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A voice assistant mentor for founders without code

Uma

A story from Makerpad
Quick Stats

Tools used: Voiceflow, Landen, Canva, Wavve.co


Status: Pre-launch

A voice assistant mentor for founders without code

My name’s Martin Slaney and for pretty much all my career I’ve worked in digital financial services. I’ve co-founded a few startups, including Dabbl, the UK’s first mobile-only share dealing service. I’ve worn the hat of a product manager in various guises for nearly 10 years, and my current day job is as a freelancer consultant. I love making new things that solve problems - and up until recently I couldn’t do that on my own as I can’t really code. So when I discovered how much no-code resource there is now, I have a long list of side project ideas to get through! Uma was top of my list.

I’m developing a conversational voice AI assistant called Uma, who acts as a virtual mentor for startup founders. From my own experience, founders have a constant thirst for knowledge and advice on all things start-up related, but often struggle to find the time to either source good information online or find a decent mentor they can open up to. Uma speaks the language of startups, and sources her constantly updating knowledge from the likes of Ted talks, books, podcasts and more.

I’m building the MVP with Voiceflow. It’s a drag and drop visual no-code platform for designing, prototyping and building voice apps. It has been brilliant, easy to get to grips with, with fantastic support and training materials. There are other platforms out there which offer more granularity and complexity, but certainly for the purposes of my MVP it’s perfect.

Here's a demo:


Voiceflow is the main platform where you can pretty much do everything you need to build your voice app. I’d searched online for no-code voice app options and not really found what I needed, so I Linked In with a few Voice AI experts who recommended I try Voiceflow. The alternative was to use the Amazon and Google development platforms, but the learning curve that was apparent from looking at their documentation didn’t seem to warrant doing that. I’m a big believer in using no-code to move quickly. By the end of only the first week I’d built an end-to-end demo of the app for various scenarios of conversation around a particular topic (how to pitch to a VC), and launched it in beta on Alexa and Google Home. (an audio demo is on the website, listed at the end).

I also use Landen for a website for pre-launch sign-ups, Canva for design, and Wavve.co for the audio soundwave video. They are all great products.

The no-code movement has just exploded this year. I first used Webflow about 4 years ago and thought that was impressive, but suddenly we have new no-code platforms for creating front ends, back ends, worflows, databases - and the quality is overall pretty good. I was struggling to keep up with the influx of new providers - every time you find one you need to sign up to try it out, then learn how to use it - so Makerpad was a no-brainer for me.

I genuinely believe this is a transformational moment in the digital product world. Everyone from designers, to product managers and coders will see the benefits of no-code, and I actually think we’re still in the early phases. I’m super excited what comes out in the next year or two… both as platforms to service non-coders, but also the no-code products and services that get launched that otherwise wouldn’t have been.

What we have to watch out for is the bargain bucket guys. The guys who launch a no-code platform that sounds great but in practice is a shocker to use. That’s the case with any sudden upsurge in interest in something, so it’s not specific to no-code, but it’s just something we have to be aware of. I think the “killer app” a lot of people I know are waiting for is to be able to design a product in Figma then launch as a native app all from that one platform. Currently the design capabilities from many of the app builders I’ve used aren’t brilliant. To get mass adoption that needs to be cracked.

Uma website: https://heyuma.co

My website: https://martinslaney.com; Twitter @martinslaney

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s interested in helping test out Uma in the next few weeks.

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