Start a side business with Low Code – Insights from HalloPodcaster

Jan Siebert Side Business Low Code

In this episode, we learn from Jan how he solved an actual business problem and started a side business with the help of low code. The initial problem was how to find a potential podcast guest. Being a podcast host myself I can really feel this pain as I’m always looking for new guests who should share their stories and give practical advice. 

HalloPodcaster is a very good example of solving a pretty obvious problem. How to connect Podcast Hosts and interview guests efficiently? 

With a very lean concept, they started to bring their concept of HalloPodcaster into life. In the beginning, there was no advanced software development – just a pure website with simple contact formulas to validate the first hypothesis. While both (Jan and Anika) already had their main business they started this journey together as a side business with low code to see whether there is business potential. 

Jan was able to build the HalloPodcaster application with low code completely by himself. Just with the help of YouTube videos and forums. 

 Jan is using the following low code tools:  

Links for HalloPodcaster and Jan’s Portfolio: 

https://www.hallopodcaster.de/

https://www.tomorrowweb.com/

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 

Transcript of the podcast episode – Start a side business with Low Code – Insights from HalloPodcaster

Jan

It’s easy to build the project but it’s also a lot of work to bring them alive and do the marketing behind this. 

Sarah

Hello everyone, today we have a new guest with us. It’s Jan, Jan is the owner of the HalloPodcaster application and its application fits perfectly well to this podcast as its goal is to match podcast owners, like me, with potential podcast guest And I was also using the service before I even know young as I was looking for podcast where I can show my business idea. So I’m very happy to have him here today and learn more about his journey and potential customer use cases. Welcome again.

Jan

Hello, thank you very much.

Sarah

All right, Jan, can you please introduce yourself a little bit and share the audience? How did you come up with the HalloPodcaster idea?

Jan

Okay. Yeah. My background is actually I’m a content marketer so I’m not this in podcast, I was more blogging and affiliate marketing and something like this. And my co-founder, Anika Boris, she owns a podcast agency and so when we were in the Mastermind group together we were always talking about her podcast agency and her clients and I was talking about my marketing stuff.and on one day we talked about a problem which her guests always had. So she got the problem from her clients that they were looking for my potential podcast guest. And other people in her network, we’re talking about “hey Anika, do you know a podcast where I can speak?”. And so actually she was the platform and she got the two parts of the HalloPodcast concept for her podcast agency. And when she told me this, I got the idea, okay let’s have the concept and bring it on the website and try to show how podcasters can find potential guests and the other way around. SWith this in mind we started this business with a simple website to solve the problem which guests actually had.

Sarah

Yeah. And not only guests, I mean I was in the same situation so at the end of last year in November, December, I was looking for podcasts because I love listening to podcasts. I think it’s the best way to listen to interviews and to get new insights while you are actually busy doing something else. Right? If you’re traveling somewhere, if you commute or if you do your exercises or whatsoever. I think it’s the perfect method to get new insights. You said you met in a Mastermind group. What kind of Mastermind group was that?

Jan

We are both in  a community for a location, independent entrepreneurs and in this community we started a mastermind for business topics. So actually we’re both running our own business. She, her podcast agency and I have my marketing business. In this Mastermind it was part of, we both would like to grow and with our own business and so HalloPodcaster becomes a side business for both of us. 

Sarah

The Mastermind groups I know are limited to six months or something. This is the same with the Mastermind group you met Annika?

Jan

In the beginning it was fixed forI think six months also but after that we thought it’s good for us, it’s good for our growth as an entrepreneur, it’s good for our business to talk about every week what our problems are and to get an opinion from another person. And so we yeah we did our Mastermind far longer, so we were sparring partners, something like this at this time. 

Sarah

It’s interesting because I haven’t met so many people in the Mastermind because I think it’s maybe a new thing and then I think it’s very interesting what actually can be an output out of this master my group that you meet new people and start a side hustle.

Jan

Definitely

Sarah

Absolutely. So when you I mean you have a very strong background and digital marketing. So when you set up the website to see whether there is potential, how long did it actually take you to get first results? Because when I was actually very surprised when I did the research where I was looking for podcasts that at least from what I have seen you are the only website we’re actually at least in it the whole Germany who’s actually doing this, obviously, problem.

