Episode 4: Seth Kramer from No Code MBA

Sun, 01 Nov 2020 23:05:15 +0200

Seth Kramer (founder of No Code MBA) talks about the ways in which no code tools are changing the game for entrepreneurs and employees alike.

Episode 4: Seth Kramer from No Code MBA

Show Notes


  • No Code MBA website
  • No Code MBA twitter
  • Seth's Twitter


  • Paul Graham's essays changed Seth's life in terms of making him appreciate startup possibilities
  • Recognised early on that knowing which (no code) tool was right for which job was one of the most important things to grok. Different tools are better for different things.
  • A key moment was when Seth first used glide
  • No Code MBA courses are project-based, encouraging students to build their own projects and deploy them to the internet. This is also very helpful for keeping learners motivated and having a clear goal.
  • Linked to the above point - having a reason why you want to learn a particular technology (e.g. you want to build a specific kind of app) is a very powerful way to improve your learning.
  • Seth thinks No code tools are "game-changing" for both entrepreneurs and employees, allowing easy and quick automation of daily tasks and proejcts.
  • No code will make building basic CRUD applications as simple as building wordpress sites.

Quotes from the Episode

I always think it's better if you're able to build it on your own - you're going to be able to iterate and test your ideas so much faster.

I think no code is the quickest way in a lot of cases to get your idea on the internet, get your first customers and start getting feedback. I think that there's a lot of power in that.

Now it's much more difficult, but in the future I think that [using no code tools] will be as easy as building out an excel spreadsheet


[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the CourseMaker podcast. Today, I'm excited to introduce our guest, Seth Kramer, who is the founder of the no-code MBA site, which is an online community of motivated builders, learning how to create products together. Obviously, with no code. Seth, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to this episode a lot. Yeah. I've been having a look through your site. I think there's some really interesting products there and you're kind of right in the middle of an interesting wave. The, the no code wave. So looking forward to digging into that a bit, but before we discuss the courses and the sites, maybe you could tell us a bit about your background. Yeah, sure. So I've, um, I've been running companies for the past seven or eight years and started when I was in college with a, a food company that would deliver

[00:01:00] catered meals to fraternities and sororities. When I was in college, which has evolved into a company that I still run today, which is. Um, off campus meal plans for college students after college, I worked for a startup called urban stems and actually add urban stems. I, um, that was probably one of the places where I started to really get introduced to using no code, really within a company, because it was such an early stage startup. And I joined right at the beginning of the company. And then. Left right when, uh, the company was, had, had to raise around $15 million. So it had to kind of, kind of seen the journey from really launching to scaling a company. And because it was so small, I hadn't been able to, um, get involved in a lot of different parts of the company and yeah. You know, was able to use tools like Zapier, uh, to connect different things, uh, that we were working on or connect like our Slack to like our customer service channel. So they would be able to automate their job a little bit easier or using tools like

[00:02:00] Insta page to, to. Uh, put up a landing page, um, without, you know, bothering our designer developer to build that. So it was kind of using a lot of no-code tools pretty early on in my career. Yeah. So that was kind of, kind of my background in, in entrepreneurship. I would say the, the thing that kind of really got me into entrepreneurship is I was working at. A, I was interning at a government contracting firm while I was in college one summer. And this was really before I had really knew what startups were or entrepreneurship was, and kind of didn't really know what that meant, but I remember being at that internship. And reading essays by Paul Graham about startups and seeing what was going on at, you know, at this, this company that I was working at. And then reading about all the possibility of, um, you know, working at a startup or starting your own company. Um, and that kind of changed my life and made me really think about what I wanted to be doing and what

[00:03:00] excited me. So that's a little bit of, of the background before, you know, before starting no code MBA. A hundred percent. Those Paul Graham essays are definitely required reading for any listeners who haven't checked them out. I'll make sure there's a link to those in the show notes. Uh, they had a big impact on me as well. Okay. So I, it's interesting to hear that. So you originally didn't come from a software engineering background. Uh, you, you were kind of from the sound of things using these no-code tools. Uh, almost out of necessity. Is that right? Yeah, that's that's right. Um, I, I have eight HTML CSS background in building websites and I've tried to teach myself. Uh, Ruby on rails and to build like a simple app with, with on rails, which maybe that kind of led me more into no-code as I kind of got stuck on things there and was able to push through when I would do it on our no-code. And why was that urban stems that was running the data team there? So I, um, you know, was, was writing SQL queries. So, you

