I interviewed Sarwech who went from side project to Founder of a SaaS product called Nocodelytics.
- How scratching your own itch can lead to a SaaS product
- Advice for starting
- How to manage the stress of life as a Bootstrapped entrepreneur compared to a corporate job
- His strategy to manage building and marketing
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your story.
My name is Sarwech and I’m the co-founder of Nocodelytics.
I studied law at university and then went into banking for a few years. In 2017, I got tired of the corporate life and decided to join a tech startup which specialised in building software for nonprofits.
Whilst at this startup, I came across tools like Webflow, Airtable and Notion, and so my journey into no-code really began. My role was a mix of analytics and marketing. With the analytics side, it meant understanding how people were using our SaaS tool and getting insights out of that behaviour, and using no-code tools to connect some of that data and turn it into reports.
At the same time, I started working on my own no-code project in the evenings. After discovering Indie Hackers and absorbing every single interview and nugget of wisdom found there, I saw an opportunity to build a version of that but for a different industry. A passion of mine is space, so naturally I felt it would be a good idea to share the stories of successful founders so others could be inspired and learn how to start their own space company.
With Webflow’s CMS, I managed to build and launch Space Bandits within 3 weeks (compared with the several months it would have taken to code it by myself). Within a few weeks it was getting 1k users a month.
My day job taught me the importance of measuring user funnels and user behaviour. I needed insights on how they were using the site and what features I should build next. So I started wondering things like:
- How many people are using the site?
- Which features are they engaging with?
- Which features are they not engaging with?
- Which users are the most likely to convert and subscribe to the newsletter?
Aside from the first question, there was no easy way to do this with existing tools. I’d tried the likes of Google Analytics, Heap, Mixpanel, and more, but they were either too convoluted for my use case, too expensive or both.
That’s when I came up with the idea of building an analytics tool purely for sites made in Webflow.
2. I’d like to know about your journey as a Founder and Indie Maker. Are you working full time on Nocodelytics? Were you working on something else prior when you started this and when was the tipping point for going full time?
Currently, my co-founder and I are working part-time on Nocodelytics. My co-founder (Florian) is building the product and managing the infrastructure, whilst I handle the marketing, customer development and design.
As mentioned, before working on Nocodelytics, I was working at a tech startup in an analytics and marketing role. When I launched the Webflow side-project, I did it in early 2019 working evenings and weekends. Then in June 2019, I switched teams and worked as a developer (after dabbling and building enough experience on the side). So it was quite interesting that I went from using no-code tools at my day job and coding in the evenings, to coding as my day job and building a no-code project in the evenings.
Then in February 2020, myself and a few others from the company were made redundant. This felt a bit like a gut punch because I started wondering how I’d pay the bills. But then I also saw an opportunity, as I’d had the idea for Nocodelytics for a while but did nothing with it. Luckily, I managed to have a contract which was flexible enough where I could work part-time on it whilst working on Nocodelytics the rest of the time.
3. What is the most stressful thing you have to deal with as a founder? How do you manage it?
There are definitely a few things that can be stressful as a founder, especially when your business is in the early stages. Making sure you have enough runway is one and the other is marketing and growing your product.
Overall, I’d say marketing your product is probably the most stressful thing. This is because, despite what you read online about how you should get customers, there’s really no one size fits all. You can’t magically apply an approach you’ve found online to your own product and expect it to work. You have to listen to your customers, take their feedback and try to figure out the best
way to improve your product. You have to constantly put yourself out there and find ways to showcase the value of your product to as many people as possible.
At the same time, you have to be patient and believe in yourself that it’ll work out. Too many times founders quit when they have something promising, or don’t push hard enough. Managing when to push forward and when to change tactics is really important.
For example, early on with the MVP of Nocodelytics, we provided a simple non-customizable dashboard with metrics we thought people would care about. After speaking to several customers we quickly realized each customer had different key metrics, so we scrapped that version and made the dashboard completely customizable, so people can add only the metrics they care about. Despite that being well received, over time we realised from our users that some template metrics would still be useful, so we’re working on that as one of our next features.
4. Launching a SaaS how do you decide to split your time between building and marketing?
When I started out initially it was just myself doing both and it was certainly stressful. I don’t think I ever had a clear strategy other than to build in public. This meant working on a feature and, whilst I was building it, share updates on Twitter and ask people in the Webflow community what they wanted. This could be through polls, sharing screenshots of two variations and asking them to pick, or just generally asking what people wanted to see next.
Now that there are two of us, it’s a lot easier. My co-founder does all of the development and I focus on marketing. This allowed us to move much faster and enabled us to do new things like add a Help Center and start promoting Nocodelytics in places we hadn’t before.
For solo founders, one strategy that could work well is made famous by Jon Yongfook. What he did to grow Bannerbear was to spend 1-2 weeks on development, and then 1-2 weeks on marketing it. I think this is a good approach because it forces you to give equal attention to marketing.
5. Can you tell us about Nocodelytics.com. What does it do and can you share your story behind it and how did you go from idea to product?
