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Episode #14 - Tyler Tringas - Funding calm, profitable and stable companies from seed with Earnest Capital
July 15, 2020
Podcast

Episode #14 - Tyler Tringas - Funding calm, profitable and stable companies from seed with Earnest Capital

Tyler Tringas is the General Partner of Earnest Capital.

Earnest ( Full disclosure - an investor in Makerpad) is creating a new way to help fund bootstrappers by combining venture and debt instruments that allow founders of profitable SaaS companies to leverage capital to grow without having to be set on the path of never ending capital raising and dilution.

Tyler started Earnest after 5 years of bootstrapping my own SaaS business, Storemapper which he sold. You can read the whole story here.

Ben and Tyler talk about the future of building profitable companies, no-code as a segment and all things SaaS.


Tyler Tringas - Earnest Capital - Podcast-MP3 for Audio Podc...

Sun, 4/26 5:34PM • 47:01


SUMMARY KEYWORDS

code, build, business, people, launched, founder, tools, happen, fund, folks, platform, vc, companies, ship, book, earnest, called, product, sas, entrepreneurship


SPEAKERS

Tyler - Earnest Capital, Ben Tossell


Ben Tossell  00:00



Tyler - Earnest Capital  00:24

Thanks for having me, Ben.


Ben Tossell  00:26

To give a quick overview of what it is and like the sort of 60 to 92nd rundown of how what got you to earnest and how was it how it's been going? I guess.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  00:42

Yeah, of course. Yeah. So I mean, I'm the kind of founder and general partner of earnest capital. Earnest, you know, we did this thing we called funding for bootstrappers. So basically, we're an early stage investor, specifically targeting folks who are sort of building color profitable, sustainable companies that you'd mostly associate with kind of bootstrapper in the hacker maker crowd, you know, we make our research investments and then we build a community of, of those founders, as well as a pretty big group of mentors. So some really experienced entrepreneurs in that same space are there to provide mentorship for the founders that we back so it's not just cash. We kind of got there because basically, my background was as a bootstrap, sass entrepreneur. You know, which is where I sort of first probably started to get a taste of no code was basically being a solo founder, running a really lean team that was sort of remote first and within bootstrap, sass business, you know, like no co helped me really scale my time and, and efforts as a solo founder. But also along the way, I met a ton of other bootstrappers really that there really wasn't any good source of early stage capital for folks who really didn't want to go the venture path. But they just needed some some capital to sort of go from a side project to full time and kind of make some of those those big transitions early on. And so we launched earnest in February of last year. So we've been around for a bit over a year. nested in 13 companies so far still actively investing through all this COVID stuff because we've been remote first from day one. So it's sort of business as usual for us. And And then lastly, of my various hats, we're also now the proprietors of the founder summit, which is a broader community of roughly the same kind of aligned folks. So think of it as a as a remote community for bootstrap founders.


Ben Tossell  02:55

Awesome. And for those listening watching who don't know I did work with you. And in the early days of helping, basically how to help him set up slack channels and things like that.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  03:14

You make it happen, man, you were there when we launched. Yeah, I mean, it's


Ben Tossell  03:17

Yeah, I mean, yeah, it was a funny. Funny begin actually because I think you reached out when it wasn't makeup it was Yuko going really badly because I didn't know what I was doing anymore. He reached out about that. And then I was like, Uh, wait, what you doing this like fund about bootstrappers I just I have to be involved. Like, I basically feel like I bullied you into making sure that I could work on it, as well. But yeah, I mean, I'm forever grateful for that opportunity. And then makeup pad was born around the same time, maybe like two weeks before it was around. So I said Look about this side project. And that was a side project for a while and we had a few conversations through when I was working in SSA, a new sort of saying, you know, do you want to go full time on this? And I sort of like, not yet not yet a few times, but then yeah, we, we took investment, and NSA, obviously, was our lead investor. And yeah, it's just been incredible to be part of the community from both sides of it. I mean, I mean, we wouldn't be here without its help in more than one way. So


Tyler - Earnest Capital  04:37

I think vice versa, to be honest. Yeah. I mean, you know, I'm not sure that Ernest would have gotten off the ground. You know, without your help. I mean, I think that, you know, I mean, what what you were doing for us was, was really two hats, right? One was just kind of building the community. And the other one was that just the no code stack of being able to just deploy product, super fast and You know, I think both of those obviously shine through and maker pad, but they're also kind of a case study of, you know, I mean, getting funds off the ground used to be a thing where, you know, you had to raise a huge amount of capital and you had to hire a team of eight people just to stand up, you know, all the kind of product level stuff that we've, we've got and you know, was basically just you part time hacking it together, you know, a couple hours a week and and, like, we've actually shipped a pretty substantial amount of just stuff around the platform. And it's all no code, you know. So yeah, it's awesome.


