🚪Tool Directory acquired for 5-figures
The No-Code Exit Story of Drew and No Code List
Hello, Katt here.
Welcome 201 new subscribers to No-Code Exits.
I had an exciting week. It was the last day at my job, a small project I built got acquired via the No-Code Garage Sale, I landed 2 freelance gigs and we kicked off the No-Code Bootcamp.
The story this week is with No-Code OG Drew. Learn how:
🌝 No Code List started with a simple list of tools on his website
🤘 It grew to an extensive No-Code tool directory
⚒️ Why he used No-Code tool Bildr
🪄 It opened a lot of doors and resulted in great opportunities
🚪He found a buyer and why it was acquired
Enjoy it and happy building!
🎈 7 Cool Finds
Brainpint is one of my favorite newsletters. Janel curates every week amazing reads and tools to make you smarter and more productive. Always full of gems!
Recent interviewee and No-Code SaaS Expert Kieran launched a course teaching you how to build your own No-Code SaaS product from scratch using Bubble.
Small Bets is a cohort course that learns you how to minimize risk with building a portfolio of small businesses. + It is an amazing helpful community.
No-Code API Bootcamp helps you to become an API pro in just 3 weeks and leverage the power of API’s as non-tech maker. I’m joining too :-).
Superblog is a blazing-fast & SEO-focused blogging platform. You can focus on writing content instead of setting up, maintaining, & optimizing your blog.
No-Code Gallery is a directory full of stunning websites made with No-Code. Great to use as inspiration and see what is possible.
Jason's Plugins For Carrd is a library of plugins, widgets, components, and scripts that adds new features and powers to your Carrd sites.
*This section is a mix of paid sponsorships (in bold) and cool things I use, discovered or made.
💡 Acquisition Inspiration
Get inspired by No-Code projects for sale on Microns 🚀.
What Carrd Template Store
No-Code Tools Carrd
🔥 Maker Interview
Hello Drew, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm Drew Thomas. I cofounded a digital agency when I was 19 years old in design school. Out of necessity, I learned development, and for a long time, I coded a lot more than I designed.
After 13 years, I left the agency and started Work and Whistle, my solo consultancy and product studio. I'd always been interested in making development more accessible, so when No-Code started to explode as a trend, I went all in and starting using only No-Code for my own projects and all client work.
Tell us about your product that you made?
No Code List was (and still is) a directory of No-Code tools, agencies, and resources. By starting it early in the wave of the No-Code trend, I was able to establish a position as "the" No-Code tools list, and the site grew in tandem with the trend.
I started No Code List as a page on my consultancy website. It was a simple list of the No-Code tools that I'd come across, and did a quick write-up for the ones I'd tried (which was a lot of them). In September 2019, after seeing some traffic to the page, I split it off, named it, and branded it as its own thing.
Which NoCode tools did you use?
Originally, everything was built with:
Ghost: For the website
Airtable: For the database
Zapier: For some automated tweets
Mailchimp: To sent out the newsletter (4 new no code tools in your inbox every week)
Later I redid the site in Bildr. I kept the Airtable database for the list itself, but all the other site data got moved. With Bildr, I was able to add members, comments, and upvotes.
What are the reasons people should choose to build with Bildr?
Bildr has a decently steep learning curve. Sometimes I describe it as the power of Bubble with the UI of Webflow. You build visually, but it mirrors code concepts, so if you already know code, the learning curve is significantly less steep. I think a lot of people would consider Bildr low code, because you have full access to the underlying code at all times, and you can switch back and forth from visual to code. But most people build everything in Bildr, including fully advanced web apps, without writing any code.
What went into building the initial version?
The site itself was like a lot of sites I've built for myself and clients, so it was directly in my knowledge-base and line of work. I basically just sat down, designed and built it. But that's not the hard part for me. I do that a lot and then never validate or continue to grow a product.
