Why we acquired a SaaS learning platform and how we set it up for success by rebranding it.
You can easily learn about pretty much anything these days, online.
Internet and search engines give us so much knowledge, that the challenge today is no longer how to find more information about something.
The real challenge now is to pick the source which delivers the information in the best way for you to learn as fast as possible.
We believe the most efficient learning resources are the ones that engage and enable you to practice what you are learning as early and as much as possible, so called “learning by doing”.
The world is moving faster every day, and the people that are ahead of the curve and getting the most results are the ones eager to “just do it”, and actively searching for tools to get more things done.
No-Code tools are a perfect example of providing a way for everyone to share their passion and knowledge by giving people a way people to create applications and platforms without knowing how to code or having any substantial technical background.
We truly believe this is changing the world for the good, and we are on a constant mission to empower more people to learn to use these tools and make the best of it, immediately!
We are changing the world by giving more people the skills and tools to build beautiful apps without code. To help spread the knowledge — we acquired a successful learning SaaS platform. Now we work hard to make it the absolute best place to learn how to do amazing things without code.
Learn more about why we do it, and how exactly we planned and executed every step from just thinking about it, all the way to launching on Product Hunt.
Lots of practical advice and explanations for you to see what it took us and what we learned while doing it.
THE STORY OF ZEROQODE LAB (OR HOW WE BRING “KNOWLEDGE TO THE PEOPLE”)
Let’s start from the beginning!
Hi! My name is Levon and I’m the founder of Zeroqode — a startup focused on No-Code products and solutions.
We started a few years ago by building apps without code for our clients. The main tool we use is Bubble — the most advanced visual programming framework.
After doing a ton of no-code development and working with people from all around the world — we saw that a lot of great ideas come from people’s invaluable experiences in multiple different domains.
We also realized the technology we use is the right tool to give everyone an opportunity to create functional and beautiful applications around their passions and experience.
But then we saw that not everyone has the time, skills or patience to start from absolute scratch.
The great solution to close that gap were templates.
Wordpress and similar products were a major inspiration for us by giving a way to quickly launch simple websites like landing pages and blogs from multiple different templates.
So we pioneered the marketplace of templates for Bubble — basically pre-built apps with advanced features that can be used “out of the box” with minimal customization without code.
We created templates inspired by to Airbnb, Uber, Amazon, Patreon to name just a few and our current portfolio is now up to about 70 different templates.
Then a couple of years ago, Bubble opened up plugin development toolkit to the community, giving a way to extend the platform features by packaging custom functions and visuals into the plugin format. Now no-code builders could use plugins to save even more time and costs building their apps
We immediately dived into the opportunity and after building a lot ourselves and acquiring some others, we now support 200+ plugins that constitute about 30% of all currently available ones on Bubble marketplace.
So by 2018, we were already a key player in the no-code world, giving interviews to TechCrunch and preaching on every corner about how cool is No-Code and why everyone should try it!
Even though we had grown very quickly, one major component was missing.
We were giving people a lot of tools, but not enough knowledge!
The missing part was a superb educational content that could teach everyone how to build applications without code. We got interested in adding the educational component even more when Brent Summers (a fellow Bubbler) launched his Code-Free Startup on Product Hunt.
It happened in 2016 and was obviously a success.
Unfortunately neither me nor my partner Vlad (learn more about our partnership in How we bootstrapped our web dev. startup to 20 employees in 2 years) had any spare time to shoot tutorials that would make up the content of such a platform.
In 2017, we approached Brent asking if he’d consider selling his business.
We discussed the terms, but did not come to a mutual agreement back then.
So we let it go until we got in touch again in late 2018 and managed to negotiate what seemed a fair deal for both parties.
Now, we were finally able to bring “Knowledge to the People.”
In parallel with those discussions, we reached out to a few other course creators that had recently published some great videos and were able to close deals and acquire their best content as well.
Now we had a platform and we had content. What was next?
It was immediately clear we should create something new from all the best parts of what we had.So we started to build our new product on top of Brent’s Code-Free Startup platform, and consolidate all the content we had in the updated shape and form.
STEP BY STEP
Here’s a step-by-step story of how we did all that.
Choosing the right name
We wanted to give the platform a name which was easy to remember, and immediately reflected its nature.
One of the main alternatives was Zeroqode Academy but we decided it sounded too academic which may have implied a very long process of theoretical education. Not our way of doing things!
Our courses were tailored to give the practical results as fast as possible, by enabling users to try things out and learn by doing.
After some brainstorming, we all agreed Zeroqode Lab would be a great name because it associates with hands-on experimenting (which fits really well because all our students can simply follow each step shown in the videos and create their own apps right on the course).
Also the name hints to innovation and cutting-edge technology.
So it was decided!
Zeroqode Lab it is, and the new platform was published at lab.zeroqode.com.
Rebranding and redesigning the platform
Code-Free Startup had a good UX/UI, but it was far from Zeroqode’s feel (in terms of design, of course). We knew we had to rebrand.
We asked our designers to get involved and here are some of the steps we took. DISCLAIMER: Everything you see below we created on Bubble without any code.
Moving the landing page from WordPress to Bubble
Brent hosted his main landing page (codefree.co) on WordPress and the learning app itself (go.codefree.co) on Bubble. He did it believing Google favors websites built on Wordpress more than Bubble.
