Mariam Hakobyan is the founder at Softr.io
Mariam, an engineer/ ex-Director of Engineering turned entrepreneur.
Prior to launching Softr.io she has built software products and led product engineering teams for most of her career.
Softr is built to empower 99% of the world, who doesn’t know how to code, to build software products without having to learn how to code.
Mariam is someone very passionate about the no-code space and on this episode Ben and Mariam speak about why she sees it as the future.
Mariam Hakobyan - Softr - Stories Podcast-MP3 for Audio Podc...
Sun, 4/26 5:43PM • 18:14
tools, build, engineers, code, people, web apps, softer, company, software, functionality, point, fails, software development, lots, engineering background, marketplace, world, engineering, website, repetitive
Ben Tossell, Mariam Hakobyan
Ben Tossell 00:00
Mariam Hakobyan 00:33
yeah. Hey, Ben, thanks so much for having me. Amir, I'm Maria Maryam, an engineer and director of engineering, which turned into intrapreneur. So I have been actually I'm coming from an engineering background and have been building social products and lead product engineering teams for most of my career. And I have recently also started my own company software to empower 99% of the world who doesn't know how to code to build software products themselves without having to learn how to code. So I'm really I'm really passionate about the no code space, I see it as one of the future growing spaces and really happy to share my thoughts on that as well.
Ben Tossell 01:15
Although it's not often that we have x engineers or current engineers, I suppose who, who think, like you do around no code on the show. So we've, we've mostly spoken to people who are either building without code for themselves, um, be I'd love to hear some of your journey of how you When did you come across no code and how did that sit with you as an engineer? Did you first think of it as like a fad, something that people just will get over on? Do you see the opportunity straightaway?
Yeah, yeah, that's that's an interesting question. Right, baby To help my whole career basically, I have been building social products myself. And I have worked in 13 different companies. And I have basically seen really too much reputation in the whole software development and every other marketplace, every other dating app, or most of the web apps. 70 80% are kind of similar. And you keep building the same functionality over and over even as an engineer. And it just is so repetitive. On the other hand, as well, I have been leading themes in engineering departments that have been hiring extensively for engineers. And I have really seen the scar city and the shortage of engineers and it's like across the whole world, right. And every year there is 1.4 million software engineers jobs created in the whole world. And there is only 400 KCS graduates. So there's really a huge gap of software engineers right now in the world. This gap, I think is not going to close anytime soon. Because as everything becomes more digital, it's just going to grow bigger, if anything. So on the other hand as well, I mean, I do have lots of people who I know who started trying to learn how to code, etc. But it's just really hard. And it's tedious, time consuming. And I mean, the code is still going to be around, but not everyone is going to want to learn how to code. So at some point where I left my job, I was like, yeah, basically, I was brainstorming on different ideas, what, what I should work on next. And I wanted to start something on my own. And the idea was also with my other co founder, why not to have basically a platform where all of these repetitive things are just given as building blocks. And you can use as an engineer, even you can just use those components to not keep reinventing the wheel and then you just start build on top of that, what specific to your business. So that's how basically I came, we came around the idea, but at the time, I didn't really know there are lots of no core tools, etc. And I started exploring the market. And I also found maker pot as one of the first communities where lots of tools are listed. So that's how I basically got involved into no code. I started also just exploring what's out there, what exists. And, I mean, from an engineering perspective, I would also say, most engineers are really skeptical about these kind of applications. Because, you know, first of all, they know how to code. It's much much faster for them to code the same thing. On the other hand, they are very skeptical because of like security, reliability, performance related stuff and how much restricted they are by the functionality that the tools provide. So I would say if if the tool is really good and can can just remove the auto repair to depart and automate lots of stuff, so giving the power to the engineers also to build on top of that, then at that point, I think engineers would be very open, even more open to accept and kind of use no code tools as well.