Ben Tossell  05:37

Yeah, suppose I didn't really think of it like that. And I do wonder how how other firms are set up with all that stuff and all their like, all the value add in good commerce. Like a lot of the stuff I wonder how maybe the no code space may change, being able to spin up A small fun microphones medium fund. And yeah, especially with all the COVID 19 stuff happening now whether the move to platform like, actually, we need a platform and there needs to be like a place where people go. Yeah, I wonder how that has been? How it will change?


Tyler - Earnest Capital  06:22

Um, I think historically these spend a gigantic amount of money, essentially. Yeah. I mean, if they do it at all right, I mean, a lot of firms Don't, don't bother with any kind of, you know, platform in terms of actual product right. But the folks I think that historically even as recently as a year or two ago, you know, that that have built big platforms with lots of content and ways for folks to kind of interact with each other either they just have it in house like I mean, I don't have like inside information on any of this stuff. But I imagine like yc a lot of their platform stuff was just they had, you know, folks around who could build it. But a lot of the other funds, I mean, they just spend huge amount of money on stuff. I mean, when I, when I sort of tried to benchmark like, hey, what kind of like a budget should we be be sort of figuring here and I kind of talked to people and get a sense of you know, okay, folks who are like service providers know a lot about the budgets of other funds. What on earth were they spending all this money on? Like? Well, one of it is if you want it to build a platform, you have to go to you walk down the street to someone in SF or NYC and you went to an agency and you hired a designer and three programmers and they did a sprint for you and all that sort of stuff. And lo and behold, you spent a quarter million dollars on you know, your website, right. So,


Ben Tossell  07:42

yeah, I love to love to send my backdated invoices over for free. Yes, it is crazy to think I think the yc stuff is interesting because I mean for a long time my I thought that my dream job after I left product was good. A platform person or a VC company, that word many of those rolls around or there'll be firms that will talk about platform. But when really, there wasn't like any platform, it's just like, we have a platform, which you can never see the insides. You never know. But then, I think, as I saw or heard or read about, was it a book face what the yc internal thing is, and it's essentially a forum like, I think I joined the yc startup school one year. And I think they they took pieces from book face and like, replicated that as a, it's just like threads or comments. If you've got deals, here's all the threads of deals, if you need feedback, that's that here. And I mean, you could literally put that together with one tool if you wanted to. I wonder how like, how much with everything going on. Like we said, I wonder if there'll be more firms that just just think, well, let's just have a platform, it doesn't. Because I think with those things, if you just set up a few channels and like set the tone for the channel, you post in there like once a week, that's probably enough to have like, a platform of some sort, to almost differentiate you from someone who hasn't got platform at all. It's just like, okay, here's all our other portfolio companies. Sometimes they'll post off, sometimes they won't, but you've got platform.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  09:29

But it's i think that i think you're right. And I think this is like a common thing you see with no code, which is that, you know, it essentially removes the, like, ability to ship the literal architecture of the product removes that as like a competitive advantage. Like in a world where anybody can stand up a book face, right with any reasonable amount of effort. What becomes valuable is like original thinking, and the actual network that you build it in the way that you curate that network and who's in there. And you know what topics you choose to focus on? Not like, Did you happen to have an engineering staff that could as a side project, spin this up for you for free? Or could you drop a huge check? Because you have a billion dollar fund and you're drowning in management fees, right? It's like anyone can do it. And so that's no longer really a competitive advantage. It's like, actually how you do it becomes the differentiator. I think, maybe.


Ben Tossell  10:32

I don't know whether it's the how to do it, or whether it's, is the portfolio strong enough for it to be like a interesting place to be hanging out? Like, yeah, people that is me. Yeah. Yeah. So curation, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, I want to talk a bit about a few different things today. And with its capital is a different type of Is it a fund is it? How would you you call it a fund? I suppose. Yeah. So fun. Yeah. So it's a different type of fund. It's not sort of traditional in how it's set up or the way the investments are made. There's also like I've seen a growing actually started a Twitter list. But yesterday also nobody just started using fitness and thinking that's a cool way for me to look for stuff. It's a put together like some alternative financing, I guess I've called it and there's companies like tiny capital was Brendon Burchard, permanent equity, like Ryan graves as salt wolf capital, they all talk about a we like invest, build, and buy my internet businesses essentially. And actually, you The introduction you made you said, you call them calm businesses that, you know, all of these other companies seem to say, boring businesses, because lots of people say, well look at the boring ones, we're looking at things that people aren't interested in, um, do you think that there's gonna be like a big wave of more and more of these types of companies that are just looking at DC and thinking, that doesn't work for most of the companies out there. So I'm gonna spin up my own shop that does kind of a studio, but it's kind of a fund and it kind of does this and kind of does that and how do you think, how do you think is going to just like grow and then all of a sudden get saturated and have all the exact same problems as a VC the VC market may, may have now.


12:51

Ah,


Tyler - Earnest Capital  12:54

I think it's going to grow a lot. And I really don't think it's going to get saturated. So So I wrote this like, massive memo slash manifesto thing in January, February. And the the principle dynamic that I see going on right now is, it's this is not about VC, it's about the way that entrepreneurship is changing. And and it's diverging from VC, right. And so the sort of, you know, what we had was the scenario where, you know, 20 years ago, etc, if you want to build something that was technology enabled, internet enabled, you just had to go work with venture capitalists and venture capital as an asset class that is about finding the like, extreme, high risk, high return, you know, opportunities in the economy, wherever they are, right? It's winner take all dynamics, it's, hey, if this works, it's going to be worth 10 billion hundred billion dollars, but it's probably not going to work. That's the asset classes VC. And there was this kind of overlap where like most internet opportunities, were in that bubble, right? Because it Used to be, you know, you had to spin up millions of dollars worth of servers and all this sort of stuff. And before you even had any idea if anybody wanted the thing, but also the internet was so just an empty playing field that if you happen to be successful, you would just dominate your vertical and you could scale to the whole world basically. And so it was like Internet businesses, or almost all of it venture capital. And then what's happened is that entrepreneurship has just started gravitating towards these technology, technology enabled businesses. So you now have people who are spinning up businesses that have nothing like the risk return profile, the VC needs, you know, and, and, and but they are tech businesses, right? And so there's just this divergence happening that it's just like, people still have this kind of TechCrunch mentality from 10 years ago. It's like, Oh, I'm building a SaaS business. Obviously, I should raise VC if I need more money. And and that's just increasingly at like an accelerating pace on true for a larger and larger percentage. Have this hugely growing section of the economy. And so that's what I see, like all this response of these, you know, new funds or new twists on existing funds and things like that as responding to that dynamic, not so much like a rejection of VC, it's like this is still just fine doing his thing. And we're all over here talking about this hugely new growing section of entrepreneurs, you know, so


Ben Tossell  15:24

that's why it doesn't get the same, the same sort of power to happen like this similar power where it's, it used to be your, I don't know, how, like, how long ago, this may have twists changed slightly, but it used to be that you have to be a developer, you have to have a technical mindset to be able to build anything. Otherwise, you're never going to build anything, like engineers are at this level, and everyone else is just sort of the supporting act to the main show, and you have to have all this and this and maybe that's partly linked with VC money and VC focus on these big technology based companies that had had all those things that could have been like a pull from that, or vice versa. And then now obviously, I'm in a bias position. But it's like, you see more and more people doing less stuff, even if they are engineers, they're doing less of the coding things, or you can spin up the one thing itself, you could spin up a business that makes you 510 20 k a month in revenue and support yourself. And it's interesting to see like, I didn't really pay pair up those two things, actually. And maybe that, like, that's just made me think of those in conjunction with each other.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  16:46

