How can low code affect your team and organization?

Lilith Brockhaus Low Code Podcast

This vision of Lilith and her company VisualMakers is to enable each one to build software. I couldn’t agree more on that, as this was exactly the same vision I had in my mind when building my own company. 

In this episode, we cover some very interesting aspects of low code, which are not technical. We are talking about the effects low code has on your team or organization. How does a team change if now everyone is able to develop prototypes and test their own ideas? We are talking about how low code can have positive effects on a failure culture within your organization, and how even creativity can be increased by low code.

I think Lilith and her story about funding her company is a role model and should get more public attraction. It is a perfect example that you can start a company with a CO-Founder which you don’t know for a long time and is not even in your own city. 

Lilith is using the following tools (her favorite ones):
 


Read the article on whether low code makes software developers obsolete (German only).

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 of the podcast episode – How can low code affect your team and organization?

Lilith

You just build something and it actually works and you can use it and it is actually also useful for your company. That makes a magic moment in and everyone who I teach no code so far.

Sarah

Hello, everyone today we have a new guest with us. It’s lillet and for those of you who follow me for a while, you already know her. As she invited me some weeks ago to her podcast from Visualmakers and a little bit just recently started her own company and today we will learn everything about her company, Visualmakers, and why she decided to join the adventurous path of being an entrepreneur. Welcome, Lilith!

Lilith

Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sarah

All right, please introduce yourself to the audience and I know you were already but the audience do not and tell us a little bit more about your company, Visualmakers.

Lilith

I’m Lilit, I’m 26 years old and I live in the beautiful Cologne, in Germany and I just started my own company Visualmakers, together with my co-founder Alex. We’re building a platform and community to learn all about no code and no low code, basically visual programming, so no code is a kind of different kind of building software which is accessible for pretty much everyone. Five years ago, I still wanted to be an actress, so I applied for acting school and auditioned in all over Germany for acting schools. And I’m pretty glad that it didn’t work out because then I kind of stumbled into the world of startups and tech and went through all these stages that you normally go through in a startup. Social media marketing, I was a key account for an event. We sold as a franchise in different cities all over the world. And with that we also developed an  agenda tool, a scheduling tool I would say, for the attendees of this event. And so that was my first glimpse into product management. And so I wanted to make a career in Product Management, switch companies, and started next to that I started to blog about Zapier, which was the tool I used. It’s an automation tool, no code automation tool. That’s how I kind of learned how software is structured or how coding languages are structured, so what do I need as they did for in the input as a trigger and then how do I do any to reformat that to send it to into another tool and stuff like that. So that’s how I learned no code at the time. I didn’t know that was no code because I didn’t know the term, but I quickly figured out that there are a lot of people who used no code and found a great community. So when I started blogging about it people got interested in that and we’re asking like oh that’s so interesting, can you help us out also with our automations? And so I started a Youtube channel and then I got invited to a conference no code conference. As the speaker. And that’s where I met my co founder Alex and he was already building an M. V. P. For visual makers. And so yeah he invited me for his podcast and then three weeks later we decided okay let’s do this together. Alex is more into product building with no code and I’m more in the automation sphere. So yeah that’s how I got here.

Sarah

I think it’s a wonderful story and I think if I’m white you haven’t met Alex before you actually started a company.

Lilith

Yes yes that’s true. We met at this conference or he saw me at this conference and then he wrote me on linkedin if I would like to come on his podcast and it was a pretty nice talk and I was pretty, well, a little bored at my company at the time and always playing around with the thought of starting my own company. Then I just asked him like that was quite just before Christmas I think I just asked him “hey do you want to do this together?” And he was “Like, yes, totally let’s do this”, and then we said, ok let’s let’s sleep over Christmas about it, if that still feels like a good idea and it did, and so we try to figure out because he’s in Hamburg and I was in clothing, so we only met over over zoom, and so we wanted to figure out “how can we work together?”. We knew we kind of liked each other because you know, the talk was good, but we didn’t know each other at all. So we thought “how can we figure out if we can work together or not?”. And we didn’t really come up with an idea, we just started to work together on some projects and did a kind of design sprint about branding and so on, where do we want to go with the company, what’s our vision? And that was pretty much aligned already, and so I said in the beginning, okay, before I quit my job, we definitely have to meet in person, and that was like after a month or so, was like yeah, okay, come on, that doesn’t matter. So and we actually met like three weeks ago for the first time for a pitch event, which was also kind of accidentally because we, we applied for this pitch event and then we suddenly we’re in the finals and they said yeah, we make a big tv production about it and it’s like if you want to come, then you can be alive on stage like in person and I was like okay now we’re going to meet each other for the first time and it was crazy, was really funny, but pretty good, it’s still a good idea to start a company together.

