Can a boot camp help you develop your MVP with low code?

Podcast MVP Low Code

In this episode, I had the chance to have a chat with Kristen and Sophie from the company Highliner Technology.
Both had the idea of developing a software product that helps their clients to stay focused and organized in a chaotic world. We will learn how a boot camp helped them build the MVP in rapid time and which advice she has for other low code beginners.

Sophie had no experience with software development but started the challenge of developing their own with the Bubble low-code platform. She will explain their challenges and how an organized boot camp helped her enormously.

Make sure to sign the beta group for their app Task Inc. and support them. 

https://focusinc.co.uk/

If you have feedback or ideas on which topics need to be covered at this podcast – you are more than welcome to get in touch with me.

You can find more information on www.lowcode-founders.com, or you can drop me a message at sarah@biberei.de

Enjoy and keep on building new digital products. 

Transcript for the episode – Can a boot camp help you develop your MVP with low code?

Speaker Kristen:

And I think this is something we so like under appreciate in tech, Tech is quite a closed network for a lot of reasons that we need to work on and break down. But there’s also so much jargon in like in development and in tech that we that we don’t spend a lot of time breaking down or introducing new people to um so I think there’s a lot of things we take for granted. It’s given, um, and I think it’s really it’s down to Sophie’s attitude and willingness to be like I’m happy to learn from scratch, But I think it’s also really important for, like, the entire community to be careful, the jargon we use but also bring people into it, Um, and make sure that we’re really conscious of like, Of course, not everyone knows everything from the start. Um, things we take as given. We need to make sure that we’re giving an on ramp for people. And I think Tony did a great job of that too. As an instructor, he was like a really useful on ramp. 

Speaker Sarah:

Hello and welcome to this new episode of the Low Code Founders podcast. I’m Sarah from the Biberei and Iam the host of this podcast. And today we will learn firsthand how it feels like to develop software product with bubble without previous software development knowledge. Today I’m super happy to welcome Kristen and Sophie from the company Highliner Technology and today we will learn learn a lot about the app Focus Inc. So where we will welcome to both of you.

Speaker Kristen:

Thanks for having us.

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah, Thank you. I’m super excited to be here.

Speaker Sarah:

All right, So this podcast is everything about entrepreneurship and Low Code and all those topics. So, Kristin, you are. You’re already running a company who’s helping young companies and startups when they’re seeking advice on how to structure their business. How maybe set a project management and general organisation is set up. So when did you start your company? And how did you come up with the idea to start Highliner Technology?

Speaker Kristen:

Yeah, So I’ve been in operations for many years and prior to starting my own company, I was COO, of a deep tech company that did large-scale databases. So large-scale video databases and computer computer vision. The COO role is really interesting. Um, because you get to work across the entire business, and you get to think about strategy where the business is going, but also how to make that happen. Um, but fundamentally, what you’re doing is enabling another person’s vision. Um, and I also saw over and over I was solving similar problems that felt really unique to the company but actually were happening in multiple companies over and over. So we started high liner technology, really, with that focus of knowing that company is going through. Rapid scaling growth had similar problems that were unique in their context but could really use a lot of support and help shaping their direction and then also making that happen. So that’s how we started the company. And very quickly I realised that there were some fundamental tools and problems or there were some fundamental problems that some tools could help. Um, and that’s where we came up with focusing because over and over everyone we talked to, whether it was the CEO or the exact team or their brand new hires coming on board their most junior ops person, everyone was saying that they had trouble figuring out what they should work on. Everyone had trouble prioritizing. We all have way more stuff to get done than can be done. And I was spending half of my time helping people prioritize so they had enough headspace to do this strategy work. And ultimately I was like, Look, there’s there’s got to be something here that we can do more scale more than me just talking to each one of these people and helping them figure out how to prioritize their time. Um, so that’s how we came up with the kind of real problem around focusing. We just know everyone has too much to do, and we want to help people focus on the right things,

Speaker Sarah:

Okay? And what what does Focus Inc.?

