What is a Low Code Tool?
Low-code / no-code tools are a type of software development platform that allows Start-up Founders to create business/technology solutions without having to write code.
These platforms are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of use and ability to quickly create applications, without having to hire software developers to build Minimum Viable Products (MVP’s) and sometimes full-scale applications.
What Can You Build With Them?
Not sure what you can build with low-code / no-code tools? Here are seven examples:
- Membership Sites – sell your services, courses, time to your audience and collect regular payments.
- Online Stores – sell your products around the world.
- Marketplaces – bring buyers and sellers together in your marketplace platform.
- Tracking Systems – track customers, applicants, trainees, volunteers, or donors throughout their journey.
- Event Planning – plan events and manage team tasks to get things done.
- Asset Management – manage digital assets, brand identity, videos, images, anything!
- Business Process Applications – automate your processes and speed up service and payments.
But there are many more possibilities, once you define your requirements and find the right platform.
How Technical Do You Have To Be To Use Low Code / No Code Tools?
Not that technical at all. But you do have to be willing to learn how applications are built and work, including:
- Defining business processes
- Defining user journeys
- Defining the features / functions you need / your users need.
- Defining the data you need / your users need.
- Finding the right application platform.
Great news. That’s exactly what you are going to learn in the Roadmap TO MVP Program.
What Are The Benefits Of Low Code Tools
Low code tools provide a number of advantages over traditional coding. Five advantages are:
- Easier To Learn – Once you understand the data, logic, and presentation layers – it is often straightforward to build your application. You do not have to learn coding languages or program the application. Most low-code / no-code tools provide templates to get started and learn the fundamentals.
- Cost Effective – Many low-code / no-code tools have free starter trials and/or a low monthly starting fee. Usually you can start to build your MVP with an investment of under $100.
- Speed To Market – Think of low-code / no-code tools as something that already has many of the fundamental building blocks built to get an application built. You will configure it with your brand identity, flows, and data. This makes building time much less than traditional software development.
- Require Less Resources In The MVP Stage – You will be the primary resource in building your application. You won’t need software developers at the beginning. Once your MVP is built, launched, and tested in the market – you will have a solid understanding of where you want to go next. Then you can bring in more resources as you scale.
- Pivot Easily – Because of ease of configuration and speed in building, you can change your application as needed once customer/user feedback comes in. You will not have to wait for external resources to be available to you.
Are There Any Limitations of Low Code / No Code Tools?
Low code tools have some limitations. These tools are not suitable for highly complex applications. They are ultimately not as flexible as traditional software development as they require the use of a predefined set of features. Finally, they are limited in terms of scalability.
But they are great for quickly creating applications that you can take to market and test. Even if the application needs to evolve to using traditional software development at a later date, you will have:
- Clearly defined all your requirements
- Built and tested a Minimum Viable Product
- Have the knowledge and expertise to easily work with software developers to take it to the next level
Low-code / No-code tools are a great way to quickly create applications without having to write code. Their advantages will help you get to market in record time. And during this journey you will build a set of skills that will help you grow your business in the long term.
written by Reema Duggal, Presenter and Facilitator of Roadmap To MVP 2023
Website builders have become increasingly popular in recent years. They offer a great way to create a professional and polished website without the need to learn to code. Let’s look at five I think are great to work with:
Carrd is a one page website builder. It is a simple solution that allows users to create a website quickly and easily. It offers an intuitive drag and drop interface and also allows users to add custom HTML and CSS to customize their website.
- Easy to use: simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to create a one page website without any coding knowledge.
- Professional designs: nice selection of modern and professional templates, allowing you to create a website that looks great
- Inexpensive: free but limited, pro plan is USD $19 per year for 10 sites
- Limited customization options: Weebly provides some customization options, but compared to other website builders, these are quite limited.
- Limited SEO tools: Weebly’s SEO tools are quite basic, so you might need to look into additional tools to optimize your website.
- Has knowledgebase, but very limited support
Wix is a website builder that offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. It also provides a wide range of customization options and a multitude of template designs to choose from. With Wix, you can create a professional website quickly and easily, with no coding required.