For No Code List, everything was validated as I went. I had open submissions from the public, and each week I would vet 4 new submissions, post them to the site, and tweet them out. Because the number of submissions kept growing and then the inbound opportunities started coming, I always had a positive feedback loop to keep building it.
No Code List started in the summer of 2019, got its own brand in September 2019, and then was sold at the very end of 2021.
Why did you choose to build with No-Code?
I believe in No-Code. I think it's an extremely safe bet to say that in the future, we'll write a lot less code than we do today. I wanted to position myself and my business to be early and ready for that shift. At the time I started No Code List, it wasn't as easy to build things without code as it is today. But I was forced myself to use No-Code with all my projects, so I could learn how to take advantage of it.
What's your business model and how have you grown your revenue?
Interestingly, I saw very little direct revenue from No Code List. At first, I purposely ignored revenue, and then I created some ad slots and packages but didn't market or sell them at all.
There was a clear revenue model with sponsored slots, ads, and features, and it's a niche enough audience to attract advertisers, but I wasn't very interested in running an ad-based business.
It is the non-financial gains that were much more valuable to me. Building the No Code List opened lots of unexpected doors for me.
I got to demo all the No-Code tools before the public... including some huge names today. I met founders, talked about the landscape, and even helped position a few of them.
Running the site positioned me as a No-Code expert, and I was interviewed on podcasts and blogs.
It also fed me lots of consultancy leads.
The biggest was that it led Bildr to me. No Code List (and my no code agency) is why the team at Bildr reached out and I ended up joining the team.
Looking back, the lesson is definitely to just build. I didn't know what it would become or if it'd ever make me money, but I felt the traction and fit.
How have you attracted users and grown your product?
The two main ways I marketed consistently were Twitter and Indie Hackers. I tweeted 4 new tools every week, and I posted every site update I made to Indie Hackers. I also interacted a lot with the Indie Hackers community at that time. It's kind of a fortunate "cheat," but my users were also builders, so by sharing about building my product in product-building communities, marketing was built in.
Can you tell us more about the acquisition?
I ultimately sold it in a funny way. I had listed on a site for selling micro-businesses, and I did get some interest, but nothing serious. Then one day I used the No Code List site as part of a Bildr demo at a small conference. I mentioned it was my site in the demo, and that it was for sale, and an audience member approached me about it afterward and ultimately ended up buying it.
Why did the buyer decide to buy it?
Even though I didn't monetize it well myself, I built the product to be ready for monetization, and it had a focused, engaged audience.
They bought the business, and without making any changes to the actual product, they were able to sell a few ad spots and hit the ground running right away. I think that was a key part of the sale, because they were buying it as a compliment to their main business. The main business is based around no code education. So for them, they could run the No Code List, use it to get known in the market and to get leads, plus they make some extra ad money.
Can you share some numbers/stats?
I don't know how much the buyer wants public, so I'll just say this.
There were around 10K site visits per month and about 1,000 mailing list subscribers. The list itself had over 200 No-Code tools, organized by category, and around 200 that were user-submitted but on the waiting list for approval.
I had it listed originally at $30,000 for everything. But, again, the project generated very little revenue at the time (like ~$100/month). In the end, it sold for less than $30,000, but still for 5-figures.
What's your advice for NoCode Makers who are just starting out?
If your goal is to sell the business, think in terms of a potential buyer's perspective from day one. That doesn't mean you need to focus on making money, but it does mean prioritizing monetization in what you build, even if you don't turn it on.
Buyers of businesses like this don't want to put work in before they can start seeing return. They may be fine working on the business in general, but after spending a large chunk of money, they'll want it to generate revenue right away.
Where can we go to learn more about you and your project?
Any questions for Drew? Reply to the email or post a comment.
❤️ If you like No-Code Exits and want to support my work
Filter and browse through all the No-Code Success stories
Buy the NoCode Maker Workbook (limited presale offer)
Book an ad in NoCode Exits
👀 Don't miss new issues
Subscribe to receive every week an inspiring interview about profitable or acquired projects made with No-Code.