Speaker Kristen:

Yeah, so Focus Inc is a tool. In some ways, it’s a task management tool, but really, what we think of it as is a prioritisation tool. So it’s a place to get everything out of your head and into one space to reduce your mental load and to really help you prioritise and focus on doing just the most important things. So our goal is not to make you the most efficient person to get as many things as possible done our goal is to help you get the right things done and get rid of the other things, whether that means getting them done. But often more than that, it means just taking them off the list.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, actually, where you were explaining the problems your clients are facing? I have had a book recommend the recommendation in my mind. It called a deep work. Yeah, I mean, no, this book, actually, I can only recommend it. I put it in the show notes as well. I read it. I think last December I want Christmas time. And actually, what you’ve been saying is what the author also told us also wrote, So we have so many things in our mind what we need to do, whether it’s business wise, you know, private issues, family issues, all that stuff. And the problem is that we cannot get stuff done because we are not focused enough on just one task, and and so I’m I’m not really surprised that your clients are also facing this right, because we have every every one of us, I think has so many ideas and things we need to do. But we are kind of Celeste. Sometimes, yeah,

Speaker Kristen:

you’re exactly right. And we think a lot about helping people get into flow state and really focus, like we are obsessed with this most important thing doing the most important things because we know that there’s so much coming in from every angle. And we spend a lot of mental energy even just figuring out what we should be working on. And that’s mental energy that we could be put to doing the most important things. And another real impetus for building this product wasn’t was yes, her clients and sing it with her clients, but was also the pandemic. And I went from running my business and being a busy mom to also running my business and being a busy mom with a child at home who also needed help with all of her schoolwork and all of her remote learning. She’s six, so she needed a lot. And actually, when the pandemic started, she was four. So all of us, suddenly who were kind of just balancing things just well enough, suddenly had even more things piled on top. And we are really passionate about not saying like be a superhero and just get more done, like, just as long as you like. Put the hours in and hydrate and, like, meditate. You’ll be fine. Like that’s not true. Um, we’re asking people to do too much, and we want to build a tool to help people do that.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah. So we are not living in the instagram world where everything can be done in such an amount of time. Yeah,

Speaker Kristen:

exactly.

Speaker Sarah:

So when you had the idea of, um, this app, I mean, you worked a little bit in the IT Background. So I thought he was nothing too new for you. But, I mean, you never developed an app. So what was your first thought? So how can help what you’re thinking? How can you achieve your vision of this app?

Speaker Kristen:

Yeah, it’s interesting because you’re right. I don’t have a technical background, but then I went and did this operations role at a deep tech company, and I actually as in the Classic COO role at one point was running the engineering team and running the data science team. And I saw two things. One that Oh, actually, there are a lot of problems that can be solved that didn’t know we could solve in this way. Um, but also it’s like, Oh, there’s a real expertise and skill set here that I don’t have. So for me, I think since I started working in Tech, always toyed around with like, Oh, should I learn to code? Do I learn Should I learn this? Should I learn that, um and fundamentally, it was a bit about like time and space, but also then realising, actually, the most important part I was skipping three steps down the road like I’m going to learn how to code does not saw the first step of figuring out what the problem is and what the real need is and really attacking that head on. So I think working also taught me in another start up and with other startups really taught me about the importance of product market fit really, really testing out your problem and really, really testing out your solution before you just go like full and and built. And so that’s kind of where we like why I was so drawn to low code or no code tools because it was like the most important part isn’t what we build at the end. The most important part is testing our hypothesis around the problem and the solution. And that’s kind of what took me down the route of.

Speaker Sarah:

I will definitely quote this because this is so true. And I really wish more people would understand and also have this in their mind. While it’s not at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s it’s code no code which programming language. At the end of the day, you have to go out as early as possible out of your building out of your own comfort zone to really test the idea. Because in our head I mean, the idea is always the best, and the product is always the best, and the product is our darling, right? But at the very end, I mean, I have from my previous experience, I worked incorporates quite a while where the willingness to share something with the public if it’s not ready, whatever already means and self development is very low because, you know, you have a lot of big reputation to lose and stuff like that, and we were we got so surprising results. Once you get out there because people maybe used your product in a completely different way. Maybe better. Maybe we’re depending on the product in this situation, but you just learned so many new things. But you only learn them if you go outside with a product that it’s usable and not a problem point presentation.

