I'm Michael, I've helped 3000+ Makers get started building their idea💡without knowing code, AMA 🔥

Michael Novotny
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When I launched my first startup in 2016 I did everything wrong. Frustrated I began to study how Indie makers and people who build with no-code actually launched successful businesses. Applying what I learned I was finally able to get traction while launching Get Stackd (former PH #1) and creating a database of 150+ no-code projects with The Lean Side Project, which combined has helped 3000+ folks building a digital business find the best no-code tools to start making something. They help by turning what is in your 🧠 out into the 🌎 and into a 💰 business. I specialize in helping folks figure out what are the best no-code tools to use for their idea💡 and how to start small. 👋🏼Here to answer any and all questions about no-code (building digital products/services without coding).

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Head of Community at Threado
What is the most complex no-code stack you have ever seen?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@5harath The absolute craziest stack I have seen was by a guy named Matt Henderson. It is a no-code behemoth called presshunt.co and it is built with: 2 @parabolahq flows + 2 @integromat scenarios + 2 @zapier flows + 3 Google Sheets scripts But to really do this product justice you need to see the actual no-code flows to believe it: https://twitter.com/msh_nyc/stat...
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Community @ PROCESIO
Community @Genies 👽🅰️🖖
How do you know an idea is well suited for no-code? What are the first steps to working with no-code once you have an idea?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@gabe__perez Hey Gabe! Great question. I struggled with this when I started my no-code journey. I would often try many no-code tools, build something halfway only to find out that It was not going to deliver what I needed to build the product. For instance, I just interviewed a Maker named @iruhdam24 who has built 30+ no-code products she talks about this. "You really have to be disciplined to map out all the product features, and plan out which ones you will need to validate most. Then select the best tools that will deliver that." However the problem is that it takes a lot of time to accumulate all this knowledge and it takes time to map out each tool to know what it does. To help with this I would recommend you get your feet wet doing two things that shorten the time to learn drastically. 1. Check out sideprojectstack.com/no-code-tech-stacks to see examples of what other Makers have built. This really supercharges your knowledge to see what is possible. Because then you can map your idea and compare it to what has been done before. 2. Also in the beginning, like Madhuri I struggled with this to so I built a free tool called GetStackd.io that will recommend the best no-code tools to start with based on your idea, no-code skill level and complexity of your build. It bases this off of hundreds of Makers projects and the stack of no-code tools they used. It's a former PH #1! Overall I would leave you with this philosophy. That was revealed during my interview with @traf Maker of @super_ a helpful product to create a website with Notion. "I never make a deliberate decision between code and no-code, but rather a decision between flexibility and speed—amongst other things. Products built with no-code tools may not be as easy to customize or as flexible in some cases, but they’re undoubtedly much faster to put together. It’s also not yet possible to build *anything* using no-code." You are optimizing for speed. But if you cannot code, or your product has high specialization that no-code may not be equipped yet, figure out which part of your idea can you build with no-code? And what is the highest fidelity v1 you can make with no-code? A great example of this is @5harath who built the first version of https://shoutout.so/ with Bubble. Proved out the concept and validated it, then partnered with @curtisjcummings to build out a more fully featured version. Hope that helps!
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Community @Genies 👽🅰️🖖
@michaeljnovotny amazing breakdown. Thanks so. much for going into detail on this. All makes perfect sense. Breaking down the features and searching for a pre-existing stack that meets my needs is a great recommendation.
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Idea: I have over 100 physical thank you cards (http://thoughtful.cards). I want to get them online (may be through a chrome extension) and the user should be able to search for the right one, drag and drop into an email or any other messaging service. What tools do you suggest? #thanksinadvance
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@rajsetty Hey Rajesh! That sounds awesome. So if I understand it right, the purpose of the chrome extension is that it will allow a user to input information and select a card so that they can send digitally. I really like the idea of reducing the friction with a chrome extension. I would suggest that you build a chrome extension but if you cannot, the next best thing is to build a v1 with no-code that validates your concept. If you do this you can then have much more leverage in talking with a developer to build a chrome extension. The way I would do this is create something in Bubble that allows a user to input their information then be able to download the digital asset so they can then attach it digitally like through a messaging service. This obviously wont be as frictionless as you finished concept but it will do two things for you: 1. Validate that people actually want the thing you are building 2. Learn from how people use it to then iterate and then leverage that knowledge to know what exact requirements for developing a better version
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Founder, Restep #NoCode
What are the most common mistakes by beginners? Especially around picking the right tool(s).