I think I think you're right. I mean, I think no code to the extent that it's reducing the barrier to entry is really linked with this, this movement of, you know, all these new sorts of entrepreneurship that are technology. technology enabled but they're just not venture scale right? So imagine like you can imagine and an entrepreneur who a generation ago was going to become like you know the wealthiest person in town they were going to be a $50 million net worth by launching a you know Regional Health Food Chain somewhere in Vermont right and they were going to eventually build like 12 of these things are going to be nicely profitable you know, how like the fiscal real estate all that sort of stuff, right? Well, they would have been funded by banks basically primarily because hey, look, we're gonna have all this collateral with inventory, etc. Like this is the kind of thing we're going to build. That entrepreneur now is going to say, Well, you know, I don't want to go get all this real estate and do all that crazy stuff. I'm going to spin up a you know, real time highly efficient distribution network for the freshest possible locally produced produce, right, and I'm gonna get this network of farms and I'm gonna get like an recurring ordering system that gives me their data in real time. And then my sell it, you know, directly instantaneously with a network of on demand drivers to, you know, all these health food stores, right. And they have the same sort of scale of ambition, and they're not trying to take over the entire world, but they want to build like a really, really great business. Well, now they could probably do like 90% of that maybe 100% of that with no code, which makes it really there's no real moat, right to just building the platform for that. It's like, I could do it, you could do it. A lot of ambitious people could do it. And it becomes about building the relationships about having the right timing around, you know, actually having this selection process, all that sort of stuff and being good enough, but no code, but it's not like, Oh, you need millions of dollars and dozens of engineers to execute on this idea. You can just kind of go do it.


Ben Tossell  18:52

Yeah, yeah. So I'm like I've obviously seen like that from the from the inside, and if That. Yeah, I guess I mentioned like tiny and permanent equity and things like that as I find them really interesting, especially recently for multiple reasons. But it's like, almost like you run a company of companies this thing tiny has like 25 companies. I don't know how many how much the others have, but it's like this portfolio of your own companies. I mean, think with the emergence of no code, like if you were that person who had this business around selling the fresh produce, and you had that up and running and then the systems will work and the partnerships are there and you just sort of kept on doing that. I wonder if we're just gonna see more sort of cross functional entrepreneurship of well actually this like this. This is like a mini business within my bigger business, my bigger businesses, I just want to run a bunch of these little things that can get to like a good like you said, a good business or Revenue works, things work and everything else is not labor intensive and all that sort of stuff. And I mean, it's interesting for me because I'm thinking well, it make about we have, like our education piece. And we've also got like our partnership piece. And it's all like one business. But literally like the last week or two, I think we talked about on our sort of catch up calls was trying to, like, invent something called a napkin theory of like, it's a simple enough that like that, it's um, it's almost like a mini business. And it's like, okay, education we spend at boot camps, and we start memberships and get access to that. And then this other business is like this other piece in this like, there's processes in there. There's people in there who own them and I wonder if there's just going to be it just like changes completely from people not being able to build one thing to be alive. Well, I've been build this thing but also I can build my newsletter business around something Now I can also build a marketplace that has stuff that's linked to like my niche or whatever it is. And I have, like, all these different parts, I wonder if you think that that will happen, or whether I've just, like, slid down this rabbit hole right now, and I've just really my brain is going overdrive about all this stuff. But I think it's interesting to think about it.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  21:24

I think it's the double edged sword of no code, right, which is that, you know, on the one hand, you can ship at just an incredible pace, right? So, you know, if you have if you could do stuff that just doesn't make sense. You can be a 10 person shop and be running, you know, dozens of businesses, right, because, you know, you don't need the overhead to, to maintain them to update them to sort of cross coordinate between them and all that sort of stuff. At the same time. It does sort of it does load The barrier to entry so maybe you can skip the like customer development phase that you would normally have to do if you're expecting that, hey, we're gonna need to allocate like three very expensive engineers and one designer for a full quarter before we can ship this, maybe we should like talk to a bunch of people and develop these ideas a little more before we just like go and ship it over a weekend and see if anybody wants it. I still think on balance it's it's way way better to be able to ship fast and just see but it does mean that probably you end up doing a lot like what you're doing which is like shipping a lot of stuff, curating what sticks refining and then shipping more stuff and curating what sticks and you ended up like discarding a lot of stuff because you just like I mean, I don't think you do this specifically but one can definitely under develop an idea prior to shipping it if you get picked up a really good I know code. And I mean I used to tell people these like stories early on like right after we invested in you We'd have like a check in call. We talked about some stuff. And you'd be like, yeah, I think I'm going to do this, whatever this is some feature something. And and I would be like, cool. That's awesome. I'm really excited for Ben to launch that sometime this quarter. And we'd wrap up our call at like, 10pm. UK time. And like, the next morning, the whole thing was shipped it. And it's like, and that's, that's a double edged sword a little bit, right, because that's amazing to be able to launch these products so fast. But at the same time, obviously, we didn't do any customer development, like, you know, the idea emerged and then was launched prior to any interaction with customers, you know. So, yeah, I don't know. I do think it makes it a lot easier to run multiple products, though, for sure. I mean, it kind of makes you question some of the assumptions around that traditionally, I think are involved in technology startups which are run like you have to be like laser focused on building the absolute best product in your little narrow space. You know, if you can shift that Fast and that, you know, cheaply in terms of just time and money and staff. Some of those, I think rules of thumb go out the window a little bit.


Ben Tossell  24:09

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It's definitely a double edged sword as well, where you do launch quickly. I mean, we probably launched so many things that no longer do it. Like we don't have them anymore, or they're just either on the site or something. Yeah, I think definitely it's like a net positive. Be able to do that. Yeah, I just guess what there's like the saying of having seven sources of revenue is what you want. You should have. I mean, that's definitely not how we're set. But there's a saying around like having seven sources of revenue to like, be in a good position.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  24:48

Personal Finance stuff. Yes, I can. Yeah,


Ben Tossell  24:52

yeah. Yeah. And it's like, wonder if that's true for a business. I wonder if there's if you Had a business that did. I don't know something about like selling flowers. And then you had like, here's a marketplace of florists so you can go and book is a newsletter about the new book, new things happening the flowers in the flower world, and they'd like they're either all under the same pricing plan on under separate things. I wonder if those types of businesses because so many businesses go, they die because of not money and no customers, right. So maybe like my miniature diversification within your own business. Using no code is a decent structure to give me a guess it's yet to be yet to be seen. But I think it seems to make sense to me in my head at this moment in time, so we'll see more though.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  25:50

I think you're right. I mean, I think we even seen that, you know, even within the community of founders, you know, folks launching kind of bolt ons products are things that maybe they could charge but don't charge for. So for example, you know, a curated community of your customers is something that, you know, I mean, with no code, it's so simple to launch, as you say, maybe you just don't bother to launch it, right. But or you don't bother to charge for it. It's just like a free customer acquisition tool for you. But also, I mean, we've seen many of the portfolio founders launched something that, you know, surely, people would probably pay 50 bucks a year or 100 bucks a year, to be a member of and, you know, you can quite easily scale that alongside your sass business to thousands of, you know, recurring revenue, subscriptions, and in a way that it just wouldn't be practical to do maybe like, six, seven years ago, be like, no, like, you need to, you know, you're gonna push them to some other online community because you can't run both. That's crazy, you know, but now I feel like Yeah, sure. It takes one person five hours a week to maintain this thing. It's another revenue stream for us. Yeah. I agree.


Ben Tossell  27:00

Yeah. Yeah, that's me. Um, what are your thoughts on AI from the investment angle? Looking at? companies? I don't know how much of the deal flow right now includes companies that are either no code focus, probably to the two different questions, I suppose. And one is, like, you know, what's the investment process like thinking wise around it, no code tool there and also, like, a business that is doing quite well, but it's built on no code tools. So obviously make bad is on that side. Does it? sit well with us it were you does it? Is it anything extra that goes into that thinking process total? Or is it more of just like, yes, the business is doing well. Okay.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  27:49