- Easy to use: simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to create a multi-page website without any coding knowledge.
- Customizable: Wix provides a wide range of customization options, allowing you to create a unique website that fits your style and vision.
- Template designs: Wix has a huge selection of template designs, ranging from business and eCommerce websites to personal blogs and portfolios.
- Limited design freedom: Wix limits your design freedom, as you can only use the templates and customization options that it provides.
- Limited features: Wix has some features, such as analytics and SEO tools, but they are quite limited compared to other website builders.
- Limited scalability: Wix is great for small websites, but as your website grows, it can be difficult to scale with Wix, and you might need to look into other options.
Squarespace is another popular website builder, offering a wide range of templates and customization options. It also provides powerful eCommerce tools and analytics, making it a great choice for online stores and businesses.
- Professional designs: Squarespace has a selection of modern and professional templates, allowing you to create a website that looks great and is easy to navigate.
- Powerful eCommerce tools: Squarespace provides powerful eCommerce tools, such as a shopping cart, payment gateways, and inventory tracking.
- Analytics: Squarespace offers detailed analytics, allowing you to track the performance of your website and make changes accordingly.
- Expensive: Squarespace’s plans can be quite expensive, and you might need to invest in additional features to get the most out of the platform.
- Limited customization options: Squarespace provides some customization options, but compared to other website builders, these are quite limited.
- Limited SEO tools: Squarespace’s SEO tools are quite basic, so you might need to look into additional tools to optimize your website.
WordPress is an open-source platform that is used by millions of websites around the world. As of January 2023, WordPress runs over 800 million sites globally, representing 43% of the global market. It allows you to create a website quickly and easily, and it also provides plenty of customization options and plugins.
- Customizable: WordPress allows you to customize your website with themes, plugins, and widgets.
- Easy to use: WordPress has a simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for anyone to create a website.
- SEO friendly: WordPress is designed to be SEO friendly, allowing you to optimize your website for search engine rankings.
- Hosting: You will need to purchase hosting for your WordPress website separately
- Security: WordPress is open-source, which means that it is vulnerable to security threats.
- Expensive: There are free themes, but to make WordPress really work you, professional themes are required. My favourite is from Elegant Themes and runs about US $250 for a lifetime subscription
- Flexibility: provides a lot of flexibility for creating a website. Combination drag and drop with sophisticated fine tuning of details
- No Need For Plugins: Webflow comes with many features already built in – instead of extra plugins
- Powerful features: integration with other data sources such as Airtable
- Lack of code customizations. If you want to customize websites at the code level, it is not possible with Webflow.
- Not good for Ecommerce: while fully featured, ecommerce can get clunky using webflow
- Expensive: plans range from $12 to $45 per month – no free plan
When it comes to choosing the best website builder, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every website builder has its own pros and cons, and the best one for you will depend on your needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface, powerful eCommerce tools, or SEO optimization, there is a website builder out there that will meet your needs.
Three Contenders For Growing Businesses –
WooCommerce, Shopify, & BigCommerce
Customers around the world are buying more and more online. There is an ever-growing need for reliable and powerful eCommerce solutions. When it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform for a growing business, three of the most popular and powerful options are WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce. They offer different features, benefits, and drawbacks. In this article, we will compare them based on five key factors:
- Size of your business
- Ease of use
- Plugins required
- Integration with nventory management systems
Size of Business
- WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform that is best suited for small and medium-sized businesses. It is a great choice for businesses that require more control over their online store and also want to customize their store without the hassle of coding. From my perspective, it works for both Business to Consumer and Business To Business. Because it is integrated in WordPress, it works especially well when long form blog posts include links to specific products discussed in an article. But, it is not the right product for companies that have thousands of SKU’s.
- Shopify is an eCommerce platform that is designed for businesses of all sizes. It is an ideal solution for entrepreneurs who are just starting out or established retail businesses that need a robust online presence. It is also an excellent choice for businesses that want to quickly set up and launch their online store. From my perspective Shopify excels in the Business To Consumer market. It’s native integration with media channels, google shopping make it an ideal platform for the retail market.
- BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform designed for businesses of all sizes that may require more features and customization options. It is a great choice for businesses that need a powerful and scalable platform to quickly set up an online store. From my perspective, this is the right product for Business To Business companies. It has strong inventory management functionalities that are simple and elegant for companies that have complex products.
Ease of Use
- WooCommerce requires some technical knowledge to set up and manage. While it may be a bit more difficult to use than Shopify or BigCommerce, once you get the hang of it, it can be a very powerful and flexible platform.
- Shopify is one of the easiest eCommerce platforms to set up. It offers an intuitive user interface that makes setting up and managing an online store very easy. It has a wide range of features andplugins that make running an online store simple and efficient.
- BigCommerce is a powerful platform that is easy to use. It offers an intuitive user interface, a wide range of features, and plugins that make running an online store very simple.
- WooCommerce requires plugins to be installed for it to extend it’s functionality – but there is a plugin for everything – and they are easy to find.
- Shopify does not require any plugins to be installed for it to work. It offers a wide range of plugins available that can give you more functionality and customization options.
- BigCommerce does not require any plugins to be installed. It also offers a wide range of plugins that can give you more functionality and customization options.
Integration with Inventory Management Systems
- WooCommerce does not offer integration with inventory management systems. However, there are many plugins available that can help you integrate with other systems.
- Shopify has it’s own Inventory Management solution called Stocky that’s included in the Shopify POS Pro. And it has an API that allows for easy integration with other systems.
- BigCommerce has inventory management as part of it’s core functionality. It also has an API that allows for easy integration with other systems.
- WooCommerce is a free open-source platform, but you need to pay for hosting, a domain name, and other essential services. The cost of these services will depend on the size of your business and the features you need.
- Shopify offers a variety of plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. It also offers an enterprise plan that can be customized to meet the unique needs of each business. It has a 14-day free trial so you can give it a try before committing to a plan.
- BigCommerce offers a range of plans ranging from $29.95 to $249.95 per month. Additionally, it offers a 15-day free trial so you can give it a try before committing to a plan.
- All prices are in USD
When it comes to choosing an eCommerce platform, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce each offer unique features, benefits, and drawbacks. Ultimately, the best eCommerce platform for your business will depend on your individual needs and budget.
The world of ecommerce is constantly evolving and changing in response to new technology, new trends, and the ever-changing needs of consumers. By 2023, ecommerce will have evolved even further, offering consumers a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience.
One major change to ecommerce in 2023 will be the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI and machine learning will allow ecommerce stores to create more personalized shopping experiences for customers, based on their past behaviors and preferences. AI-powered bots can suggest products or services that are best suited for each customer, creating a more tailored shopping experience. AI will also help ecommerce stores to better predict customer behavior, allowing them to better anticipate customer needs and provide greater customer service.
2023 will also see an increased integration of voice search capabilities. As voice search technology continues to evolve, ecommerce stores will be able to offer customers easier, more natural ways to search for products and services. This will be especially helpful for customers who are looking for specific products, as they will be able to quickly find what they’re looking for with a simple voice command.
Another significant change to ecommerce in 2023 will be the increased prevalence of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. AR and VR will allow customers to explore products and services in enhanced 3D environments, providing a more engaging shopping experience. Customers will be able to virtually try on clothes, test out products, and explore products from different angles, all from the comfort of their own homes.
Finally, 2023 will see a major shift towards mobile-first ecommerce. Mobile-first ecommerce means designing ecommerce websites and applications for mobile devices first, rather than desktop computers. This will create a more seamless shopping experience, as customers will be able to purchase products from their phones and tablets with just a few taps or swipes. Mobile-first ecommerce will also allow ecommerce stores to provide customers with a wider range of payment options, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets.
These are just a few of the changes that are expected to take place in ecommerce by 2023. As technology continues to evolve, so will the way we shop. By 2023, ecommerce will have evolved even further, offering customers a more personalized and streamlined shopping experience.
This is my first AI powered post written by Sudowrite. I am a bit overwhelmed by the power of AI. Just experimenting
I’ve worked in the tech industry a long time. I’ve worked with enterprise applications, oen source applications, productivity applications, and a million plugins.
