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Episode #1: Vlad Magdalin - How Webflow is reinventing the website.
July 15, 2020
Podcast

Episode #1: Vlad Magdalin - How Webflow is reinventing the website.

Webflow

Vlad Magdalin is the founder and CEO of Webflow, a company that is working on empowering designers and entrepreneurs to design, build, and launch websites and applications without having to learn how to code.

Webflow has grown to be the platform at the very heart of the no-code movement and in this conversation Ben and Vlad talk about the marketplace, the potential and about all things building and creating online.

You can find all the details and links mentioned in this interview at Makerpad.co/podcast and you can start building on Webflow at https://webflow.com/

To find about more visit the Makerpad Podcast webpage at https://www.makerpad.co/podcast

Transcript

Vlad Magdalin - Webflow - Spotlight Podcast-MP3 for Audio Po...

Thu, 4/9 3:08PM • 51:47

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, workflow, build, code, business, create, tools, web, flow, learning, product, websites, user, videos, stories, hear, company, scale, team, work

SPEAKERS

Vlad, Ben Tossell

Ben Tossell  00:00

Vlad  00:26

Thanks, Ben. Great to be here. Yes, yes.

Ben Tossell  00:30

So I know what web flow is. And I think probably a lot of people who listen slash watch this will probably already know what webflow is. So why don't you just give us the quick version? I know you've been on multiple podcasts recently. So let's get the quick version of what it is.

Vlad  00:48

Sure. It's kind of funny if you if you pull up probably 10 different podcasts that I've been on, that it's never been the same. I mean, web flow started as a website. builder. I mean, we want to be just like Wix Weebly, etc. But now we think of web flow as a visual development environment. Like it's a place where you can develop software visually. And now it's a subset of software, you know, mostly targeted to websites and data driven applications. But we're working on making a complete alternative to writing code. So we see ourselves as a no code alternative to creating software. And a lot of people see us as like, Okay, great. You said that, but I can't make XYZ. There's many years ahead, where you know, we want to fill in those gaps. But today, workflows amazing like, I would say, completely ready for all kinds of really complex marketing use cases, creating marketing sites, getting rid of the need to rely on engineering to make updates to your marketing site, and build it in a way that's like super, super custom So the main difference between web flow and other website builders is that you can build anything that you can imagine, essentially, anything you can do with code you can do with web flow without coding. It's not like those usual, you know, click and drag sand boxes around and then pick a template type of site builders.

Ben Tossell  02:18

Yeah, I think when I first came across workflow, I was working at product time at the time, is one of your several launches, I believe. And yeah, I guess then was like your focus on designers. It was like a design tool, right? And then I think it's only recently since you raised the series A and you had like your redesign site that it was, was it break the code barrier? So now it's more like focusing around this notion of not using code. So what was behind the thought there? Did you sort of see the market and then follow it or try and push it or how was one of that come around?

Vlad  02:59

At the Believe it or not, it's kind of coincidental. Because we started on this journey of, you know, going beyond websites into more complex applications. I was looking back at my notes, the first sketch around it was maybe five and a half years ago. Where I mean, we were probably a little too ambitious This is before we even built the CMS. But it was already the same vision of how do we abstract away the hardest parts of building software and put them in

Ben Tossell  03:29

to

Vlad  03:30

not just designers hands, but into the hands of all creators, people who just want to create a business or a product service, etc. You don't necessarily have to be a big designer to do that. So it just kind of all coalesced around the fundraise. And it all made sense to kind of in especially with no code comm because we already known that we were going to be doing that when when we released a new website. So kind of leading into this new movement of no code software development.

Ben Tossell  03:58

Yeah, I think I mean, I've been doing no code building before it was cool or trendy. Yeah, I think you just sort of last year when?

Vlad  04:08

Wait, you're saying it's cool now?

Ben Tossell  04:10

Well, I'm tending myself, but at least I see it and they say clicks as well feel better. Yeah, exactly. Because otherwise what we do speaking off, what should we call it? It's not no code. And you and I both think agree on the fact that local probably means there's going to be so many more developers to build other stuff. Yeah. And you're not just not using code. You're just building on top of Linux. It's an abstraction of it right? So right right. With stuff I hate how it seems.

Vlad  04:43

I don't know. I don't know maybe maybe we're not I I really hate the name. But you know, everyone, everyone seems to be using it. So it is a boot kind of between a rock and a hard place. I do like something on that. Like visual software development. But that's that's so wordy and so. Yeah, exactly. Hard to it's more descriptive, but you know, doesn't fit in a hashtag? No.

Ben Tossell  05:13

Yeah, I'm with you. I think it's a shame that it's called male code. But I think the early users of, of the no code space almost, that's the thing that drew them to it thinking, well, I can't code. So I don't need to know how to code. I can use this thing. Have you seen like, during this finish wave of the no coders seem to be the same. Like you talked about user personas for web flow being sort of freelancers or marketing teams and things like that. Um, I think we in sort of typical personas around who has signed up for make a pattern and using it, do you think there's the biggest wave and that wave of sort of will push this forward is probably The maker or want to be maker who couldn't code and now all of a sudden can do things without needing to.