Yeah, I mean, you're right, that they're that people talk about, like investing in no code, and they're talking about two radically different things. And so it's important to like, always separate those two. It's like investing in No code tools like the literal platforming, first of all, they're not doing no code, right. They're mostly look like traditional software startups in terms of being, you know, primarily composed of engineers and writing code and all that sort of stuff. And, and also, I think, given the state of the no code market in terms of people that I mean, depends on where you draw the line, obviously, like, you know, we joke about this right, but like a screwdriver is a no code tool, right? Like, but when people traditionally talk about no code tools, I think you are still very much in the realm of traditional venture. You know, the market is not you're you're taking a pretty big bet on the future market size of people who are going to be willing to sort of pay for no code tools. Maybe beyond like some of the, you know, the stuff that's like, Okay, if it's a CMS, people aren't paying for that forever. But if you're talking about tools like Zapier and bubble and things like that, that are true, like, no code, gizmos, you know, that's kind of out of our realm of expertise, I think, you know, you're really making a venture scale. But for stuff that is built on no code, I mean, I think it's actually usually really, pretty often, much closer to a fit for earnest than it is for VC kind of fits squarely within are like, hey, there's this gap in the market. Like I was describing the kind of like, no code, you know, on demand produce delivery or something like that. I think there's, they're super interesting to us. And you just have to evaluate them exactly in the way that we've just been talking about, right, in the sense that being able to build the platform itself is not a moat, right. Anybody can sort of copy you relatively quickly. So you just have to evaluate the other things, right. So So one thing that I think is, there is a differentiation is the pace of shipping with no code tools just because it's possible to build like, you teach a bunch of people how to use no code tools, but maker patterns. In terms of you personally, and then the team that you've built around you ships faster than any other no code team out there, period. Full stop, right? And so like, even though some people could use the same tools to build the same stuff, they're not building at the same pace, right? So that's something that you have to evaluate, which is like, how quickly are people turning those ideas into reality? You know, can they slog through it? Or do they ship it overnight. And the other thing is just like I'm looking for usually some other kind of unfair advantages. So like, one really common thing I think, would be having built a big audience in a space and then building a no code based product to deliver to them. Right. So so in that one of the companies we've invested in, which is called unruly, you know, they basically spent many, many years building a custom audience with a beauty blog in the sort of fashion for black woman's hairstyle and then later on They launched this service for them, which was built on top of no code tools for on demand in home hairstyling, right? And so, yes, someone else can copy the literal booking engine with no code tools, but they haven't spent seven years building up this huge audience and all the lessons you learn from that and all that. So you just kind of have to evaluate like, different things than candy literally build this product essentially. Yeah.


Ben Tossell  31:28

Yeah. Yes, inches, I would just think, also, like so many of the things that are built with no code, I just like that they're built on the same engine as so many other things. So there's times obviously, when I've launched something that's really complicated or complex, and it's like all this new twist on a revenue model and all this sort of thing, and we've done this in a really weird way. But then actually But there's just simple things like a marketplace or like a newsletter, paid newsletter and all these basic things. And I wonder if it's more of a? Yeah, whether it even comes down to like a more of a checkbox thing where it's like, okay, they're building a marketplace. And it's like that market, a marketplace can be copied 10,000 different ways. Be and it's more around the person, the relationships and the brand that they've built and can continue to build I suppose. Yeah, I wonder what I wonder what was, I wonder what you think the future of no code means to like, just bootstrap a community and especially like, do you think there's going to be tons more businesses coming through that are built on no code and pretty trying to service this as well?


Tyler - Earnest Capital  33:00

Yeah, I mean, I think so. I mean, I think, you know, it, it starts to democratize some of the aspects of tech enabled entrepreneurship, where, you know, there's been such a huge moat in the same way that, you know, stuff like WordPress and web flow kind of democratized the idea of publishing online and you saw this, like, massive flourishing of online writing, and blogs, and all this sort of stuff. And it was amazing. Like, you're like, no code tools are now kind of democratizing some of these additional, like, slight, significantly more profitable business models, right, in terms of productized services, in terms of marketplaces, in terms of, you know, kind of booking engines and things like that, that now, you know, anybody can build and so it becomes something that's around, you know, how do you build the right audience? You know, I think, for example, like I think, you know, being able to write well online is going to become more important than that. To tech enabled entrepreneurship and being able to write code, right, in the sense that, you know, the gating becomes like, can you build an audience and engage them and get them behind your mission and get them to choose you versus Anything else? In a way that, you know, being able to write rails, you know, what's the main sort of, you know, gating function to, to being able to build a product in a particular niche. Um, so, yeah, I mean, I think there's gonna be a huge explosion of this. I mean, I think it's, it's already happening, depending on how you define it, right? I mean, I think so many, like, at home side hustles on Shopify, are part of this, like no code, enabling micro entrepreneurship that you know, you would never be able to find a customer base for your particular weird wheesh niche widget thing that you sell, but when you can put it up online without having to be a programmer, and you can sell it to a global audience. Boom, now all of a sudden you're in business. You know, I think we start to see more just it's just like a continue of existing trend to be honest. Yeah. And the other piece I think tie in just is, although we still, first and foremost, consider ourselves, you know, sort of technology investors, most of the companies we invest in are software companies, I do think it also really helps this kind of bootstrapper lean, you know, don't build these huge bloated companies with way too much capital, because you can just do so much as a small team, like I was talking about, you know, launching earnest with literally just the two of us and being able to pull out like all these different product aspects, you know, that normally we would have to hire huge amount of people for as a, you know, I basically consider myself still practically bootstrapping this business, you know, I'm in the same sort of category as the founders, we back and no code helps us, you know, be able to do stuff with an incredibly small team relative to what you would need to do sort of five years ago, so I think it helps the sort of solo bootstrapper or the lean team, get an incredible amount of stuff done without having to have tons and tons of people and spend tons and tons of money.


