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Navigating the No-Code Era: Jesus Vargas on Empowering Startups
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Published on November 28, 2023
Updated on November 28, 2023
The rise of low-code/no-code platforms is revolutionizing the way entrepreneurs and businesses approach software development. In this enlightening interview, we sit down with Jesus Vargas, the visionary mind behind LowCode Agency, to delve into the transformative impact of these platforms on the tech startup landscape.
From sharing compelling success stories to discussing the integration of AI technologies, Jesus offers invaluable insights for entrepreneurs navigating the dynamic world of tech startups. Whether you’re crafting your first Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or scaling your startup to new heights, this conversation is a treasure trove of wisdom on cost-effectiveness, customization, and future trends in the no-code sector. As we explore the essential skills, community support, and security considerations vital for success, Jesus also addresses the common limitations and strategic long-term vision necessary for tech leadership.
Join us as we uncover the secrets to leveraging low-code/no-code solutions for entrepreneurial success, a must-read for every ambitious business owner and innovator in today’s fast-paced digital landscape.
Inspiration Behind the Business
SBS – Can you share the story of how your business journey began? What inspired you to start it?
Jesus – My journey toward creating the LowCode Agency was born out of personal frustration. I felt unable to create the software tools I had envisioned for years because of my non-technical background. I started a software development firm with a technical partner, but it didn’t work out (spoiler: lawyers are very non-technical!).
The turning point came a few years ago when I stumbled upon a product called Glide. Its promise of creating an app with a simple Google Sheet was irresistible. I spent countless nights learning everything I could about Glide and trying to master the art of app development with it. My determination led me to create an app within three hours that could track proposals and clients for a solar panel company I owned, functioning like a mini CRM.
This immediate success was a revelation that drove me to dive deeper into understanding how I could leverage this technology. The nights became shorter as I dedicated more and more time to learning and experimenting, and the reward was sweet. Not only did I begin to grasp the intricacies of this innovative platform, but I also realized that I could create functional, user-friendly apps on my own, breaking free from the limitations I had once believed were impossible.
Without a doubt, I would say this was my “Aha!” moment for what would eventually become LowCode Agency. I have to say I was lucky enough to be a small business owner and could spend WAY too many hours learning Glide (which probably would have been impossible as an employee).
Coming up with a Business Name
SBS – Choosing the right name for a business is crucial. How did you come up with the name for your brand, and what significance does it hold?
Jesus – Because it’s what we do, and I wanted to be very clear about it with the name also, I think one of the reasons why I chose it was because it was optimized for SEO. The option of Low Code was an available domain, and I always assumed that, although we started with Low Code, we would end up doing Low Code development.
SBS – Starting a business often requires capital. How did you fund your business initially, and did you explore any unique financing options?
Jesus – Initially, it was just myself and one developer working closely with clients to understand their needs and build accordingly. As we grew and began working with larger corporate clients seeking to enhance efficiencies through technology, we established ourselves as a limited liability company (LLC). Despite being overseas during COVID, I formed the LLC, purchased a domain, and more, all from my laptop for under $600.
My first successful project was creating an app for a friend managing multiple Airbnbs. Over lunch, he mentioned struggles with managing the properties. I proposed a customized $1,000 app to simplify tasks and improve guest experiences. When he immediately agreed, I knew I had something special. I started promoting within my network and took on small projects, gradually expanding.
As I hired team members, we focused on systemizing operations and understanding the importance of processes and standard operating procedures. Unlike my previous venture, I had built this agency from the ground up and felt a strong sense of ownership.
Setting LowCode Apart in the Market
SBS – How do you differentiate your products/services in your market?
Jesus – Even though no-code platforms have been around since the early 2010s, their popularity has significantly increased in recent years as a result of significant advancements in their capabilities and accessibility. We build apps with no-code and low-code tools in four weeks, and our clients get fantastic software that is simple to use and scalable. We build apps 90% cheaper and 90% faster than with traditional development methods. We are a leading no/low-code agency, having built more than 294 apps so far for entrepreneurs, SMBs, and all the way up to clients such as Medtronic, American Express, Zapier, and Coca-Cola.
A Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur
SBS – As an entrepreneur, what does a typical day look like for you?