Speaker Kristen:

Yeah, and I think our team we be personally. But I think all of us do You veer towards the more perfectionist mentality, which is the opposite of what you need in products like you need to put it out there and see what’s happening. And we’ve had some interesting in some, like really useful user feedback recently. And one of the most interesting pieces is one of our users. The feedback is so spot on to exactly how I thought people would use it and what would be helpful. But that was one person, and I also realised this user profile is pretty identical to my own. So I was like, Oh, wait a minute, I am really we have been really focused on is like this is the right solution because it’s the right solution for me and maybe five other people in the world but not sure if it’s like the more universal right solution. Um, and we wouldn’t know that if we didn’t have our product in people’s hands.

Speaker Sarah:

Absolutely, absolutely. So you you fell in love with low code and low code tools Are the idea behind it. You found Bubble.io – how did the journey started from there?

Speaker Kristen:

Yeah, I fell in love with the idea of this. And also, it was like, I don’t have any, like, time or capacity to put a lot of thought into this beyond, like, the big picture thinking. And it just so happened at the same time, I was kind of going through this thinking. Sophie just joined me to do kind of as a real like, smart recent grad Jack of all trades do all sorts of different things. Um, so it was a bit by chance. So I think that I was like, Hey, I got this email about a boot camp for bubble. I really want to do it, but actually, I’ve client meetings scheduled during the next three sessions. Do you want to do it? Is like I know you never thought about product, but do you want to learn this new skill. And that’s kind of Yeah. Where Sophie came into it.

Speaker Sophie: 

Um, yeah. So Kristen suggested to me, um, as she said, she was like, Hey, would you want to do this and told me a little bit about it, And I think it had, like, a really soon turn around. So I think we have to decide within the next couple of days. Um, so the next thing I did is I, like, went on the twittersphere, and I tried to find some, like,  Low Code or No Code profiles. And when I looked at what these people talking about and what they were saying was like an important criteria for a site to build on and some of the common things that were coming up, We’re like, um, the interface, the ability, like front end and back end connection, rapid innovation, Um, and also like a community around and ease of coming into it from a non technical background. Um, so I did like a little bit of research into bubble, and it seemed to take all these boxes. Um, I looked on Twister. What people people are using bubble for, um and people were like raving about it and saying it was really good things and because it does have this big community and it has a forum where people posting their questions. Um, and people respond and are really, really helpful. More experience. People are often jump in and give demos or linked to YouTube videos. So I’d seen that and just thought it was like a really great opportunity to learn this new skill set in an environment that was supportive. And I wouldn’t be completely by myself because that was the boot camp. I’d have an instructor. And also there was the forum to back it up.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, I think this is This is also something we lied to keep an eye on. If you look out also for new low code tools coming up because I have the feeling, I mean I mean in this environment 24 hours. But I have the feeling that there’s a new tool coming up every two minutes, and the really important part is really which kind of community to have this and this takes, of course, a while for the others to build that community right? But you’re absolutely right. I mean, I used bubble each and every single day, whenever I had a question, there were there were some situations where I didn’t find a solution. So I made up the solution. But most of the cases when you google the question, there will be either tutorial on YouTube blog, post or foreign post your so Yeah, absolutely white. And so you jumped into the boot camp. Tell me how it was. How How many days was the boot camp? How much time did you spend so roughly and yeah. So how how does it feel? Like,