Ben Tossell  36:03

Yeah, sure. You You wrote a book. Did you? Was it a complete book? I can't remember if it was like, he like stopped halfway.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  36:14

Yeah, I stopped halfway. Microsoft's book.


Ben Tossell  36:17

Yeah, I thought it was. I haven't finished it, but maybe it was you. You haven't quite finished it yet. Um


36:26

Yeah.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  36:28

So what happened was I was writing this book, just kind of compiling stuff. I was learning about building these, these micro SAS businesses, these kind of like small bootstrapped SAS businesses. And, you know, it's kind of going like sequentially through the phases of business, right, how to work through an idea how to get your first customers, how to kind of start to scale up your team, etc, etc. And then I kind of got to the phase which was sort of, you know, how to navigate growing, you know, from 10 people to 50 people or whatever, and I was like, I just don't feel like I have enough of a wealth of experience here. To finish this, so I just kind of stopped. And and I told people when when Ernest backs 100 successful businesses and I'll go back and I'll finish the book from end to end, and there'll be a sort of how to IPO you know, final chapter or something, I don't know. But


Ben Tossell  37:18

will you get Will you go back through the book and maybe look at it through a no code lens? And absolutely, like, do you and do you think that's fair? Do you think that no code will creep into the SAS business because I think people talk about SAS all the time. I sometimes mentioned that make websites but I can't see that. I don't know that it is it's but you can pay for access to an online thing. Community products and pay monthly yearly. And perhaps that looks like SAS, but it's probably not but uh, yeah, when did you think that No good. We'll get there with. with that. I think there are some cases to be made. It is in some places.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  38:08

It's a good question. I think so like to the, I mean, am I gonna go back and re edit the book for no code? I don't know, maybe maybe you can help me with it. We can do a collab with maker pad on that. But, uh, you know, I, that is an open question, right, which is when does no code fully eat SAS? Right, in the sense that I can say, you know, like, one of the types of investments we love to invest in at earnest is basically Nish vertically focused b2b SaaS businesses, so you know, oh, I've been working in, you know, the, I don't know, rural veterinary business forever. And there's all these unique aspects around, you know, managing the queue of pets and the follow up vaccination cycles for, you know, donkeys and cows and whatever. And we don't have any software and everyone's using sticky notes and Excel spreadsheets, and I will Want to build like a custom management? You know, sort of just like holistic SAS for managing all these kind of workflows and all that sort of stuff. And and that's something we love that's like, totally in our wheelhouse. And the question could be like, okay, at what point? Can I actually build something like that? That is a custom use case sass product with no code tools. It seems to me I'd be curious on your opinion, I mean, it seems to me that we're still a little ways away from building something that's like, fully featured, polished, has all the like authentication, billing, you know, all that sort of custom stuff. in a way that's really clean. I feel like you could hack together like a MVP that you could test out that was kind of like the Wizard of Oz style thing where it's like 80% is actually automated, and then you're actually going in there and updating stuff, which I highly recommend, like as a great strategy for testing business ideas, but I don't quite feel like you could build something that would have 1000 customers without having any progress. on staff, yet, if it was not a like, boiler plate, like Actually, I'm just gonna build a basic CRM, right, like, you know, sort of thing. I don't know, what do you think?


Ben Tossell  40:12

I think, I think yeah, I mean, maybe that I'm just thinking of it too, literally in terms of that example, or maybe like that you could do. And I think things like bubble. let you do conditional validation and things like that, where you'd have like your own dashboard as a client, and some of that stuff. But I mean, yeah, people don't know what they don't know. So if you haven't seen someone show you at the point saying, look, this is how you would build this specific thing. That is difficult to like, reimagine how we built But yeah, I don't know. I think we still have got a way to go before I know that webflow in their local comes the mentioned that like, one day you'll be able to build like a fully You'd be able to build software like you build a website and web for now. And I mean, that could be 1020 years time. But like that's their, that's one of their big goals. And I think more and more tools will allow you to do that sort of stuff. And there's like a Dalio and boundless, which have different UI versions on top of a, like a bubble type of back end stuff where it's like, If This Then That, if not that, then this other thing and be I mean, as it comes to, using like, drag and drop and move boxes around, it does get a bit difficult to translate that to like, no code and code, but I mean, I'm saying that as if I've coded a SaaS business before. I know that that's the same level of complexity, but I really don't know.


