I wanted to quickly share a story of mine developing a no-code app.
It's going to be a bit longer than you're used to reading here on Indie Hackers.
But sometimes, details matter.
I've been an entrepreneur since I was 19 years old. In one month, I will turn 32. So there's more than a decade of experience.
For the last 7 years, my main business has been a consultancy office. I have a small team of 6 people working with me. It's a healthy business.
But I've always been interested in developing software products. I would like to build something where I don't have to provide a manual service.
And this ambition has taken me into a journey of starting several side hustles and startups.
In the last 1,5 years alone, I've spent around $100k on different projects.
None which have economically paid off.
And my pockets aren't too deep to take too many shots that miss.
So the decision to start another project wasn't easy. Especially, as I have become a financial security nest for my whole family.
But I've had this idea in my head for almost two years.
And if something wants to get out, it has to get out. Otherwise, it will keep knocking.
"Ok, so TELL us about the project!"
I had a vision for a proposal app for freelancers and SMEs.
I know there are tons of different options on the market. I've used many of them. Most of them suck, and the majority of them suck hard.
After doing a bit of research, I decided to use Bubble no-code platform.
And then I looked for an agency because the app requires custom code.
The team left a good impression. They have great reviews on forums. I even contacted people on LinkedIn who had left reviews for them.
They all said that it was a good experience.
That was enough proof for me to hire this remote team. For the first time in my life.
The onboarding experience was great. I think they did total 3 calls with me - introduction, scoping call, and some other call.
I agreed to terms and signed the agreement. They asked $25 000 to develop the app.
The first payment had to be done fast - I think the due date was 2 or 3 days. They sent daily reminders, even on the same day they sent an invoice.
It was a bit weird as in Europe, I am used to at least 7-day deadlines, but doesn't matter. I sent $10k on their way.
And then the surprises started to happen. They asked for wireframes, which I did not know I had to send, as no one ever mentioned this. Not like I had 3 calls with them or anything...
I didn't argue, I paid a designer to make them ready. Spent around $1k on that. It took two weeks. If I knew it before, I could have made the wireframes earlier to save time.
But then nothing happened for another 2-3 weeks. No development started. We're now almost 5 weeks in after signing & sending the money.
Finally, they said that with god's grace and mercy (they really didn't use that phrase), they have found me a project manager - a COO of the whole company.
Because all PMs were busy.
If you have ever been a COO or know what COO has to do in a company, you can already assume it's going to be a shitshow.
"This guy has a shitload of other things to do" - was my thought. And it was the first time I said to them that perhaps we'll cancel the project and they refund me my money. The gut feeling was off, and I don't think you're surprised about that.
The COO guy said to me that let's do it, we're gonna do a great job. And we even "managed to shuffle some projects to find developers to start working on your app".
I don't know why he thought this will somehow give me peace of mind. But I thought well I already paid, let's do it.
In the next 2 months, the PM had ZERO calls with me. And before starting managing the project, he had ZERO calls with me to understand what I want to achieve with this proposal app. I did ask for a call to communicate what I want to achieve, as he was relying on the information given by people that I had talked to in his team.
No calls happened.
Two months went by ( the development time in the agreement was 4-5 weeks) with managing the project on Slack & Asana. And we had almost finished the UX/UI. Like 70% of it.
And then they asked for the second payment.
I said wait a minute, the UI/UX was agreed to be finalised within the scope of the first payment.
He said, "well if the budget runs out, we can't continue work".
This is the moment when I said it's enough. This thing can drag on forever. Next time they ask for $10k more to finalise the project, etc.
You see, I was fine if it took longer as long as we can build a great product AND we stay within the budget and what we had agreed to because the features etc hadn't changed.
They said they won't refund me the initial payment, but I get to keep all the work/code.
Of course, if you have developed anything or you're a developer, you already know it's mostly useless. No agency will continue their work. They want to start from scratch.
(And this is exactly what the new development agency said, btw.)
They did promise to refund me the remaining budget I had left (around 20%), but it hasn't hit my bank account yet. I guess the refund policy isn't to make the payment in 2 days time.
And that, ladies and gents, is how you spend $10k and 3 months with no results.
So, what's next?
Today, I have returned to development with another agency, and I am hopefully launching in around 4-5 weeks.
If you're interested in joining the waitlist, supporting my efforts with your attention, and hear the updates of the developments ( and whether I actually get that 20% back), don't hesitate to join the waitlist here: