The startup journey looks different for everyone, whether you’re building a no-code business or not! We love hearing unique perspectives from around the world of people that have taken the step to launch a product, share their learnings, and continuously refine their product. Raimundo did just that — a Chilean product manager that learned how to build a product that people want to use!
Here’s his story.
Hi! I'm Raimundo Ladron de Guevara, the founder of Escri. I live in Santiago de Chile. I also lived a year abroad in Lund, Sweden.
Escri started last August, and after a couple of pivots, it has become a marketplace where businesses connect with freelance content writers. We’ve reached 1000 users, most of them writers in Spanish-speaking countries looking for writing gigs.
Previously, I worked as a Project Manager and Scrum Master in the Innovation Department of a large retail store. I also have experience in innovation consulting and content marketing. It was this last experience that gave me the inspiration to come up with Escri.
I built Escri as a web app using Bubble. I came to know about Bubble nearly six years ago after realizing that I could bring my ideas to life in a faster and cheaper way than what other friends were doing – some of them even hiring a development agency.
Building with Bubble
Since I was familiar with working with Bubble, this became the first choice from day one. Bubble offered all the functionalities that I needed to build my platform and I could estimate how much time it would take me to develop it. Needless to say, it’s also so much cheaper than other options to build platforms like Escri.
Bubble is also a great tool to make MVPs. I'd even say it’s the best that is out there. And if you know how to connect APIs, then you can build something quite powerful, at least from the components perspective.
At Escri, we use Sendgrid for emailing, and we connect it with Bubble.
My idea started as a platform for freelance content writers to display their published work. I wanted to replicate for them what Dribbble or Behance does for designers. Honestly, I didn't have any feedback about why I should build it, or even about who specifically would use it.
This is very different from many no-code products that typically start with a very strong ‘why’. I was triggered mainly by the fact that I could build it in a month using the tools I already knew.
It took about a month to finish, and the next phase proved to be challenging! I found some users, but I struggled to get them to keep coming to the platform. I also didn't have a sound business model. That's when I realized I had built something that I wasn’t sure anyone wanted.
Learning how product-market fit works
I once read that product-market fit feels like your product is getting pulled by its users. On the contrary, I was pushing my product to them to get some validation. Instead, I should've gotten deeper into their needs and pain points: What job were they trying to get done? What was slowing or stopping them from achieving it?
I realized that having a portfolio was the means to an end. The end was to get writing jobs. So within a few months, I pivoted my product into a marketplace where businesses could post gigs and get quotes from freelance writers. Then, they would pick the best writer and hire them through the platform.
But did it work this time?
I sort of made a similar mistake. With this model, businesses became the customers; therefore, they were the ones putting the cash. It turns out, I wasn’t quite aware of what I was solving for them.
The turning point: A co-founder!
At this point, I was tired of working on my own. So I started searching for co-founders who could help me either on the business side or the tech side (they had to be proficient at Bubble).
Luckily, two weeks ago I found one of each –business and tech!
Now we are working on a new platform and a new business model using feedback from customers, and working very closely with them.
My learnings + my reason for building Escri
I had prior working experience in content marketing, either as a full-time writer or an inbound specialist. I also had some friends that worked as freelance writers. I thought there could be better ways for businesses to get content more efficiently, and for writers to get more jobs.
The latter was my inspiration to start Escri. Sadly, I overestimated my knowledge and experience regarding content marketing. I didn't have a concise description of who I was going to help – it turns out that freelance content writers are a broader category than you think!
Because of this, I wasn't familiar with the specific problems they had. This came back to me in the form of building a product for which I didn't know who would benefit from. That's why I pivoted into other versions that would solve a problem for my users.
All my obstacles were self-inflicted and were related to the business model. When you’re unsure of what to build, or you can’t seem to find the coveted product-market fit, that's because you haven't put in the work to know, and empathize with your users.
I made many mistakes early on that paved the way for me to make the wrong assumptions; and, therefore, to develop the wrong product or the wrong features.
I overcame them by starting to listen more to my users and seeking their feedback proactively. That's the only way to get some relevant information about what they want to achieve and how you could help them with that.
My advice to those building on no-code
No-code tools like Bubble are amazing to get an MVP done, and that’s great for founding teams, especially if they lack a technical person. But it can also be tempting to go on a developing frenzy without any clear idea of whose problem you are trying to solve and why.
It is quite easy to go through that road without double-checking (or even single-checking) your assumptions. When building something, be sure of what you want to test. If it helps, make a hypothesis. Spending 1-2 weeks to get a real sense of the problem you want to solve is an investment. Unfortunately, most founders don't commit to this early enough and their startups fail. It happened to me as well.
Also, get a cofounder, especially if you are a first-time founder. You need someone you can work with and who has the ability and motivation to grow this business with you; even if that person is not technical. On the medium to long run, it's crazy how much faster two people can go compared to one.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Raimundo! You can follow his work here.