[00:04:00] know, a bit technical there, but not. I don't have a software engineering background. Yeah. Okay. And was there a moment, perhaps a startup that you were referring to there that you thought, wow, I can really see the power of no code. Was there a particular example or time where you really remember it clicking? It's an interesting question, because I didn't think of, I don't think anyone was really thinking of the term, no code, uh, even a couple of years ago. And definitely not when I was there. So I don't know that I thought of it as, as no code cooking, but I definitely, um, I think I, I realized the power of. Knowing about these tools and like knowing which tool was right for which job, and being able to kind of understand that and seeing the power, the power in that. So like, I think as an example I had briefly mentioned, but like just, you know, being able to build out an automation for our. Customer

[00:05:00] service team to, you know, be able to, to have some like, uh, you know, something come in on flack for them automatically, or they can respond on Slack. So like, things like that. I, I remember building out and thinking that it was really, really helpful. I think for me, actually, the, what really clicked for me in terms of no code was when I first yeah. Used glide, which is a platform to let you build. Um, apps from a Google sheet. It's a really, really cool platform. And that kind of clicked for me when I, when I was able to use a Google sheet, which I've been using for a long time and I'm really comfortable with, but then turning that into like an app that I could use on my phone. That to me, I think was kind of the moment that it clicked that like, wow, like no code has like really. Arrived and has come a long way. And like, this feels like something that this feels like a real app that like people could, could use. And I think that's more the moment that like the no, no code. Do you remember what that, that app was? Where, where these things

[00:06:00] started clicking? I don't think I had even like really built anything special. I think it was almost like I was just playing around with it. So it may have been like, you know, a list of. Um, you know, restaurants or something like that. And I was like, Oh, this is in my Google sheet. And now it's on my phone. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, cool. So you had these experiences working in startups, running your own businesses. What was the, what was the path like from there through to starting the no-code MBA side? Yeah, sure. So I, um, I'm always kind of like, like. Testing out new side projects and working on new businesses. And after that experience with glide, um, I was like playing around more with glide and like getting more, more comfortable with it. And I wanted to see, I was also at the same time, like thinking of different side projects that I could work on or side businesses. So one, um, one that I started was called conference

[00:07:00] tap. Which was building, uh, an act conference app, uh, for conferences, uh, you know, where their attendees could view the schedule. They could chat with each other. They could do all the things that typical conference apps allow them to do. Um, most conference apps on the market charge 2000, $3,005,000. Uh, it's quite expensive. And I was able to build something with glide that had. Essentially every single feature that these conference apps, um, had, uh, but was able to, I was charging, uh, $500 per conference. So it was significantly less. So I was, I started that and started experimenting with, with reaching out to upcoming conferences that were coming on, um, event bright. And I. Had, um, started to reach out to them and was, was having some success. So I was selling, um, about two a month for the first three months that I was working on this.

[00:08:00] So I was starting to get excited about it and thinking about like how I could scale it. Like, uh, so essentially, you know, productizing the service using glide and the thought there was, was, was a pretty big potential with it to, to kind of get into like the event tech space here. Um, and this was, I started it in January and then of 2020, and then COVID happened in March. So basically all the conference, every, you know, no one was going to conferences anymore. Maybe there was a way I could have like altered it for virtual conferences, but I didn't really feel like it was, I didn't, I wasn't sure that that was going to be, that that was going to work or that the conferences would want to pay for that. So that business kind of, uh, Went to zero because of COVID and all the conferences were just not having conferences anymore. And that's when I started thinking, okay, like what else can I do with this technology? And I was thinking like, the things that I'm doing with glide that I built out for this conference app. Or was more like complex than anything I

[00:09:00] had seen. Um, anyone else building on glide at the time. Um, now there's people doing, uh, there's a lot of people building a lot of stuff on glide, but especially at the time, I didn't see anyone else building, um, some of the things that I was building. So that gave me the idea to like, build out a tutorial for that and like, Start testing to see like, are people interested? That's kind of how, how I like transitioned into starting no-code right. Yeah. So really, so that was as early as this year that you started? No good MBA. Cause I mean, being looked through there, there's an awful lot of content. Um, you you've been working on. Yeah, thanks. I, yeah, I started, um, I think it was really around may of this year that I really started. Building out content. I had the idea for like, I guess April may like about two month or two months of like, I want to build out this tutorial. I want to do it. I never had recorded any tutorials before on mine and just kept putting it off. And then one day I was

