What is the problem? Who is the target customer? What is the solution, the promise? Why do people pay?
The Problem: People who are not software developers have good ideas for Apps - tools that can be used to solve real inefficiencies in their industry. Without knowing how to code or being aware of no-code tools, they are blocked from turning their ideas into a reality.
Target Users: People who have domain expertise from working in their industry and have an App idea. Some of these are in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, education, etc.
The Solution: Apps Without Code is an online school for no-code entrepreneurs. An 8-week bootcamp that teaches no-code and provides coaching on the business side from idea generation/evaluation to launching, marketing, and sales. Tara Reed and team teach people not only how to build an App but also how to make money. People pay to learn and for the dream of creating an independent income stream with their ideas.
Why do the founders keep working on the business? What makes it a good match for their strengths, goals, and desired lifestyle?
Tara has intentionally designed this business over a period of 2 to 3 years to fit her desired lifestyle. She left a "grow at all cost" startup to start this one. She acknowledges that for the first 2 years she was at the computer working all the time. But now she tweets about taking vacations without her business falling apart. She intentionally takes Fridays off. After a one-week cruise with her mom, she also started taking Mondays off to be a tourist in her own city.
I was feeling kinda icky about where I was with my first company. We were making some money, we had raised money but I realized that I had chosen the wrong kind of business model and the wrong kind of business path for what I wanted my life as a CEO to be like. And there was this other opportunity [i.e. teaching apps without code], a chance for me to redo everything with the lessons I'd learned with my first company.
Tara is a parent and thinks about what type of asset she wants to leave her kids that would a sizable socioeconomic shift, while also balancing the stress/challenge with peace in life.
How big do I want this thing to be? Every level you get to I feel like you have to reset the conversation around where are we going, what's the goal, what does success look like?
Where did the very first customers come from? What channels did the founders try? What didn't work? What did work? How long did it take?
Action: While working on another idea, Tara blogged about how she was building an App without writing code (circa 2014). Also gave a local TEDx talk about how she was building her biz without code.
Outcome: Huge influx of emails from people asking "can you teach me how to build my own App too?"
Action: Decided to help 5 people. Emailed 150 blog subscribers and offered phone calls to talk about their App idea.
Outcome: Resulted in 20-25 conversations. Helped 5 of those build their App for a "randomly made up a price of $900".
Action: Realized that this could be a real business opportunity so left the other business. Opened enrollment again at double the price.
Outcome: 70 people signed up for the next round. Built the curriculum in real-time while coaching others.
Action: Curriculum focused on making money with the App and building a business not just an App. Taught monetization strategies, idea generation and validation.
Outcome: Higher paying students ($1900 for 8-week bootcamp). Positioned the bootcamp as startup coaching in addition to no-code tool training.
Action: Built an email list of potential customers by doing social media streaming events, free workshops and webinars every week. Showing people what was possible by building App with no-code during the streaming events.
Action: Borrowed audience with partnerships and affiliate programs from people who already had audiences (on Instagram or newsletters).
Outcome: In Jan 2019, got to $100,000 per month revenue, that's 106 students per month.
You can learn more about Apps Without Code's customer acquisition on IndieHacker's podcast episode 180.