Recently, as the low code movement gains steam (and I lead the Roadmap To MVP Programs for women entrepreneurs with regional Innovation centers WEtech and Haltech, some notable software players stand out. Today, I need to talk about my conversion to Airtable.
Their slogan is:
Build A Better Way To Work
Airtable’s intuitive yet powerful platform gives everyone the flexibility to create their own solution and make work flow faster.
5 Things I Love
- It’s like Excel on steroids. It is a database, but instead of having to write SQL code and queries, you add your column headers as fields, enter your data in rows, link records in different tables, and then organize it in every way possible. I am realizing sometimes now when in Excel or Google Sheets – I’m getting frustrated that I cannot view my data in single record, kanban, or cards views. Sometimes, I find myself copying excel data into an empty Airtable table just so I can really interact with the information and understand it.
- Gather data through Airtable Forms in minutes. It’s just another view. Just like above, create your column headers as fields in your main table, create another view called Form – and add your logo. Drag and drop any fields in the form out that you do not want to show, share the form with a link or embed it, and Go! It takes mere minutes.
- Automations and Extensions greatly improve workflow. When a record is added, send an email, or send a slack message, or append a row in Google Sheets. So many ways to improve workflow, simplify life, and try new processes in very little time.
- On a Pro Plan, one year of backups. Well, that is a no brainer. You can always pull a snapshot back into your database if something goes wrong. However, I do keep the schema backed up separately.
- Airtable integrates with everything. It has some great pre-built out of the box connectors, but with Zapier or Make – it can integrate with a lot of other software. Currently, it seems to be leading – with a ton of companies vying to show they integrate with Airtable.
Give it a try. The Airtable Community is great. Lots of help.
Excited to be kicking off Roadmap to MVP with RISE (RISE Windsor-Essex), WEtech (Windsor Regional Innovation Center), and Haltech (Halton Regional Innovation Center).
Roadmap to MVP is a 10-week program to help you build your minimum viable product (MVP). The program aims to give woman-identifying entrepreneurs the opportunity to define and develop their MVP in a supportive and collaborative group environment. Participants will gain access to a community of other women founders and will receive 1:1 mentorship from program facilitator – Reema Duggal – President of Sitaran Group and Co-Founder of Silicon Halton.
The program modules included:
- Understanding The Product Development Lifecycle
- Defining Your Minimum Viable Product Features and Functions
- Developing Your MVP With Low Code / No Code Applications – Part 1
- Developing Your MVP With Low Code / No Code Applications – Part 2
- Developing Your MVP With External Help
Plus, there will be 5 Office Hours Sessions to ask questions and get help.
Wishing everyone a very happy 2021 holiday season. May it be full of warmth and cheer.
And let’s all hope the new year is full of peace and joy!
As we enter 2022, the impact of COVID-19 is that businesses of all sizes are going through Digital Transformations. Developing a digital business roadmap and framework that aligns with your business goals is one of the most important things you can do. Customers everywhere are expecting to transact online with you at every level. Are you ready?
If you’d like to chat about what it means to build a roadmap and framework so you can plan your projects and budgets – let us know. We can help guide you.
Over the last seven weeks, it has been incredibly rewarding to lead the Roadmap to MVP Program – a partnership between Haltech and Silicon Halton.
The goal was to help female entrepreneurs who may not have the technical skills required to develop a minimal viable product (MVP). This can delay entry into the market or cost female Founders more dollars up front to contract development leaving them short of funding to drive other needed activities of early stage start ups. Haltech in partnership with Silicon Halton created Roadmap to MVP as a way to accelerate through this milestone.
The program modules included:
- Defining Your Minimum Viable Product Vision / Scope
- Defining Your Minimum Viable Product Features and Functions
- Developing Your MVP With Low Code / No Code Applications
- Developing Your MVP With An Application Development Company
- Selecting An MVP Hosting / Cloud Computing Platform
- Testing and Launching Your MVP, and a
- BONUS Networking Session
Having spent a few decades in the tech industry in Marketing, Sales, Consulting, Project Management, and Practice Management – it gave me a chance to impart a significant amount of knowledge to the Founders. It also helped them understand that technical development is not as difficult as one might think.
