Learn to use low code to build a start-up job list

Podcast Low Code Founders third episode

In the third episode of the Low Code Founders Podcast, we will talk about a concrete example build with low code – the start-up job list. In addition to that, we will talk a lot about the German start-up scene and what we actually need to motivate more people to join the adventure of entrepreneurship.

When I first met Sandro, I was completely impressed by his attitude. Sandro is studying Business Administration and is working as an entrepreneur in residence. He is managing the product Start-up job list.  He gets much support from the company Pirate where he got his first insights into the low code start-up world.
 
Sandro is using the following low code tools:

  • Zapier
  • WordPress
  • Airtable
  • Fastbill
  • Mailchimp

This episode is for everyone who likes to get more experience in entrepreneurship but can’t afford to start a company from zero.

We also talk a lot about the German start-up culture in general. What do we really need to change to have more of an entrepreneurial mindset? Where can universities support at the very beginning and what else can we do.

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. 

Sarah 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/lowcodefounders)

Transcript of the episode: Learn to use low code to build a start-up job list?

Speaker Sandro

I think it started when I was like 15, me and my best friend, we started producing videos as a hobby. And at that time we were actually like buying a domain for a website and follow founding a video production company, but we never took it as seriously. So it was more like a joke, but we started doing it and that’s what I thought it, stayed in my mind and I always liked the idea.

Speaker Sarah

Hello, everyone. Today we have a new guest with us in our newest episode of the local printers podcast. Sandro is currently studying business administration and works as an entrepreneur and residency. And in today’s session we will learn about what does actually mean and what Sandro is doing all day long, welcome Sandro!

Speaker Sandro

Hi Sarah, thanks for having me.

Speaker Sarah

Sandro, can introduce yourself a little bit to the audience and explain what you’re actually doing all day long with being an entrepreneur in residency.

Speaker Sandro

Yeah, thank you for the quick introduction, Sarah. Yes, I’m Sandro. I am 23 years old and I’m currently studying business administration at the University of Cologne. And apart from that, I am currently in charge of startupjoblist.com as an entrepreneur and residents. I firstly got in touch with the startup scene shortly after I started my studies at the University of Cologne when I joined the Entrepreneur’s Club Cologne, which is kind of like in student initiative who wants to push entrepreneurship and it does that by organizing events and like offering benefits to student members, but also start ups with benefits or discounts on startup products and that kind of stuff. And I have been active in that club for like two years and also let it be the chairman of the board for one year and thus get in touch with a lot of start ups and the scene in general. I enjoyed it a lot. And so I had a Cance to build a great network in this field and that’s how I also got in touch with Pirate as well. Pirates is the owning company of startupjoblist.com and which is basically a platform for jobs and startups which is one of the reasons why I’m here today. We build it mostly with low code or no code tools.

Speaker Sarah

Well you have a lot on your plate and I think you have a lot of experience with your age and with your time working in the field. What does your normal day look like? What are your task, you are responsible for? What are your tasks you’re doing at Startupjoblist? Give us some insights on that please.

Speaker Sandro

Yes, so my days vary a lot generally. There are days where I work a lot on the product with my developer and days where I’m in sales mode and basically just sending out messages and emails all day. Something that I have to take care of on a daily basis would be something like social media posts, which we also automated mostly though with Zapier and customer service of course, so if there’s something I will have to take care of it and coming back to your first question, as an entrepreneur in residence, I’m I’m kind of in charge of everything and it’s it’s kind of when you have your own business and, that means you have to take care of everything in terms of the development of the whole product, marketing and sales, customer service accounting and all the stuff that comes with it and fortunately I’m working together with a developer of our software agency Division5 who can develop the stuff that I can’t do with no code, so mostly it is no code, but not all of this.

Speaker Sarah

When you say you’re working as an entrepreneur in residence, there are so many different tasks you have to take care of, you just told us some of them are you getting any kind of support? BecauseI know by myself that starting a business and also managing a business is kind of tough and you have to take a lot of different tasks and need to have a lot of different skills, so where did you get the skill set and someone supporting you if you have questions?

