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From $0 to $35K MRR in 8 months ($420k ARR) + AMA

Every story has a beginning. Ours had a sour one. I want to share it and tell you how we went from earning nothing to reaching 35K MRR!

Nik Shevchenko Hi, I’m Nik Shevchenko. I am a founder of a now successful startup and another one, less so. A couple of years ago, I started fundplatform.io, a product that I had faith in but that ultimately failed to take off and soar to the highs I imagined. All in all, I lost more than $100K in this "little" operation that left me wondering what to do next. Currently, I am a founder of welovenocode.com that just recently achieved $35k MRR

My Startup

The story about my first startup is quite educational. However, it eventually led me to the path that turned me into the founder of one of up and coming app development companies!

Then, a fateful day happened. I attended a random webinar with some no-code developers. The process looked interesting and, more importantly, always lead to a result that you can see and use! So I decided to try being a no-code freelance developer. One hour later I was building my first MVP in Bubble.

If you are not yet familiar with no-code: no-code tools allow you to build projects without writing a single line of code.

The start of my work as a no-code developer was humble. I took on a few projects from my friends and created them on Tilda and Bubble. Those are no-code platforms. It all cost my first clients about $1000 each.

I didn’t do any advertising or marketing (something that will be very important later on) and relied on the word of mouth to get orders. Here is where the first important tip comes in:

TIP: If you want to get customers by word of mouth - always focus on delivering a result that will satisfy your customer. It will bring you more work!

By the end of 2019, I finished 8 projects and started realizing that I was moving without moving. I froze in a perpetual cycle of taking and order and completing it. My projects took up to 80% of my time leaving me without any free time to improve my business model.

The same way millions of freelancers live and work. They sell their time instead of getting equity in something big.

Starting with nothing: How to do it

So I asked myself: How do I get out of this never-ending circle? The single most important idea that came to me during that period was to abandon development by myself in favor of inviting people to learn and develop with me. I wanted to delegate the development process to focus solely on selling the service. It all started 8 months ago.

Hiring WeLoveNoCode

I found 2 guys on a local freelance platform. They were already into no-code development to some degree. They used some of the most important no-code development tools but had no idea that they were already in the no-code development business. I gave them some of my projects but ensured that they prioritized them.

What we needed now was a place for other people to find us and find out about our service. I made a landing page that told about no-code development and invited leads to book a call. I used my acquired knowledge of Tilda to create a simple site that was all about efficiency.

This is how welovenocode.com began

TIP: Use powerful tools such as Tilda, Wordpress or Webflow and learn them extensively. It will help you build landing pages and projects for your own professional and commercial growth.

The landing page contained the bare minimum of information and a contact form in a pop-up window. Again, most of the work came through good word of mouth. We get a client, make them happy, and they bring more clients.

I actually went to the time machine web archive to check how our website looked back then but only found a version of 7th of August of 2020.

WeLoveNoCode

It guess it looked pretty similar to the initial version.

One of the most important aspects of our service was the fact that we charged for the service hourly. We had some success, but it was nothing exceptional — a couple of bucks here, a small project here. However, we started getting momentum and some really good calls from clients.

How I optimized our no-code development business and scaled

I made a couple of very important steps as the leader of our team of devs:

  1. How to mass-hire: Hackathons and marathons.

So in order to scale we I understood that we need more developers. But where fo find them? We decided to educate... and it worked!
We made a landing page that invited all interested people to an intensive development course. The result would have been an opportunity to work on a project. We received 300 (sic!) registrations and chose the 100 most promising people. Out of this hundred, only 30 remained by the end and only 7 were hired to build app templates.

TIP: Leverage the power of advertising. We focused heavily on Facebook ads to ensure that we had solid traffic. It was a very successful campaign that cost me very little. We received 40 leads of which 3 ended up buying our offer. We made $ 8,000.

  1. Hire 2 sales-people for one position. Pay fee-based instead of monthly salary

We needed a salesman. Someone capable of talking to clients, explaining to them our advantages, and, more importantly, selling it. We actually had special intensive courses for our salesmen as well.

TIP: One of my biggest revelations was the fact that you cannot hire people and offer them a steady salary for sales. The commission is the only way to go. Our first manager stuck with us through thick and clear, but the second one left. So, here’s another…

TIP: Always hire two people for the same position. It will prevent a situation where someone quits and leaves you without a specialist to cover their absence.

  1. Build a strong presence on relevant social media platforms.

We started writing articles and shared them using Facebook and other social media platforms in an effort to quickly reach our core audience. All in all, without any additional marketing, we received about 10 thousand clicks and 20 new orders.

TIP: Creating text-based content is a long-term investment. They will be a good instrument for SEO further down the line. It is also fun to tell stories about your work. Trust me.
However, you can get a pretty decent amount of one-time traffic if you post your articles in social media groups.

