🤵🏻‍♀️ Becoming a no-code connoisseur - Softr’s community-led success story

Softr isn’t like any other template-based website building platform with a drag-and-drop interface. It has pioneered a very specific yet distinctive approach to web development and constitutes a set of Legos as building blocks.
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Priyanshu Anand
February 1, 2022

Good things come to those who no-code 🙂

Gartner predicts that by 2024, no-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity. Also, low-code/no-code solutions have the potential to reduce the development time by 90%. According to Forrester, the average company avoided hiring two IT developers using no-code tools. This reaped about $4.4 million in increased business value over three years from the applications designed. The facts surrounding no-code web development all unanimously point to a singular fact that this is what the future beholds. There are no ifs, no buts about it - just the whens and the hows of it.

This is what the founders of Softr, Mariam Hakobyan (CEO) and Artur Mkrtchyan (CTO), realized when they founded the company. Both with a background in technology had over a decade worth of experience in product design, coding, and leading engineering teams. Birds of the same feather flock together - Mariam and Artur were on the same boat about how frustrating, inefficient, and unproductive it is to build the same things over and over again no matter where they went and whichever company they worked for.

Leading tech teams made one thing clear - no amount of hiring will ever compensate for the lack of commendable engineering talent in the industry, especially when the need for such talent is expanding at a much higher rate than at which it’s being met. With an idea to not just aid development, but also solve for the lack of the right skillsets, the founders started Softr - a no-code web development platform for anyone with even the most basic knowledge of computers to explore and build apps.

Softr is really like lego, it offers all the lego bricks — a.k.a. the building blocks — so you can make any type of lego yourself — a.k.a. web-apps. While diving into alternative solutions, we saw a huge gap in the market — the current tools were either too basic or too complex and technical. So we set out to build one, which is extremely easy and simple to use and at the same time powerful and rich in functionality. - Mariam Hakobyan

Softr was built on Airtable - a relational database creation software that makes handling and integrating databases as easy as managing a spreadsheet - as a no-code software to build and scale websites. That’s just making things unimaginably easier with extra steps.

But Softr isn’t like any other template-based website building platform with a drag-and-drop interface. It has pioneered a very specific yet distinctive approach to web development and constitutes a set of Legos as building blocks. Each of these legos is a logical piece representing unique ‘personalities’ that a website has - like frontend, backend, payments, calendars, authentications, design, and more. With this, Softr aims to create the world’s largest ecosystem for building no-code applications.

The first-ever version of Softr was launched on Product Hunt (August 28th, 2020) only to be crowned the #1 Product of the day and the #2 Product of the week. In this article, Mariam talks about being able to achieve this feat without a sales, growth, or marketing background. At the time it seemed impossible, but she breaks down what made it happen and whether it was mere luck, or the result of dedication, hard work, and persistence. As one of the necessary checklists for a successful product launch, Mariam notes that contributing to communities is necessary to create an impact.

I’m part of several slack groups/Facebook groups for no-code communities. One thing I noticed is that the result of your post in those channels is directly correlated to your activity and how helpful have you been to the community. People are open and willing to help those who are in their tribe, who give first and actively engage. - Mariam explains in her blog post.

Softr 1.0 on Product Hunt

On 21st January 2021, Softr announced a $2.2 million seed funding after being received with open arms by the no-code community.

History repeats itself but with more suave

Softr 2.0 was launched again on Product Hunt only to become the #1 Product of the Day, #1 Product of the Week, #2 Product of the Month, and, you guessed it, the #1 Product of the Year 2021 at the Golden Kitty Awards.

Softr 2.0 on Product Hunt

And Mariam’s secret to help make Softr the #1 Product of the Day 2 times in a row?

Community.

“It’s truly amazing and magical to see our entire community jump to share their feedback, support us for the launch, and share about Softr in their communities,” she says.

Furthermore, she also compares Softr’s community to having thousands of close friends who are ready to support you when you need them. And to be honest, if you truly believe in solving problems instead of just trying to build a business, your product will resonate with the masses. “’Build a passionate community around your product’, that's the secret sauce of any product's success.”

Having raised $13.5 Million in a Series A funding round recently, the company is standing at 30,000 registered users today and has more than 1,000 paying customers. The main customers comprise small to mid-sized businesses which don’t come as a surprise given how competitive, expensive, and difficult it is to find a good developer these days.

What the founders learned after building and then iterating a product is that just building it isn’t enough. That’s just the backbone of what holds everything in place. You need to make the product work, find the right market fit, listen to what the customers are saying, and build a passionate community that you can trust and vice versa.

The community-led growth that made Softr what it is today

Right from the beginning, the community’s involvement in Softr’s journey becomes evident. Their outside-the-box thinking and the initiatives were taken to engage and evolve their community does give shape to how a company starts from scratch and builds something remarkably unique. Let’s take a look at how they do/did it.

The online community

If you’re someone new to the product or even to web development for that matter, Softr has you covered - guiding you through each step.

  • Personalized onboarding

Often, onboarding can make or break your experience, especially if you’re caught between trying to figure out what to do next or where to go. Softr doesn’t leave any opportunity where you can fall off. They give you a list of resources to begin with - an entrance to Softr’s playground.

Softr’s personalized onboarding email
  • Softr documentation

Before you get hands-on with Softr’s building blocks, you have their entire documentation to take you to the launchpad.

Getting started with Softr - documentation

Softr is built on Airtable. Here’s a guide to get familiar with the platform.

