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Profitable no-code startup ideas 🔮 Product Unltd

Christian⚡️
Christian⚡️
Validated, profitable no-code startup ideas in your inbox 🔮
Welcome to the first issue of Product Unltd!
After bootstrapping my first company (a software recruitment platform) to $20K+ per month using no-code tools, I started having way too many no-code startup ideas to ever pursue myself.
So each week, I send out a deeply researched business plan for a validated, profitable startup that you can start with no coding and very little money.
My goal: To help you start a bootstrapped business that pays $10K+ per month and lets you live the life you want. 🚀

The methodology
For each idea, we go through:
  • The opportunity
  • JTBD (Jobs To Be Done)
  • Why now
  • Companies that have proven the market
  • The niche
  • Pricing and revenue projections
  • How to build the no-code MVP step-by-step
  • Startup costs and time to profitability
  • Tactics to get the first 10 customers
Let’s go!
The Opportunity: Employee Engagement
Officevibe: Surveys for employees, insights for managers
Officevibe: Surveys for employees, insights for managers
Today we’re looking at the category of Employee Engagement. These are startups that help managers get feedback from employees and present the data in a dashboard to help them improve employee performance.
JTBD (Jobs To Be Done)
What jobs does the customer “hire” this product to do? Well, let’s say you manage a team. You need to:
  • Get weekly updates from your team and course-correct when needed.
  • Keep a pulse on your employees’ morale.
  • Intervene if an employee is feeling crappy and they’re about to make a costly mistake.
  • Motivate each team member according to what drives them as an individual.
  • Make sure each team member has goals they’re constantly striving for, personally and in the business.
If you’ve been a boss, you know this stuff is harder than it looks. Employee engagement platforms exist to help automate a lot of it.
Why now
With everyone working remotely, employee engagement has been tanking. In a recent poll of US leaders, 45% of respondents said their demand will increase for employee engagement software.
Leaders who might be good at managing in person are now struggling to find a rhythm virtually.
Companies that have proven the market
Top companies in this space are venture-backed and serving primarily enterprise customers:
These companies send pulse surveys to employees, allow employees to submit anonymous feedback, and present the data in a dashboard for managers. Some offer one-on-one meeting agenda tracking as well as individual goal tracking.
They are charging between $4 - $15+ per user per month, which for a team of 50 is between $3,000 and $9,000 per year.
The niche
This is a great example of a niche opportunity.
Because the incumbents are backed by VCs, these companies need to 100x or they’re toast. To do that, they are forced to go upmarket and target huge and mid-size companies.
That leaves a gap at the lower end - with no solution targeted at SMBs.
But the pandemic has been tough for everyone. Employees are burned out and small business owners are frustrated because they don’t know how to address it.
Here are some examples of niches that are underserved by the incumbents:
  • Restaurants
  • Local services (plumbers, construction, etc.)
  • Care centers (childcare, elder care)
  • Law offices
  • Medical practices
Pick one of these and go deep in it, and you’re likely to find an extremely profitable wedge into this big market.
For example, if you were to start an employee engagement platform for childcare centers, you could tailor the experience to them and reach out directly to win out over much bigger competitors. So your unique value proposition is simple:
We help childcare centers improve employee engagement and productivity through a simple, easy-to-use platform crafted specifically for childcare centers.
Pricing and revenue
15five's pricing page
15five's pricing page
The lowest priced is Officevibe at $4/user/month and the highest is 15five which starts at $7/user/month, or Culture Amp which starts at $3,300/year for its lowest tier (and goes way up from there).
A bootstrapper could confidently charge anywhere from $1 to $5 per user per month. Let’s say you charge $5/user/month. Your revenue is:
  • 1 customer with 20 employees = $1,200 per year
  • 50 customers with 20 employees each = $60,000 per year
  • 100 customers with 20 employees each = $120,000 per year
  • 300 customers with 20 employees each = $360,000 per year
You can also increase revenue big time by upselling two things:
  1. Implementation and training fee, one-time. Suggested ticket size: $500 to $5,000
  2. Coaching and consulting services. You can partner with specialized HR consultants, propose their services to your customers, and charge a 10-30% commission on all the clients you bring them. Suggested ticket size: $1,500 (one-day workshop) to $10,000+ (ongoing coaching)