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@dkaravias awesome question. I can speak from experience I have made tons of mistakes around this and learned some painful lessons. Biggest mistakes: 1. When I talk with Makers especially first timers, I notice a very familiar trend. OVERBUILDING. Everyone has a vision of what they want to build and its insanely hard to detach them from it when helping them build their v1. This is a big issue for obvious reasons as you probably know. It is a huge risk to build something when you haven't validated it yet. How do you know people actually want the thing...so how do you reduce this risk? When I launched my startup in 2016, I struggled with this mightily. It took me a year to fully launch it because I thought that in order for it to be valuable it had to be fully featured and a fully functional product. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. A concept that has helped me build smaller, is launching micro-products. I write about this too, but the concept is taking your product, distill it down to all its features, and then go to market with each feature as a product. So what you end up getting is what feels like an insanely small or basic first v1. But now you can leverage validating it and shipping quickly. Now treat each feature as a new product and when you launch it you'll get a compounding effect of momentum because it will feel like you are building so quickly and your product will rise above the noise. You can also measure better the value created and value captured from users based on their behavior not what they tell you. It helps guide your product roadmap much tighter because your feedback loop is much faster. What I never realized is that the first 1000 or 2000 users of your product are so early in the adoption bell curve, they actually PREFER an unfinished product because they can invest and feel ownership of helping it develop by giving feedback and because they can also influence and shape the product. Communicating this is hard. I am still working on how to help first time builders with this. Sometimes you have to feel the pain before you learn :). 2. Also, a CONTRARIAN concept I have learned and developed is I would not recommend selecting a no-code tool that does everything you would build for your finished product. Meaning Bubble is a tool that is very powerful to build almost anything with no-code. However, the learning curve is steeper and will take longer to build. Just because you can build anything with it I wouldn't start there. I would recommend what are the no-code tools you can use to build the FASTEST so that you can VALIDATE. Often I have made the mistake of thinking that if I build it then they will come. FALSE. There is a lot more that goes into that, but your biggest risk isn't building something functional, its validating that it's actually something people want. Not to mention all the work necessary to build in the open and bring people along your journey so that they take notice. This takes time and when you build multiple versions it actually helps you in the long run. I have some really good data about this that supports it I will link, but to help with this in TheLeanSideProject.com I created a database of 150+ no-code products and listed out the tools for each then labeled them "starter", "mid-level" or "expert" AND had the Makers share with me how much time it took to build their product. I've gotten great feedback about this level of data really helps you evaluate which tools to use based on where you are at with your no-code building journey and your goals.
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Founder, Restep #NoCode
@michaeljnovotny I love your take on early adopters! Personally I’ve been there, getting to know the team behind an MVP and becoming attached to it as they adopt some of my feedback. Point 2 isn't contrarian imo, goes with the overbuilding problem. Too many options is usually a drawback, a lightweight tool's constraints keep you efficient and creative.
Community @ Product Hunt
@michaeljnovotny thank you so much for this AMA! Wanted to get your opinion on the best e-commerce store solution, which can be used internationally. This is just for some some art and craft products. Is Shopify the best option for that? Or would you recommend something else? The requirement is: no-code store, marketing tools (like MailChimp maybe), payment gateway, and managing the order (shipping etc)? Is there any one platform that has everything in-built? Or use a combination of tools?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@adityavsc Shopify is one of the best go-to tools that I would invest your time in exploring. Where are you selling from? @iruhdam24 is a Maker who is more well versed with ecommerce specific types of platforms especially outside the US. She has educated me on the friction points and tools she uses to execute. From my recent interview that I published yesterday with her I think you might find some helpful answers to your question: https://sideprojectstack.com/bui... She talks about what tools she uses to build a learning course in India and I know she is well versed on what tools she uses for payments and hosting eCommerce. For example she has educated me that Gumroad and Paypal are cumbersome to use in India. A recent stack of tools she has used that you could use as a starter stack: Carrd.co - for the landing page Airtable - as a CMS to host the content Softr.io - Could explore using Softr.io to make the content display nicer within the website. Payment - Stripe - Example see here: https://nocode-integrations.carr... I know she just recently switched to Stripe because she was using a different payment processor for India. I am not well versed enough about which one she used but if you reach out to her on Twitter https://twitter.com/Iruhdam24 or here she is very friendly. Lastly what is your requirement for managing the order and shipping? Like tracking and that sort of stuff? That is a good question. I will see if I can find out for you.