Speaker Sandro

Yes, absolutely. At Pirate we have something you could call a sub company which is called Pirate Builders and this is basically the company I’m working for. In Pirate Builders you could describe or consider a school or training ground for young and ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build great products and that Pirate Builders, we are for builders at the moment who are all passionate about entrepreneurship. And each of us has our own project. Mine is sort of joblelist.com. All of us are students and were being supported by the two founders of pirates who advise and help us in our journey as entrepreneurs and so we support each other and if we have questions or need advice, we also can ask our founders who are very experienced. Apart from that we also have like specialists in different field in the whole Pirate family, which I could ask if there is something, but it’s also likeI also do educate myself a lot when it comes to stuff like SEO, for example, because I’m just interested in that kind of stuff and I think with with the internet today, there’s so much possibility of getting information and also so many events in the start up scene in general to get knowledge.

Speaker Sarah

Yeah, I think you mentioned to where we interesting points, the first one is that I really like the environment Pirate Builders is giving you because it’s the kind of environment where you can experience yourself but not with with projects without risk because you are, I mean you’re responsible for an actual product, so it’s not like there are no customers on it or there’s no money involved in it. And I think that’s a very good way to train young people to become entrepreneurs. I think that’s a really good idea and you started that from a very early stage. What was the reason to join this path of being an entrepreneur? I mean you could also maybe have an easier life and say “hey, for my 20 hours”. You’re doing it as a working student, so you’re not doing this full time. I mean you managed all this task in only 20 hours per week, which I think is very exceptional. You could also have chosen an easier way to just look for a job as a big corporate. I mean you are studying business administration, so I think you have a white or you can choose from different possibilities. Why entrepreneurship? What was the influence you got?

Speaker Sandro

I think I’m very passionate about it. There was no real influence from my parents or friends or something like that. I always liked the start up culture and the idea of building something and owning something you created yourself. I think it started when I was like 15, me and my best friend, we started producing videos as a hobby and at that time we were actually like buying a domain for a website and for founding a video production company, but we never took it as seriously, it was more like a joke, but we started doing it. That thought stayed in my mind and I always liked the idea and I once read an interesting analogy to this. It was from a founder, unfortunately, I can’t remember who wrote it, but it was about the fact that the guy always liked to build lego and that it was about the process of building it, it’s not about the construction or what you have in the end and that’s how I also felt about producing videos and also further the growing startuplist.com. I really love the process of growing something that you can look back to. Being in the driver’s seat is something that I really, really appreciate and like there it gives you it gives you a lot of responsibility, but also at the same time a lot of freedom. Being an entrepreneur or an entrepreneur in residence as I am, you can learn really a lot, very little time and  carry a lot of responsibility which makes a lot of freedom. You can decide when you want and, in my case, also where. You have to consider though that is a lot of work, it can be very stressful and you have to be able to deal with a lot of pressure as well, but for me it pushes me in my personal development a lot which makes it a great experience for me. 

Speaker Sarah

I can also, I can only agree on that, I mean being an entrepreneur by myself, I think the learning curve from your skill set as well as from your personal development is where we were very high and I personally never experienced that in any kind of corporate job I had so far, so when it comes about learning education and personal development you said it was never easier to educate yourself as today because there’s so many tutorials, videos, e-books out there. So how did it help you build the product you currently have with all these tools in terms of no code low code tools and all these tutorials out there. How did you start building this product with the tools given and why did you choose to use those tools available and not develop everything by scratch?

Speaker Sandro

First of all, I have to say that I didn’t develop it from scratch, so when I joined the company in September last year, the product was mostly already built and ever since I further developed it, and I think what you’re aiming at with your question is why  we’re using no code, right? I would say that generally it’s more affordable for a company to use no code, and tend to hire a developer to do it all. It makes someone like me who is not a developer being able to understand how the product works and to further develop it quite easily without even having the knowledge of programming languages and those are the main reasons I would say, but the thing about no code is it makes creating things successful to the vast majority of people and it’s now not a privilege not only to developers anymore, so even if I’m on holiday or something, I could easily ask one of the other builders to do something.

Speaker Sarah

I think it also makes developing much faster, which then helps also validating ideas much faster. We all know products which were developed for years and at the end of the day no one used them because they were completely developed for no demand. So which tools are you using for the development of the product as well as for your daily business? You mentioned Zapier already, right?

Speaker Sandro

Yes. For the website we’re using WordPress and we’re automating all processes via Zapier, Airtable as our database. And we also use a lot of the google apps like Google Sheets, Gmail, Data Studio and for automating billing, for example, we’re using FastBill. We also work with apps like Mailchimp for mailing. Those are the most important ones that we use.