How we pivoted from a no-code agency to a no-code SaaS platform.

Our revenue by the end of December slowly crept to $20K per month. While it felt great, the lack of time started becoming an issue. Delegating tasks was no longer an efficient strategy. Automation was the only answer. However, I didn’t want to go the route of service aggregators or become a new freelance platform.

TIP: The way to do everything yourself does not exist. People have a finite capacity for how much they can do. Look into automation options ASAP!

The December of 2020 brought something new. We came up with an idea to create a platform that would automatically search optimal developers with specific skills relative to that order and assign them to these devs. So we decided to launch it.

Our main offer was a low-cost no-code development subscription service. People can subscribe to receive no-code development services from the best, tested professionals. The product allows anyone to start a project quickly and efficiently and yet cheaply — a demand that is clearly present in the market.

The first version came out from the oven within 2 weeks. By December 19, we already had a working prototype that could be published.

TIP: Always prioritize. One of our developers concentrated on this project while others continued working with clients. It is crucial to dedicate the required resources to your prioritized goal. In our case, to the product, we were about to launch. Otherwise, you'll end up switching from project to project and will be left with nothing.

We decided that we need a huge spike in traffic before the holidays so that we could pay a salary to the developers. After thinking of the best way to get much traffic we understood - we need to launch on Product Hunt. And we became top-1 Product of the day.

How to reach the TOP1 on Product Hunt:

WeLoveNoCode Product Hunt

In order to launch, you need 2 simple things: A product and a short video (not necessary but nice to have).
The video you can get on Upwork (I ordered it for $200) and the product should be created by you or your team members.

As for our product, we offered trial-versions so that people would know the quality of our work before they subscribe. The interest in our trial program showed us that we had the right idea and that the product is demanded.

After a couple of hours, on the worst day to launch (Sunday), and a very small launching event… We became TOP1 product of the day, got over 500 upvotes, and over $ 20,000 in orders.

TIP: Your product must be useful and in-demand. Also, you should search for a good market where even a subpar product will have a chance to succeed.

How to reach the TOP1 on Product Hunt: Checklist

-PRODUCT HUNT gives you thicc traffic. I think that there is no better way to acquire clients early on rather than to launch your product on ProductHunt.
-You must aim to get popular. Getting into the Popular category is essential. If you didn't reach this subgoal, launch another time when you can get in this precious category!
-You DON’T need "hunters". The only free cheese is in the mousetrap. You can do everything yourself. With enough dedication and hard work... and a little luck!
-Share and send messages, ask for upvotes and feedback. Sending out a short description of your launch and asking for valuable comments and engagement is crucial!
-Don’t launch subsequent products within 6 months. It means that you should not use a single account to publish two different products within 6 months from each other. It may lead to a ban from Producthunt.

35K MRR — the result of our journey so far

WeLoveNoCode progress
Link to our verified revenue profile: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/welovenocode

So, the service is in-demand and there is a market for it. We realized it as Christmas eve was looming on us. While others spent time with families and relaxed, we worked our bottoms off. A product won’t build itself. We invested all we had to utilize the momentum as well as possible.

I think that working hard to reach our goals was something that allowed us to succeed. We skipped Christmas, didn't take days off for the New Year celebration, and worked as hard as we could while fireworks were shooting outside. Was it worth it? Was all this hard work meaningful?

By the end of January, we had finished 20 trials to show off our efficiency. We also reached our $ 35,000 MRR goal. So, yeah... I think it WAS WORTH it. There will be another Christmas. There may not be another successful product launch.

TIP: Working through hardships may feel intimidating but the satisfaction and recognition will make it very rewarding. Don’t give up or slack off on your way to success.

Takeaways and Tips

Is it possible to get from zero to $35k MRR in 8 months? Yes. How? Well, it depends on many factors. But! You being a founder is a very important one that should receive the strongest focus. Here are some additional tips that I, as a founder, think may help you.

TIP 1. Look for think-alike's who will help you push the product forward.

You also must find someone capable of constantly keeping everyone agitated and engaged so that no one slacks off. This person can be a cofounder or an operations manager.

TIP 2. It is ALWAYS better to overdeliver than to overpromise.

We had a moment in our journey when we failed to deliver the product that our client "saw" and had to return the money. This is why we give our clients a trial. From 100 clients, two were unhappy with us. These two people are like a drop in an ocean, but it can be a very very negative drop!

TIP 3. Focus on tasks that directly affect your bottom line!

To do so, the founder must do what he knows best — I knew how to sell the product and I know how to teach others to delegate tasks more efficiently.

TIP 4. Everything can be done without coding.

Don’t hire a programmer. It is always a good idea to learn how to no-code yourself.

javascript

TIP 5. ProductHunt works.