Tyler - Earnest Capital  41:51

I think you're right. Yeah. I mean, I think we'll get there in the sense that, you know, I've been trying to learn a little bit more about like the video game industry because I'm fasting By the quality of tooling that they have, where the stuff you can build at the complexity level that is very much no code, although there are still no developers that work in the gaming industry, you can do an insane amount of stuff with some of the tool sets they have, without writing code that makes some of the stuff we have for for developing on the web look just like I mean, you know, Stone Age, like, you know, pick axes. And, and so I definitely think we can get there to a point where, you know, you can build a just like true power tool that can build incredible sass without writing any any code. Like I definitely think that that that will happen. I'm not sure we're there yet. One thing I'm curious about is like, you know, I keep thinking that you know, I want maker pad and you're doing this with some of the like badges and stuff that you're doing, but I feel like we need like the, the technical, non technical, you know, differentiation that became commonplace around, Hey, can you code at all versus, you know, Like you mean, like I consider myself technical, but not a software engineer, like I can write code I can build. I think we need that for some of these no code tools in the sense that, you know, there are probably a handful of people on earth who could build this app, as I just described using no code tools. But your typical person who is familiar with the basic no code stuff is like miles away from that. And so what is that person called, like a superpower, no coder who can actually, you know, build really complex stuff? You know, using all those tools? I don't know. But I would imagine there are fewer of those people. Then there are software developers who could build the SAS that I just described, there's probably like, 25 no coders who could build it on no code tools, and there's, you know, 10s of thousands of, you know, PHP and rails developers that could could put it together.


Ben Tossell  43:52

Yeah, Yeah, probably. Yeah. I mean, we're gonna get there and qualified people with different badges and stuff and maybe one day Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's an interesting thing and no, I feel like there's no good name for what a no coder is like, I don't know. Like, it doesn't seem like a cool thing to say I'm a no coder, it like to say you're a software engineer sounds really strong. I think good Tim. But yeah, when the war I wonder how things will change with that. Um, it's been Yeah. Awesome to have you on. Just wanted to see if there's anything else you wanted to touch on before we, before we wrap up here?


Tyler - Earnest Capital  44:33

Uh, no, I mean, I would. So I guess the one thing I've been sort of pushing around my no code. proselytizing is you know, to encourage more people to think about and to poke around Baker pad and to look at the stuff that you're putting out around the ways that no code can be sort of practically integrated into your your, like work life and personal life. We really go into this but it You know, one of the things that I found to be an absolute superpower for me as, as an entrepreneur, as an entrepreneur, running a business, and as an entrepreneur, running a fund has been the ability to like quickly spin up, you know, no code stuff that just takes stuff off of my plate and automates it and all that sort of stuff. And I think, you know, a lot of folks would benefit from that immensely. And not to just kind of bracket no code as like, this is how I build things like maker pad. But as like, this is how I can have like, a dozen little robots that all do stuff for me that saved me hours and hours every single week and basically, make me a more high leverage human. I would definitely encourage folks to kind of think about no code in that way and keep exploring there. I know. You're putting stuff out there but also just to be creative themselves.


Ben Tossell  45:49

Yeah, I mean with that to do more, make it cross functional across all parts of life and work and everything else. It was so dry. And so yeah, don't know. Just tell the folks where to find you in earnest. And


Tyler - Earnest Capital  46:08

yeah, I'm Tyler tungus on Twitter. That's where you can mostly find me. Earnest is earnest capital comm e AR n, like earn. Not like Ernest Hemingway. And then also encourage folks to check out founder summit.co which we are going live this week, I think with the remote version, which is also quite a no code stack of a bunch of things. Wire together. So we'll see if it all falls apart, but it's gonna be cool.


46:43

Awesome. Yeah. All right.


Ben Tossell  46:46

Thanks, man. 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.



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