Speaker Sarah

What is your favorite from all those tools?

Speaker Sandro

I would say Zapier, I love Zapier. The possibilities are unlimited of what you can do and it’s easier than ever. I really love safety and I’m a big fan of Zapier here.

Speaker Sandro

All right. What about you?

 

Speaker Sarah

I’m a big Bubble fan. I can’t hide that. I mean I love Bubble because my background is more computer science. So I was in software development for ages and it gives me more the possibility of creating something exactly I would like to have, in one application and with one tool. So if I want to develop an application, I don’t have to have Zapier or Airtable because I have everything in Bubble and it feels more under my control, right? So I really have everything in one plate I would say. There are two reasons why I am really a big bubble fan and the first one is that you have unlimited possibilities of integration. So whatever you want to integrate as long as it hasn’t defined interface, so defined API you can integrate it without any problem. So this is the first one. And secondly, and I think this is really unique for Bubble is you can also do it the other way around. So for example if you build your whole backend system in Bubble, you can also provide an interface to other applications. For example, if you want to have your frontend developed somewhere else like in Adalo as a no code or low code tool, you can do that. So you can say “I want to develop the front and completely by myself”, “I want to do programming”. You can then still use the API from Bubble and use your own backend developed at Bubble. I think that’s that’s something I haven’t seen so far and I know from when you want to develop it by yourself because it was one of my task and my corporate job, we want to develop and in our interface where other systems can interact with our system and it was a nightmare and there are so many situations where I built exactly the same. I wanted to build it when I was in corporate or I actually built it when I was in my corporate job and I now can really compare how much time I now need and how much time I needed. And we’re not talking about like 10 years ago, we are talking about two or three years ago and there are so often situations where I really say “why on Earth didn’t I know this before?” and “why on Earth are not more people actually using these tools?” and I think that’s because not so many people are aware of what is actually existing. I wasn’t aware as well and I was intended for supper development. So I would ask myself why I didn’t know that. I also think that maybe the acceptance of such tools is not that highly incorporated like it is in startups.

Speaker Sandro

I believe. I do believe so as well. Yeah, I just wanted to say I haven’t used it yet, but I will definitely take a look into it because sounds great.

Speaker Sarah

Absolutely, That’s also the reason for this podcast to show more people, not only entrepreneurs but also innovation managers, team leaders, what you can actually build with such tools and not only on a technology side, but also which kind of products you can build and what impact it has on the whole product development cycle. Okay, enough promotion for Bubble, by the way, I’m not being paid from Bubble, just want to mention that. It’s very interesting that you have met so many different startups and got so much experience from different startups and also with your product Startupjoblist, you have a lot of insights about what kind of jobs and what kind of people startups are actually looking for. So if you have all these positions, of course you have in your mind, which are clearly listed on your own startuplist, what kind of jobs are mostly listed?

Speaker Sandro

What I see a lot always is that startups are looking for developers. We have a lot of developer jobs on our job list. Recently, what I see in an increase in is that many startups are actually looking for entrepreneurs and residents actually just, just like me and there are more and more coming, so this seems to be becoming more popular and I strongly believe that there are a lot of benefits to offer that position to someone, especially early stage startups are always looking for entrance, so working students and entrance, definitely something that I see a lot.

Speaker Sarah

You just said that the company has some benefits for offering a position like entrepreneur in residence? What are the benefits?

Speaker Sandro

The benefits are that if you put someone in a position like that he or she will be successful, if he or she doesn’t take the responsibility 100%. So you will have someone who really gets in the position of being in charge and you want this person to have a drive to push the company forward and, I think, by this you can, especially in the beginning as a start up, kind of like of hiring a co-founder basically by just giving a student a Cance like this.

Speaker Sarah

What kind of personality do you think are startups looking for? On a hard skill side, we are developers of course, who is not looking for developers and learning residents? But from the soft skills said what kind of personality are startups looking for?

Speaker Sandro

You have to get the will to take responsibility for things and be able to work autonomously without someone always telling you what you have to do. We call it hands on mentality. You should really be able to manage yourself well. At the same time you should be a team player and, in most startups, a certain affinity for tech is definitely an advantage. Something that also I believe strongly matters is someone who’s passionate and shares the mission of the startup, a cultural fit you could say.

