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Startup Stories: You shouldn't need to code.

An interview with Emmanuel Straschnov, Co-founder of Bubble

"You don’t need to code to build your product." This is the belief of Bubble, a new way of programming without code. With Bubble, you can use a visual editor that allows you to build a user interface, design your application by dragging and dropping elements and program it with workflows.

Emmanuel Straschnov, co-founder of Bubble says it all started with an observation of the current startup scene. “We were in New York and everybody was trying to find a tech co-founder, and we started thinking that since most of these ideas were actually similar from a technical point of view, it shouldn't require a tech person to build them.”

Move things forward

Hong Kong startup W Hub interview with Bubble founder Emmaunel Straschnov, entrepreneur

“In the 80s you would interact with computer writing code for all commands ,” Emmanuel says. “In the 2000s we use a touchscreen, but we are still writing code. What we are saying is that we shouldn’t need to code now, instead, we should move things forward by inventing something more user-friendly.”

Emmanuel points out that when they first started, the idea wasn’t fully accepted by people around them, and the overall feedback was not optimistic. “People first assume Bubble to be another website builder. And when they understand the idea better, they start to question the possibility to execute the plan. We have talked to some investors, and they think the market is too small,” he says. “But we consider this to be something good, because the general public think it is a good idea.”

“The only way to prove them wrong and confirm that our idea works is by doing it,” Emmanuel says. From this starting point , they began to build the platform to help all the entrepreneurs that don’t know how to code. “If you want to build a software without hiring technical resources, we are here for you,” he says.

Emmanuel reveals that most of the users of Bubble are non-technical entrepreneurs at the moment, but a few larger companies are also using their platform to build internal tools. “Hiring developers has been a major bottleneck for a lot of entrepreneurs, we want to help them to troubleshoot the problem by allowing them to create a project without the need to code.” He says. “ Cities like Hong Kong and New York have a lot of business people with finance and consultancy backgrounds , and I think our product will work great with these people since Bubble still requires you to think like a programmer but without doing the programming yourself. And Bubble’s interface is close to a powerpoint, which business people should adapt very easily. ”

Different from other website building platforms in the market like Wordpress, Squarespace or Strikingly, Bubble allows its user to build a complete website, from defining data operation, building back-end system to connecting external services. Emmanuel believes that Bubble users can launch faster, iterate faster and with less cost. “We want to close the gap between web design and web development,” Emmanuel added.

The biggest challenge has been convincing people to spend a few hours to learn a new tool. “You can learn the basics in 15 minutes, but you will need a few hours to really master ing it. To acquire new users, Emmanuel says they reach out to early adopters and tech startup people. “These people all read the same blog and are active on certain platforms like Hacker news and entrepreneurship hubs, so we try to get featured on these mediums. We also do a lot of things with business schools like Harvard and Stanford.”

From Fashion to Entrepreneurship

Hong Kong startup W Hub interview with Bubble founder Emmaunel Straschnov

“I actually wanted to work in the fashion industry initially,” says Emmanuel. Emmanuel finished his MBA at Harvard Business School, then worked at Prada as a special assistant to the CEO. However, he realized working in big companies might not be a good fit for him as the companies are already very established. So Emmanuel started to look at smaller companies and found the technical side of business interested him more. As a trained engineer, when he meet Joshua Haas, who had already started Bubble and was looking for a co-founder, Emmanuel happily joined him.

Emmanuel says what motivates him and Joshua to keep going on with the business is the Bubble community. “We care about solving this problem and it has become something personal. Now we have a community of users that is big enough and people rely on us to solve the problem. But in the first two years, it was more like we want to finish what we have started. ”

Emmanuel says he gets very excited when he see people creating something unique, putting together different elements to create a new visual effect through the app. He also mentions that he feels delighted when people dedicate their time putting together some useful tutorial or resources on the forum, helping each other out. “The general feeling of seeing people being empowered and they put more effort into whatever they are doing is something very awesome.”

The future of Bubble and Programming

Hong Kong startup W Hub interview with Bubble founder Emmaunel Straschnov

Emmanuel says they are going to open up the Bubble platform in the coming year, which allows developers or users to code their own plugin. They will also launch a marketplace where people can sell or offer free plugins to the community, this will allow people to focus only on the new, core functionality of their product, and leverage Bubble’s library for other common features. Bubble plans to launch a native support that allows users to build a native app within the same Bubble interface, for both iOS and Android.

Talking about the future of programming, Emmanuel thinks that Bubble is going into the right direction. “Code will still be there, but only for new features and elements. The way it'll work is that business people will be building products themselves, and engineers will be there to solve harder, more complex problems that the product will require,” he points out. Emmanuel believes that Bubble can be the medium for developers and businessmen to communicate on how to improve the product by adding extra elements.

#StartupPassion

“We wake up every day motivated by the amount of positive feedback we received from our users,” Emmanuel explains . “We received a Christmas note saying thank you for everything you have done. Recently there’s someone who wants to print some t-shirts with our logo on it, to help to promote us...this is extremely rewarding.”

As well as validation from users, entrepreneurs need guidance and Emmanuel received the most valuable piece of advice from his professor. “When I was considering between accepting a great offer from a big company in China or staying in the US, I received one of the best pieces of advice from my professor: “Don’t make choices out of insecurity.”

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