🇪🇸 First. Do you want to read this article in Spanish? Check it here.
In early 2021, we got together to talk about the Real Estate sector; considering that the market has been “stagnant” for decades and only a few chosen startups like Housfy or Housell (in Spain) had achieved good models, we wondered…
What happens when a person wants to live downtown… but wants to live the experience of enjoying a new home without having to go to the city’s outskirts? And even better, what if we already “personalized” it for that person?… Wow! 🎉
That’s when we decided to work on what is now Edify. We saw an opportunity, but of course… we didn’t have the resources! Every one of us worked in other companies, and we needed to prove this concept… So we said to ourselves…
How can we prove and test this model as quickly and cheaply as possible? With #nocode.
Over 3 months after that bet, we made over €500K in sales and decided to bet 100% on the project, quitting our jobs to dedicate ourselves to this opportunity.
This is how this story begins…
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
It is something that Paulo (our CEO) always tells us and that we have very much in mind; from day one, we thought about being agile and validating before dedicating considerable resources to it for something 100% customized for us, we bet on a MAP as much as possible, and we started to create our product with the “cheapest” technology possible… using #nocode.
The MVP is dead, long life to the MAP. (Minimum Awesome Product)
If you’re going to make a new product, think about what your customers expect and try to provide the best experience…
📕 I put in quotes the “cheap” thing because, of course, as soon as you start adding tools, it stops being cheap, however the speed of iteration and validation that these technologies allow you are worth it.
Why did we choose #nocode?
The million-dollar question… Why #nocode? As I said at the time, we were immersed in other jobs and could not dedicate all the time in the world to it, and we needed to prove that we were correct, that our hypothesis made sense, and at that time, we didn’t have the time and knowledge to develop all this in a personalized way, and we knew that like everything entrepreneur, that we were going to change things constantly. So we asked ourselves…
Did it make sense to make a tailor-made development at that time? No.
So the top 3 reasons why we chose #nocode were these:
- ✅ Ease of iteration. Testing (because we didn’t know what and how we needed it at the time)
- ✅ Lower validation cost. Time (to be able to have a website in a few weeks to validate the product. Market-fit)
- ✅ Lower execution cost. Money (Not having to invest in programmers to develop an idea we didn’t know if it would work)
We started our adventure with the Minimum.run team.
With them, we started to develop our first platform using the Webflow platform.
We had a branding, an essential product design structure, and the website launched within a few weeks. We had managed to put an idea into an online product in just over a month. Ready to prove it.
The first part of the problem seemed to be solved; okay, we had the most basic service connected, the customer could find us online, and we could save the data in Hubspot for better tracking; that was our first working process. Something like this:
Basically, we had the website and some advertising on Instagram, Facebook, Google, etc.…
1️⃣ From the landing page created with Webflow, the prospect understood what we were doing with Edify, and if he considered it, he would leave us his data.
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3️⃣ Once we captured the information through Arengu, we sent it through direct integration into Airtable. For two reasons, having a data backup just in case (in the end with #nocode, you don’t have complete control, it’s better to have backups) and from there we could send it anywhere.
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- Extra info: There is a substantial discount with AWS Activate to use Airtable of over $3,000 basically… 1 year with free pro features. Not bad.🙃
4️⃣ Once we had the data in Airtable, it was time to “work” those leads; with Zapier, we have different “triggers” where when we introduced a new record in Airtable, we obtained all that data and sent it to Hubspot so that the sales team would have complete control.
Perhaps it is the most “technical” part of the process, requiring a little knowledge of how Airtable and Hubspot’s tools work so that they “connect” with each other, but nothing that can’t be solved spending some hours with it.
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5️⃣ As an extra step and as we mentioned above in Edify, we have a robust and transparent culture with all our colleagues (we are not just “employees”; we are colleagues) so that if we already had Zapier integrated with all the data, it wasn’t that difficult for us to send to a particular #Slack channel, the software we used to communicate internally, with a message saying “Hey! we have a new deal”
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And so, with these “small” steps, we were able to prove our model in a few months, creating a sustainable product, “scalable,” and above, all easy to change if we needed it.
“In just over three months, we went from an idea to selling for €500K, proving our business and starting to scale it”
Obviously, this was only the beginning from then on, and with the proven model and with a person focused on product and technology (a server that is writing these lines), we could start to make the processes a little easier.
I believe (and even more by having #nocode technologies at our fingertips) that before you develop a single line of code, you have to stop for a second and ask yourself…
How can I solve this problem (entirely or partially) with as few resources as possible?
From there, having proven that solution, you can assess the next step. In our case at Edify, we have a significant burden of “Operations,” controlling materials, the status of a reform, communicating with customers, etc.
Before we scale these processes… we need them to be easy for us to do.