Sarah

That’s a brilliant story and yeah, I think it’s, it gives you a good example how you can start a company with someone without knowing each other for so long and also without seeing each other every day, because I know a lot of people who would like to start a company, but I’m looking for a California because they don’t want to start alone, which I can completely understand, but there may be are in a rural area where the community of likewise people is not that great and I think you are a very good example that you are not limited by your own boundaries in your own city or in your rural area. So I think we’re going to hear, so you said you are live on the vision of Visualmakers, what is the vision of your company and what is the value proposition you are currently offering?

Lilith

Our vision is to enable each and everyone to build software like everybody who has an idea for a digital product or process or whatever that they are able to actually do it. Right now, no code is little known, and it’s kind of the, in german we say, “clicky bunty” kind of code which is kind of playful, you don’t take it so seriously kind of code. But actually no code enables not only entrepreneurs who want to, you don’t have a technical co-founder or people who just want to build because they want to build. It’s actually pretty great and probably also competitive advantage in the, in the future four teams and companies because every company who uses no code to automate their processes or kind of make the process more efficient or build prototypes with, with no code, which is a lot faster than with classical code. Then they are really, really doing better than their competitors who do not. I could talk about this like forever, like how it affects people also when they are able to use no code and make this made magic moment from building stuff like building processes or building prototypes and you sit there and you just build something and it actually works and you can use it and it actually also useful for your company. That kind of makes a magic moment in everyone who I teach no code so far.

Sarah

Yeah, I think also when it comes to building something faster, you say there’s a competitive advantage and I completely agree because you can get feedback faster and you can learn faster. I think this is what applies not only to entrepreneurs but also to existing companies because in every Mittelstand company or also in the big corporates the skill to learn faster to adapt faster is something which is very crucial in the future and it’s not only the organization which must adapt faster but also they need to have the right technologies to build products faster to get feedback from real customers faster. I also think that there is a shift between prototyping how it used to be with really and only design and then some flows and stuff like that or actual testing with real customers with real products where customers can actually pay for it. We are currently in this shift where you really have to ask yourself do I spend so much time in building a prototype which is not usable by other customers. Or do I just skip this process step in my product development and develop an M. V. P. With low code tools and start, we’re testing right away and I think it’s that secure and shift we are currently experiencing. So how you said you’re working in startups, you’re working in product management, so how did this working experience help you in starting your own company.?

Lilith

I think I was really lucky when it comes to the companies I worked in so far, so my first company was Pirate, which is an event company who their goal is to connect founders with other founders, with investors, with Corporates and and so on and so not a digital product at that time, so all the processes were digitized of course, but the event itself, pre-corona was not technical at all, that changed a lot. There was entrepreneurship was a really big topic there, so no matter if you were an intern or working student or a management, everybody had to say in in everything like they were really transparent with everything like with financials with their vision, how the how to process the company when there was a bigI don’t know when there were problems and so on, so it was really openly communicated and you felt the worth that you had in the company and everybody was really a valued member and that really did this living example of flat hierarchies, which is always kind of, or I feel like it’s always a buzzword, but in this company was truly flat hierarchies. That gave me a lot to for for my yeah entrepreneurial journey I would say, and also with the tools we had just to test out, so there was a spirit of experimenting with products with processes and and always doing things better than before and was always like there was never this, this feeling of okay, we have always done it this way, so that’s the best way, that was just not happening there and so that’s I’m really thankful for that because that’s not a problem I have right now with this, okay, we have always done this or this is the right way to do it because there is no right way to do it, you have to figure out what is the right way for you, and with no code tools you can do that, like it kind of enables you to do that because even if you fail or some process does not work or some prototype or whatever, you can just rebuild it and test it again and which makes it really easier and and you don’t have the fear to fail because it’s it’s not that bad if you fail, you can just test it, experiment with it and then change it and really fast away, so that’s something that I think really, really helped me and one of the, we kind of had had, how do you say like there were no company rules, but kind of mission statements we had and one of them was speed is almost always more important and that just applies for no code so yeah, I think it had a really big impact in my way of thinking about problems also.