Speaker Sarah

I also think that, when I compare corporate life with startup life. In corporate life, if you are not sharing the vision of the company, which unfortunately most employees do not do, I think you can have a better chance to hide it right? You just go and do your work from 9-5 and get your salary at the end of the mountain. You don’t have to put your whole passion and heart into the products and projects. If you’re working on a startup that’s completely different. You really have to believe in the vision and really say that’s the reason why I get out of bed every day and working more than 9-5 and not only during my daily task and then whatever comes after that. That that’s a big difference also that you really have to feel committed to the start up and its mission.

Speaker Sandro

Yeah, I absolutely agree with that.

Speaker Sarah

If I were now a student, I would think “on one side, I really have to be passionate about and I really have to give a lot of energy and time and the salary is not that high as is the corporate world, which is kind of normal, why should I do that?” What are the benefits someone is getting from working in the startup world compared with the corporate world?

Speaker Sandro

Sorry, can you repeat that question?

Speaker Sarah

What are the benefits, the pros, of working in the startup compared with working in the corporate environment?

Speaker Sandro

I think one of the benefits would definitely be that, of course I’m generalizing a bit, you probably will have more freedom. Working hours are usually more flexible and oftentimes you can rather work remotely in a startup than corporate. Also, probably you won’t need to show up in a suit every day or have those kinds of restrictions. So it will be more important what you do than what you wear for example. If you join a startup very early, you could also have the possibility of holding shares through investing for example or be in a leading position in the future when it starts to make its way up. That also can be a great advantage of joining a startup. You usually have flatter hierarchies, faster decision making, which is also something that I value a lot at at our company. Less bureaucracy. On the other hand, in the start up you could experience a lack of structure, especially in the beginning; limited resources, which can also be an advantage of since you have to get creative and there’s other stuff like you for sure have a more uncertain job security since the startup could fail and there’s other stuff like little pay and most of all you have to work a lot, definitely.

Speaker Sarah

With all this experience you have with different startups and the startup field, you  know a lot of startups, do you agree that everyone in public is saying we don’t have enough startups and we should support start ups more and we need more of this startup mindset, do you agree on that or what would you say? 

Speaker Sandro

We should definitely push entrepreneurial thinking more in Germany. I don’t know if I would put it exactly like that, there is plenty of opportunity at least in Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia. I can especially speak for that region, but also like in Germany Berlin and Munich of course a very well developed startup ecosystems. There is money, theres support, we have a lot of accelerators, incubators programs, and that’s a great thing. Of course, there can always be more, but in Germany, I would say we still have a cultural issue where as an entrepreneur, you’re still like in many cases you’re still just seen as a super greedy person who’s just looking for money for making a lot of money and I think we need a Cange that, we need to Cange this paradigm, let’s say it like that. This also comes with the fact that many Germans are rather risk averse and I think this is something where we can start pushing entrepreneurial thinking already in schools and further in university and most importantly, not only in the faculties of economics and management, but also in other fields, I think that’s that’s a very important point.

Speaker Sarah

Absolutely, yeah,

Speaker Sandro

Just one more thing, I think we need to embrace risk taking and teach people to be more courageous in general.

Speaker Sarah

Absolutely, and I, I think what we also have to do, you don’t have to have a startup to be an entrepreneur, right? So that’s something which kind of stopped me for a while because I always felt pressure. I have to have this big idea, the next Facebook, the next whatever, because I have to have a startup which is scalable and makes at least 10 million in revenue. But  that’s not what entrepreneurship is all about, you can easily start being an entrepreneur if you start something very small like a consultancy or a small product and then grow. That’s something I miss, because of all these acceleration programs. They’re like, you have to have to start up thing and just like a hype and I think especially maybe older people, so I mean not the 70s-80s, but maybe someone their fifties or forties, maybe they don’t feel like, okay, I have to work in a startup because most people are your age or 30 or something, right? And I think that in Germany we need to have more of this mindset of an entrepreneur can be a career option.

Speaker Sandro

Absolutely.

Speaker Sarah

When I was studying around 10 years ago, no one talked about being an entrepreneur, there was not ever a situation where someone decided “yes, after my studies and I started business informatics”. There’s a very good Cance to start your own thing after that, but no one even talked about it. It was never an option at all and I think this is what really is missing and also to support people who like to start, not a startup, but a company. I think sometimes this is mixed up, so for example, I myself, I don’t have a startup per definition. My services are not scalable, however, in many meetings and events my company is also defined as a start up and I think that we don’t do us a favor with this term “startup”. 