Vlad  06:08

It's It's hard to say i think i think the vast volume is going to be there. I think the business case is still more around like larger, larger businesses and especially when when these tools mature to the point where they're solving a real problem, especially if they are if they allow you to do something really valuable without having to hire another person, for example, you know, if you can, if you can push out a lot of marketing changes with just a designer, not a designer, an engineer that allows that engineer to go work on the product, etc. But I do I do fundamentally believe that the vast majority of people who are going to be building software haven't even discovered this practice yet. So it's going to be 10s if not hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people discovering the power of this stuff as it as it gets more mature. And then I think it It'll be it's like personal computers will be like a broad mix of like who's using it, right? Some people are going to be using it to track their like home chores, and create something that kind of like sets up notifications when a kid doesn't do their chores or whatever. And some people are going to be using it to run like, you know, oil rig maintenance installations that like provide millions of dollars in value. And are mission critical. So I just like spreadsheets, right? Like spreadsheets were a toy. Initially, they were joke, like programmers would make fun of like, Oh, yeah, you're gonna do financial modeling. And it's like, you know, graphic design tool, basically. And now, you know, there's multi billion dollar, you know, workflows that that are powered by spreadsheets and more than a billion users of spreadsheets. And it's not a toy anymore. Right. It could be seen as a toy, but, but it's a much more valuable tools toolset now.

Ben Tossell  07:53

Yeah, I think it was talking to someone the other day saying, if I was explaining this to my brother Sit and he would say, if you wanted to use a personal trainer, and if you wanted to build an app for been through his personal training, he's not typing in or searching. How do I build this without code? He's not because he's not thinking, Well, I'm going to do it with code. Otherwise, he just thinks, I want to build this. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, it'd be interesting to see how that language comes around. And maybe that's when the Nokia branding changes. We'll have to see what you say. There's so many different use cases for using no good tools internally, externally for many different types of like, use cases and we'll get into that a bit later, but I'm interested in what no code workflows to webflow use, like you see all stuff so yeah, must use a bunch.

Vlad  08:53

Yeah, honestly, I'm not the best person to ask. I know we have a ton of like Zapier integrations we use like Integra mat. We use a ton of air table stuff, we power our entire internal team site, we call it web flow pedia like where you can see all the teams or team news like what new people as they're joining, all of that is powered by web flow. Like typically, you know, stripe has a whole team around this and it looks software engineers creating these things. And I made a ton of our product designers use workflow to like design the actual product. So that's a, that was something that many, you know, many times that we're using something closer to figma. It's that I mean, we still use all those tools too. So it's a, we definitely eat our own dog food, whatever that expression is. But in the first, the first solution to everything, like if you look at our people team, like when they have so many different workflows for like approving salaries and creating new offers and all that stuff like typically that would be either a manual process But right now it's all kind of like using these. These no code workflows, whether it's just like Google, a Google form that then goes to a specific database that then calls an API, through Zapier, etc. That's a pretty, pretty big shift when you have somebody that's not even in it, creating the solutions to make their life easier.

Ben Tossell  10:21

Yeah, for sure. I think someone showed me someone on your team. I think Ben Parker introduced me to someone a common boy's name now which is awful of me. Me he built like the internal what you need to learn when you join webflow Oh,

Vlad  10:35

yeah. Mike mica. Yeah, he built an entire LMS like learning management system with lightning voting and scoring and you could follow your your progress. Yeah, it was. It was wild. I couldn't believe that.

Ben Tossell  10:50

He showed me when I was early in build a big part. And he was like, Hey, you can do it like this. And I was like, I think that's a bit more technical. For Yeah, yeah, we're on the scene, it was awesome. Um,

Vlad  11:03

even even now, like a lot of things you have to do, you know, to tie these tools together, you essentially have to be like a software engineer light, you know, you kind of have to map in your head, how all these things are coming across. There's a lot of work that that is still ahead of us to make it a lot simpler.

