy, says that the enablement through no code tech can be quite easy and cheap and that it has been a major discovery for them.

Weekly.vc

Example of No Code MVPs in B2B – Weekly.vc

Weekly.vc is a weekly newsletter of requests for pitches from elite angels and VCs. How it works is that the company receives requests from investors for pitches. Pitches may be anything from startups to research. Weekly.vc shares these requests anonymously in a weekly email. If subscribers find them interesting, they respond to the newsletter and their response is forwarded to the investor. If the interest is mutual, they will be introduced to one another.

To build Weekly.vc, the founders used Parabola, Zapier, Airtable, Gmail, Google Sheets, SendGrid, Landen, and Stripe. Matt Henderson, the founder of Weekly.vc, points out that, with no code tools, most products and services can be MVP-ed very quickly, so speed was a key factor.

To Wrap Up

As Chris Wanstrath, former CEO of GitHub puts it, “The future of coding is no coding at all.” Realizing how popular no code MVPs are becoming each day, we can certainly say that the future starts now. With a low budget and nearly no risk, you can gather feedback and analyze it yourself. After all, what can be better than being fully in charge?

More on No Code MVPs:

How Taleo Landed a Fortune 20 Company as an Early Adopter

Taleo

The story of how talent management startup Taleo landed Hewlett-Packard as an early client is inspiring. It’s a modern David and Goliath story.

The CEO of a small Canadian startup goes to Silicon Valley armed only with a vision and wins over an enterprise giant. Follows success, growth and a flurry of clients around the world.

To many investors, this is what successful product-market validation in the enterprise should be: big and bold.

To many entrepreneurs, this story can be intimidating.

It’s an inspiring story but, it’s also a story of exception. Few entrepreneurs had to do what Taleo CEO Louis Têtu did. Many successful companies have followed much smoother paths to product-market validation.

Louis Têtu was not a recruitment or talent management specialist, Taleo did not have a proven technology and, at the time, they didn’t have a complete product but, Têtu was able to get an appointment with Carly Fiorina, one of the most powerful CEOs in Silicon Valley.

How did that happen?

Taleo Meets Hewlett-Packard

Then newly appointed Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, had made a priority of better using the engineering talent in the company.

Although they had over 300,000 employees around the world, they were dissatisfied with the tools at their disposal to manage employee profiles and expertise.

Têtu, as a seasoned entrepreneur, saw an opportunity to help a newly appointed CEO solve a problem she had identified as a company priority. He took a chance and reached out to the CEO to understand the needs of Hewlett Packard, establish a relationship and convince her that Taleo could be the solution to their problem.

Têtu met with Fiorina on her own terms to present Taleo’s vision; a vision for a product that solved Hewlett-Packard’s problem, would be (almost) risk-free and would ultimately lead to a high return on investment for the company.

In other words:

  1. Talent management was a priority for Hewlett-Packard;
  2. A first contact was made to understand Carly Fiorina’s vision, her needs and her expectations;
  3. Têtu was perceived as a credible business partner;
  4. A face-to-face meeting was organized based on the mutual understanding of the problem Hewlett-Packard was facing;
  5. Têtu’s vision sparked confidence in Fiorina;
  6. Hewlett-Packard bought into Taleo’s story, their ability to deliver, their approach and their estimated return on investment (ROI).

Great entrepreneurs recognize that behind every enterprise are normal people like you and me. Those people have needs, challenges, responsibilities, dreams and desires; there are plenty of ways to make them care.

How the Taleo CEO Made HP Care

This is the lesson all entrepreneurs need to remember:

Louis Têtu would have never succeeded had he not understood what was motivating Carly Fiorina. Têtu was able to make her care.

After many discussions, Fiorina agreed to work with Taleo. The solution became a hit and Hewlett-Packard became Taleo’s first international client.

Getting Out of Recruitment — The Story of B2B Startup HireVoice

This story was originally published August 15, 2012.

Earlier this month, my business partner and I decided to close HireVoice, the business we started in November 2011.

It’s surprisingly easy to close a business, but it comes with a grieving period. Hopefully, I’m not writing this too soon…

How HireVoice came to be

In 2011, I came back to Canada with way too many business ideas. A friend of mine dropped his boring job and we started brainstorming full time.

All projects seem about equal until you have to make a decision.

I wanted to avoid the problems I had with my previous startup, bootstrap a company to greatness and get over my fear of partnerships (I had had bad experiences).

This is about the time that the Lean StartupTM came out, so we used it.

For weeks, we filled sticky notes with ideas, problems, market insights, trends; everything to make well-informed, rational market decisions.

Once we narrowed the list to a few opportunities, we started validating through cold calls, surveys and landing pages. We also started looking for the missing partner.

The same week my original partner decided to leave the business, a technical co-founder joined. The wheels were in motion, we were going in employer brand monitoring, a direction I had half-chosen.

With the wheels in motion

The week my original partner left was the week I convinced Louis- Philippe to join. I was having serious doubts, but I had sold him on a business I was trying to believe in.

If you’re not passionate about going at it every morning, you’re probably not working on something you love.

Focusing on the wrong things

I had learned that with half the time you get half the results. For HireVoice, I was all-in, committed to success or, at least, piling up debt.

Because my partner and I didn’t have prior expertise in HR or recruitment, we had to build credibility, a network of contacts and learn the basics so we got advisors early on.

You lose a lot of time learning a domain, which isn’t yours. You will never be as credible as a subject matter expert with established industry contacts. Get one!

