You’ve had a brilliant idea for an app, you’re really excited to get it off the ground, one catch, you’ve never coded in your life and the one time you thought you’d give it a go – it felt like a glitch in the Matrix.
Don’t worry, help is at hand – Tara Reed is the founder of Apps Without Code. Tara has a formidable tech background (Google, FourSquare, Microsoft) and has developed her own apps but never learnt to code herself, as we discovered that hasn’t held her back.
Tell us about Apps Without Code.
Apps Without Code is a global education company teaching entrepreneurs how to build profitable apps with limited resources. Our programs are kind of like business school for your start-up idea. We have students in 14 countries. And graduates of our programs have built really awesome apps and licensed them to companies like Coca-Cola or entire school districts in Florida.
How did you get started?
As a business, Apps Without Code sort of happened by accident. I built my first app, Kollecto (Netflix for affordable art), as a non-technical entrepreneur, stringing together a bunch of existing technologies, without writing a single line of code. We had some really great success — we raised $300,000 in investment, made $150,000 in revenue, and got into the 500 Startups accelerator, in less than a year. But as time went on, it was amazing how many aspiring entrepreneurs came to me asking, “How’d you do that?” There were all kinds of “non-technical” people who wanted to learn how to build apps without code and launch startups on a budget. So a couple years in, I launched a second company called Apps Without Code. Today we run a startup school for entrepreneurs and also partner with nonprofits, universities, and corporations on entrepreneurship training programs.
What are the main benefits of creating an App without code?
There’s nothing wrong with coding, but it doesn’t make sense for everyone. It takes most people a long time (a few years) to get proficient enough in a coding language to build their full app idea. But the tech industry moves really fast. So 1-2 years is a long time to wait before you launch your business idea. Also, outsourcing the work to professional developers can be super expensive and if you’re not technical, it is super difficult to translate your creative vision to an affordable developer.
Building your own app without code means you can bring your product to market in a few weeks. It also means you can be really scrappy and efficient, and develop your app at a fraction of the cost. So it’s really an attractive option for bootstrapping entrepreneurs who aren’t backed by investors.
You’ve previously said concentrating on code can be a disadvantage to the consumer, is the customer journey your primary motivation?
The customer journey is definitely part of it. Building an app without code means you can respond to user feedback almost immediately, without the cost and time associated with traditional software development, which ultimately means a better product and experience for your customers.
You previously worked at Google, Foursquare and Microsoft – what inspired you to set out on your own?
I’d been kicking around my own app ideas while I was working at Microsoft, but I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, and it was difficult to see how I would ever get something off the ground. Then one day a close friend and mentor said to me, “Tara, you are way too smart to not be taking more risks.” I cried when he told me that. And the next month I was on a plane to New York City to start a Bootcamp program for people wanting to start a side business. Kollecto was born from that process, and I left Microsoft shortly thereafter.
You are helping a host of entrepreneurs to create their own tech empires, any we should keep an eye out for?
There are so many amazing ideas that our Bootcamp students and alumni are working on. Many of our most successful students are actually “tech outsiders” — they don’t have much if any experience working in the tech world, but they have a ton of experience and expertise in other areas, like health care, or manufacturing, or education. One of our alumni saw a problem in the manufacturing industry and developed an app to streamline processes. A few months later, he was able to quit his job, and he’s already landed a contract with Coca-Cola for his app. This is life-changing stuff and it’s happening every single day.
What advice would you give to aspiring app developers who would be keen to follow your example?
I attribute a lot of our success to a willingness to fail. I’m always pushing my team to experiment. Most of the time, it doesn’t work out, but we learn from it and do better the next time. So I always tell other aspiring entrepreneurs and app builders, just go for it. Don’t wait. Just get something in front of people and see what happens.
How important has mobile technology been to spread your message?
It’s huge. Not only are we helping entrepreneurs develop mobile apps, but we’re also actively connecting with people that way. Instagram, for instance, is one of our most effective marketing channels. And in February we’re hosting an online conference that entrepreneurs can attend from literally anywhere.
Where can we find out more about Apps Without Code?
You can learn more about the Bootcamp program at AppsWithoutCode.com. We also run a free online workshop for people interested in building apps without code, and you can sign up for that at workshop.appswithoutcode.com as well.
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