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah, So the purpose of the boot camp was specifically to launch an MVP by the end. And I think it was either eight or 10 sessions. Um, and they were spread between two hour sessions and through our sessions, um, so every week, and then just swapped bi weekly between the length of session, Um, so we kind of had, like, a The agenda was laid out at the beginning, what we would do each week and what we could expect. Um and then we would have homework about things we needed to go and do in our own time, with the end goal being at the end of the 10 weeks, we would have a viable M v p that we could launch and test. Um, because I did come from a non technical background. A lot of people in the boot camp were software developers or had development experience already. So it was a career learning curve. At the beginning. On the first session, we were asked to bring the domain, and I didn’t know what domain was. So I had to had to call Kristen afterwards and say, Hey, I need a thing called the domain. Um and she didn’t laugh at me. She was very kind. She showed me Go, Daddy, our domain host, Um, where all the names were? Um, yeah, it was definitely a real learning curve at the beginning. I also didn’t know what a landing page was. Um, so the boot camp was super, super, super useful because I had amazing instructor, um called Tony town and he spent a lot of extra time with me outside the class. Um, like, doing extra bits, helping me on things that I was struggling on. Um, but, like, yeah, I would go to him with questions, so I wanted to, like complete X, y and Z, and he would either apply. We had a slack channel with with everyone on our course on with a video or a demo of how to do it or he would like schedule a cool with me. Um, so I would say, in that sense, the boot camp was so, so, so useful because it wasn’t just the course that we got with it. And I know his team are also instructors, and he connects with a lot of instructors, and I think they will share, like, a similar ethos that they really want to help people get into bubble and break into the no code low coast there. Um, so, yeah, At first it was quite a big, um, roller coaster and steep learning curve. But as we got about halfway through the course, um, I, like, started to understand the terminology a lot more. Um, started to understand how to connect the workflows and the difference between the front end and back end. Um and then by the end, we had an MVP.

Speaker Kristen:

And I think this is something we so like. Under appreciate in tech, tech is quite a closed network for a lot of reasons that we need to work on and break down. But there’s also so much jargon in like in development and in tech that we that we don’t spend a lot of time breaking down or introducing new people to um so I think there’s a lot of things we take for granted is given. Um, and I think it’s really It’s down to Sophie’s attitude and willingness to be like I’m happy to learn from scratch, But I think it’s also really important for, like, the entire community to be careful, the jargon we use but also bring people into it, Um, and make sure that we’re really conscious of like, Of course, not everyone knows everything from the start. Um, things we take as given. We need to make sure that we’re giving an on ramp for people. And I think Tony did a great job of that, too. As an instructor, he was like a really useful on ramp.

Speaker Sophie: 

He was super, super useful. Um, and I would say that it just helped being honest with everyone on the course. Um so a lot of the other software developers had experience, and I was just really honest at the beginning. I said, Like I’ve only known about known about this course for a few days, Like I could really do a mixture like help like I don’t know what these words mean. Um and I was nervous to say that, but it made it so much easier because then everyone else on the course. What if they could see I was like struggling with certain this was like staring at the screen for a while, like other people would like. Help me and they would show me about the screen of responsiveness. As above, You must know how difficult that is to get to grips with at the beginning, because a lot of them had Software dev experience. They could then, like, talk me through it a little bit more. Um, yeah, and everyone was super helpful. But I think having those honest conversations can be tough. But as soon as you have them like, it makes it a lot easier because people understand where you are at a bit more, and it can like Contextualise, your experience and then, you know, help moving forwards.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, I think it’s It’s an important thing you just said about the terms and the community because, I mean, I also have a software development background. So I’m I mean, if I if I use some terms, I just use them because it’s my daily work and I do not think about it. Maybe the other person doesn’t know what I’m what I’m meaning. But on the other hand, I never saw this is not limited to no code, a low code community. And I never saw a community like Tech where if you have a question, everyone is basically jumping on you to provide help and support because most of the time we are so appreciate it. If someone is asking questions because we like to share the like to share the knowledge so

Speaker Kristen:

and I also think like tech is made up of like people who love to solve problems and get excited by interesting problems, and that might be the problem that you’re working on. But it’s also really keen to jump in and help other people solve their problems, too. So I think it’s making sure we like keep that that mentality and that ethos and just make sure that we’re very inclusive with that as well?