However, in the last few years we saw many Bubble websites rank well in Google and Bubble has all of the important SEO components and settings to configure.
We decided we’d be better off unifying the underlying components and moved the landing page from WordPress to Bubble.
Renaming “plans” page to “pricing”
Although both wording options seemed straightforward, a good amount of research showed us about 80% of SaaS businesses prefer the page to be called “Pricing” rather than “Plans”. Perhaps it leaves no doubt that the user can find all the pricing details there even if the user is not a native English speaker. So we changed that.
Introducing lifetime plans
Learning from our Plugin pricing model (where each plugin has two options: monthly subscription or a one time fee) we knew many people prefer to buy the product for a higher one-time fee rather than pay for it every month for an extended period of time.
This led us to believe we needed a lifetime option for the courses as well.
We useHotjar to record all the visitor sessions which can then be checked by us. This gives a tremendous insight of user behavior on the page. The team can test it hundreds of times, you can hire independent beta testers and receive reports and feedback but nothing can beat taking a peek into how exactly people use your product.
Hotjar gave us the ability to figuratively stand behind the user’s back and watch how they use the platform
Of course, maintaining complete anonymity and hiding all the passwords and personal data to make things right and legit.
Adding Templates to the Course Pages
As I already mentioned, Templates are a big part of Zeroqode’s product offering and when we were thinking about the courses, we always had the vision for cross promotion.
On the Uber course, we added a link to our Uber-like template (and so on). If there is no perfect match between a particular course and one of our templates, we simply place a link to our multipurpose template — Headstart.
And, by the way, we link back from the template pages to the courses in order to create the perfect cross promotional loop. :) (see the “Tutorials” link in the screenshot below)
Replacing Drift with Intercom
A few years ago when we wanted to add a live chat button to our website, we were initially put off by Intercom’s high prices and tried most of the other popular solutions like Drift & Crisp. However, no options were satisfying. Either their mobile apps were clumsy and inconvenient to use, the desktop interface was disorienting, or something else would always irritate us. When finally we moved to Intercom, it turned out to be a completely different experience. Moreover, they have a special deal for early stage startups which goes for only $49 for all their products, so we decided it was worth it.
Intercom can just do so much great stuff, like sync with your Stripe account and pull information from your user’s plans, create bots that would automate a lot of the boring routine or have saved replies handy for quick answers to your users.
Building a Perfect SaaS Dashboard
We wanted to create an easy-to-use and intuitive admin dashboard, in order to keep our website updated without getting the development team involved for every little detail.
The dashboard allows us to see a summary of the user activity and growth on a daily and monthly basis. We can also learn about the user actions, in order to help us improve user experience.
We can view, create and modify any courses from the dashboard. We encourage users to leave comments, and have the ability to see and review all comments in the system.
Courses are divided into categories, and our dashboard allows us to create new categories and assign each course to a category. We are also able to manage our “Deals” page, and generate new coupons.
To add more value to our premium members we have created a page with various deals.
For example a discount on Zeroqode templates or Bubble subscription.
We keep adding more deals to give even more useful and relevant benefits to our members!
This has been our plan from the beginning, but once a few users reached out to us asking if we had any affiliate partnership programs, we decided to fast-track this and implement a way for users to earn a 10% commission from the revenue generated by other users who were referred by them.
Adding more customer feedback
We decided two is just not enough :)
SEO consequences of rebranding from Codefree to Zeroqode Lab
When we moved Codefree.co to Zeroqode Lab and updated Google Search Console, the organic search traffic from Google dropped from about 1200 unique visitors per month down to only 200 uniques per month. Even though we have configured all the 301 redirects.
Not the best SEO experts ourselves, it looks like we didn’t do this one exactly right but we are working right now to recover organic traffic to the previous levels or higher with the proper marketing and keyword strategy.
The Tools used:
Now that we showed you some of the results, here are the main tools we use to get all of that done.
Would be great to have some thoughts from you about them too, and if you use some or all of these to manage your daily processes.
Asana + Slack
- Asana — for project management — here we create a plan of all the things we want to do, assign the tasks to respective team members, discuss tasks right there etc. We use Asana for all our activity -not only Zeroqode Lab, but for client development projects, marketing campaigns, and basically everything else. With a big team, this is super important.
- Slack doesn’t need much introduction I believe. :) We use it for our (almost) real-time conversations inside the team. We will keep the inside conversations private, but are happy to share a screenshot of our public slack channel. (Psst, you can also join our slack community too!)
Finally, connecting Baremetrics to Stripe
Baremetrics is a great tool that allows you to analyze your SaaS business at a glance and make it more efficient. It pulls all the data from Stripe and has a great dashboard with various metrics and options to zoom in and see detailed breakdowns as well as tools to minimize the churn rate and increase the recovery of failed payments.
In short, there is quite a bit of work that had to be done. But we are very proud of the results
The more people we can teach to create products and solutions inspired by their passions — the more positive impact we will have on those people, their families, and the societies these solutions will address.
It’s a small step forward, but it’s a part of a huge vision — the vision of a better tomorrow made possible by tools like Bubble, and humbly (put very persistently) pushed forward by Zeroqode.