Sarah

I think you made a very good point and I would like to make some deep dive in there. It’s about mismanagement and the culture of failure because unfortunately I was not working in any kind of style, I was working on the dark side in Mittelstand and big Corporates and I always saw this big fear of failing even though we were not. You know, developing breaks or I don’t know work, it’s or whatsoever. We were building digital items which were the worst case, now, well, is not that bad, right? I really often saw these missed opportunities because of the fear we had and I think one fear was also the “we already spend so much time and so much money”, the software products I developed there was there was you know 6 or 7 digits in the whole budget and it’s so they were really expensive and we didn’t have the room for experimenting so much, we always had to have the software developers, the product management, product owners, scrum masters and all this stuff and I can only agree that if you are in a team and the cost of trying things out is dramatically reduced, you are also open to try it more often, you also open to failures because the worst case, if something happens, it’s not that bad anymore. I think that’s a topic which is not being touched yet so much in the no code low code community because we are focusing a lot on “I don’t have to spend so much time on programming” which affects teams, are not highlighted yet. I’m very thankful that you opened up this topic.

Lilith

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think also also another point comes with this no code actually enables you to be more creative because the fear of failure is reduced by no code, you always have the freedom just to start doing. When you start doing and then the ideas come, you’re faster but also more open to new processes. So I think it also kind of broadens your creativity that comes with the loss of fear of failure.

Sarah

Yeah, and I also think that the team set up can be changed because in the, in the early day in the Pirates -let’s say it this way- you had a creative person, a product owner, product manager and then you had kind of the working team will actually develop the software and there were kind of boundaries between them because the one where may and well down all those “I want this, and this, and this, and this and that” and then, there were the developers will actually bring it to life. I think if those two groups can work more closely together, so that you, as a product owner, product manager, innovation manager, whatever your role is can actually build something. There is no need in the discussion and in endless meetings about what the future should actually look like, you can just develop it by yourself or at least develop an M. V. P. and then show this to the software developers. I think even if companies decide okay I don’t want to use no truth because I don’t trust them to go really into production and stuff like that which is not true but this is another topic but even for the development of an M. V. P. for internal discussion it can help you to get rid of the situation where the product owners describing something and software development should understand what the product owner actually wants. I felt this pain so often because either I was the product owner describing the team what I wanted and almost never got it back the way I wanted, or when I was the leader of a team for different product owners and software developers where this was so often the case.

Lilith

Yeah. I recently talked to a designer, Johnas Alechs, who was also in our podcast, and he said the same. He’s building in web flow all these animations and stuff like that. He he never had the chance to do that before and now and he had to communicate it and that was also a barrier because the developers didn’t really understand what he meant and now he can show them. So I totally agree. Also, what I find interesting,  I was recently asked what my opinion was on the question, if no code would reduce developers to code monkeys. And I thought “wow, okay, that’s actually the other way around”, I think because no code also enables everyone on the team to not only execute stuff to build together and everyone from its team just puts their ideas together and to actually work as a team and not as someone as some product owners who just say what they want and then somebody executes it. So I thought it was you had to run around, but I found it interesting that somebody asked this question and suggested that no could would produce developers to be code monkeys.

Sarah

Actually I wrote an article about this, whether low code makes software developers obsolete. Even if you hear our podcast, I’m not so surprised that maybe some developers are thinking “it’s my job at risk?”, “Do I need to look for another job?”. This is not true, I think you have to see it more as you can focus on more valuable things because as a developer or any kind of person, doesn’t have to be a developer, you want to solve problems which are not solved yet. You don’t want to do things which you have done so often and do it all over and all over again. So I think it’s much better to use low code and no code tools for problems which are solved. No one needs a software developer to make a simple contact formula to make simple databases,, operations and stuff like that. You don’t need to have a software developer for that. But you may need a software developer helping you setting up an infrastructure and combining different tools or or working in really, really technical advanced items where there is no low code or no code tool yet, maybe it will be in the future. But I think if people and software developers can focus their whole creativity, their whole experience can be used for much more value. So I don’t think at all that low code makes software developers as clawed monkeys or obsolete at all. I think it can enable them focus on more valuable items.

Lilith

Yes. Yes, definitely. I agree. I would also say that no code and low code is actually the next logical step in the evolution of code because I think there will always be a place for let’s say high code probably. As s you said, like all that, all the things that have been done before, that you don’t have to do them again, that you can concentrate on the things that really matter and that you really require your creativity. Also on the basis like there are so many plugins, coding languages got easier all the time. Like there were plugins for installing a server and stuff like that. So you always had these, these little helpers that made coding easier and required less. Yeah, blind’s and so on. Also make coding faster. No code and low code is kind of actually the next logical step for that, I don’t think that it will replace code because I mean in the end, low code is still code, right? It’s just more accessible to a lot more people, but there will always be cases where it makes more sense to use high code or low code and no code.

Sarah

Yeah. And also I think the full potential comes when you combine your no code technologies with actual code, you need in some niches. That’s why I personally like the term low code much more because you can use what’s already existing to have your foundation and then in little pieces where you need like extra salt, like extra programming, you can add to this and this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have programming as you as you said, but maybe you don’t need 100% of it, you maybe 20% of it for which programming is really valuable.

