Before you bring out the fork pitches though, lemme just add that I am a big fan of no code! It allows anyone to use software like a Lego block, and build cool things.
A friend recently asked me about my experience on self-learning code, and my Whatsapp answer ended up being a really long one! So I thought of turning it into a blog post. It's a little biased towards startup founders, and by no means I am recommending that a coffee shop owner should learn code.
But there is probably a slight truth to the fact that systems building is a valuable skill in every role.
This was the question I was asked -
How has learning and implementing coding been honestly for you? If you had enough money to hire 2 developers from your personal bank account for 2-3 years would you still do this? Do you feel it is a commodity skill you’re having to learn because you don’t have money to hire it? Or genuinely enjoying it and it’s helping you appreciate product / software better? Basis what you know now would you be able to advise other CEOs differently on product?
Would I still do it if I had the money from investors or myself?
Absolutely yes. I did it initially because I knew I wouldn't have the money, but now I have come to believe that everyone should know this. I spent 1.5 years of weekend and nights optimising for my current life of running a micro-SaaS. But if you are in anyways involved in tech startups, you should learn how to code too.
Some should be experts at it, and build a career, but at a general level everyone should do it. If we ever hire people now at Kaapi, I will most probably have a criteria that they must push some code out regularly.
What superpowers does it give you?
Coding is definitely a commodity skill. But honestly the real power isn't coding. It's what code helps you do. To build and solve problems.
There are so many no code tools out there now where you can build things without code. You can literally build an Airbnb style marketplace in 2 hours now via Webflow.
But knowing how to code will make your no-code experience 100x. I personally absolutely enjoy it. And it has made me a better product person. I know the pains a business request will give to the tech. I know which one is genuinely easy. I can attract talent better because I don't have to depend on someone to ship the MVP out. I can build it, get users, and then attract amazing engineers. It is absolutely a superpower. I can just get started and validate things faster
Why should startup founders learn code
Earlier, as a non-tech founder, I was doing manual stuff for way too long. I think I went too far the spectrum on sales first. I still do sales first without coding, but I know what I am getting into. Estimates are better. Throwing people at problem doesn't work. Slow down, breathe and throw a code (even a hacky script is better than hiring a person) at the problem.
This approach has been serving me way better. Me and my part-time cofounder are achieving things that are usually done by 2 founders, 1 PM, 1 designer, and 2 engineers.
Today I know that if I can get to 1000$ MRR with just me and a part time cofounder, then we are sorted. The base would be very strong because everything will be automated. And growing will be a matter of when and not if.. If I want to get an investment, it will come to me. My destiny in my own hands is very much doable.
It helps you get ramen profitability easier. And build optionality.
It's simple math honestly. If you can code yourself, then you can definitely get 1000$ MRR without worrying too much about marketing, GTM and other stuff. The internet is just too vast. You can build the most niche product and still get to 1000$ MRR ramen profitability. But if you are 4 cofounders, you now have to hit 10x-12x that. Because then you need an office, taxes, and some early employees will need a salary etc etc. You have already decreased your odds of finding validation and success.
You don't need to know code to be successful, but knowing code will increase your chances of success 10x. But as always, it's never a one fit answer. This philosophy probably can not be copy pasted if you are building Uber, or Facebook. Maybe it works great for building SaaS.