Sam's Startup Story: NoCode

Sam Dickie is a Senior Product Manager and Fintech nerd. He also happens to be the Founder of NoCode – a curated directory of tools, resources and hacks for non-techies. And he has a couple of other side projects in the pipeline. Here he shares the story of NoCode from conception and growth…

What did you initially Escape from?

A career I couldn’t see myself happy with in the future with little fulfilment.


When you started, what was your definition of success?

Waking up and looking forward to going to work. Being excited what the next day would hold for me.



What were your biggest motivations in starting NoCode?

Personal growth – I wanted a side project I could use to experiment with ideas. Using it as a platform to gain experience in building an online platform. And second to that, helping others that were in my position. Nothing else was available in one curated directory for non-tech makers like myself!


Surviving the economic transition – how did you manage the transition between a salary and working full time on NoCode?

I’m an avid saver and personal finance geek. I’m also extremely risk averse so it had to be inexpensive to run and make some sort of income to supplement the cost. When looking for tools and plugins for NoCode I researched and found the majority of tools I needed had a free version. NoCode costs about £25 a month to run. The income it makes I typically reinvest into a stocks and shares ISA.

Step 2: IDEA

How did the idea come about? If you had more than one idea, how did you choose this one?

I had hundreds of browser bookmarks, Evernote folders, spreadsheets… etc of tools and resources I used to create some of my previous side projects. Friend would ask me where I got x and do you know what I could use to build x. So I thought why not stick this online for others and at the very least I would use it and my friends.



What assumptions were you making about the idea that you needed to test?

Assumption number 1: There was others like me out there (non-techs that wanted to build tech). This was by far the most important assumption I had to test first.



How did you figure out who your initial target customer was?

Fortunately, my initial customer was me to some extent. So I knew the forums, sites and places people like myself would hang. I would ask them questions like, is there one place to find a list of tools and resources for non-techs likes us? And every time I would get a resounding NO, but with a huge list of resources they used and had stored similar to myself.



Back of a napkin… what was your initial business model?

If I’m totally honest I had no business model and never thought I could successfully monetize the platform. However, as more traffic came to site my ears pricked up and I thought to myself there has to be a few ways I can monetize this without charging the user. So I started out with affiliate links then moved into advertisement.



What was the original minimum viable product (MVP) for NoCode?

A basic landing page with email form and mock-up of what it was going to look like. I then shared some of my initial tools and resources to subscribers and got their feedback throughout the creation of the platform.



What was the first ever step you took on the road to making NoCode and what is it today?

Respecting the users and members of NoCode. It’s easy to get carried away and perhaps lose sight of Your vision. I have on many occasions turned down money from campaniles wanting to appear in my list or newsletter. However, I only feature tools and resources that I think would provide value to my users.



What were actions most impactful in getting your first 1,000 fans/attention?

Creating a community from the word go with my newsletter and writing. Getting people involved in the creation and listening to feedback. Hustling by arranging guest blogs, answering questions on Quora and Reddit. Getting featured on prominent websites and talking about my project to everyone I know. Shout from the rooftops!!!!


Step 9: SALES

How did you get your first paying customer?

It took about 3-4 months! It was an affiliate payment for £40 and what a day that was! Once I got that first payment I doubled down and kept trying to improve the platform and increase that conversion rate!



Looking back, what was the biggest thing you should have focused on in the first year?

Creating a community. I wish I started the Slack group earlier and put more effort into it. Emailing every single person back that reached out regardless of what they wanted. The feedback I got was so helpful. Installing the likes of Drift (online chat tool) on my site allowed me to chat with my users and ask them for feedback!



How have you found looking after yourself on the journey?

Regardless of how busy you are, find time for exercise. It’s so important you have your health and a lot of people neglect this when they find themselves busy! Without your health, you can’t work effectively and it will eventually catch up with you.

Sam has been a coach on our Startup Accelerator programme. To accelerate your own startup by tapping into his knowledge and the wisdom of other entrepreneurs, find out more about our Accelerator here.

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