  • Video Tutorials

Nothing works better than videos tutorials. Softr’s tutorials take you through a journey from building web apps, to lanching, scaling, and integrating them with how you envisioned your business to be. As of now, there are over 60 video tutorials for community members to refer to.

Discussion forum on discourse

Building web apps is getting easier with no-code, but that doesn’t alleviate the occasional head-scratchers that can stunt your progress. Softr gets it - and so has an online forum hosted on discourse just for the community to have discussions, check out new announcements, request feature updates, share your achievements on the platform, and report bugs.

Online discussion forum on discourse

Building in public

SaaS companies have taken on the idea of building their company’s roadmap in public. This means sharing upcoming product updates, what’s next in-store, and the things that have been implemented.

Product and feature roadmap

Templates for online communities

Looking to build an online community with Softr? They make it easier with customizable templates to help you establish and scale your community without having to rely on developers. Check out this template for instance 👇

A community-based template on Softr

Softr Slack channel

Launching a Slack channel was one of the things Softr did in 2021 to further its community initiatives. With more than 1200 members and growing, perhaps the most active member there is Mariam herself.

Mariam thanked the community for a glorious 2021

Along with this, Softr reflected on some of their biggest community milestones in 2021.

2021 Community review

We couldn't have achieved any of this without you, our incredible community. Fostering and listening to the Softr community was a core goal for 2021 but will continue to remain a core focus going forward. - source

  • Made with Softr

Things made with Softr now get glorified by the company itself. They have a whole page dedicated to web apps that have been built using Softr. This is an amazing platform for individual entrepreneurs and business owners for their work to get showcased.

For instance - not just their community, but Softr has helped other communities grow their presence by building on the platform.

Here’s 100daysofnocode - something that started as a challenge taken by Max Haining.

Soon people started joining in and what started as a challenge to dedicate 30 minutes every day to learning no-code, became a flourishing community of people for whom no-code glued into their daily lives.

A glimpse of the website

100daysofnocode is built on Softr. The reason - Softr not gave Max an elegant landing page but also building blocks to host courses, curriculum, along with the flexibility to custom code everything from user access and interactivity.

"Softr’s ease and speed of use is it’s standout characteristic. No tool is faster to create with. Although there is limited design customizability, this should be viewed as a strength of Softr as it acts as a positive restraint to help you ship things more quickly than you ordinarily would." - said Max Haining in the case study

Thanks to Softr, 100daysofnocode is now being able to help people turn their dream into reality without swimming through courses on programming and web development.

  • No-code Conf 2021

Softr got to be a part of Webflow’s annual No-code conf with Mariam featuring as one of the speakers. Here’s the complete session You’ve launched, now what? How to scale a no-code business 👇

  • Softr no-code experts

Stuck between the lines, not knowing where to go next or what to do? Softr offers a list of experts to work with and help you get the outcome you’re looking for. You can go through each of those experts, what their interests are, what projects they’ve worked on, and what Softr features do they specialize in/work on.

Softr’s no-code experts
  • Wait, there’s more

There are other significant things that Softr ticked off their checklist last year, some of which include:

  • Crossing 6,000 followers on Twitter
  • Successfully hosting 30+ community workshops and build sessions.
  • Took part in NoCode November and NoCode Week Conference.
  • Became an official partner of OnDeck.
  • Over 13 community members launched their Softr apps on Product Hunt.

Moving forward, community and Softr will go hand-in-hand

Softr’s ‘building in public’ persona has helped create a friendlier bond between the community and the product. Constantly being updated with what’s going on around the product, in a way, personalizes a user's interaction in the community. You get to witness firsthand the construction of something beautiful. In this case, Softr has taken transparency to its advantage, keeping its customers and community close by telling them what’s happening.

Community timeline

As far as the product is concerned, Softr has a few things planned like - integrating Google sheets and Notion docs as databases for your web apps, allowing users to create templates on top of Softr for others to use, external API integrations, and more. And as for the community, there are more live sessions planned, more experts in line, and the numbers will go nowhere but up.

Once again, we can’t thank you enough for your support in 2021 and if you think that was a big year of updates just wait for what we have in store for you in 2022. - Team Softr

Wall of love


To summarize

Good things come to those who no-code 🙂

  • The current and future scenario of no-code solutions
  • The founder Mariam and Artur’s frustration of developing the same features over and over again.
  • Realizing that there isn’t enough engineering talent in the industry to suffice the demand for skills.
  • Introducing Softr 1.0 to the world through Product Hunt which was welcomed with opened arms.
  • Softr begins.

History repeats itself but with more suave

  • Launching Softr 2.0 on Product Hunt again which recently became the Product of the Year at the Golden Kitty Awards 2021.
  • Announcing Series A funding.

The community-led growth that made Softr what it is today

  • The Online Community
  • Personalized onboarding guides your first steps in the community
  • Softr documentation to get familiar with the world of no-code web apps
  • 60+ Video tutorials to see how Softr works (with Airtable)
  • Discussion forums - A place to discuss, ask, get updates, and request changes about anything Softr.
  • Building in public - Softr’s brilliant idea that puts the community first by keeping updated about everything.
  • Templates for online communities - Customizable templates to make community managers’ lives easier.
  • Softr Slack channel with 1200+ active members.
  • 2021 Community review
  • Made with Softr - A platform that highlights budding businesses who’ve built their products on Softr.
  • No-code Conf 2021 - Softr being a part of Webflow’s No-code Conf.
  • Softr no-code experts helping new folks get to their goals using Softr.
  • More significant achievements.

Moving forward, community and Softr will go hand-in-hand

  • What’s in-store for Softr’s community

Wall of love

  • Softr’s community shows love.

About Threado:

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