One of the most important things that a business owner has to decide in their Ecommerce Journey, is the route they are going to take in their application strategy: package implementation, SAAS, or custom implementation. There are really important differences in all three – and the right solution depends on you and your company.
Package, SAAS, or Custom – What Do They Mean?
A Package Implementation means you’re going to:
- Use an application that has been built for your industry that has all the business functions, data constructs, and workflows built in.
- You’ll have the opportunity to configure (no coding) the application with your data so the applications works for you.
- You’ll also have the opportunity to customize (coding involved) with your specific workflows / data requirements by purchasing plugins or hiring a developer to customize the application. Although, every time there is an upgrade from the application vendor, the customizations may need updating also.
- Host the appication on your servers or in a shared hosting environment
- Typical platforms can include WooCommerce, Magento, OpenCart
A SAAS Implementation means you’re going to:
- Use an application that has been built for your industry that has all the business functions, data constructs, and workflows built in
- Have the opportunity to configure (no coding) the application with your data so the applicatiion works for you.
- Have the ability to purchase approved plugins that can add functionality.
- Not have the opportunity to customize (coding involved) with your specific workflows / data requirements – as source code is not changeable.
- Subscribe to the platform by paying a monthly fee to run and host the site for you – generally worry free.
- Typical platforms include Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento
A custom implementation means you’re going to
- Build an application with the business, data constructs, and workflows exactly as you need them for your business
- Hire a team including business analysts and developers to design and develop this custom application
- Customize the application to your heart’s content
- Update and upgrade with new features whenever you want
- Typical application development platforms could be Azure, Ruby on Rails, PHP
So, How Do You Decide?
Reasons to go with a Package Implementation:
- Process – Your business can fit into the package.
- People – You’ll have access to a talent pool with skills in that package, and to a community of users and support forums that discuss business and technical issues
- Technology – You are comfortable maintaining the application and the hosting environment
- Money – There are open source application like woocommerce that free. But learning curve and plugins will add dollars. Other applications charge a monthly licensing fee on a per seat basis.
Reasons to go with a SAAS Implementation:
- Process – Your business can fit into the package.
- People – You’ll have access to a talent pool with skills in that package, and to a community of users and support forums that discuss business and technical issues
- Technology – You are NOT comfortable maintaining the application and the hosting environment.
- Money – For smaller companies with limited inventory and limited orders, SAAS is a godsend. For a fixed small fee per month + a per transaction fee – one can get started. However, when your volumes go up, and customer complexity in contract pricing comes into play, SAAS can become expensive. Also integrations to inventory management systems become expensive. Understanding total cost of ownership at every order volume / revenue level is really important.
Reasons to go with a Custom Implementation:
- Process – Your business cannot fit into a package or SAAS implementation
- People – You have an in-house or outsourced IT team that is capable of building, documenting, hosting, and supporting the application
- Technology – You are comfortable with all aspects of designing, building, and maintaining the application and the hosting environment
- Money – More money spent up front on people, processes, and technology. Licensing costs will be less. Transaction fees will be less. Maintenance and updates will be more.
This week I attended the Collision Conference 2019 in Toronto. Over 25,000 attendees from 125 countries, 730 speakers, and 1100 startups. Wowed by the amount to speakers, sessions, and topics. Felt like I was drinking from a tech fire hose for three days. I learned a lot. 10 things I’d like to share:
Looking to build an application but know nothing about technology?
Check out London, UK based engineer.ai. They’ve productized software development by letting you choose the type of application you want to emulate, the features in the application that are important to you, the platforms you might want it on, and the maintenance you require. Oh yeah, and you can see how your pricing and timeline will change in real time. Pretty cool stuff.
So Happy for Lisa Denis of Emoggo
Silicon Halton supermember Lisa Denis was selected for the COLLISION ALPHA Program – giving the spotlight to early-stage startups with outstanding potential and connecting them to influential names and resources. Emoggo is the better way to explore and experience nearby places to shop, eat, and connect. Check her out on Twitter or the EMOGGO website.