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Co-Founder at Xperian & Nocoloco
@adityavsc @michaeljnovotny Happy to help! Please DM on twitter :)
What would you tell someone who wants to try building something with no code but doesn't have an idea or know how to decide between a few they have?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@noahmakes That is a great question! Sometimes it can be hard. I think that if you do not have an idea, then most often it could be because you are overthinking it. One of my favorite responses to this question is from @traf Maker of https://Super.so in a recent interview I had with him: https://sideprojectstack.com/how... The best way to start is just solving for a problem that you have: "Can you tell us how you got started with Super.so and Icons.tr.af and why did you choose no-code? Traf: Super started out of a personal problem. I use Notion for almost everything, and I wanted to share a public Notion page, but couldn’t get over the fact that it came with a horrendously long URL, their logo and branding (instead of mine), and a page that was close to impossible to truly customize. As a designer these are pretty important things when sharing anything online. A month later, we launched a V1 that solved for these." "Can you give any insights to your framework for building your next thing? Traf: One thing I try to do often is look for edge cases in already existing products. If people are using it in ways it wasn’t intended for, it would likely work better as its own product. Relating to Super, I was creating my own edge case without realizing it. If I had that problem, others likely do too." If you are trying to decide between a few ideas I would recommend that you think about the problem you are trying to solve for each one. The biggest mistake I observed from learning and talking with hundreds of Makers is that the ones who ship random ideas that don't correlate in the problem they are solving or somewhat related to the target user/customer have the most difficult time getting traction. They often burn out, get depressed because the product did not take off like they thought. There is also the element of the unknown which is, who cares about the thing you are making. Does anyone actually want it? To mitigate these risks, simply fall in love with the problem, not the solution/idea. But how? I write about this extensively here: TheLeanSideProject.com but the quick version is: 1. Write out the problem you are trying to solve 2. Write out the user journey that the person with that problem (can be you) is on 3. Write out all the other problems and friction points or edge cases as well 4. Use all those problems as your product roadmap and ship micro-products Essentially now you have a way to make many small bets. But because it is anchored around a core problem. Now you can make compounding small bets. This is a big difference. Because now if you ship something and it does not take off, no big deal. The next micro product you ship will be related to the core user you were already marketing to. Now you have a built-in audience from your previous failed product thus increasingly the likely hood your next product takes off AND you don't have to rebuild an audience again. Doing this is the biggest reason why I broke through with my products. And I applied this strategy from what I learned from hundreds of Makers I studied.
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SLP and content strategy
Hi Michael! Thanks for all you do- I’m having “aha” moments every time I open up the “Lean Side Project.” I have a couple questions, so don’t feel obligated to answer all of them: 1) do you know of any no-code tools that allow you to record someone’s voice, and play it back to them with the push of a button (basically a digital tape recorder that you can include as a feature in a larger app)? I want to give people language lessons and let them record and hear themselves. 2) what are the best first questions to pose to potential customers (e.g., in niche Facebook groups) to validate your project? I feel some analysis paralysis thinking I have to ask the right questions in the right way or a) my idea will be stolen or b) I’ll be leading the witness so to speak. The “Validation” section of your book is great, as is “zero to sold” and “the mom test” - do I need to stop reading and just throw some questions out there already? (Haha) Thanks again!
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@jamesberges1 Hey James! I saw what you have built with no-code and am blown away. I love what you are doing and believe that these types of projects add a ton of value and also will advance awareness with no-code. 1. I know of @daniel_johnsen has built something in Bubble to record your voice and then playback through Amazon Echo. However I do not know the mechanism that he used to do that. He is INSANELY helpful Maker and I would reach out to him here or on twitter: https://twitter.com/Daniel_Johnsen 2. I would approach it differently. If you must try to get users for your early product, I would ask them if they share the same pain point or problem that your product solves. First, this builds some level of trust that they feel heard because you validated their pain point. From there, I would try to give value or help them for free as much as possible. You may need to do this dozens of times, but try to give help to them first. Hard part about this is you can't really force this process. Have to let it happen organically but you need to show up and try and do this daily for 15-30 minutes. Consider this part of your market research. Then once you have done that, if you feel comfortable private messaging them (easier to do on Twitter) tell them you have made something and you want to get their feedback. Ask them 1 specific question so they are focused on providing good feedback. I haven't read Zero to Sold ( I know I am probably last human on earth) purposefully because at teh same time I was writing The Lean Side Project. I didn't want to be influenced by it. I am using all my own research and experience within what I advise to do. But compared to mom test and others my viewpoint is CONTRARIAN. Which is just build the thing as minimally as possible and with just one feature. It is so much more powerful when you biuld an artifact for someone to look at and be able to use to see what output it produces. The universe responds when you take action. When you put something out into the world, an actual thing that you make people respond. That is what I have found. Then once you feel more comfortable about what you are building and you have had more time to take that initial feedback (lets say 5 people) from whom you have private messaged, then maybe tweet or broadcast it more broadly and begin building in the open. As you do this the people with the same problem will self-identify and will want to contribute to help you build it. Does that help?