[00:10:00] like, okay, I'm just going to do it. And like sat down and recorded it. And like the first one wasn't very good. And then I rerecorded it. Um, and the second time, like it was, it was better, but yeah. Then I just, I think it was honestly a combination of just being. Kind of stuck at home with, with, during the beginning of COVID. And I kind of just put my head down and, and was recording as much content as I could respect. Yeah. There's a lot of, um, of great looking to tours and content on there. Uh, so very impressive that you've put out in such a short period of time. Uh what's what's the, uh, the general. Approach like for, for one of the courses on, on no-code MBA, was it like for a student? Sure. So most of the tutorials are, are project based. So I'll pick a project such as, you know, building a real estate app like Zillow or building, um, a Tinder clone or building, you know, a job board on web flow. So there'll be a specific project that, that you're focused on. So

[00:11:00] from the student's perspective, you're starting from. From nothing. So you're just starting opening the tool and essentially you're going to go through each section of the course and each section of the course is going to be building, building it out from, from beginning to end. So as long. So if you follow the tutorial, you know, by the end, under the tutorial, you'll have your own. Project that's, you know, live and on the internet, but you'll also hopefully have learned how to do it on your own. And, you know, you could build out something similar or make some changes and, and do it on your own or build it for somebody else. So the idea is it's much, for me, it's always been much more interesting too. Actually build out a project when learning a tool, as opposed to kind of just going on tutorials and saying, you know, this is how you create an account. This is how you create a user page. This is how you created admin page. Like to me, it's, it's much more interesting if, you know, you're building a, a Tinder app and this is how you

[00:12:00] build an account so that people can log into the app and, you know, um, this is how you can match people together and things like that. So there's a big focus on project based learning. A hundred percent project based learning, I think is something that's helped me enormously in my self-learning as well and how I like to teach. Um, so yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Uh, is there some, some particular way you feel that students get the most out of the courses, something, um, students need to know to Excel when it comes to no-code tools and applications? In terms of no code and in general, I think it's very helpful to have your own project that, you know, you want to build and have that as a goal. Right. So I think, I think that to me is very helpful, like picking a project that you want to build during the tutorials of like learning how to use that tool and then being able to build it on your own. So I think that's very helpful in terms of

[00:13:00] success with no-code. I think a lot of it, um, also has to do with knowing. Which tool is good for which project, um, which I think is something that is helpful. Even if you browse no-code MBA site, you know, seeing the tutorial that I, the tools I chose for each tutorial. Um, so for example, like I'm using web flow for. Um, a job board or I, I built out a product hunt tutorial, so you can clone product hunt. And there's a few additional tools that are, uh, used with that. Um, so kind of understanding, Oh, like if I want to build uploading capabilities, like this is a good way to do it. I think kind of understanding what is possible. And each tool is, is kind of, is very important because it's, it's not there. It's different tools are, are better for, for different things, right? Yeah. And is it the kind of thing I'm very curious about these technologies? Is that the kind of thing where you can basically tell from the descriptions of the tools from browsing their sites, or is it one of those situations where you really have

[00:14:00] to spend some time using the tools for a while before it becomes apparent what its strengths and weaknesses are? I would say. A little bit that mean that is helpful. I, I would, I would say using it is going to be the most helpful to kind of find out its strengths and weaknesses, I think. Yeah. I would say, yeah. Okay. And any feedback from students, are there things that you've heard your most successful students do differently? Yeah. I mean, I think. I think the most successful students. Um, I think it kind of goes back to what I had mentioned before picking a project and really working towards that as, as your goal, for example, there's one student who has, uh, launched his own job board, um, focused on game developers. And it's been really cool to see him like go through the, like the job board tutorial and like, but then like do it, you know, alter it and, and edit it for himself. And I think like, To me, if you, if you have a goal in mind, other than

[00:15:00] that goes deeper, even than just learning it. I think that having that goal of why you want to learn it is always going to make it more, more motivating to really learn the material and apply it. Yeah, definitely. Okay. And just thinking a bit about, um, the field in general, like all the changes we're seeing with no code coming in, what sort of. Impact. Do you think that no code tools are going to have and how has it benefit students to pick up those kinds of technologies? Yeah, I mean, I think it's, it's pretty game-changing and, and in a lot of ways, both for entrepreneurs and, um, And people working at, at a company that just want to automate their job and be more efficient. Um, or if you are an entrepreneur and you want to automate your job. So I think. Uh, just building the, the company itself and also improving your workflows. I think it's, it's pretty game-changing