Ben Tossell  11:19

Yeah. Yeah, I've been talking on some podcasts I've done recently. I don't want to like insult programmers, because I'm not worrying. But I am thinking that surely the building blocks are sort of the same the way you have to think about it. So if I was building a feature, like our profiles recently was asked to set something up. After like, started with the front stuff, the competitors, the database is how do they all work was called the onboarding flow, and then test it with a few people. Oh, no breaks was the sappy thing. How can I fix it? And then do it again, someone else does something like a user does something that is stupid to me, but that's how they use it. And then like Fix it again. Yeah, the whole process seems the same. It's just yeah. Yeah, the way on the

Vlad  12:05

right. Yeah, yeah, it's, uh, the way I sometimes think about it is, you know, this isn't like a magical thing where like any creator will will be able to create whatever they want in five minutes. You know, as much as we want to promise that. The way I think about it is a little bit like QuickBooks works, right? You can run your own books, right? install QuickBooks or set up your chart of accounts and learn. But you have to learn about accounting, you have to kind of understand the core principles of, you know, when you take money from here, you got to like offset it here. And ultimately, over time you end up like, if you want to focus on your business, you're going to outsource that to an actual accountant who does this like day in and day out knows, like the best structure, that's why we're going to have like specialized people and like no code build, like software development, which is, you know, just remove the no code and it's just like software development, right. And, and I think it's It's gonna be a while until we get to that point where it's like literally anybody can create anything. I mean, we're getting sort of there with like these very basic apps with like a doll and glide where it's just like a spreadsheet and choose like a template. And it's, it's pretty straightforward where it solves the problem. But it's, it's really hard to like make that a lot more custom. Right, it's a lot harder to turn it into a full product where it's not just a kind of air table, plus, plus, etc. But I am really, really encouraged by the progress here, though, because now like people actually are starting to believe that is possible, which means that there's more competition, which means that there's more like, you know, it's sort of like self fulfilling prophecy. When we were first getting started. Everyone's like, what do you like the web you're building for the web. Like, mobile is all the rage and this thing is dying and Dreamweaver failed or whatever. The overwhelming assumption was that like this is even worth trying. Right. Now it's really great to see that we're not sort of like sweet against the current anymore. A lot more people starting to believe, including software engineers are like, Okay, this is just a faster way to do things using the same kind of underlying principles. So it's a good time to be alive. Would you say?

Ben Tossell  14:15

Yeah, I think, yeah, interested about the learning, like, the process of learning is still the same. If you're learning French or Spanish, you still get to roadblocks at some point where you're like, can't figure out that tense can't figure out that word. For some reason, that thing doesn't quite work. And the process of learning is still the same. It's just the way and what works for you. Some people are visual learners, some people are good at numbers, some people can code and Yeah, well,

Vlad  14:42

what's really what's really important is that it's not just it is the same way to learn more or less, but you have to learn a lot less so another. Another analogy I sometimes like to use with programmers is 20 years ago, it was very common that you have to manage your own memory like before. had, you know programming languages like Java with garbage collection, etc, you literally have to figure out, Okay, I have like, in my mind, I have to keep track of how much memory is available, I have to sort of allocated, I have to know that whether I'm going to like buffer overflow or whatever, there, there was a lot more, you have to be a lot closer to the computer, like thinking of how this this actually like, goes down into machine language how memory management will consider. And then we added like a higher level abstraction, right? You just you just sort of like worry about your your objects or like write in a higher level language like JavaScript, Java, etc. And the compiler or like the virtual machine just automatically handles memory for you. It has some drawbacks, right, it's a little slower. But for the vast majority people, it's a lot easier like you, you have vastly more developers able to access that power without having to relearn a lot of the things that the previous generation learned. It's the same with no code where where you're kind of learning the same principles, right, you still have to respect the medium that you're building. For. And that's why you have to understand like data modeling, you have to understand the box model, you have to understand how, how the browser works, etc. How data flows from different places. But you don't you no longer need to know like, Okay, how do I bootstrap an environment to upload my FTP, like CSS file? Right? And how do I get it to transpile to something that has like, prefixes that work in multiple browsers, like all that stuff is just gone. Just the same way that higher level programming languages abstracted away a lot of the like, it just lets computers do that stuff. And I think that helps a lot of developers or get the get the idea that okay, this is just another layer of abstraction. This isn't like a devaluing of the of the practice. It's just another step in creating better tooling, for stuff for software development.

Ben Tossell  16:48

Yeah, I think it's probably similar in that we get those questions around. Okay, so, okay, I couldn't build this app before. Now. I've built it, how to get users from it. Well, all that much. Yeah, I'm not Yeah, yeah.

Vlad  17:02

Yeah, Shopify made it easier for you to make a store, right? They don't magically make you have a good product and get good at marketing.

Ben Tossell  17:11

Yes, it's funny to see that. And I'm on the sort of point of education. I was lucky enough to come by the office and see the web flow University, like behind the scenes of Oh my god. There it was. Yeah. I mean, it was so impressive to see. I meet the team there. What how much is like, how much has that been a big focus for webflow? What? And what are you trying to do to make sure that that remains a big fit? I think so many people just maybe don't even talk about it so much, but some people just yeah, absolutely love that. That was Yeah. It's