Jesus – We will choose those with the most honest and thorough answers and continue with the interview with you. My typical workday starts at 6:30am when I wake up to check emails, deleting irrelevant ones and responding to the most urgent. I arrive at the office at 9:30am, taking 30 minutes to address pressing emails and delegate tasks. From 10am to 2pm, I have client calls. Between 2 and 3pm, I work on pending tasks and respond to clients. In the afternoon, I handle outstanding matters, create quotes, and check in with my team to assist with any blockers. I leave the office at 6pm and train from 6:30 to 7:30pm. Afterwards, I help get my children ready for bed. At 9pm, I’m back online for about an hour to wrap up unfinished work, review my to-do list for the next day, and address any outstanding tasks.
About Low-Code/No-Code Transformation
SBS – How do low-code/no-code platforms change the landscape for tech startups, and what advantages do they offer compared to traditional software development?
Jesus – No/low-code has come to revolutionize the world in a way never seen before, changing forever the way we create and develop software and, above all, democratizing it for everyone.
Today, it’s easier than ever for an entrepreneur, startup, or SMB owner to get the digital tools to compete with anyone.
Thanks to the no/low-code, individuals with zero technical knowledge can develop any idea they have in mind for a fraction of the time and money of traditional development. We’ve helped scores of entrepreneurs start monetizing their side hustles or new full-time businesses by building apps in less than a month.
And most importantly, people are not willing to spend days in and days out doing repetitive tasks. And there are a lot of software tools that can help businesses automate a lot of tasks. Startups are increasingly adopting the no-code/low-code trend, which requires them to be more creative and open to new ideas.
SBS – Can you share a success story where a startup significantly benefited from your no-code solutions?
Jesus – Sure! Let me tell you that we’ve had the good fortune of assisting a large number of people; we’ve built 300+ apps, and clients are delighted not just by our quality and quickness but also by our process and recommendations. Here you can check out some of our success stories, and I’m going to talk to you about Dylan, the COO of Known.dev, a logistics startup that was struggling with outdated systems and frustrated consumers.
He reached out to LowCode because their fragmented shipment tracking process was causing frustration and inefficiency for both their team and their customers. They run on Netsuite, and their clients were frustrated with the lack of visibility of where their orders were. So, leveraging the power of Glide apps and Make, we developed an interactive customer portal that seamlessly integrated with their Azure database.
The portal provides a comprehensive overview of ongoing shipments, complete with a dynamic map displaying the exact location of each shipment and its route, and users can easily track delivery dates, view arrival ports, and receive timely updates on any changes or delays. increasing this way by 30% in their customer satisfaction and a 40% reduction in support inquiries.
SBS – For entrepreneurs working on their first Minimum Viable Product (MVP), what key factors should they consider when using no-code platforms?
Jesus – When starting a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), an entrepreneur must have a well-defined concept. This includes a clear outline of the MVP’s features, an understanding of the user types, and the specific actions these users will perform within the app. Additionally, considering the potential for a v2 of the product is advisable. With a solid plan in place, the next step is to select the appropriate development platform.
Among the aspects we recommend to entrepreneurs before choosing a platform to develop their MVP are the following: scalability to ensure the platform can grow with their product, customization to differentiate their offering, and integration capabilities for essential services. They must also consider the platform’s data management and security features to protect user information and comply with regulations.
SBS – How can no-code solutions be effectively scaled as a startup grows from a small to a medium or large-sized business?
Jesus – Scaling no-code solutions as a startup grows can be both an opportunity and a challenge. That’s why it is important to go down the right path from the beginning.
As a business grows, it must ensure that the no-code platform can handle increased load and complexity, possibly supplementing with custom code if needed.
Nowadays, as the industry gets more mature, most of the leading no-code platforms have doubled down on becoming robust, scalable platforms. We’ve seen Bubble achieve SOC 2 compliance, Glide recently integrated SQL as a data source, etc. So we’re seeing a maturity in the space that allows businesses to grow with their chosen no-code tech stack.
Innovation and AI Integration
SBS – How do you see AI technologies enhancing no-code platforms in the near future, and how should startups prepare for this?
Jesus – We’re riding a wave that’s growing in size by the day, and startups can capitalize on this, for example, by introducing intelligent automation for repetitive tasks, offering predictive analytics, and facilitating user interface design through behavior-driven suggestions.
It also helps that no-code/low-code app builders are becoming increasingly robust, allowing us to create more complicated solutions than previously possible.