End of story. It is a place where you WILL find your first clients.

TIP 6. Stop being the one responsible for operational tasks
The main goal of a founder is to stop being the one responsible for operational tasks and make the whole business model as automated as possible.

So, what product allowed us to go from 0 to $ 35,000 MRR? You can and should learn about it here: https://welovenocode.com

Also, consider a trial to check out how the system works. We will be more than happy to see more people who think like us!

And this is the full article about how we started from $0 and made it to $35k MRR

P.S. This is my first story on Indie Hackers but I spent the entire week trying to make it useful. I really hope you'll like it

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  1. 2

    Hey, Nikita!
    Nice to see you in a right trend.
    What would you advice to the people who is on very next step in this no-code market?
    How difficult it was to establish your own studio? What is the main troubles/issues?

    1. 1

      Hey

      Did you actually just register to comment on my article? :D
      I am not a guru, don't think too good of me. I think I am just lucky.

      As for your question, what do you mean "studio"? Agency?
      If agency, then I think it's the easiest business but not scalable.

      The main troubles of agency is hiring and scaling. For the 1st, you need to have network and for the 2nd - you need to change the model

  2. 2

    What if you have what you think is a difficult or complicated MVP that you need help building? For example, my app needs to be able to interact with several APIs, do some screenscraping, and also execute commands at the Linux command line.

    1. 1

      You can use multiple no-code tools for that. For example, our website welovenocode.com is consisted of 12 tools connected to each other.

      The same you can do for yours.

      Just go to welovenocode.com/nocodelist and find the right tools for each task.

      If you don't find it, ask the freelance developer to integrate your "hard part" with no-code

      1. 1

        This is super interesting. I put time on your calendar for tomorrow morning to discuss my project.

  3. 2

    Hey Nick, thanks for sharing! What's your biggest struggle so far? Curious to hear about what's next.

    1. 1

      Hey Vasily! It's nice to get a question by the guy like you :)
      As my tracker says, my main struggle is focus and hiring. You need to prioritize the most important things in order to grow.

      I think it can be solved with asking yourself "why" more often

  4. 2

    Well done, the case is really nice and results are impressive! Did you start advertising your product before the launch on Producthunt?

    1. 1

      Hey there.
      We tried advertising through facebook and it worked.
      I suggest to try Facebook first before trying other paid channels

      1. 1

        I am new to facebook ads. What did you use as target audience? Actually what are the parameters that facebook allows you to use to find audiences? Thanks. I am working on something similar but not quite: making small machine learning products, https://machinelearning.pink . Is the target for this going to be based on geographical location and maybe "interest in tech"? I have no idea.

  5. 2

    How can i try your no-code service for my new MPV? do you have a trial or smth

    1. 1

      Hey
      I am not supposed to be selling but you can find it on our website welovenocode.com

  6. 2

    I like it, it’s great case
    Actually I got one question
    Cuz u know I also have a small agency
    So
    How do you work with clients who require strict estimates?

    1. 1

      How were you able to read the article so fast :D I just posted it

      We try to educate customers that they don't need strict estimates. They need to get revenue, traction and iterate asap

  7. 1

    Thanks for sharing your story! I'm curious to hear your thoughts about hiring NoCode talent. It's a niche specialty and it tends to be super specialized (e.g. you know Bubble really well, or Webflow really well, but it's unlikely you do both). Do you think it's easy or hard to find good talent? Do you think it will be easier in the future?

    1. 1

      Hey! THenks for the feedback!
      I think it's pretty damn hard to find good no-code talent. So we grow them instead with academy.welovenocode.com

  8. 1

    Are you still looking for no code developers? I'd like to do more backend work (custom coding, using nocode APIs) than frontend work. Do you get such projects?

    1. 1

      Hey! Do you have telegram? Or whatsapp? You can text me and let's discuss @kodjima33

  9. 1

    I really like the nocode movement, this is definitely the way forward. One big problem right now - there's so little projects that work and look well - it's ridiculous. You open bubble showcases and you think to yourself, really?! It's beyond bad. I'm not sure if it's even possible to test an idea with that as it seems like a good way to not even try properly. If you are able to showcase some really good projects (at least 5) that actually worked on a real audience and some results that would bring you more customers. But if you know some projects worth following, please tell, would be interesting to see.
    Like, currently in your showcases the very first one is invoicehero.com. When you open the link - this domain is for sale. This is what I mean.

    1. 1

      Where did you find .com link?

    2. 1

      Hey there! Sorry, the right link is https://invoicehero.co/

  10. 1

    Was curious, how did you find your commission based sales person? Is there a platform you suggest?

    1. 1

      Hey, I had to run a 2 weeks intensive online program.
      There were 50 people in thee beginning

  11. 1

    @kodjima33 Hi Nick, are you looking for any freelancers currently. Thank you.