Vlad  17:51

Yeah, it's a it was a little accidental, to be honest. So So what happened was kind of the power of our community. One of our one of Our users was, you know, this guy McGuire, who ran an agency, and they were doing like, video production website production. And they discovered a workflow and kind of were on the forum, or he was on the forum, kind of asking questions. And at one point, we had an education team at that point. But it was very small. It was like one person creating videos like tutorials for when we were launching new things. It was, I would say, like a very modest operation that we weren't really investing into. It's like, what's the bare minimum we can do? And then there was like, this forum post where Maguire created a video and it was hilarious around, you know, better break point management. It sounds like a pro tip type of video. Yeah. And it was so good. Like he got, I could, I'm gonna try to find it on the forum. You know, we were just laughing at some little quirks like he sort of composite it in in an apple way. Watch as one of the breakpoints even though we didn't have it, and just had a bunch of like Star Trek The Next Generation jokes and things like that. So so we liked it so much that we just tried to get him on the team that didn't work. Because he's kind of running this agency. And over time, we just decided to work with that agency too, as a client to do a series of tutorials in that style for sort of like a broader curriculum. So we started working on that we worked on that for like, close to nine months released the first big version of web flow University. And it was so fun working together that at the end of that it was just like, okay, it makes sense for us to do this full time you're enjoying doing this full time. And it was kind of a natural fit. Like I think that that sort of dating period of working, you know, collaborating with the agency was a great transition. And then, you know, we started investing into that, but it was really hard at our last office. We had to, you know, literally rent hotel rooms at the very top of, you know, close to Salesforce tower or whatever. So you couldn't hear the road noise because San Francisco is so loud, you would start recording three minutes later, there's like a fire truck or something. And it was really, really hard to, to keep producing great content, especially for audio. And and when when we're moving offices, it was like really made sense to double down and invest in this. And we didn't really like all the this is all like IKEA stuff. Like all the books you see in the background. They're totally fake. They're just like, printed out with with pawns. And,

Ben Tossell  20:38

you know, When, when, when they told me that, all I heard was, Oh, yeah, these are all books written by the webflow team. And I was like, holy shit, there's no way

Vlad  20:49

each member

Ben Tossell  20:50

has had to write like 2050 books. realized it was just the spines of the

Vlad  20:57

Yeah, yeah, just the fixed binds. And some of our team members have written books, which is really impressive, but definitely not. to that degree. And and yeah, it's been like it's been over the last many years, it's been something that, you know, you kind of hear qualitatively. Like, this is what gets me to sign up. This is what makes me successful. It's really hard to track to be honest with you of like, Okay, how much does the university actually get people to, you know, engage and subscribe and upgrade, etc. So it's been like we're trying to get better that but it's like this fundamental belief that education, especially for new category is so important. For right now. We're working on a ton of videos to like, you know, how do you integrate with Zapier? How do you integrate with all of these other tools that help you go beyond beyond workflow and and build like more complex, no code tooling and solutions, etc. We just we just believe that, in the absence of that it would be we wouldn't have had the growth that we had. It's, even though it's harder to track and attribute. It's still, like anytime people watch these videos, especially with the humor that's infused in them, it just it just feels like the webflow brain like that's the quality that we stand for. That's like the kind of team that we are. I always get a you know, I cracked up when I watched those videos like now there's like emerging trends in them and it's sometimes I even watch with my kids just for entertainment.

Ben Tossell  22:29

Um, yes, it's funny that you said that you're producing videos on like, the wider not just webflow obviously, that's what we do Sony do. And,

Vlad  22:44

well, not wider. I think it's like how do you integrate those things to workflow still centered around? Yeah, for sure.

Ben Tossell  22:49

Yeah, so I was gonna just ask, like, every it seems to be especially a new code like glide have their own university or much off the corner that they have their own like Learning Resources and everything else. There's, I don't know, if I'm just noticing it now, because I'm in the no code education space, or whether whether that is a thing for a lot of tooling for maybe dev tools or something. Yeah. Have you seen? Is that just something I'm noticing now? Or is it like a standard thing where people really invest in put out a lot of content for education?

Vlad  23:25

I mean, it's, it's honestly so there's a couple things that drive this. One is business wise, it's a lot more effective than doing customer support one off, so you want to as much as possible, provide resources for for customers to self resolve issues and kind of learn at their own pace, etc. So it just makes business sense, right? Like if you're if you don't have good educational content, that means the only like the only two factor like vectors there is you have to hire a lot more people for customer support, which gets expensive. Or you have to put the burden on customers, like just figure it out, right? Like, hopefully the product is. And all of these things are so complex, relatively to do you know, something like Instagram, that that it's really not consumer grade, like you need resources to help understand the complexity behind this stuff. So it's almost like a must have, it only depends on the level of investment and quality that you shoot for. So I think it's, it's just like having a for at least I think about this, it's just like having a community forum, right. It's just a must have like it helps bring it's it's a good value add that if without it, there's it's harder for people to find the help that they need. So it's a I don't want to say it's a it's a must have, but it just makes perfect business sense to have an investment in that area. So should have. Yeah, and by the way, I think the now what I'm seeing is, you know, maker pad was like what was the Other ones, like there's a visual developer, school, visual, visual deaf school, that, you know, it's almost like that the lynda.com and the egghead comm that existed for other skills are now starting to emerge, as, you know, how do we tie all these things together? And have you learned this as a holistic practice rather than like a tool based, tool based approach? Because, you know, this is this is something that will never be centralized to just one company, at least I hope not, even though it would be good for us. It's it's something that there's just no way one team can provide all this functionality. So it's, it's awesome to see this this industry starting to expand so quickly.