Jan

Yeah

Sarah

It’s kind of strange. So I guess that it didn’t take you so long to get first results, but it’s true?

Jan

Well, yeah that’s true for the German market. So actually when we started we were the first company who solved this problem for the German market. That’s right. And so our start was only a website. We just wanted to present what the problem is and how do we want to solve this? And with this website we started in April last year and we had to contact forms on this website, one for the podcast host and one for the guests. There was nothing with user management or everything in the background for directory. It was just the website and this was the start and we were looking to “do the people fill out the contact form? Yes or no”. And with the network from Anika and from me, we had a lot of interested and interesting people in the beginning. So we decided to do the next step, the development of the platform and the website was to start and then we had to think “how can we solve the platform?” hopefully with no code for the next step so we can reduce our own task at this time.

Sarah

We will come back to know quote tools in a minute. There’s one other question I have. That sounds very smooth. So did you have any bigger challenges on your journey when you were launching the application, or building the application? What were the biggest challenges you had?

Jan

Well, for the start there were not real challenges, my background was to create website and do the marketing. So that was totally fine to set up the first version of HelloPodcaster and Anika as she has a good network and the contacts which were interesting for us to to get them on our platform and when we got the first interesting persons on our website and have some kind of influencers which also liked our concept. We can start to make this concept more public. Think that was the part. So actually, the launch was not a not a big bang launch. It was more okay, that’s the website. Let’s start, we talked here and we talked with our network and show hey this is our idea and asked who wanted to take part with us.

Sarah

interesting

Jan

That was actually fine and it worked for us.

Sarah

So  time rise. How much time do you now spend like for a normal date in a normal week? How much time do you have to invest in this project? Really?

Jan

Well now it’s maybe one or 2 hours a week.

Sarah

Well that’s not much. And how much was it? While you were really in a hot phase of doing it, pulling it?

Jan

In the beginning with the first website and with the was a lot of work because of all the contact formulas, I was putting them manually in our CMS to show them on our website. So I had a lot to do. This was more or less the pain from me as a owner of HelloPodcaster because my time is limited as well. 

Jan

And then and this was for me the part okay we have to yeah make it more autumn with more automation and more process since where we not have to do it manually And this was a point where I was thinking about, okay, shall we talk to a developer who can make a unique program development for us with any development language or should we find another way how we can solve the problem on our own? with less time and something more like we want to have the platform.

Sarah

And that’s what you did. Which no code tools did you use to build a platform?

Jan

So at this point I started to research how can I build this platform on my own and I found a no coder, he is I think he is in the U. S. or Canada. He built something similar with a job platform. So I had a project where I was “okay, he’s building something with this and this tool so I can try to build this for my use case as well”.  He started with the Webflow as the front end with Airtable as the backend with Zapier as the automation tool or something like that. And with a Memberstack for the user management. I started with the same startup  to build not a job platform but a platform for the podcast use case

Sarah

And you learned about yourself or did you get some help?

Jan

I learned a lot from some youtube videos and forums on flow, there are a lot of experts and the community behind no code, especially in the US. And so they are helping each other with different ideas and so there was a lot of stuff I was consuming and with learning how I can do the different steps and when you start with no code, it’s not super simple at the beginning, you have to think in the different  tools and was at some point where I was searching a lot to solve some problems with the Zapier or Webflow and something like that. I was very lucky to have the forum and get help there.

Sarah

So if you, if you think, how long did it take you to actually build the product? Just a rough estimation.

Jan

The version 2.0, I think I was developing for around four weeks, I think.

Sarah

That’s so crazy because unfortunately I don’t have a software developer now, my podcast, but I would like to have an estimation how long it would have taken him to develop everything on scratch because I would think it’s more than six or seven times more of all those functionalities you’re having.

Jan

I think that too. Well, in our situation it was exactly this point where we thought, okay, should we work with the developer and how long can I do with the project and what will it cost to work with the developer or? Let’s solve the problems on our own and let’s do it faster.