While the AI trend is rapidly growing, there’s still a huge opportunity in the market in terms of education, and startups should start upskilling their teams in AI fundamentals and how they can be applied on a daily basis. Many clients come up with the idea of applying AI to their apps just because it is trendy. It’s our job to find the actual part of a workflow where implementing AI makes sense and provides an ROI to the business, rather than adding AI capabilities to software just because.
SBS – How does the cost of developing a product using no-code compare to traditional coding, especially for startups with limited budgets?
Jesus – The cost between low-code/no-code development and traditional development has a very significant gap. While developing tools with low/no-code platforms can take a couple of weeks and low five figures, traditional development can take months (years if we talk about additional developments or version 2) and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.
That said, no/low-code development is the most cost-effective and swift route to launch their products, thanks to lower upfront development costs and the ability to quickly iterate on an MVP without extensive technical expertise.
SBS – To what extent can no-code solutions be customized to meet specific business needs?
Jesus – No/low-code solutions offer a high degree of customization, sufficient for many business needs, especially during the early stages or for specific functions within an organization. However, there may be a threshold of complexity beyond which the customization capabilities of no-code tools may be stretched too thin, necessitating either a hybrid approach with some coding or a transition to custom software development.
SBS – Based on your experience, what emerging trends in the no-code sector should new entrepreneurs be aware of?
Jesus – No-code in 2023 is about enabling faster, smarter, and more efficient innovation across the board. The implications for businesses, entrepreneurs, and developers are profound, heralding a future where the barriers to software development are lower than ever.
The emerging trends that are redefining the way we develop and consume software are automation, integrations, and AI.
SBS – What skills or knowledge are essential for entrepreneurs to effectively use and benefit from no-code platforms?
Jesus – As I said before, no/low-code does not necessarily require technical knowledge; however, it is necessary to be creative and open to new ideas. A lot of our clients are not technical (but techies) and take over their projects after we build them.
With platforms like Bubble, Glide, and Flutterflow, we’re witnessing the empowerment of “citizen developers.” These are individuals without formal technical training who are creating apps and solving problems, effectively democratizing app development within organizations.
Community and Support
SBS – How important is the role of community and support networks in the success of a no-code project?
Jesus – The role of community and support networks is crucial to the success of a no-code project, given the nature of no-code development platforms, which thrive on shared knowledge and collaborative problem-solving.
The burgeoning support ecosystems around no-code platforms, including forums, online communities, and conferences, are a testament to the vibrancy and collaborative spirit of the no-code movement.
For entrepreneurs and business owners, such networks can also be a source of inspiration and innovation. Seeing how others have solved problems can spark new ideas for features or applications within their own projects.
Security and Reliability
SBS – How do you ensure the security and reliability of the software solutions you develop, especially considering the sensitive nature of business data?
Jesus – That is one of the advantages of no-code tools. These platforms are using enterprise-grade solutions, such as Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS. That allows us agencies to build and our clients to get secure and reliable software built with the best practices in place without having to handle technical stuff like authentication, data storage, compliance, etc.
SBS – What are the common limitations of no-code platforms, and how do you recommend entrepreneurs navigate these challenges?
Jesus – I would say that this depends mainly on the platform. Some platforms, like Glide, are targeting business use cases. So one of the limitations becomes how many users are using the application. Some others, like Bubble, charge by usage. Some other more basic tools are limited in terms of design. So depending on the use case, it’s how we decide which tool should be used for each project. That way, we can achieve a scalable solution for our client.
SBS – For a startup aiming to be a future leader in tech, what strategic advice would you give based on your three-year and 10-year visions?
- Carve out your niche: This is vital as it positions you as one of the industry’s most informed individuals, giving you an edge over generalists
- Automate and streamline: Document your daily tasks and delegate where possible. Aim to automate at least one task each week, freeing up time for reflection and innovative thinking
- Value your clients: They already have faith in you. Engage with them, learn about their operations, and identify their primary problems
- Cultivate a community: Produce a wealth of content about yourself, your product, and your business. The more avenues you have to broadcast your message, the better. At LowCode, we created a blog, a podcast, my YouTube channel, and our social media. Feel free to explore them for insightful content on the no/low-code landscape
Navigating the No-Code Era: Jesus Vargas on Empowering Startups
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