Ben Tossell  25:41

Yeah. And we, I spoke to Joel from egghead before before I went full time and make Paxos like, how do we do what you've done, but good stuff, so yeah, good job with him. Yeah, I also think there's lots of oil companies and Like, there's always going to be because anyone can do it with very, like just a laptop, you know? Yeah. But it's interesting to see that people like different styles of learning different, like styles in tutorials and things like that and different levels of what you put out.

Vlad  26:17

Yeah, the cool thing about education companies is that they could be if you do it, right, really scalable, right, like usually when you are a service, right, like you're a service provider, as an agency to create, you know, applications or sites or whatever you kind of are limited by the number of projects that you do. Whereas education and content, it's a little more like software as once you created it, if you figure out a way to scale it, you can actually get additional value, basically without additional input from you. So that's, that's something I mean, that's why you see like lynda.com for like, a very hefty chunk of money. Because you can, you know, create one tutorial and we're like masterclass, etc. There's a lot of value there.

Ben Tossell  27:00

Yeah, for sure. I think we're gonna, we're testing it with the different stages of getting started with no code. So we've got three different boot camps. One is for that one's for building a business, the other sort of ultimate to not work. And on that, I'd love to know what you see people using web flow for, either in those sort of three buckets. Like, what are some cool stories that we'll never hear about? Because it seems like lots of people using web flow are successful in themselves and they can go out and talk about it and rave about web flow. What are some of the stories that we may not have heard of?

Vlad  27:40

Well, there's so many it's like, it's kind of like a blessing and a curse. I hear so many of them that it's hard to remember specific ones. Yeah. Just the other day, we had somebody that contacted us from a very large you know, fortune 500 that have surprised even us workflow and They were saying like, okay, some change that we made broke iE 11. And, you know, totally understand that I 11 is not a modern browser anymore, etc. But here's what web flow means to us right now working at this fortune 500 that can't upgrade past whatever windows seven were 50% of our user bases on this like this. There was a there was a pretty compelling story of like, how much value this one designer is providing to the organization like, literally in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of like, what this is saving us and this bug is holding up everything. And I can't be like too specific about that, that like company name, etc. But, you know, there's, if if things like that bubble up, like who knows what the actual value that the tools like webflow are delivering behind the scenes, there's always like, I always love telling the story. I don't know maybe some people might be hearing it for the second time, but 10th time but one of my favorite organizations is news story charity, like it was just a few, a few people that that visited Haiti after an earthquake and saw like the devastation of what happened there. And they were working at a design agency and another company and they were able to just like bootstrap validate whether they could raise money for these families right they built something just like Kickstarter look like Kickstarter was actually faked with workflow early on, you know, they would log in and like update the slider of how much money they raised manually like the black and like stories like that, to me are just like a zero to one like that that might not have existed whatsoever you know, if they didn't have the tools to be able to validate it in the market. And now it's like, you know, pretty massive nonprofit organization like 3d printing houses in Mexico and and Haiti etc. So those are that's, that's honestly one of my favorite stories that always stands out. And I don't know, if you saw, you must have seen like the PlayStation four rebuild in webflow does not necessarily like a customer, you know, like something that provides a ton of business value, but to me is like holy crap. This is this is next level like you we never imagined as somebody creating a tool that honestly I created webflow initially to help myself build like dentist websites and orthodontist websites like form submissions, and like a list of coupons, right? That was that was the extent of like my imagination of like the the capability of it. And then people stretch it to such a degree that it just unlocks creativity. And like their mind goes racing and they they're now able to do something that they weren't able to before, which is the most magical thing about creating tools you get to see like the impact that has on individual lives and what people are able to create get out into the world. So that's a we just did a bunch of customer research and interviewed a bunch of customers and sort of created this internal video for for people saying like, what this is meant when discovering workflows meant to me, it just like gives me almost watching it gives me so much pride but also a lot of pain that okay, people are talking about this aha moment that they had great, but it took them seven years of what has been around for a long time, like seven years to even overcome this idea that it's a you know, just a website builder, right? They start seeing it as like a visual development platform etc. It just makes me think how many people could be benefiting from it now that just haven't even discovered it. So it's it's definitely a you know, both a positive and like a day let's get this into a lot more hands as quickly as possible, not even from to be honest. Assuming not even from like a monetary perspective, like, even if they're using a free plan, I don't care. Like I just want people to create awesome stuff. Yeah, that's a