Sarah

And also it is also cheaper. Of course because I mean if you do it or if you have would have asked the developer to develop it for you, then it would also be higher where it would be expensive because the developer needs money and has his daily ways which needs to be covered. 

Jan

Yeah, that’s true. Yeah.

Sarah

I think it’s a very good example because of true aspects. The first one you did it completely by yourself, which I think as you don’t have a background. it’s really, really great. To actually build the web application which is running, is very interesting and can inspire us and, hopefully, other people to do it. That you can start a side hustle while you already have another business so that you’re not forced to stay with one business and during your lifetime that you can also say have multiple income streams? I think that’s also a very interesting case here. So you were able to build a product without no code. Do you think that you would have found a way to do it without no code tools? Maybe from fundraising or whatsoever, after you got some product validation.

Jan

Well, I think the other option we had was that we worked with the developer. For this case actually it was last August when I built this HalloPodcaster platform with no code. And well before that I think at this point we had to run the platform with the website, it was possible, yes. But I think to do this and we had to get more manpower and on the same way we had to get a developer who were the technique and whether the software and I think that was the other option we had. At this point because this was a side business and we had to think about how much money we want to invest in this side project. For us it was the only option to find a way we can do the work for the automation on our own. We were thinking about the other option but actually our optio number one was the no code.

Sarah

So if you look back at the time when you built the product, was there something which could have been better so that that your development was even smoother like more tutorials or like some course which shows you exactly what you need to do? Based on the use case of course, but what would have helped you better while developing the product?

Jan

There was some things what I did the transfer part from another projects to mine situation and I think if I had a better template for the whole platform or a course where somebody was showing step by step you could do it much more faster than I did and you can do it in a I think in a bit better way. Right now if I look back, well, my automation czar, there is a good potential for optimization I think now when I look back but, well, in this situation and last year I didn’t know it better so I built something like that.  Nowadays there is much more information already and you can build it even easier.

Sarah

Yeah and the good point is that you know that you got feedback from the market even more feedback and I think it’s more valuable to invest more time maybe in optimizing the product, because now you know, there are people out there are actually using my service who are willing to pay I mean you have free at two different payment options if I remember correctly. So one is for free and the other one is the premium model so you can also see okay money is coming in which then can be invested to further develop the product and further develop more features and optimize everything you already have. So I think you already made the first step to actually have something which you can optimize and

Jan

That’s right, yeah I had the problem, I had no time and so I had to solve it. Yeah the automation of the workflows that I do not have to yeah create every single profile by my own and that was a pain for me. And so the first option for the first version, it was totally fine that there was not all the features in with what we have now and it was the main feature of the main thing. Voice okay we need an automation for the podcast host and their interview guests so that they can create their profile on their own and update their information, it was also the next step after this. When we started to our members on the platform, they were not really in the situation that they could update their information, they could create a new text for example for their profile but they didn’t the first time they could not change the text with which they already put in.

Sarah

Because they had sent it to you and you did it manually I guess?

Jan

No, the first time we did an automation was when they created their profile but in the back end we had to show their text again so that they could edit it. But this step was not so easy with no code and O started with the option, if they wanted to edit their profile, they had to copy their text from the life side and paste it again in the edit formula, something like this. Sometimes you have to decide if I have to put it on now. 100% perfect, or is it okay, the customers, the members can work with this and I have the time later to optimize the thing later.

Sarah

Done is better than perfect.

Jan

Yeah, that’s right. We built the platform step by step.

Sarah

So you already mentioned tools you’re using: Webflow, Airtable, Zapier, Memberstack, which other tools are you using if any?

Jan

We have the tools, Jetboost, so our platform we have the different profiles for podcasters and for the interview guests and we have some search filters and with the search filters of Jetboost you can create these search filters very easily and it’s perfect integrating with Webflow. So that’s a good tool and   what for some automation Zai already started to use Integromat now but well it’s actually the same like Zapier but it’s an European tool. For the email automation or email campaigns we have Active campaign I think that’s all of our tools.

Sarah

From all of your tools you have mentioned, which one is your favorite and why?