    1. 1

      Hey! Yes, you can text me [email protected] with your experience and submit this form https://welovenocode.com/joinus

  12. 1

    Hey @kodjima33 this is massively helpful. I'm in the process of thinking about how to productize my freelance services (dev + design) and this is so inspirational.

    One big question I have, which is the thing that keeps tripping me up: How do you define what "Unlimited Tasks" means and are clients okay with that? I would love to offer "unlimited dev and design" but have no idea how to reasonably do that.

    1. 1

      Hey! Quite easy: The person can submit unlimited tasks, however for one subscription we only provide one task in a row per single moment of time.
      So as soon as the first task is finished, the 2nd task is being done

    2. 1

      Another question: If you can do all these MVPs in two weeks... does that just lead to outrageous customer churn by being TOO good at your job?

      1. 1

        That's the great question that we are trying to solve.

        Our goal is to keep customers with high quality and new features.
        This means that we try so hard, so that our customers don't choose to go to upwork because they know that we provide better quality

  13. 1

    Wow, I wasn't hoping for so much feedback.
    I am so glad you guys enjoyed the article.
    Thank you for this <3

  14. 1

    Love the article, thanks for sharing! No code is the future for sure!

  15. 1

    Interesting read. Liked and subscribed )))

    Question. Can you also integrate ConveyThis into your list of supported partners? Our tech is great to make multilingual websites.

    1. 1

      Hey, you can submit it through the form on welovenocode.com/nocodelist

  16. 1

    This no-code agency sounds like a great idea!

    Will be signing up soon.

    1. 1

      Hey, thanks. Looking forward

  17. 1

    Really impressive - nice work :)

    You said in a comment,

    Mostly mobile and web apps.
    But we also do automation of any kind

    When you say "automation", could you be more specific?

    1. 1

      Hey!
      By autommations I mean automations of the company's process with the help of tools like: Retool, Zapier, Integromat, etc...
      So what we do is we analyze the company's processes for a while and later advise them on automations

  18. 1

    I'm relatively new to the nocode space. Is $1,999 considered a low fee? Are you currently at roughly 17 subscribers with that fee?

    Looking at the FAQ, it looks like you have 168 team members. How does the revenue get split between them all?

    Edit for above: I now see that this is essentially a monthly fee for a nocode developer, not a nocode platform. Pricing makes more sense now

    I'm also wondering what recent technology has helped propel the nocode movement further. Up until recently, I worked on Hubspot's CMS. Similar to wix, etc. Honestly, anytime I used it, I found that the initial layout of the items was okay, but when it came time to adding complex logic, things got increasingly complex. Often a lot more than if I were just writing scalable code. My assumptions is no-code works okay for a certain subset of use-cases, but can fall apart once the complexity of the project increases.

    1. 1

      Hey there,
      Out of 168 team members we have those who are full-time and those who are part-time.

      I wouldn't say hubspot is no-code tool. Try Bubble

  19. 1

    Congrats on the amazing growth, Nick!

  20. 1

    @channingallen Hey there Channing!
    You have a wonderful community here. Just posted my first article.

    What do you think of it? Should I do something differently?
    Feedback would be useful

  21. 1

    Great story!

    Have you thought about supporting clients not only in development, but also in further promotion of projects? I mean marketing, content, etc.?
    Do you think this would be popular with your clients?

    1. 1

      Having worked at an agency that did both complex app development AND marketing support, I would highly recommend you NOT go down this road. They are 2 different business models, and you will be tempted to love the one and hate the other.

      1. 1

        Hey, thanks for the advice

    2. 1

      Hey, it's a nice idea, we thought about it but didn't spend time on it yet.

  22. 1

    I'm really happy for you. What criteria did you use to hire people? What is important to pay attention to?

    1. 1

      I hired those who are shy and who work on weekends :)
      People with whom I work are the best ones. Without them I would have nothing.

      I understand that those people can't sell so I help them to sell themselves more expensive :)

  23. 1

    What types of products can you implement and in what time frame?

    1. 1

      Hey!
      Mostly mobile and web apps.
      But we also do automation of any kind

  24. 1

    Amazing to be still running it just by yourself! . Congrats ! Are you working with a team, or outsourcing the work?

    1. 1

      Hey, we have a small in-house team

  25. 1

    Nick, thanx for sharing your story! Sounds amazing. How do you acquire customers?

    1. 1

      Thank you for reading it :)

  26. 0

    So you're just offering services, like any tens of thousands of agencies out there. Not to bring you down, but -- big deal to be honest.

    1. 2

      Well, Yes we are offering services like thousands of agencies.
      Like Elon Musk offers cars that are also offered by other car companies :)

      But he tries harder, so do we

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