Ben Tossell  32:10

yes. Well, exactly what you said in that customer just creates this PlayStation site. And you don't even know about it. You haven't like sold that person to them. Get them to commit to this cool thing. They just, yeah unlocks the fact that this creative person could do that thing. Yeah. It was like, I hit about the early story of webflow users and going in Hacker News signups and things like that. Your first your first customers, and you saying it's like fortune 500 companies using their their freelancers agencies is no code is like, what has been the strategy if any of a team sort of bottoms up style stuff, but from an outsider it looks like it's just the Every designer who's ever used web flow goes on saying, stop using anything else useful. So,

Vlad  33:07

well, we get a lot more data than that, like where, you know, we get a lot of when people cancel, we get, you know, qualitative stuff around why they're canceling, etc. People definitely have a lot of frustrations with web flow. And we have a lot to improve there. And certainly, there are some situations where they switch to different tools. But the Yeah, it's definitely a challenge to create such a horizontal product that that serves so many different purposes for so many different people. Because then you have to find a way to like, talk to pretty much all of them because the message is different for like a person running a marketing department, to a person trying to start a business around web design to serve clients needs to a start up, you know, co founder that's just like one of two people and they have to get something up to like to tell a unique story, or somebody that's starting looking at ecommerce business and wants to sell shoes or whatever So that's certainly, I want to be honest with you, like there's no defined strategy like right now right now, but it's something that we're working very actively on, we actually have a new marketing leader coming in, in mid February, where a lot of that a lot of that work is actually going to start being executed. So, but again, we have to we have to like really get focused and we probably have to focus on four or five kind of use cases or personas or like jobs to be done that that we can't cover everything and then sort of expand from there because we only have so many people to you know, work on unique marketing for each unique marketing message for each persona, etc. And this is something that I've seen a lot of companies have challenges around, you know, something that the parabola folks and it's the same, right there's you can use it in so many different ways that, you know, you have to like, have an ad for IT people and then have an ad for a product manager and have an ad for You know, a developer, etc. So it's really it's really hard to manage that stuff at scale, especially as you're starting out fresh.

Ben Tossell  35:08

Yeah, I mean, that's sort of the challenge we have in, okay, we can make a tutorial, what can we make it on? It could be basically anything in any job role for any other person. So we have struggles there. Yeah. So with like, it seems like there's a bunch of whitespace between people who aren't technical, who have ideas and the traditional sort of VC in basketball businesses. Do you think we'll see different things emerge here with like the no code space and maybe more people realizing or accepting the fact that 500 K to 10 million a year is actually like a fairly decent business? You think there's sort of more funds to be created maybe like earnest that, like, yeah, these people so then there's like a whole new ecosystem of Yeah, makers and creators built around each

Vlad  35:59

other. Like, I think it's very similar to, you know what Shopify did for e commerce, right? It just democratized people to start their own businesses without sort of the traditional cost of the infrastructure to roll kind of your own environment, etc. And in a sense, you know, webflow and other Noko tools do that for a much wider array of problems, right? Not just e commerce, but maybe you want to create a subscription business, maybe you want to create, you know, a tutorial business, maybe you want to create, like a social network that maybe has a community that has a paid component or not. Maybe you want to create something like a Product Hunt, but for, you know, ranking nonprofits or something like that. That's not even, you know, revenue generating. There's so many of these ideas that once you get the tools into people's hands once the tools are mature enough that I believe that we can't even we can't even enumerate all the things that are going to be created with it. So Almost like, you know, when the original 3d animation software companies were putting together I don't know, alias or Maya or whatever or 3d Studio Max, like they couldn't predict what kind of movies or special effects or stories we're gonna be told with this stuff. Not even close. So So I do think that a by lowering the barrier to creation, like you need a lot less funding, right so that means that you can actually like bootstrap a business on the side while having a day job and then get it to a place where it's generating some revenue. And it just means that you have you know, fewer costs means you have the you need less investment, so you really are only worried about replacing your own salary. And then and then you have a lot of optionality or flexibility around like okay, when do you decide you decide to like switch from a one person company to a two person company once you're making enough revenue, etc. And there's nothing stopping you know, these, these no code created sort of products and services to be, you know, traditionally funded because you still need The same you'll you're going to as as you need to scale, you're going to have to solve the same problems that every business needs to solver on like marketing and getting people to know about your product like product, basically, like user research and product development. And like only a few of these things are actually replaced by, you know, the no code abstraction. By far, it's not all of them, right? You're still gonna need a finance team at some point and all that stuff. So, but it's just like AWS, right? Like in stripe before you had to build these things yourself. Now you get an API, you don't have to hire anybody internally. You had to like wreck your own servers and have it personnel at your company. Now you just get you know, you just pay Amazon a little bit of money and then like you just build on top of it. So no code is the same. It just like lowers the barrier on how many people have what you can build with fewer people. And I think that trend is just gonna keep going over time.