The upside?
My estimation is that if you hit this business right, you could realistically make $1M+ per year within the first 2 years.
Some of these niches are actually huge (law offices??), so you could continue strong growth for years.
Not bad for a bootstrapped business!
Building the no-code MVP: Overview
Now it’s time to actually make it happen. You’ll want to start by building the MVP (minimum viable product). For me, “viable” means it does the JTBD for the customers (see above) well enough for them to give good reviews of the product.
Once you get going, of course, you may want to invest in hiring developers. But this MVP should work nicely until you’re serving hundreds or thousands of customers.
We’ll break this MVP down into its major features:
  • Input: Pulse surveys, anonymous feedback and performance reviews
  • Output: Manager & employee dashboards
From what we discuss here, it should be fairly clear how to build other stuff you might want like agenda tracking and goal tracking.
No code stack
Now let’s talk about the stack you can use. For the website and basic rails of your SaaS app, I’d recommend:
  • Webflow for the website ($12/mo)
  • Outseta for subscriptions, user auth, support, CRM & email ($29/mo)
  • Stripe for payments (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction)
  • Then of course you might want to buy a domain ($10+ per year)
Then for the product itself, you’ll want to use the following stack:
  • Bubble.io to build the web app ($29/mo)
  • Maybe Typeform to run the surveys (free, otherwise $30/mo if you want to remove branding)
Read on to see how to build this in detail.
Startup costs and time to profitability
Total total based on the stack above, you should not be spending more than $100 per month to build this out, and you can do it for $70 per month.
And profitability? If you’re charging $5/user/month, all you need to do is sign up 20 users and you’re break-even on a monthly basis. That could be 2 teams of 10 or even just one company.
Time to profitability
How quickly could you get to profitability? That depends on how quickly you can get those 20 users. Let’s say you take 1 month to build it and tweak it, then it takes you another month to get two companies signed up with a total of 30 users.
You will have spent $200 to get there, but you’re now making $150 per month. By the end of month 5, you’ll have paid back that initial investment and everything else is profit! That is, if you don’t sign up any other customers (you and I both know you will).
Payback period: 5 months (conservatively estimated)
Building the no-code MVP: In detail
Made in Figma, lol
Made in Figma, lol
Website: Outseta + Webflow
The idea here is that you create your landing page and key pages in Webflow, then hook up subscriptions, billing, user authentication, and more through Outseta.
Input: Pulse surveys, anonymous feedback and performance reviews
First we start with the inputs. For this you’re going to be sending out a lot of surveys.
Here’s the basic structure of a survey:
  1. Employee gets notified to fill out a survey. They fill it out.
  2. Survey responses get stored in a spreadsheet or database.
That’s it! Pretty simple. And it’s actually very much the same for anonymous feedback and performance reviews. The main differences are:
  • Pulse surveys are small, 1-2 question surveys that go out every week or every few days. These can be anonymous or not.
  • Anonymous feedback surveys are typically longer, and typically live in a specific place where people can go to fill it out when they have something to say.
  • Performance reviews are longer surveys that employees and managers fill out each month, quarter or year. Key feature: Each individual should only see answers directed at them alone. These can be anonymous or not.
These inputs all have one thing in common: We are collecting information from people and storing it somewhere. Here are the main stack options for building the Input side of the platform:
  1. Option 1 (beginner): Collect surveys with Typeform and send them to a Google Sheet
  2. Option 2 (intermediate): Collect surveys with Typeform and send the responses to an app built in Bubble
  3. Option 3 (advanced): Collect surveys AND store responses in your app built in Bubble
What should go in the surveys, you ask? For this, you can steal what others are doing. Sign up for an Officevibe free plan and take their templates. Steal ‘em from the top blog posts you find. The pros have figured this out, no need to reinvent the wheel.
Output: Manager & employee dashboards
Now we get to the fun part. Here’s where we will need to build the Dashboards your users will see, as well as some logic to make sure they see the right things.
Notifications
You need a way to trigger notifications to users when they have a survey to fill out.
  • You can do this fairly easily if you’re using Bubble (tutorial, and you can also send SMS).
  • If you’re using Typeform, just set up EmailOctopus or use Outseta’s drip campaign features to send out surveys on the cadence you want.