Speaker Sarah:

Absolutely, Absolutely. And I think on what you explain what the boot camp gave you. I think it’s now very easy to see why u boot camp is better than YouTube being used. Because when I thought about our conversation, I also thought about hey, you could have have had all this knowledge on YouTube for free because there are tonnes, tonnes, tonnes in south of video. But the problem is that if you have no idea what you’re looking for, you won’t find videos, right? So because no one is telling you at the very beginning Hey, you need a domain. Wait. So because there is no YouTube video telling you Hey, you needed domain to start your application. Otherwise maybe you won’t publish it, right? So you find and I think on you did you find where we specific solutions to very specific problems. But you don’t know which problems you will encounter. If you have no idea what might be a problem, it someday. Yeah,

Speaker Sophie: 

exactly. And now that I have more experience, I use these YouTube videos, but I know what to search for. Um, And when I was at the beginning of my journey. So these YouTube videos are kind of all the pieces of the puzzle and all the different. Yeah, the parts of the jigsaw that you need. But I just needed someone to give me an overview and to, like, walk me through the different steps of the Jigsaw and, like what needed to happen first and like, how to do the edge and find the corners at the beginning. Um, so I think it was really invaluable in that sense and also just being able to ask questions that when you’re watching YouTube videos like you can obviously respond to a video but like it’s not the same as just being able to like. I personally process information by asking questions. So like, part of it is due to my learning style. But just being able to actually ask the questions as you go along both from your peers in the course and from the instructor, I think gives it Yeah, that gave me a lot more value than just watching YouTube videos.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, and what I also really like on what you explained about the hood Kim, is that they teach you some kind of basics of the development stuff because the domain, I mean, that’s not a no called a local thing, right? Um, the differentiation between front and back end is no local or local thing. It’s a foundational knowledge or suffer development, which I think personally, if you have this foundational knowledge, then you can use towards much better because you’re not limited. Okay, I have to click this button and then disappears or something like that. Why do you have a You’re like you’re like an architect, and then you can use the tools and functionality to fit it to your purpose. Much better,

Speaker Kristen:

Definitely. And I would say like the boot camps are an investment, but as a company, they’re not. They’re not an outrageous investment to ask of a company. And I think like when you think for managers thinking about their teens and obscuring their teams and different things like it’s an investment, I would have made 100 times over. And Sophie, even if it wasn’t even if it hasn’t, she hadn’t still stayed so focused on the development of our product because and correct me if you disagree so but I feel like you also learned so much skills around bubble, but also around data structures. And how you really set set the thinking up that is needed to build that it feels really worthwhile to you, I think, as an individual. But to us as a company as well.

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah, I definitely started thinking in a very different way after I’ve done the bubble course, um, like, thinking about, like, processes and workflows and rather than like jumping in and then just trying to, like, get started on a project actually, like taking a step back and thinking what would be like a user’s journey through it, like a bubble is quite unique in the sense that, well, particularly high line and where we’re a small team, but the nature of bubble, where you can wear lots of different hats in one so you can do like you x. You can do the design, you can do the user journey, and you’re doing the back end like programming and software stuff. Um, so I think Bubble teaches you a lot in that sense, because you have to be thinking about lots of different things, um, and like processes and systems, as opposed to just straight up coding.

Speaker Sarah:

Absolutely. And this is what what makes you so forest? Because when I remember in my my old days, you know, we had someone working only on front and someone working only on second someone working only on screen, someone working only on user stories and some square master to keep everyone organised. And this is, I mean, that’s not years ago, right? So it’s it’s still in a lot of companies. That’s still how they work. And in some cases it makes sense to work this way and then some. Others like Euros. You can speed it up much, much more better,

Speaker Kristen:

And we inherently know from the actual, like consulting and the work we do like keeping everyone organised across multiple one project but doing multiple things at once. It’s really, really hard. And as you said like, it’s a useful thing to do for certain types of development. But not for all, like Web app development like, I think it’s way more useful, Um, for I mean, when I think about like the quantum computing company we work with, of course, it makes sense for them to specialists working on different parts. Um, but not necessarily for app development anymore.

Speaker Sarah:

True, True, True. So when you started developing, focusing capable, did you kind of have wire frames first? Or did just did. You just jumped in right away.

Speaker Sophie: 

So Kristen was very helpful in getting me to structure this. So I created wire frames. I did them on a Power Point presentation and then before jumping in and making it on bubble, Kristen went through them with me and we talked about what the user’s journey was. And I think we started with about 20 slides and then cut it to 10 because question was like in draining them. 

Speaker Kristen:

And to me, that’s a lot of clicks.