Ben Tossell  38:57

Yeah. What do you think of the Like the scalability question, people always ask me and I always think, yeah, what we use is always I can export everything to a simpler version if right workflow died, I can actually explore everything on there and we've got videos that are on YouTube and whatever else in there. If our table died, everything would just go into a really ugly looking Google's free, cheap. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So what, what do you think is like a good answer there? Or what would you tell people?

Vlad  39:29

I think earlier in workflows journey, that was a much, you know, more pressing question, because, you know, we weren't profitable, we couldn't we had to rely on external investors to keep growing and keep operations going, etc. Now, we essentially have infinite runway, right, like we have no reason to go away. It's almost like Shopify, right? People had similar concern about Shopify, what happens if I, if your store like if Shopify just disappears right. Then I will have to automatic like manually move on. products into a different platform, who knows if even a different platform that's comparable exists, etc, etc. At some point like you reach a certain level of scale where that's not a concern anymore, like who's worried about Shopify disappearing off the face of the earth? Very few people now a lot more people 10 years ago, right? Like very few people like from even from our own customer support conversations. We went from seven years ago, people are like hiding any aspect of workflow, like where's like, I don't want any of my clients to see any of this. I don't want them being worried, too. Now, it being the opposite, where we hear a lot more stories are like, how do I convince my client to switch over or my client is asking me, hey, I've heard about this web flow company from other businesses and they are having a great experience and it's like stable and secure and fast, etc, etc. And it'll actually cost me less to run my marketing and all that stuff. So it's becoming a lot more of a poll rather than a push. Like here's all the different ways that it Look a disaster scenario. Yeah, we'll you'll have to deal with that. So I think it's the same. At this point, the same likelihood of like Shopify, going out of business or disappearing is like what flows in the same category. Now, we're not going anywhere, we're heavily investing in our platform, we want to make sure that everyone who has built their foundations on workflow will keep scaling with us, like we literally have had zero from the in the last seven years, like zero times that people had to worry about, like migrations or security issues, things just get better in the background over time, like we've changed our technology stack many different times over the years. And it's, it's not one of those things where you, you should think of web flow as a tool that then like has to you know, you take the output and put it somewhere else and then worry about whether a you know, that output is that tool is going to disappear. We're essentially a, an infrastructure layer right now for for all kinds of different websites and software. And, like, I can't even imagine what it would take for us to, to go away like we, our product would have to we'd have to like literally unplug the servers for like seven days to lose trust. There's a, that likelihood is not something that I worry about anymore. It used to be a lot more of a fear before because it was like, Okay, what if we do run out of money now it's impossible. So it's a, you know, outside of like, we're talking about Coronavirus and global warming and like these, these are things like macro scale economic, maybe there might be a world where nobody cares about building websites in that world, like hiding underground from zombies or something. But, you know, outside of that scenario, you shouldn't be worried about exporting software.

Ben Tossell  42:46

Yeah, that's, that's fair enough. And yeah, there's, I mean, we'll just jump into a quick fire to sort of wrap this up. But I think before that there's that people even ask, like, what happens if I forgot 10,000 members on my site that runs on webflow. Like this, I'm worried about this scalability thing. And yet, people haven't got where

Vlad  43:11

we're worried about too. Like, it's something that affects us as well. And it's something that we're putting a lot of work into to re architect our CMS to make it more scalable, because over time, you know, we're working on memberships now we're working on ways for people to run entire kind of user systems on top of workflow. That's, we don't want people to think, okay, like, my business can only scale to 10,000 items or whatever. There's some technical issues we need to figure out but we're fully confident that we'll be able to so it's a it's a temporary thing, we just don't know how temporary Okay, great now,

Ben Tossell  43:46

um, okay, so yeah, some some quick quickfire questions. And if there's things you can't talk about, you just say pass.

Vlad  43:56

So I can't talk about that. squarespace.com rebuilding workflow.

Ben Tossell  44:02

I saw that actually. So yeah, you mentioned about memberships and stuff is that like, is that the next big focus for workflow in terms of product stuff? And

Vlad  44:13

one of them, I mean, it's something that we knew was really important. If you look at our wish list, that's number one. So we're making big investment there. We actually started to work on that quite a while ago. So that's a major focus. Yeah,

Ben Tossell  44:29

yeah. So we can perhaps see that fairly soon. Pass Yeah, fine. Okay, so when things like that happen, whenever that may be what what about the things that are built around the webflow ecosystem? So remember stack JP, you just when you done this, you just leave