Lisa Denis, Founder, Emoggo | photo credit: Lisa Denis
Got aching feet? Want comfortable and supportive custom-fit footwear?
Check out Vancouver, Canada based wiivv.com. They build custom fit footwear from your phone. You download their app and take pictures of your feet. They digitally map your feet to 200 points. Then, they create custom sandals or orthotics at a great price. They’re a startup that has partnered with Dr. Scholls to deliver custom 3D printed inserts for their customers. Canadian startup helping a 100 year old company innovate.
Have you seen the crazy filters on Snapchat that change your gender? They are agugmented reality filters.
Listened to a fascinating conversation Eitan Pilipski, VP of Camera Platform, Snap Inc. talk about how they see themeselves as a camera company that is reinventing the camera and putting augmented reality into the hands / eyes of their customers. In the future, these crazy fun filters may morph into educational / industrial uses.
Cyber attacks and data breaches cost consumers, companies and countries billions of dollars annually.
Hacked and dumped, or leaked identity information is proliferating in the surface, social, deep and dark web and bad actors are using this information to launch new attacks. Monical Pal, CEO of 4iQ spoke of how her company continuously collects exposed identity information found in open sources, curates the collections of compromised identities, and then helps protect consumers from identity theft and investigate fraud, financial crimes and other threats.
Is Entrepreneurship in Crisis? Did you know there were more entrepreneurs in 1970’s?
Canada’s Tobias Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify, one of the world’s leading commerce platforms, discussed the current state of entrepreneurship and the most pressing issues facing today’s brands, from small and medium businesses to major retailers. His mission, make it easy for everyone to become an entrepreneur, whether they understand tech or not. So far, he has 800,000 customers and is doing over 1 billion in revenue.
Tobias Lutke, CEO Shopify | photo credit: Collision Conference
Saving the Planet With Technology
Jennifer Marsman from Microsoft discussed their AI for Earth program – $50 million in grants to projects that use artificial intelligence to address four critical areas that are vital for building a sustainable future – climate, agriculture, biodiversity, and water.
Who Is Afraid Of Automation?
Will humans be replaced by robots? Well, it depends. Navdeep Bains – Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Government of Canada; Dmitry Grishin – Founder, Grishin Robotics; and Daphne Koller – CEO, Insitro had a really good discussion about the impact of automation on our jobs. Learned more about Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan – and the safeguards they tried to put in place to ensure people and reskilling come first in the world of automating everything. And, also learned that Canada had just signed in May 2019 the Declaration of the International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI), and released further details on the Panel that will see Canada and France working together to guide the responsible development of artificial intelligence. The Panel will be an organization dedicated to AI and plans to bring together some of the world’s “greatest global AI experts.” It hopes to be a global reference point in the development of AI, rooted in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.
Where Are Investors Putting Their Money? Seems Everywhere.
Sat in on three different investor focused sessions (there were at least a dozen). These 5 areas caught my attention: artificial intelligence in every industry; saving the planet; reinventing food; enterprise software reinvention; and digital health. Investors included: Brendon Kim – Samsung NEXT; Karin Klein – Bloomberg Beta; Christine Tsai – 500 Startups; Anu Duggal – Female Founders Fund; Tim Draper – Draper Associates; and Ann Winblad – Hummer Winblad.
2019 COLLISION PITCH Champion
Watched the finalists of the COLLISION startup competition battle it out for the title of 2019 PITCH champion. Finalists included: Chelsea Fawn Briganti from Loliware – biodegradeable seaweed straws; Dickson Nsofor from Korapay – Africa Payment Infrastructure; and Phaedra Randolph from Spero Foods – dairy and eggs reinvented. Great to see Loliware win to save the planet!
Chelsea Fawn Briganti, CEO Loliware | photo credit: Collision Conference
And so many sessions I missed. Just not enough time to get to all the parallel sessions.
But I understand that the COLLISION Team will be putting videos up of many of the sessions on the COLLISION YouTube Channel.
Will I be there next year? You bet – already in my calendar!