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SLP and content strategy
@daniel_johnsen @michaeljnovotny that is extremely helpful, thank you! Now I want to set up an action plan to provide value for at least 30 days for free in these niche FB groups (most of my target market lives on Facebook and Instagram, not Twitter unfortunately for my preference). Daniel, I’d love to see what you’re building with voice playback. I wonder if voice memos had an api, you could just embed that in the product - or something similar. Thanks again!
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Builder @ CertiWin
Just Wow! @michaeljnovotny I have a question, I have been asked to build a portfolio of products to demonstrate that I can build a product from ground up. Where can I look for inspiration and what stack would you recommend?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@ankur_mehrotra1 Hey Ankur, great to meet you! A good place to start might be this free resource here: sideprojectstack.com/no-code-tech-stacks as it has 100+ examples of actual products made and launched with no-code. If you are looking to really get serious and produce something as quickly as possible all the data points, know how and guidance to help with that is located in here: TheLeanSideProject.com. It has a custom curated database of 150+ no-code products that helps you really see what it would take and exactly what you would need to produce a wide array of products. Marketplaces, job boards, web apps, mobile apps...you name it. Unless you have an exact idea, it's impossible to recommend just one stack. A good way to get a free recommendation is by using GetStackd.io. Because it will help you see what no-code tools you should use and give a custom recommendation based on your idea, no-code skill level and complexity of build. Lastly, often a good starting point is building with Glideapps.com - the learning curve is lower when first starting out. However there are several other types of tools and apps you will see on the resource list I provided above to really help you have an idea of what to build. Let me know if that helps! thanks for stopping by.
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I am civil engineer from Nepal.
what is difference between code and no code?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@madboyjgs Hey Madan. Nothing actually. But depends on who you are talking about. Are you talking about the person developing a digital application or the person using a digital application? What no-code allows you to do is develop web applications with visual development. Which is a fancy word for not having to actually WRITE the code. You can build your app with already created features that can be pieced together to create a working application...without having to actually write code Thoughts?
Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@offical_aishwer I am scared to click, what is this?
blogger nd youtuber
@michaeljnovotny its gaming website
I have patience to learn from E-Market
This is great
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@md_lutfur_rahman thanks dude!
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How much no-code work can I employ working with GPT-3?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@kevin_t_ great question. I don't know honestly. I haven't explored too much into GPT-3. I did talk with a Maker about it who had created something with GPT-3 and stated if there was a use case for developing with no-code. There wasn't anything at the time but I am sure maybe you could create something that leverages GPT-3 and makes it accessible for folks who don't code. That would be interesting to see. Do you have a use case or idea around that?
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@michaeljnovotny So....I have an idea of what I want to do with GPT-3 (I believe I've been accepted to the beta), but can't get a handle on how to "use" GPT-3. On ProductHunt, I just saw something that enables website creation with Airtable, and what I'm thinking of would/could require using something like Airtable, because I simply don't know if the data I want to work with exists, even in GPT-3's billion word brain. I'm being cagey on the exact idea because...well, it's important to me, and I don't want to share until I figure out if it can be done.
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@kevin_t_ Hey Kevin, no worries completely understand. The only person I know that has built something with GPT-3 that I've talked with will know a good amount on the subject. I think he would be really well suited to answer your questions. He is very approachable and great guy. I would encourage you to reach out. His name is Stephen Campbell and his twitter handle is: https://twitter.com/stepocampbell_ Hope that helps!
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@michaeljnovotny By your command, and thank you.
i am a professional digital marketer
What are the most common mistakes by beginners? Especially around picking the right tool(s)
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@swadhin_das Hey Swadhin! Great question. I would say one of the biggest mistakes I see is Maker's try to pick a tool that is able to deliver their entire vision within the V1 of their app. This is a mistake. Because it ALWAYS takes much longer to create it than you think, even in no-code. This is also a risk. Because, why build something out that you haven't validated? No-code actually makes this problem substantially worse. Because now it is much easier to build something than with code, you can get trapped thinking Ill build the whole thing at once. My recommendations: 1. Ship micro-products not full featured products. How? Whatever your idea, or problem you are solving break down your features into micro products themselves and launch each individually. 2. Choose the tools that have the lowest learning curves and can help you create a functioning app that you can validate as fast as possible. I think it is almost a guarantee that there is some size of a gap between what you think users want and what they actually want. Don't listen to what they tell you. Watch what they do and if they pay money for something. 3. Focus on problems not ideas. Then you don't have to have pressure of guessing right. It also allows you to stay within a niche and launch several things will increase your odds that one of them will work. It's the philosophy of making many small bets. But I recommend taking this one step further. Don't just make many small bets. Make compounding small bets. That are some of the ingredients that Makers use to breakthrough and find success. Let me know if you'd like to learn more and I can point you to some resources. Thanks for asking!