Vlad  44:51

it so yeah, yeah, certain things you know, we we talked to those guys, pretty much non stop from the very beginning. Like with transparency There are certain things like user systems that we had on our roadmap, like, literally, five years ago, kind of in the strategy, just like CMS, right? It makes sense for, for a lot of things to be kind of first party because they're just a vastly better user experience, if you could do it, just like our e commerce experience. Other things that would obviously, for example, like, you know, I don't see us getting into WordPress export, as a, like a first class feature anytime soon, if ever, right, like, and for certain other things, like for example, multi language, we want to build it as a first party, even though you know, it's taken us a while. for, you know, things like jet boost, who knows, it might be years until that's prioritized. We actually want to solve that through our plugin ecosystem where, you know, the jet boots folks would just build on top of the plugin ecosystem. And there's, you know, in many different ways to monetize that, which is a mutually beneficial, right, brings in traffic and helps us because we don't have to build it, etc. As long as it's the quality is high. That's the number one thing that we care about is is it a user experience and like the reliability and stability that are our entire user base can can rely on and if that's the case, then you know, we're happy with like, third party, third party solutions, but some things like, you know, especially especially user systems, there's so many things that are integrated into that, like imagine doing a web flow, ecommerce training transaction, right, and then having to tie it like you need the next or the next feature, there is the ability to log in and see my orders, right. We have to build that anyway. It's like it's just, it has to happen. Unless we're like really lagging behind what other ecommerce providers will do. And we want to do that in a horizontally like in a way that can then say, Okay, if you can log into an e commerce experience, maybe you could log into, like a member, kind of membership type experience where I have like gated content based on what I paid for what I have and what I signed up for, etc. and then kind of expand from there as like the basis of even more complicated SaaS applications, right? Where it's not just like, do I have access to something, but it's a full on, like application that can be like internal or external, etc. that's a that's a much longer type of roadmap. But, you know, users systems is one step to get there. That's one thing like, it sucks that we can't guarantee like, here's a list of use cases that we won't build. Because there's a lot of things just go on our wish list, right? Unfortunately, everyone's kind of using the wish list as a as an input because we have it public. So you can see that there's market demand for something like that. But it's also like our own internal customer voice like when we do research for their customers. It's clear when When something that's like heavily integrated into our product would win, like would provide a much better experience than than something that is sort of like tacked on from the side. So there's always those things to balance.

Ben Tossell  48:12

Yeah, sure. I'm one of those words jet boost has been a lifesaver for us. So awesome. definitely get those as a plugin. Like it's a monthly leisurely app, the app sheet got acquired by Google Do you think we're going to see no code tools get acquired and you think we're going to see lots more like nuclear businesses get acquired? Because it's easy, like maybe easier to take them on? Yeah,

Vlad  48:36

um, I don't know. I I personally think of like one of the reasons we've we've stayed away from even considering being acquired is because it typically like hampers innovation, right? Like that's one of the reasons during Dreamweaver died it was even though it was a good outcome for them. It just like you then don't are not operating on your mission as a company. You're sort of operating on the goals of the company. You're joining which could be completely different, right? So I do think that there will be a lot more acquisitions because just by virtue of there being a lot more businesses now like we've already seen, like I think Twitter acquired something a team that was building kind of mobile apps in a no good way. Like this absolute acquisition, there's going to be a lot more I'm sure there's already been quite a few I know like agencies that are doing no code are being acquired so that they can be like you know, operate more efficiently or whatever, but bring in some some elements of scale. Whether select acquire has more clients or whatever. I think that's the natural like any any new industry or any new category that's starting that has a lot of players like there's gonna be some consolidation, there's gonna be some sort of people joining forces and partnering up, etc.

Ben Tossell  49:50

Yeah, no, I agree. I think it'd be interesting to see how if the flippers have the will come around to like, no code stuff and like things geared towards that. Yeah. And our final question is, if webflow existed, and you didn't have anything to do with it, it was just another product from by another person who likes dad jokes. What would you feel?

Vlad  50:14

Cool. To be? Cool. That's a? That's a really great question. I honestly I'd probably be back in Sacramento building a bunch of websites using web flow for for clients, and I'd be perfectly happy. This is what I was doing before working a day job to add into it. And web flow is the only idea by far that gravitated to like this is something I would actually want to invest my life into, to the point where I remember filling out the yc application and down at the bottom it says like it kind of a similar question like if if this idea if we think that this idea is not good, like, do you have other ideas that you would pursue? And I just remember spending like two hours making something up that I really didn't believe in I don't even remember what it was because there's like nothing ever reach that, that level of, you know, I, I want to devote my life's work to this. So it's a it's hard to say I think I think I'd be living a very quiet happy life building sites for clients.

Ben Tossell  51:20

Be a no good agency.

Vlad  51:22

Exactly, exactly.

Ben Tossell  51:24

Okay, awesome. Well, thanks so much for having us and thanks for your time.

Vlad  51:29

Thanks for having me on. Really appreciate the conversation.

Ben Tossell  51:33

Thanks so much for listening. You can find us online at maker pad.co or on Twitter at Maker Faire. We'd love to hear if you enjoyed this episode, and what we should do next.

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