Nocodelytics is an analytics tool built for Webflow sites. It makes it super simple to track clicks, form submissions and even searches with just a few clicks. It also integrates directly with the Webflow CMS as well as tools like Jetboost, so you can see which searches are popular and which filters are being used.
After getting the idea whilst working on Space Bandits, I was tempted to start working on the MVP and not doing any marketing. But then I spoke to Chris Spags (founder of Jetboost) and he suggested throwing a landing page together using a template whilst working on it.
So I found a Webflow template online, paid for it, updated the copy based on my conversations with people who experience the same problem, and then shared it on Twitter. It didn’t get hundreds of signups in the first 24 hours - but that’s OK and completely expected. What did happen was that I kept talking to people and showing them what I was working on to see if they’d be interested. I also went onto the Webflow forums, and DM’ed members who had frustrations with GA or wanted more insights. Gradually, the waiting list grew and grew and I’d ask each person that joined the waiting list for their ideas.
After 2 months, I launched the MVP and started growing from there.
There was a point, however, when the MVP I had built just couldn’t handle the level of traffic coming through customers’ sites. At that point my friend Florian, who is a senior developer, joined me as co-founder and we decided to rebuild the entire product.
This was a tough decision but we felt it was necessary. It also allowed us to build the product the right way so that we can make it an even better analytics tool from the start. Whilst Florian was building the new version, I would share his progress in a monthly newsletter and also slowly onboard users to the beta version to get their feedback. We finally re-launched with this new version in December 2021.
6. A lot of Maker/Indiehackers/Founders struggle with paralysis of starting. How did you decide what first feature you were going to ship with Nocodelytics?
I initially wanted to focus on only the essential features that people needed to get insights from their Webflow sites. But with it being an analytics tool there’s actually quite a lot that needs to be done first before you can get to that point.
For example, people want to know not only how many views, clicks or form submissions they received, they also want to break this information down and know where their traffic is coming from or what their best converting pages are etc.
We decided to think back to the conversations with users and what they were looking for the most. Doing that meant 2 things stuck out 1) making it super easy to set up and 2) tracking engagement on buttons and tracking subscribers.
Based on that, we made the app simple to use from start to finish. For example, when you sign up, you simply sign up using your Webflow account and connect your sites. From there, you can start seeing your analytics in less than 30 seconds. On top of that, we do some things behind
the scenes, like automatically tracking your collections so you just pick which one you’re interested in seeing engagement for.
In the future, we’ll build on this idea of simplicity to make it easy to track more metrics as well as easy to get insights from them.
7. Do you have a framework for pursuing ideas, how did you recognize this problem exists and how were you convinced it was worth pursuing putting your energy into it?
So as mentioned earlier, the idea came about after working on a Webflow project and wanting to understand how people are using it.
From there, the first thing I did was start speaking to people I knew in the Webflow community and ask if this is a problem they shared. These calls and chats were extremely valuable because I learned what people didn’t like about the existing solutions (Google Analytics is overwhelming and tedious to set up) as well as what their use cases were.
This gave me enough confidence to put together a landing page and start collecting emails.
8. When you talk with Founders building their product, what are the common things they are looking to find out about their users and do you have any stories to share about how they acted on data from Nocodelytics to improve their product or service?
One of the coolest parts of working on a product like Nocodelytics is to talk to founders every week. It’s exciting learning what they’re working on, how they got started and how they plan to grow.
Often the goals that founders have and what they want to know about their users varies on the type of products they’re building.
For example, one of our customers runs an affiliate site built in Webflow, so they use Nocodelytics to understand what links are popular. This data helps clarify some of the uncertainty around how many people click on their affiliate links. As well as that, they can see which searches are being made and which filters are being used, and they use that to get ideas for content they should add to the site to meet that demand from users.
Another customer has a mobile app and they use Nocodelytics for the landing page (built in Webflow). They track how many people land on their site and click download. This helps them understand how effective their site is at showing the value of their product. By changing the copy and repositioning the download CTAs, they can then measure how well the changes have improved their conversion rates.
Another example of a customer using Nocodelytics to improve their product or service is one of our customers who runs an agency. They wanted to provide their clients an easy to use dashboard with analytics. So we added a feature that makes it possible to embed our analytics into any Webflow page in just a few clicks.
9. Do you have any advice for folks wanting to start and build something. Do you see any trends of mistakes you have learned or observed or misinformation that people here that get in the way of them starting?
My main advice would be to talk to your potential customers first and market your product. If you’re yet to build something, then the first thing you can do is find out where your potential customers are and ask them what problems they face. This can be nerve-wracking but can save you a lot of time.
Not sure at all what to build? Then a simpler way to begin is to follow our passion. Find a topic you’re interested in and build a site curating content around that. For example, I am passionate about space and combined my interest in indie hacking to create Space Bandits. When you think about it, it’s literally just a collection of stories, but it’s curated and designed in a way that makes it interesting and useful within a fast-growing industry.
What’s something you’re passionate about and would like to see exist in the world?
10. Please provide what links to your project website, your twitter, where can people return the love? Where they can check out about you and your latest product launch:
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