Lilith

Yes, definitely. And I always wonder like I think low code and no code actually the wrong terms because I mean there’s it is still code, it’s just another form kind of but it’s the name. 

Sarah

So we have to come up with a new name.

Lilith

The other one would be visual programming but it’s like I mean no code is so much easier or low code is so much easier to speak out than visual programming. So yeah, I’m fine with it.

Sarah

So you are an expert in all those tools to give official makers a very good overview about these tools. What is your favourite one?

Lilith

My topic is automation. And if you would have asked me like a few months ago, I would have said Zapier   which is the tool where I started with with no code and it’s a very you know if you connect different APIs with with each other and connect different tools and you can send and reformat data and put that in different tools, you have always a trigger and then steps ahead. So it’s the basic principle if this then that and it’s very linear. So it always tells you what to do next, I really liked that one still. But, then I started to use Integromat which is also an automation tool and basically works on the same principle, has a completely different UX. So Zapier feels more like it was built from product managers and Integromat feels more like it was built from developers. At first, I really had a hate love relationship with Integromat because when you used to Zapier Integromat feels so different, because you build on a canvas and not linear like in Zapier and some of the functions are completely different and some are just the same and but I really got to love Integromat. It’s such a powerful tool. You can do almost everything with it. It’s crazy. Takes a bit of time to learn. But then with all the routers and filters and error handling you can do almost everything with it. So I’m automating all the stuff we have at Visualmakers with Integromat. So yeah, that’s definitely my favorite.

Sarah

That sounds, very good. I think Integromat is not that famous yet but I think it will be because you are not the first one, at least in this podcast, answering this question with the same answer. So there will be much coming out in the next and the next month I guess. Coming back to the launch of your company because, from the outside, it seems very smooth. So you had this idea and then you decided, okay, let’s let’s do this together and everything was very smooth at least seems like that. Where there’s some challenges? and if yes, what was the biggest challenge you experienced or maybe you are still experiencing?

Lilith

I have to admit it actually runs pretty smoothly. Okay, so what I think was the biggest challenge so far is deciding if we do it in German or in English and we decided to to do it in German so that was a pretty big challenge, but that’s, that’s over and was like, I don’t know, a week or so, where we thought about this?and we decided to do it in German because they’re pretty good communities in English. But in Germany, no, code is still pretty unknown and we thought, okay, when we want to go, if we want to go to to the companies and actually two teams have them and focus to boost their processes, then we want to do it in German first and then let’s see in a few years if you want to expand or not, but it seems it seems pretty, seems pretty reasonable to to do it in german first, so I think that was the biggest one right now, which feels still pretty small, okay?but other than that I would have expected the bigger challenge to be like really the decision, okay now I quit my job and start my own company, but that was not it, that was that felt pretty, pretty good. I mean I’m a person, I get excited really quickly and then I’m quite like it means the world to me, but then I have to see if it sticks and normally I have, I have this excitement face and after that I have to fear and and I’m not sure we face.so I had this in january and then after that there was like two weeks or so, then I felt kind of realistically enough prepared to make the right decision and it was just no question was completely no brainer to do this because in the situation in my life right now it just feels so good and which said with the worst case isn’t so bad, so all this fear that I had in these two weeks, like what’s the worst thing that can actually happen is okay in a year I have to I have to search one of the job, well that’s not so bad, so yeah, that’s kind of reduce the fear for me and yeah, so that was not, not that big of a challenge.

Sarah

Yeah, yeah, I mean we talked in your podcast when I was the interviewed guest about this and I really think that you have to see it from this angle that even if you’re failing, even if you have to start for and looking for a new job, they will experience, you have made doing this one year during starting a company. The first one your experience, I’m pretty sure, made give you some personal development which no one can ever take away from you and also it gives you on your CV a much better value because companies are actually looking for entrepreneurial mindset because you learn to structure your day, you learn to make decisions, you learn to think strategically, you learn to make budgets, all this stuff. I mean, being an entrepreneur does not only mean making good tutorials and building a community but also, you’re thinking about all this administrative task which are sometimes throwing, I mean you have got I guess really optimize them to to a high degree, but even that, I mean they’re studio some administrative tasks you have to do once in a while. I think that that we really had to have to get rid of and it’s, it’s almost for, for the german audience have to get rid of this stigma “I now try to  start my own company, but what if I fail?” and it’s not yet enough, the broad can actually be the start of a new beginning and you look at so much and I’m, I’m pretty sure that you also kind of felt that you, how you develop yourself father. So it’s, I think starting a company is the best personal development of course she can ever get.

