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We don't code. But we built our MVP for $100/month.

By Nikki Gusz · December 9, 2020
Hero image with a screenshot of the Lloyd homepage

In the past, a lack of technical expertise created major barriers to entry for businesses. Let's be honest: as much as we all love our developer friends, their services are not cheap. Kudos to their hard work and bank accounts, but it meant anyone without those skills was at a disadvantage.

Enter: no code. 

No code democratizes creativity and allows people like us—a brother-sister team with experience ranging from consulting to junior high school teaching—to build our products and companies. And once we'd built our company,  it also enabled quicker tests and pivots, reducing risks and costs. 

How we built Lloyd with no code

But let's back up. When we came together to found Lloyd, my brother Dan and I were united in our passion for building a product that lowered the cost of and improved career navigation. 

Not to freak anyone out, but according to clinical psychologist Meg Jay, 80% of life-defining moments happen by age 35. Of course, most people can't afford exclusive services like an executive coach or personalized professional development in these critical years. Instead, we're flooded with thousands of blogs, Twitter hot takes, and the well-intentioned but irrelevant random uncle lectures. (At least this year, family parties have a mute button.)

As a K-12 teacher, higher education innovator, and workforce consultant, I saw firsthand how, for most of us, the UX of careers is incredibly fragmented. I wanted to do something about it. And Dan, a strategy consultant turned startup operator, loves to build solutions to gnarly problems. So together, we created Lloyd, a Waze for working professionals, specifically targeting individuals in the first two decades of their careers. 

Shortly after we launched Lloyd, the COVID-19 pandemic led to job challenges and loss for millions, sharpening our focus even further. We needed to quickly—and cheaply—build a product to match the needs of our company and the market. We needed to make resources more accessible and personalized when they really mattered. 

Short on coding skills and funds to pay a developer, no code became our strategy for success. With no coding background, we built the MVP dashboard for Lloyd, a fully working web app. 

A screenshot of the Lloyd dashboard

It empowers our members in a number of ways: from answering the question "what do I want to do with my life?!" to creating a structure for tracking toward goals, providing resources to reach those goals, and perhaps most importantly, offering systems of accountability. 

And we built it all by spending about $100/month. Here are our receipts.

Lloyd's no-code tech stack

$50: Adalo

We explored several different no-code tools, but we ultimately decided on Adalo, a platform that allows makers to design apps as easily as putting together a slide deck (the love language of two consultant builders). Adalo is where we built our MVP product and where our data lives—it's the core of our tech stack. 

We love Adalo's belief that if only ~1% of people can code, we're missing ~99% of the world's potential. And the tool has given us just the right mix of customization versus ease of build for our non-technical team. 

We've also loved working with the Adalo team and community. We've run into a few issues with speed and outages, but the team has been really responsive, transparent, and great about helping us navigate issues. Considering the ease of use and price we pay, we've been really happy with Adalo.

+ $30: Squarespace and Google Drive

Squarespace is where we built our marketing website. It has templates, an easy editor, and allows us to make changes on the fly with no coding skills. With the package we have, we also get a company Google Drive.

+ $20: Zapier

Zapier is our automation tool. It integrates with Adalo and lets us automate all the repetitive, time-consuming tasks we'd otherwise have to do manually. 

Not only does Zapier increase productivity for our team, but it also increases success for our members. Automation allows us to be more responsive to our users, helping them reach their goals faster.

Learn how Zapier works, and then take a look at one example of how you can create a no-code app with Zapier.

+ Free: Figma, LottieFiles, Undraw, and Loom

We use the free version of a handful of products to take Lloyd to the next level. 

  • Figma is our design tool. We use it multiple times a week, and somehow, we're still on the free plan. For non-designers like us, it's a great resource. 

  • LottieFiles is a lovely source for animations. Not only does it make our product more dynamic, but it also adds a little bit of that surprise and joy factor our members love. 

  • unDraw is a treasure trove of visual images to enhance our product. It helps us showcase our personality.

  • Loom is our go-to for communicating about technical elements of our business. Our team is entirely remote (Denver / NYC), so we've used the screen recording tool for internal communication since we can't look over each other's shoulders. But our favorite Loom use has been with our members, who can give us feedback when testing our product. 

= $100: Lloyd!

With this initial tech stack, we were able to build a great product. But we've also been able to scale the number of members we serve as a team, increasing our productivity and revenue. We've helped our members more effectively reach their goals—from finding new jobs to working on their side projects. 

As we've built out our product more, we've also engaged Stripe for payments (takes 3% on transactions) and Parabola (~$15/month) for more API integration. But the core stack outlined above is still essential to how we serve our growing community of members, who are committed to taking their careers to the next level. 

No code was the key to opening up the door to building—both for us and for our members. That's why we're so passionate about what it can do to democratize creativity. No code empowers more people from a diverse set of backgrounds to build products they believe in, creating greater access to innovations for builders and for the communities they plan to serve.

While you could spend $100 this holiday season on a lot of fun products (our quick search says the Apple HomePod mini or a new pair of Allbirds might be about the same price), the teacher in me has to ask a question of you: what can you build instead? 

This was a guest post from Nikki Gusz, co-founder of Lloyd, a Waze for working professionals. Sign up today for free. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Check out our guidelines and get in touch.

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