Jan

I think my favorite is Webflow because my background is creating websites and do the frontend, something like that, the visual part. So you can do a lot of things with Webflow in the frontend so I like to work with this but on the same side my favorites for back end is yeah eight air table because well I when I studied I learned to know how databases work and how they look like on how the programming code of behind this looks like andyeah with this knowledge and we live work at Airtable it’s fun. It’s awesome that you see these things you learned which were so technical and you cannot with Airtable is very visual,  it makes it fun to work now with these tools and to do this to do the work without the technical doing.

Sarah

I think if you know from a technical perspective how long it normally takes you to to build that stuff or to even come to the position where you can do the work, then you even appreciate low code tools even more because you know exactly how much of very very boring time it’s now saving you. So with all the knowledge you have now building such products, do you think now more when you see new business opportunities? “I could build something and try it out”, because now you don’t have to spend a fortune for an external developer developing everything from scratch. So did low code tools and having a podcast application changed your way of thinking?

Jan

A little bit yes, actually I see a lot of problems where you could create a business around and yeah, at the moment I have to stop myself to not do every business idea with the low code tools because yeah,  it’s it’s easy to build the project but it’s also a lot of work to bring them alive and do the marketing behind this. It’s not only the part to build a projectand say, ok, here’s my project. Come on, it’s everybody, Yeah, come on, get members on my platform or whatever. And with this thing in my mind, I know, okay, it’s easy to build the other platforms and the apps are what else? but yeah, it’s also work to it too, bring them alive.

Sarah

It also a work to find actually the right product-market-fit because, as you said, building is not the, it depends on the product of course, but building is in most of the time is not the most complex part of the actual development of a product launch and actually marketing as well as finding customers who are willing to use your service is much harder in most of the cases.

Jan

Yeah,

Sarah

absolutely. You said you wanna stop yourself a little bit. Are there still some projects you want to share with the audience, your company working on or is it currently really what you’re doing right now and nothing more planned in the future?

Jan

My focus actually, so how the podcast, we are building step by step, the platform and but at the moment we work less time at the platform, but we have a roadmap and we will optimize step by step. That’s coming in the future. Right now, I have a platform or a project I started last year. It’s an online event platform. I also started the same way to build the M. V. P. with more or less a website and a lot of manual work behind it’s called the morkupmessa.de. And with this platform I decided now that not to build this platform with no code. So here I am going to contact the developer and ask him if he can build this my concept which I built with the website and with the manual process behind that. He built this with code.

Sarah

Why is it that this time you decided to do it with hard code?

Jan

In my opinion, the project now I have some features in mind which I had no idea how I could solve this with no code. Also, I didn’t want to build this new project with american tools as there are less German no code tools. So I decided to build it with a high code, from a German based so that GDPR is definitely compliant. It’s a topic a bit more serious with this data out of it, privacy and something like this.

Sarah

Okay

Jan

Other point for mewell I I I had the feeling in   that I didn’t want to do all the stuff by myself, so I would give something from my head away that I have more than the strategic part and more the creation and the marketing and would some somebody else built the right product so that I’m not so limited or that I have too much steps on myself so I can work more on the creation and passion on the other things I’m doing.

Sarah

That’s understandable. I have one last question for you and it’s a secret question, it kind of relates with what you already said. Maybe let’s see. 

I always ask my interviewed guests and I have to come up with a new one when this episode is life. So the interviewed guys cannot prepare. The question is: if you could start any kind of company without any limitation in terms of money, time and personal, which company would you start?

Jan

I think something similar to what I’m doing right now. I am like the event branch and community events and things like that and I think there is a gap where not so many, yeah suffered from it right now and so this is the business I want to build right now. 

Sarah

You truly found your passion.

Jan

I think so yeah, it’s a software business and it’s the niche where I think I have passion in this nation, I want to bring up a solution for this.

Sarah

Audience, what you can’t see, but I can see is that he’s really smiling, so he really truly found his passion. Alright. Yeah, thank you so much for all these insights and answers. I think you are a great example of that and everyone can build an application which is actually used and without any programming languages or knowledge. So that’s very very interesting,you are a great example and I really hope that a lot of people are motivated by your example. Thank you so much.

Jan

Yeah, you welcome.