Lilith

Yes, definitely. I totally agree. And there’s all these these kind of little sentences that seems so pathetic, like you only live once and whatever fails. But what if you fly all this stuff, it’s actually true. It’s like, okay, don’t worry so much. I heard a nice sentence “make decisions based on what should happen and not what shouldn’t” and I think that’s pretty good. I would recommend to almost anyone to start their own company if they feel like, definitely.

Sarah

yeah, I think what also should be mentioned is not only the good stuff, but also that you have to prepare yourself because, in another podcast, we also talked about that you should give yourself some freedom. Also financially, to not be forced to find large a big community in your case or in my case find customers paying your consultants, you’re paying for your development work pretty soon so that you’re not getting too stressed out at the very beginning. So I think it’s, we should, we should start more with being entrepreneurs and having our companies, but also planning carefully. So it’s not like “I quit my job and next month let’s see how I pay my rent”. I think we need to have, we need to have a good balance between, you know, of studying more more and maybe just opened up this career opportunity that someone could start a company because currently at least my when when I was studying and my first years of being employed, there was never ever an option to start our own company. It was either or Yeah, you are not satisfied with the job, okay, find another company, but not if you’re not satisfied with your job and start your own company. Yeah, it was never a case. I think this definitely needs to change.

Lilith

Yeah. And I think it’s changing right now because also with no code rate with no code enables you all to, to, to start a business and test the business out while you’re still still in your job if it’s full time or, or halftime or something like that. Right? So it gives you the opportunity to test things while you’re still in your day job. But also I would say that for me it was quite good to have savings for like three months of salary from my old job, so that I knew it well. In fact it was actually six months that I could live without any income. And I knew dad would give me the time. Okay, so and now we’ve gotten funding. Okay, good, awesome kind of funding, so we’re definitely good for a year, so if it’s only the two of us, that’s not the way it’s planned, but we are definitely planning on  also hiring employees and so on, that feels pretty good. That gives you kind of the freedom to, again, freedom to be creative.

Sarah

Freedom is the title of the podcast here. Yeah. So what is, what is next on your list? Do you want to share some projects you’re currently working on? Some insights.

Lilith

The main focus right now is to grow the community and get recognition. But we’re also working with the community on projects they can kind of put on our website to show people what can be done with no code. Most of them are actual products with no code but I also want to want to show automation like processes that are terrible with no code, and we’re also starting to do a little project also to show kind of the community how to how to use no code in their daily lives and not only build to build, kind of but you build something really useful because we think it just in every company no code is needed. Also, on the other side, of course, once we grew the community a bit, then we go to no code tools low code tools providers especially the European ones and give them a platform to get more recognition. So these are the two main focus points right now.

Sarah

I think the last point is where we’re good. We had this in another podcast session where American no code tools are pretty famous. Alright, everyone knows we have Flow,  Airtable,  Zapier, Bubble, whatever, but European ones and German ones are kind of unknown. I think we can really, also with this podcast so we can really push their recognition in the market because for many I mean, at least in Germany we always have the discussion, let’s call it this way, about which tools to use? and where data storage, data privacy and GDPR and all those funny things. And there are European tools or German tools would help us a lot.

Lilith

Yes ,and we have great ones actually. We have one like Integromat is European, they come from the Czech Republic. Then, there’s Levity which is also one of my favorite tools. I haven’t used it yet but Levity is kind of making AI available to everyone. They combine AI with no code tools and that’s pretty fascinating. They come from Berlin also softer or simplifying a video   and so on. So we are pretty cool tools that definitely deserve recognition.

Sarah

Yeah. I think we are good and developing in that marketing sometimes.

Lilith

Yeah. Yeah that’s true.

Sarah

Alright. We’re almost at the end of our session today. I have one last question and it’s a secret question. If you could start any kind of company without limitations in terms of money, personal time whatsoever. What kind of company would you start?

Lilith

Ooh good one. Yeah actually I think Visualmakers right now because it’s kind of I have this, I really want to bring this magic off “I built that stuff and I didn’t have any technical background” or even if I do then I built that stuff and it goes so fast and so on. I really want to bring that magic into the world and like to actually enable everyone you have also this Yeah. The possibilities of building digital products. So I’m pretty happy with that. So probably that would be in general, definitely a software company. Okay. Some kind of tech. Yeah, that’s definitely my company. 

Sarah

All right, great here, thank you so much for your time. I think we really learned a lot and I’m very grateful that we touch deeper into the topic of how no coaches can actually change the way we’re working together and failure management. And yeah, thank you so much for your time.

Lilith

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be here.