Ben Tossell 05:15
Yeah. So do you think some of those questions I suppose a lot of the questions around no code or the viability of no code is that they come from the the engineering lens where they say, yeah, is it going to be scalable? Do you own your own? Like, do you own the code that you've technically not written? And do? How are you going to perform and how is it going to scale? Do you have a building softer with all that in mind to try and almost maybe calm those questions or bridge the gap of Okay, this is we've come in through an engineering background and I'm really focusing on some of these pieces. First.
Yeah, that's kind of part of it. Not necessarily where we want to start with. Because, I mean, those are the aspects, we understand that, especially if you're a big company, if you want to use this kind of tool tools, you already have engineers, and there has to be this like kind of basis for that. To start with, with no code tool, however, when we are right now very much focused on like indie hackers, makers, early stage startups to really enable and empower more non technical people to just start building something. Because what we are seeing is across the whole world, you know, like 99, or 90, something percent of the startups fail, right at some point, and they fail, most of the time they raise some money, or they even did, they spent hundreds of thousands of years on building an MVP, which is very simple, maybe marketplace or something similar, and they spent six months of engineering effort just to build that, and just to create what they had in mind to validate their hypothesis with customers. And at that point, it's already too late. And they have spent a lot of money, lots of engineering time, and then the company feels. So what we believe is that you don't have to do that do go that route, you could just much easier earlier, validate the idea. And then at the point where you come you have really some viable business idea you are setting up and starting really a real company, business that works and solve the customer problem. Then at that point, with software, we are also aiming to, to have companies basically build start building their MVP, but also rely on on software for the next several years, until they grow much further. Even if they have an engineer, they could still extend the platform. Like with external API's, they can inject it Our own code snippets, etc business logic, they can still do that. But we want to start from the very beginning and then kind of go along with the journey of.
Ben Tossell 08:10
Yeah. So. So where were some of the focusing right now? What is what are the features you can see on websites? Let's talk about building websites, mobile places or web apps. So where are you right now? What are the kinds of things that people can build and necessarily access? What's sort of the near term pipeline for for what you're building?
Yeah, so we have several kind of milestones for us, which we are kind of following. So in general, software is an awkward platform that enables non tech founders and startups build responsive complex web apps without any code. And the first the first version we are gonna release pretty soon in about a week or so is going to be the Very first basic question, which is just a website builder. So you could very easily and intuitively, within maybe 510 minutes, just build a quick website, which pre given building blocks, and be up and running and start validating your hypothesis. And then on top of that, the other milestone is where you basically will have more complex functionalities, something like memberships like authentication payments, listing, functionality, search, and all of these other complex functionality where you basically can build a full fully blown, like, marketplace or SAS type of application.
Ben Tossell 09:42
Yeah, awesome. So how, how does this compared to some other tools? What was the like? What was the gap that you saw that with the tools aren't quite hitting, there's obviously loads of different things and people hack together, like webflow with another thing to do a membership site or something where sometimes is one better to building one tool? There's, there's lots of options, I guess, for people for doing different things. So I guess what was the what was the angle? You're you're looking at taken here.
Right? Right. That's that's a fair question. And currently also the same marketplace, you can build either with bubble or with several tools connecting each other, right. But the gap I'm seeing is what I'm missing to see the types of NACA tools that don't require a big learning curve, and are still powerful to allow complex for building. For example, if you were to use like multiple tools, you still as a normal user, you have to learn all these tools, right? You have to know all these tools. If you're using web flow, you have to kind of learn the workflow designs, you have those design skills, and still pay for all these tools to do the things together. And some of the crucial parts as well looking from a technical kind of from coming from a technical background. Very much thinking of like all these integration points, if something fails, and you're just running a business, you have real customers. If something fails in between of these five different tools, you have to figure out what it fails and what what fails and how to fix that, right? And it's all kind of not in your hands. Because right now also there is not really good testing tools to do all this integration, testing, etc. On the other hand, when you're building with tools like Babel, etc. So that's also like, they're pretty powerful, and you can still build what you want. But again, the learning curve is pretty big. And you have to learn the tool itself. What I mean to me that that kind of misses the whole point of NACA tools, because in the first place, the knockout is supposed to help non tech founders to do something, to build something without really having to learn the whole no code or technical aspects from right and that's the biggest part and missing and we hope to see softer filling that gap
Ben Tossell 12:06
yes was the interesting point because lots of tools that have very powerful functionality are a bit more complex a little bit even bubble of building a podcast but they pride themselves on their therefore having like a learning curve and even I think there's like there's an article out recently about notion and Rome is like the to wiki type Yep, docks and then people that the the founder of Rome or something said like, Oh, yeah, well actually we pride ourselves on having a learning curve, but i i agree with you where some people, especially when they're new to no code, need to have that aha moment straightaway or like, be able to within the first 1015 minutes be like, oh, wow, I can do this is completely, like push the boundaries for me or this is going to something so easy. Another tool to how I think of things or writing books is definitely visual.