Dashboards
There are two options here, depending on how fast you want to go.
  1. Option 1 (beginner): If you’ve collected your survey data in a Google Sheet, you can embed the graphs on a website and gate the content using Outseta so that when the user logs into your Webflow site, they see the content they’re supposed to see.
  2. Option 2 (intermediate + advanced): Your survey data is collected in Bubble, so you can use Bubble’s logic and display rules to show the right thing to the right person. For this, I recommend diving into Bubble yourself, checking out this free tutorial video, or going all-in with Keiran’s new Bubble Crash Course ($149).
Tactics to get the first 10 customers
Start audience-first. From Zero to Sold by Arvid Kahl
Start audience-first. From Zero to Sold by Arvid Kahl
How you get your first 10 customers depends almost completely on which niche you pick.
And that niche should depend almost completely on the answer to one question: What niche do you personally have easy access to?
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to build something for a customer you have no easy pathway to reach.
Arvid talks about why it’s so important to start with the audience and solve their problem, rather than starting with the idea and finding an audience for it, in his book Zero to Sold. So before doing anything, you should go talk to some people in your life about their problems. Don’t even mention a solution! If their problem can’t be solved by this idea, then this idea isn’t right to pursue.
Disclaimers aside, how do you get those first 10 customers? I’m going to stick to childcare centers because I have a close family member who runs one. Here’s what I would do:
Step 1: Call the person you know who works in childcare. Ask them about the vibes in the team, and how engaged people are. See if there’s a problem there to be solved.
Yes? Ask them what online groups they’re a part of, where they get their news or discover new content, or where they interact with other people in childcare. Find the places where you’ll be able to reach people like them online.
Step 2: Find the first 10+ strangers to talk to. Now I happen to know that to find 10 other people who run childcare centers, I would head over to Google and search “childcare [city]” near where I live. Most childcare centers have a phone number and an email listed.
I’d collect the emails and phone numbers of about 30-40 centers in a spreadsheet. (You can use a service like D7, but Google works too.)
Step 3: Email them. Follow a similar formula to the one Jason Cohen used when he started WP Engine. Introduce yourself and say you’re the founder of a new solution to keeping employees engaged and performing well especially for childcare centers. Say you’d like to talk to them, and that you’d be happy to compensate them for their time at whatever rate they think is fair. Why use this formula? To quote Marketing Examples:
Jason sent 40 of these emails. 100% agreed to talk to him on the phone. Not one asked for any money. And after talking to him 30 verbally agreed to pay $50 / mo once the product was ready.
Step 4: Call them. Do the Jason Cohen thing and get people to promise to pay. Can’t get them to promise to pay? Do a different idea. Can? Go build it and get it in their hands as fast as possible!
And there you go, you have your first 10 customers.
Now go get building! 🚀
Issues like this one will soon be available to paying members only. So become a member now while the price is low! 😂
It’s $19 now, but for every 10 members I’ll increase the price to reward early members. ❤️
A free way to show some love is to tell me on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you! 🍻
Looking for a cofounder to build with? @ me and we’ll find someone for you! 🤝
Bonus: 3 more no-code startup ideas
And because I came across a ton of great ideas in my research, here are a few more ideas to stimulate your creativity:
  • Airbnb for storage
  • An online learning platform for dentistry students
  • A marketplace for buying and selling seeds (like, for planting)
Might pick one of these for the next issue. Hmu if you have a preference!
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Christian⚡️
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Christian⚡️
Christian⚡️ @christpetron

Each issue is a deeply researched business plan for a profitable startup you can start with no coding and very little money. Scroll down to see past issues.

I bootstrapped my last company to $20K+ per month using no-code tools, and I want to help you do the same.

Each email includes:
- Pitch and value proposition
- Target audience and their problem
- How to create version 1 step-by-step
- Specific tactics on how to get your first 10 customers
- Pricing, startup costs, revenue projections, and payback period
- 3 bonus ideas

Avoid analysis paralysis. Find your idea and build your profitable business faster!

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