I am pretty.
Nice
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I am a tech geek.
Good work Man
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@kim_lining Hey thank you Kim!
Software Engineer
This whole thread is full of really interesting pointers. Don't have a question myself, but wanna thank you for doing this!
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@thatshubham Hey Thanks Shubham! I really appreciate that. If you ever do have a question, please reach out. I still am learning so much, and if I don't know Ill find someone who does.
Founder
Which approach do you prefer? Start a product as a sole Founder or in a team with Co-Founders?
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@anton_krivnev Hey Anton! I think it depends if you are blessed with a great network or skilled co-founders. I've launched things by myself and am actually working with a co-founder on another project. In my observation working by yourself provides the most speed. Adding a co-founder when you first start adds friction and drags out the process. I would say do some self evaluating: 1. Can you make a minimum version of the thing you want to do 2. Can you ship it in less than <30 days 3. Can you get some validation or get the ball rolling on your own 4. Then you have leverage to find the best co-founders. Also ask, what do I need a co-founder for? Is there some skill they can do while you do something else that will help you get to your goals faster or reduce risk in the project? I have a preference for action and just shipping something. Also gives you more leverage to drive the initial direction of the project and can get validation faster. Especially with no-code now, you don't need a technical co-founder. Hope that helps!
Hey Michael, thanks for your time. I'm curious to hear your thoughts about I project I'm working on. Specifically, I need build a simple MVP with the following: 1. A simple landing page / or a couple of marketing pages 2. A questionnaire to sort leads so they can book a live session with an expert 3. An easy way to get payments (monthly subscriptions) We're considering Shopify or SquareSpace, but curious to hear your take. Thanks
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@dlabs Hey Marco thanks for reaching out! I look forward to seeing what you build and bringing it to life. Funny enough I have built a similar project. Ill detail below the stack I used, but if I had to do it over again I would build it differently. Ill assume you are newer to no-code so this stack recommendation should be a lower learning curve and give confidence that you can do it. Also, I know a Maker who has built something similar and I'll reach out to see if he can share any details about his project. I made a way for anyone on my website SideProjectStack.com to book a live session with a no-code expert. I took down the service because I learned it was outside the sweet spot of value my site brought and I had zero time to properly promote the product as I over extended myself. Here is how I built it: 1. Wordpress for website and a few marketing pages (used Elemntor as the website builder) 2. Then a user could select which expert they wanted by clicking a button and Stripe payment form popped up. I used WP Simple Pay plug in to make this happen. 3. Once they paid, I then took the meta data from Stripe, used Zapier to send to an Airtable base. 4. In this Airtable base I had formulas and actions ready to trigger. 5. I had all my experts information stored so then the customer got an email with a Calendly link that the expert managed and also a form for them to fill out some basic information. 6. then once they filled this out, the meeting was booked through Calendly, and all the basic information they filled out through a Typeform form was then sent to the expert via Zapier 7. I then stored the information in the same airtable base where I stored their meeting time and had an automation to send an email with a review form to rate their experience with the expert. Here is how I would recommend to build it. THIS is the LEAST costly and lowest learning curve stack to use to build not just an MVP but actually a fully fledged featured product. 1. Use Carrd.co as your website and marketing pages 2. Use Pico trypico.com to create a subscription based management and access to paywalled pages just for your members. You can learn how to do that here:
3. Pico is great because it manages passwordless entry to hidden web pages built on Carrd. And it has a subscription element to it. 4. I would then put a questionairre using Airtable forms (comes within Airtable) that then you can take in all the information you want from your customer. 5. then store this information in Airtable and you can create automations from it. 6. Or you can also put the profiles of your experts in Carrd and have a button that opens direclty to their calendly link 7. If you have many experts, a good clean and easy way to manage that in a CMS would be Softr.io or Pory.io. You can store all your expert information in Airtable and use Softr.io to embed on your carrd web page. I think that should cover it! Let me know what questions you have. Have fun building! And don't forget to build in public to get early interest in what you are doing.
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I like to searching new product
a very good initiative and ideas.
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Founder of Side Product Led Growth
@robiul_haque Thank you Robiul. I appreciate the encouragement!