That’s why we started analyzing the points where the sales and architecture team had the most problems or bottlenecks; it was 100% essential to understand this and start working on solutions to facilitate the work of those departments.
From my point of view of technical work within Edify (which doesn’t have to be precisely the same in another startup), in our model, we had several services that we had to integrate.
Once they are integrated, we can scale them to make them available to different cities and, finally… the performance.
In our case, we’re not going to have 1000 customers at a time using our product (at least in the first few months), so the app and web performance could go into the background at this stage.
I mean, we could have some manual and slow processes; it wasn’t critical.
Understanding this, we were pretty clear on where to act, and we were initially focused on formalization processes.
“Customers would arrive, but between they giving us the data and us sending the first contract document, it could take days, aiming to reduce that to minutes.”
I repeat that at Edify, we have a robust culture of validating and then developing, but we were not going to send a simple Google or Word Doc to our clients; we are different from a traditional real estate agency (in fact… we are not a real estate agency) we had to be different in that regard too.
I started researching what the best solution was, and we tried different things until I found Proposify.
With Proposify and Zapier + Hubspot, we connected all the customer information to generate a contract in minutes.
We built a small system with a certified signature using the same resources we had before (Zapier), adding new software with this model. Simple.
Why don’t we use Signaturit or similar?
Because we needed something functional and with a more personalized experience for that phase, with Proposify, we could have a fully customized template or design. With other software, we needed a deeper integration. We didn’t need it at the time.
“We managed to reduce a 1–2-day process to just over 5 minutes.”
This, for every customer wanting to work with us, it’s a more substantial impact. Once we had this point clear, it was time to help facilitate customers’ “proposal” processes. Showing the potential properties that could become the client’s new home.
We could not send a simple link via Whatsapp or a simple PDF with the basic information. Remember! We’re different!
Then again, we had the solution in front of us. Again, with Zapier and Figma.
With Zapier and all the data, we had the customer information; from there, we passed it to a Google Sheets, and with Figma’s “Google Sheets Sync” plugin, we set up a fully customized layout for our customers in seconds. We just had to export it and send it.
We had already won a few hours for each of the visits by simplifying the process.
Do you find it fascinating? I recall, so far, there is more than any CSS of the form; not a line of code has been developed for all of this. All with #nocode!
Finally, to finish closing the circle, we started working on the first client functionality. Perfect! The customer signed, the customer received different proposals, but… what happened when it started?
In this case, we rely on Webflow.
“Even if you have a product that is debugged and in working condition, if the customer doesn’t perceive it that way… it’s worthless.”
In this case, we created a Collection CMS, where we had the customer’s data, their future property, etc. Everything. With Zapier again, when the client moves to the X phase of our funnel, it creates a new item in that collection.
How to create a Collection using Webflow CMS | Webflow Help
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We stored the data on how the client reform was going within that collection in every “detail possible.” Considering that Webflow is limited in this regard, we had to play with the fields a bit.
So we had some fields like stages or history that were a simple text field but using the lists, bold and italics, and editing those styles directly from the Webflow editor, we were able to edit the visual style to make it look like a “timeline.”
With this and with the rest of the primary input types that the CMS editor of Webflow we have a complete dashboard where the customer can:
- See the status of their reform
- View photo galleries and videos of their reform
- Download all documents (order notes, plans, etc…)
- Download the invoices of the reform
- All the information about the architect, budget, etc…
🎉 As an extra, the client can request an update on how the project is going. This is as simple as another form in Arengu, where upon completion, the team gets a notification via Slack. Simple
With this, we have a complete flow to validate the entire sales process to say… “Okay… this makes sense.”
We still have a long way to go, and we haven’t developed even 20% of all the flow needed to have a fully automated and simplified process and product (both for the customer and for us internally), but I think with this philosophy, we can validate the hypotheses in a few days and develop something that “is certainly going to work,” saving costs and time.
Sorry if I have to repeat myself, but all this in a few months and without developing a single line of code (no… CSS is not programming).
So, to finish our workflow, it remains as follows:
Next goals in Edify
All of this lays the foundations for our following goals, which roughly translates to:
- 📈 Exceed €1M in sales this 2021
- 💶 Triple sales in 2022
- 🏙 Being in more Spanish cities during 2022
I take this opportunity to comment that we are looking for talent to join our product and technology team at Edify. The #nocode has helped us immensely, and we are already clear about our first in-house developments. It’s time to scale it up and grow the team.
If you are interested, here’s a bit more information:
Trabaja en Edify, cambia el sector inmobiliario.
Trabaja en Edify y vive el cambio en el sector inmobiliario un nuevo concepto para comprar tu casa con nosotros…
So now you know, with #nocode, you can do a lot of things, even prove ideas that are a business in themselves; it just requires a little ingenuity, creativity, and a desire to solve a problem.
“Sell the problem you solve, not the product you make.”
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