[00:16:00] and, and both ways, especially for, for entrepreneurs, which is something I'm really passionate about and getting more people to, um, inspiring or giving people the tools to, to start their own company and, and put their, create their idea. Like for someone that has an idea, instead of just having the idea, but, but saying to yourself that. I don't, I can't do that or I can't implement it, or I, I, I don't know anyone, any software developers or can't afford a software developer, or even, even if you are able to afford a software developer it's quite expensive and you have to like the communication between your vision and then you're just ha you're, someone's building your vision. Whereas, um, I always think it's better if you're able to build it on your own, you're going to be able to iterate so much faster. Um, you're going to be able to test your idea so much faster. So for me, it's, it's, I think no-code is really the quickest way, um, in a lot of cases to, to, you know, get, get

[00:17:00] your idea on the internet and, and get your first customers and start getting feedback. And I think that there's, there's a lot of power in that. Yeah, absolutely. Being able to. Be in full control of what your, the product that you're building looks and does. I can definitely see the power of that. Yeah. Then do you think the way that no-code is, is progressing now that we're going to see a lot of, uh, sort of with code tools replaced or do you think it'll end up sort of balancing out and there'll be certain tasks that make sense to do with no code? And, and if you, if you do think that sort of. Asking a few questions all in one here, but, um, do you think there's likely to be certain tasks that are beyond no code or is it just a matter of time? Yeah, I mean, it's a good question. I think that over time, the no-code tools will, will keep improving. I feel, I feel like it's inevitable that the no-code tools will keep improving and

[00:18:00] it'll, to me, it's, it's almost going to just enable. Just about anyone to become, uh, a developer. Um, or as you know, now it's much more difficult. Um, I think in the future, it'll be as simple as, you know, building out an Excel spreadsheet. If you can do that, then you could build almost any type of app. And we're, we're already getting, getting close to that now. I think, I think that it's not quite there. I think that, I mean, in terms of, will there be anything. W will, I think there's always going to be stuff beyond no-code. I, I think, I mean, first of all, I think co code obviously builds the no code tool. So a common complaint that people points out right. Uh, at least for now until, you know, but that, yeah, I mean, I think, you know, the code builds the no code tool, but I think that there's always new technology that, you know, software developers are going to be building and innovating on. So I think like, well, no code is commoditizing. A lot of

[00:19:00] things like maybe. You know, WordPress and now, you know, Webflow and other site builders, like building a web, very simple website is kind of becoming easier and easier and easier. Like it'll, it'll start to become similar with, you know, basic crud applications like, um, you know, I think that. Bubble does that now, too. And bubbles is good and I think it's only going to get better and then there'll be five other tools like bubble. I think that that are going to be great as well. Um, over time, like I think that like building more applications like that is going to become more, more and more commoditized. So I think this, it will continue to be more commoditize over time, but you know, it, it's not going to be everything or, or mean that we don't need software engineers. Yup. Yup. No, I mean, I was thinking maybe the ultimate Metta, uh no-code course is one where you build a no code application. That can go. You see what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, it's super interesting and I'm following this

[00:20:00] trend a lot. Uh, so yeah, I think listeners would be very interested to learn more. Where can they go to find out. MBA. Yeah, sure. Um, definitely would recommend checking out, uh, the website. So it's no code.mba. And, um, on the website, there are, um, there are free tutorials that you can watch just to kind of get started and. There's also resources. So we have an interview section with interviews, with founders who have started companies, um, without codes, they're kind of seeing, uh, have, you know, what tools they've used and like, how did they acquire customers and how much money they're making. Um, so kind of seeing learning more about other entrepreneurs that are having success, I think is. Is a really helpful thing to, to see. So yeah, I would recommend going to no-code dot NBA. You can, uh, follow us on Twitter to get all the updates that I just at no-code MBA on Twitter. And then my personal Twitter is

[00:21:00] Seth J Kramer. So you can, uh, uh, follow me on Twitter as well. Brilliant. And we'll make sure all those references are in those show notes. Well, thanks very much for coming on the show, Seth. Great to talk to you. Yeah.

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