The learning curve does mean to some extent that you can do powerful stuff. And you have to learn how to do to do this powerful stuff, right. But on the other hand, I don't think that should prevent people to get into and build something quickly. Because there is like, depending on what type of user you have, if you have very non technical people, then they could get into and up and running very quickly with very like basic functionality in a much more intuitive way. And then you can still have the tool being powerful and have a learning aspect for more advanced users, which is something Yeah, when engineers come in even later on, they could use the tool, because it's so powerful. But in the beginning, as you mentioned, I think that's that there's still a huge barrier for people to enter and build really functioning web apps. Really quickly?
Ben Tossell 14:01
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I really agree. And yeah, it's gonna be awesome to see how much new things come out of different tools like software and others. So what Where do you think there's a big opportunity for people to learn and to sort of taken their code and they went, where do you think no code is going to go? Over the next few years?
Um, I think I think that's not really probably the best world or the best word to describe at this moment. And because it kind of implies it's negatively neat as well, right? And many people are becoming kind of skeptical and thinking now it's gonna remove, like coding, etc. But it's never gonna remove coding. And the engineers are always going to be there, I believe. And I mean, I actually think, actually, the voiceover so there is going to be even more engineers needed to to build these tools and to work on really more sophisticated problems. But instead, instead of engineers really doing all the repetitive part, which can be automated with these tools, so that this is what the tools will take away, like, they can still remove all the repetitive parts, and then the engineers will spend their time on more meaningful stuff. Yeah, I think that's, I mean, in the future, there's still going to be lots of engineers, there's still going to be many tools, and also companies who end up building on, on on code. I mean, at some point when the Nokia tools are going to be not enough for what you want as a company when the company grows when they have millions of customers, and they have too much customization. Just even from a price perspective that might not be very well might not be enough and make sense for the company to use knockout tools. But that's already so far away in company's lifetime. That Most of the companies fail before reaching that point. And then at that point, I mean, before the all the companies, all the at least, the smaller companies can start up, they can build and validate their hypotheses build really running businesses. And then at some point there is still going to be engineers, there's still going to be lots of tools to do with cause. And yeah, I'm just really passionate to see how far the nako tools can take this software development forward. So and how little you have to do as an engineer after afterwards.
Ben Tossell 16:39
Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with everything you said about the movement about what what was going to be built in and how it's gonna empower people. So yeah, we're gonna wrap up shortly. Is there any other things you wanted to to mention about software or your background or thoughts on the no code space?
I would probably just mention that anyone who is really interested to check out softer, can can first of all, just register on the waiting list on our website. And in about a week, we will be lunching publicly. So you can just try out the first version. They easy website builder, just to see also to get the whole concept of using building blocks. And whether that's really making it more easy intuitive. And I would love to get feedback on that from from lots of people. And yeah, looking forward to, to just helping the community and helping more more people to get into software development.
Awesome. Well, yeah, thanks so much for coming on. And for people listening, the website is soft.io softer with an r.io. And thanks so much for coming on. Maria.
Thanks a lot for having me, Ben.
Ben Tossell 17:58
Thanks. Right. Thanks so much for listening. You can find us online at maker pad.co or on Twitter at make that we'd love to hear if you enjoyed this episode and what we should do next.