Speaker Sandro

Yes, I very much do agree on that with you and when, when you’re talking about how it was in university 10 years ago. I would say, from my experience so far, it has Canged, but not a lot. There definitely could be more, especially back in school, but also in university and in most courses it’s not considered to be a path you could choose, but we have to raise awareness about the possibility of taking this path and possibilities of it in general. So yeah, we need to talk about that more in educational institutions.

Speaker Sarah

Definitely. Do you see at your university, because I mean when you introduce yourself, you also talked about all these clubs and that you’re at your university. Do you see that for some at your university that there are some programs supporting it, but it’s not enough? Or are people not interested in joining these opportunities?

Speaker Sandro

First of all, the student club, which I joined, is a university independent club. It’s fully independent. We reached out to all the universities and in cologne in the region. At my university, we have the excellent startup center Gateway, which is kind of like a good long service you would say in German. A service for people or students, especially if you want to found a company and they offer an accelerator program, they offer a coworking, consulting, workshops, pitch competitions. They also supported us at our student club in organizing events. There is a lot happening, they also received a big funding last year or the year before. I definitely do see a Cange here in a positive trend. I can speak for the University of Cologne here that they really try to push this.

Speaker Sarah

If we have so much currently going on, at least at your university, what is still missing? How can we motivate more people to join this adventure? I call it being an entrepreneur. So what can we do more to Cange this mindset of being a money making entrepreneur?

Speaker Sarah

Yeah, I believe this information has to be more accessible to students who are not in the faculty of Economics and Management for example. That’s is where I don’t see it as much, that’s where we need to raise the awareness about the possibilities of entrepreneurship more at least from my perspective from what I hear from other students, because also for people who are studying medicine, there are plenty of opportunities to do something and as you said, they’re often just not being informed. This is something where we could definitely do something. 

Speaker Sarah

I just got an idea, I mean we’re talking about students the whole time, we should not forget also people who are not studying. I don’t see any or almost any programs supporting an apprenticeship and the idea of becoming an entrepreneur after that. I think that that’s also a completely different situation there. I would definitely make a podcast about that because I think that’s very interesting because we’re talking about student initiatives and clubs and acceleration programs and stuff like that, but I’m not sure whether people are actually touched by that. It’s a bubble of people just like the higher class and upper class bubble, right? Or if everyone is attracted from those programs.

Speaker Sandro

Definitely do agree that this of course is only available to those students. That’s why I would say we have to start with this at school because of course not everyone chooses the path of going to pursue an academic career. But the possibility to start a company after an apprenticeship is of course there. That’s something that also is not, at least in my experience, not taught as much and we were not informed about that as well.

Speaker Sarah

Yeah, and I’m just thinking if you’re not only teaching people how to become an entrepreneur but also using no code low code technology to build your own products, how the world would actually Cange, right? As you also said at the beginning,  no code low code tools give us the possibility to develop products for a wide range of people who were not able to or who were not able to to start development products because they simply can’t program. I think we should not only teach more entrepreneurship in schools, but also computer science, like some basic information about how a software system works or how the internet actually works. So to give also the hard skills, but also the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur.

Speaker Sandro

Definitely. Yes.

Speaker Sarah

All right, Sandro, we are almost at the end. I have some secret question for every one of my guests, I’m going to ask you about it and I’m very curious about your answer. The secret question is: if you could start any kind of company without limitations in terms of money, time or personal, which company, which is served.

Speaker Sarah

I think about it spontaneously, I would actually like, I’m thinking at the moment about starting that video production company with my best friend, which we thought about in our teenage years because this is kind of like was was something that I was very passionate about, and I like doing and in fact at something that I consider doing some at some point in my life still. So my first thought would be this. Yes, something like that. 

Speaker Sarah

All right. All right. Follow your teenage dreams. Every good answer. All right, Sandro. Thank you so much for your time and all your insights were very, very interesting. And yeah, maybe we will see each other again in another podcast when you manage startupjoblist to have 10 or more people making 10 million revenue.

Speaker Sandro

My pleasure, thank you for having me.