In a world that lives and thrives online, entrepreneurs can build a startup with multi-million dollar turnovers and thousands of customers from their bedrooms by harnessing the power of just one thing: code. But that one thing is also expensive to learn, unevolving with time and a major barrier to entry for many.
Though few really understand it or need to understand it, people talk about code way too much these days, says Emmanuel Straschnov, cofounder and co-CEO of point-and-click programming platform Bubble, which allows non-technical entrepreneurs to create a fully functioning web app without needing to know how to code.
“People have realized that doing a coding boot camp or spending 50 hours learning how to code is not enough to do something real with that,” says Straschnov, a Harvard Business School graduate who taught himself the front-end developer skills he needed to create Bubble.
Bubble was founded in 2012 after cofounder and co-CEO Josh Haas created a profile on CoFoundersLab, one of the world’s largest networks for entrepreneurs, as part of a job search.
He soon discovered that while many people want to create a digital startup, few have the engineering resources or technical expertise to do so. Statistically, 1.35 million startups created every year are tech related, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Hiring a team of software engineers costs nearly $200,000 to $300,000 annually, Straschnov says. In contrast, innovators can build a tech startup, the likes of Airbnb or Twitter, using Bubble’s platform for $29 a month.
As years go by technology becomes more user friendly and simpler, he says, citing the example of how the mirror camera has evolved to the easy-to-use iPhone camera. The same is not the case for the process of creating software.
“The medium people are using to program hasn’t evolved over the last 40 years,” he adds.
Moreover, programming is extremely slow, expensive and inefficient, he says. “A simple task like changing a button on a web page requires the knowledge of three different programming languages,” he says.
“We try to do with software what Amazon Web Services has done with servers,” Straschnov tells Forbes.
The process of making code mostly obsolete will be “very meta” says the 38-year-old French entrepreneur, because one would have to write code to make it obsolete. Even then, there will always be a need for unique programming, but it will be reserved for specific and atypical use cases. “Today assembly language is not really used but it’s still used by people at Apple when they write something for the operating system of the iPhone,” he says.
A limited, sometimes non-existent, tech skill-set can make domain experts hesitant from starting their own business. “If we were able to empower, you know, lawyers, doctors, teachers to create applications without the engineer, it’ll be much better because they know the space better,” he says.
After seven years of bootstrapping, Bubble got its first seed funding of $6.25 million in 2019. The New York-based startup which has grown to one million users, announced a series A funding round of $100 million on Wednesday. The round was led by Insight Partners and Bubble plans to use the new funds to scale their product to cater to more startups and entrepreneurs.
Funds from the series A round will also trickle into Immerse, Bubble’s pre-accelerator for underrepresented founders to help them turn their ideas into viable products. Bubble, which has a relatively small team of 15 engineers, plans to expand its headcount to 50. Drawing its name from the tech bubble the company one day wants to help burst, Bubble is investing heavily into partnerships with universities such as University of Notre Dame and Stanford to educate young users on how to use their technology.
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