In retrospect, we probably lost four months learning recruitment and HR. That’s four months we could have spent getting clients.

Because I was full-time on HireVoice and validating a product was a part- time job at this point, I was investing time in socializing HireVoice with the investment community and all kinds of smart people.

There is such a thing as too much strategy. Advisors don’t always help.

Although this felt like momentum, it was sidetracking us from focusing on Product-Market fit (the only thing that really mattered).

Advisors are not real victories. Funding is not real validation. These things only sidetrack you from getting s*** done.

Focus is key when launching any business, but small wins were probably not celebrated as much as they should have been. We were doing good things, but my impatience was causing unnecessary stress.

Momentum is essential to motivate team and partners. Small wins are significant and must be celebrated.

Watching a car crash

We started validating products with customers in the first few weeks and were always getting very positive feedback. We started building the first module of our solution because it felt like we were on the right track.

“Interesting” is a distraction. Watch out.

Our first product was the first step of the employer brand assessment cycle. It was logical, but in retrospect, we should have chosen the module that solved the biggest pain.

We released our first module to pilot customers. There was no demo possible; it was high commitment from the get go. It took months for any of our pilot customers to run tests.

Shorten time to demonstration of value of your product to increase engagement.

Nevertheless, people were getting excited about the potential of HireVoice. We even celebrated too early the signature of a customer.

A client is not a client until he has paid money for your product.

Everyone we met in recruitment was getting excited about our passive candidate perception module. The idea was to tell HR recruiters what passive candidates (candidates not currently looking for work) think of their company as an employer. Right… so, we built this module as well and went selling.

It’s very hard to sell information without established credibility.

It was a challenge getting passive candidate data. We honestly thought we had a good model.

User acquisition is never an after-fact. Always know how you’re going to acquire users.

We could have made the user acquisition part work, but ultimately, what made us change product was the fact that companies were not buying. It was just interesting.

People don’t need more information; they need better knowledge.

We tested two more products to help companies harness perception of their employer brand, but those products were probably a bit ahead of the curve.

Strategy is the fun part. It’s what people love doing. Don’t try to automate.

We were also seeing the limitations of the Lean Startup methodology. Since B2B is relational, you can’t just change product every week.

Landing pages and mockups don’t create a lot of trust.

A second breath

In the process of finding product-market fit, it’s very easy to lose track of what you, as an entrepreneur, want. Because of the nature of the information we were trying to sell and the price of our product, we were targeting large companies and I had to wear fancy pants to work.

It was never something I wanted to do. It just kind of happened.

At this point, HireVoice was part of the MIT entrepreneurial program. Their approach focused on identifying the biggest pains of a target market. For a month, I met with HR managers, directors and VPs and was able to identify their pains, budgets, needs, buying processes, team structures, etc.

We realized that we had been fooling ourselves in thinking that employer brand perception was a significant problem (or that it was a valid starting premise). It was a problem but it didn’t hurt enough for companies to pay for our solutions. We made the decision to go into recruiting.

At this point, we had a clear picture of our target end user and target customer (not the same in this case). We were following the right process, and we did a lot of good things:

  • We established trust and relationship by becoming partners in the recruitment success of in-house HR recruiters (your success is our success);
  • We set up a customer development panel with five or six target end users. They were helping us solve their own problems;
  • We were offering full-featured pilots with extra customer support for a base fee.

Those ideas were looking mighty promising.

Tiring out

Bootstrapping a startup when you’re 30 and have a rent to pay is incredibly hard. Beyond the monetary aspects, it is very hard on perception (people think you’re crazy) and personal relationships. Becoming comfortable in that situation is one of the hardest things I have done.

Validating products is also creatively tiring. At some point, it is possible to run out of ideas for new products. We were validating products faster when summer came around but, eight months in, we were tiring out.

It was hard to escape comparisons to LinkedIn.

Good luck getting money if your substitute products are free. Perceived comparables are more important than actual comparables.

At this point, my partner told me that he wanted to cut his losses and move on to other things.

I’m not sure if it was a failure in leadership, but it was definitely a failure in creating sustainable momentum.

I wanted to do one last round of validation before closing HireVoice. I built an ideal product that did everything a recruiter might want (a magic product) and went out pitching.

Running the regret analysis

We had built (or built part of ) five products at this point. We knew we had great customer research and knew the problems of our target end users, but the motivation was not there anymore.

My magic solution was interesting… but no one was throwing money at it.

In the end, I did what I do with every big decision. I asked myself if in one, two or five years I would regret closing the door on HireVoice. The answer was no.

The bulk of the pressure in a self-funded business is self-created. In retrospect, most nights spent working could have been avoided.

It is unfortunate but:

Not all problems lead to sellable solutions.

Time to move on.

Moving forward

The hardest thing with failing is telling others. Only people in the startup community perceive failure as part of a process.

As was the case with Flagback, my previous startup, I have learned enough through HireVoice to justify the monetary investment (a little more than a Bachelor’s degree).

I was able to get over my fear of partnerships and realize that I work well with complementary partners.

Overall, I could not honestly recommend starting up in recruiting. It’s a slow-moving market dominated by what LinkedIn is or could be doing. Budget for technology is limited; HR is usually perceived as a cost center. End users are rarely the buyers.

Moving forward, I will be taking a bit of a step back, but generating direct sales will be the focus of my future endeavours. I’m looking at unsexy startups.