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah, so we we went through and we worked out what was necessary, mapped out the uses journey mapped out, like how we could simplify it. Yeah, concentrated on clicks, Um, and then I then put the wire frames directly into bubble. But I recently learned that using Figma you can import, I didn’t realise you can import directly from Sigma into Bubble, which I haven’t had a chance to use yet. But I think it’s pretty game changing.

Speaker Sarah:

Um, yes and no. So I I tried it And, um, you so you It’s not like you build everything in Figma uploaded and bubble, and then it’s everything there, so you still have to modify it. And there were situations where I actually spend the same time modifying it instead.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, so that’s it depends a little bit, but it’s it’s, unfortunately, not the solution to all our problems there. Um, if you if you look back on when you started your first day with the boot came on where you are today, I have two questions. First one,what were your biggest struggles? And if you could tell your younger self so younger in terms of when you started the boot camp one advice, what would it be?

Speaker Sophie: 

Um, my biggest struggle at the beginning was probably the jargon around the tech jargon, Um, and not having coming from a non technical background. Yeah, just like trying to fill out a missing piece of the puzzle. Um, and I would say that the thing I would do differently with document things I did not document things when I first started. I did not realise the importance of it. I just created creative created, um And like, it’s only now that, like, I’m realising the real importance of documenting everything. Um, yeah, I would do that differently.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, documentation end. And also the white naming of things. Yeah.

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah,

Speaker Sarah:

I feel you. 

Speaker Sophie: 

I had a bit of an issue with that at the beginning. I kept naming things when I was practising thing, but multiple elements, multiple workflows. Everything we cook was good thing I entered having to delete the page. It was a disaster. Naming things properly is yeah, I wish I knew the value of that at the beginning.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah, yeah, but this is this is something and I can only take for myself because I’m very bad at just things. But if it hurts you like if you have to delete a page or I don’t know, put another hour into your mess because it’s just the chaos. Then you will learn on the halfway that it’s really, really, really important. So what would you What do you think? If someone and have a lot of people approaching me, they want to start something. But they have no no self development idea and they want to use Bubble. What can you advise someone with in the same situation? What would be the best thing to do? Is it to go to a boot camp or is it too? I don’t know why it down first, what you really want to do. So what would be your advice there?

Speaker Sophie: 

Um, I would say go into a boot camp. I would say before even before doing that, have a clear vision of what they want to get out of the boot camp. Um, so maybe write down, like what? The problem. They’re trying to solve this, Um, some, like, use cases like user profiles of how people will be using it. Um, and the other thing that I would also suggest is I know I said, I didn’t use YouTube at the beginning because there were, like, lots of videos for, like example, like how to do like an API call or like other technical pieces. But there are actually some projects, um, where you can watch YouTube video and create the bubble programme or platform in its entirety. So I’d recommend doing that. I think there are some for, like, food delivery apps as well, because I think that would just, like, help to give context to and like, shape what you’re doing because you can see an outcome at the end of it rather than just, like, feeling, like lots of different pieces.

Speaker Sarah:

All right, So many good advice is here, uh, for the audience, because I have the most people in my audience. Exactly. People like you. Right. So you have an idea, but just don’t have either the time or the budget to hire a big software development team or to do it by themselves or to prove code. So they’re looking for solutions how to actually get it done and get out of the building as soon as possible.

Speaker Sophie: 

Yeah, I think if people have an idea that they want to do a boot camp, creating an MVP in a boot camp is Yeah, it’s invaluable.

Speaker Sarah:

Absolutely. All right. Thank you so much for your time. A lot of insights, A lot of advisors. I’m very happy to have you here in this podcast as I never had someone who joined the boot camp in bubble. So that’s it was very interesting to hear from me, and I wish you all the best. I will definitely follow you. And thanks

Speaker Kristen:

for having us. And people can sign up for our beta access. Um, so they can go to focus Inc dot co dot UK and sign up. And we’re also always looking for user feedback. Um, so loved here for many users who have.

Speaker Sarah:

So, guys, I will put everything in the show notes, So you better make yourself account and test it out and give feedback. And, of course, that your own digital products

Speaker Kristen:

Awesome. Thank you.

Speaker Sarah:

Thank you so much. Bye bye

Speaker Sophie:

bye.