#HuntedHunters #2: Bram Kanstein hails the 'No-Code' universe.
This is part two of #HuntedHunters, a series of interviews with top members of the Product Hunt community. If you don’t know anything about it, read what got us here.
Who knew 40 years ago that the Yellow Pages and Telephone Directories will become mere relics of a bygone age, made from recycled paper and recycled every year with phone numbers nobody will ever bother to remember, all because Google Contacts has a back up. Who could've imagined that having a website would become the norm, and those businesses who don't have one will soon be virtually invisible to the increasingly virtual world.
Somehow, Omni Calculator Project made it this far, with close to 4 million users coming to it every month. They can come to us because we're just a "http://" away. This is how important a website is to any business, start-up, brand or NGO.
Here's an interesting conversation with Bram Kanstein, who helped the world realize that you don’t need to be an IT genius to build websites; that it's okay that your business idea is much stronger than your knowledge of coding. He guessed, quite rightly, that the future would not be one where everyone knows how to code. He envisions a world where people can learn to grow their business with time, without having to be experts in developer tools.
Omni Calculator: You've had your own successful projects in the past, such as StartUp Stash, StartUp Watching and more. What motivates you to take time out of your busy schedule and search through thousands of new projects? How do you hunt them?
Bram Kanstein: I've always found it interesting to discover what people are working on. Why are they spending time on this idea, or that problem? Spending time on something is the most valuable thing you can do, so when someone is pursuing a certain idea, it must be valuable too, right?
I think it's also part of how I gather inspiration for my own activities: how do digital products change overtime? What areas are trending? etc. I subscribe to websites like BetaList and Product Hunt to discover these new things :). Due to my activity on PH I have people reach out to me and show what they are building, and sometimes when I discover a new product (mostly via Twitter), I reach out to the maker and propose I help them get on PH.
OC: I like your rationale for hunting new ideas and projects. The most important thing for growing any project is asking yourself questions. This is how The Omni Calculator Project, has made it this far: we ask ourselves what questions to people need answers to? We then give people the tools they need to make more rational decisions. It could be based on numbers or an algorithm, but in a year we have grown from 351 calculators to 719 insightful tools to help people with their everyday lives. I saw there's something in the works, please share a little about your new project 'No Code MVP'? When are you planning to launch?
BK: So I've had this idea ever since I discovered @ajlkn's amazing Carrd.co. It's a super easy tool to create websites, and when I discovered it I loved it instantly. I know some basic HTML/CSS design but not enough to actually build something with code. Carrd helped me to build the basics and with tools like Zapier and Airtable I discovered you can build a (semi-) functional product that can deliver value to potential customers.
And that's where the idea for No-Code MVP (an online course) came from: the barriers to JUST START have never been this low. PLUS you don't need to know how to code to start. This is because the #1 thing you have to do when you have a new startup/business idea is to discover if it even should exist (i.e. are there people who are looking for the value you want to deliver?). And you can do that without code. I might even argue that you SHOULD do it without using code.
In my upcoming course I'm going to teach how to turn your idea into a value proposition, how to turn that into an MVP experiment, how to "build" that experiment and launch it. I want to help people to tackle the most important question: should I really build this? I'm planning to launch late Q1/Early Q2, 2019.
OC: ‘No Code MVP’ sounds like an incredible course. Indeed, there are hundreds of young minds dreaming big, but feel challenged by their lack of coding skills. I am sure this is some kind of revolution that empowers everyone to not think too much before taking these initial baby steps. Starting something is the most critical step and if ‘No Code MVP’ gives people the confidence to start, there’s a whole universe of ideas to come. But there’s one thing I’m dying to know, do you think it can be a challenger in the huge coding website market. Coders (and developer firms) have almost monopolized the industry. Does NO CODE aim to completely replace coded websites (even if it's just a small segment)? How do you think it can affect the current coding market? Are we looking at newer apps and products that help facilitate no code websites?
BK: That is totally depending on the idea for which a product is being build. Of course, No Code tools are built with code so don't think coding is going anywhere haha. No Code tools democratise the playing field and give everyone with an idea the possibility to start.
OC: At this point, I am intrigued to know, what does the future of tech look like to you? What are we looking at 5 years from now?
BK: I love Ryan Hoover's "The Rise of “No Code”. I also believe more people (hopefully also through my course ;) ) will be able to turn their ideas into the first product that they can launch, faster than ever before. So there will be more ideas, products, failures and successes in the startup world in the coming years. I also think that Paul Jarvis' "Company of One" philosophy will spread throughout the tech world and that more people will be focused on building sustainable and profitable businesses that connect with their personal values, instead of being fuelled by the endless search for growth, directed by venture capitalists and other investors.
OC: That’s great, I too follow Ryan’s insights on the No-Code age. The future you mentioned by suggesting Paul Jarvis’ book makes so much more sense. Today we see that building a business often starts the same way but eventually transforms into a big mess. Hopefully tomorrow is more ‘woke’, perhaps more open to the idea of personal values. I almost feel like we’re going in circles, investor-less and small personal businesses was how it all began. Business was more personal than Corporate. But soon we somehow managed to over-complicate it, and the world is moving towards simpler things once again. I wonder if the urge to search for growth can vanish that easily, what do you have to say about security and backing of such projects? Isn’t it okay to share a little risk while keeping those values intact?
BK: Of course, same as above, totally depending on the type of product / business. If you can only make a profit at huge scale, of course you need extra money to scale. The "Company of One" mindset will help you to ask the right questions: Should I scale this? If yes, how?
OC: That's an interesting Insight Bram. I've been waiting to ask you, how you see OMNI CALCULATOR. Do you think it has a good scope to become a contender on Product Hunt?
BK: I think it's a cool idea! It's like the Wikipedia of calculators haha. I think it would be nice to make smaller subject focused sites and see if you can market those specifically for a target audience. That way you could increase the amount of people that benefit from your calculators. And, since it's a live product, of course it can be on Product Hunt!
Thanks for your responses Bram, I love how your idea of the future is based on the products and literature that are coming out now, making your future seem all that more obtainable. I also share your hope that the epoch of No-Code is around the corner, leading us into a more egalitarian future.