How to buildd a SaaS survey product on a $38 NoCode stack in just a few months?

Josh Hofstad, a product manager based in Berlin built 2 products Serenifits & English Speaking Jobs of a less than $100 tech stack. Let's learn how!

1st December 2022
5 min read

In a nutshell

What exactly is Serenifits?

Serenifits is a non-intrusive way to gather and structure an employee's anonymous feedback into data.

Here's how it works:
- Every 2 weeks employees take a Heartbeat survey
- The tool aggregates the data from the survey
- It then presents a department-wise overview

Problem ⇒ Building the product takes a long time & costs a lot
Solution ⇒ The team used NoCode tools to create the product from scratch

Final survey tool dashboard could:
a) automatically send surveys
b) collect and analyze the survey data
c) visualize the data

NoCode Tech Stack
1. Validation ➝ SurveyMonkey ➝ $100
2. Development ➝ Bubble ➝ $16/month
3. Bubble Plugins ➝ $10/month

4. Email ➝ Gmail business account ➝ $12/month
5. Domain ➝ $20/year

So, their one-time cost was $120 and their recurring cost was ~$38/month!


Number ONE rule of building a startup ⇒ Show urgency in execution & patience with results.

But, when it takes so long to buildd products and add simple features to them, the execution inadvertently becomes slow. This obviously delays the validation process.

Now, time is of essence when you are building a startup. In that case, how can you buildd something in just a month or even a few days?

Through NoCode of course!

In today's story our founder, Josh Hofstad, built a SaaS software, Serenifits, in just a couple of months and built a job board in ONE DAY!

The best part is that the tech stack for both products cost him less than $100/month and he didn't have to write a single line of code!

So, let's dive in to learn how Josh built Serenifits.

The inception of Serenifits

Serenifits' founder, Josh Hofstad is a product manager based in Berlin. For the last few years, Josh has been working at an AI software company, while building his 2 startups, Serenifits and English Speaking Jobs, part-time, using NoCode.

Back in early 2021, the phenomenon of "Great Resignation" was sweeping the news. Everybody was apparently quitting their jobs and Josh was seeing the phenomenon unfold first-hand.

Many of his co-workers had left his company out of the blue. And, that was not only true in Berlin. His best buddy back in Barcelona had the same experience.

Now, employees quitting in huge numbers was obviously bad news for companies.

  1. It takes 23-40 days to hire a new employee [1]
  2. Companies have to spend more than $10,000 to hire and onboard that employee
  3. And, it takes on average up to 90 days for the new employee to get up to speed with the current work.

So, it's fair to say that retaining employees by addressing their issues is always better. Josh and his buddy quickly started brainstorming a solution to mitigate the risk of employees unexpectedly quitting.

During that brainstorming session, the idea of Serenifits was born!

But, what exactly is Serenifits?

Serenifits is a non-intrusive way to gather and structure an employee's anonymous feedback into data.

Here's how it works. Every 2 weeks, employees can submit a Heartbeat survey on the Serenifits dashboard. This Heartbeat survey ranks the employee's current work experience at that moment. Over time, the tool would aggregate this data by department and present an overview of how the employees in each department feel about their work.

serenifits-nocode-case-study

Managers can use this data to uncover trends in the company and address the most important issues head-on. The main goal here is to improve employee retention over time.

From idea to seeking validation

Now, Josh and his friend already had experience building unsuccessful startups in the past. And, the memories, as well as the learnings from those failed ventures were still pretty fresh in their minds.

On one of their previous failed startups, Josh had sunk a couple of thousand dollars. He had spent a good amount of money on building products before even validating the idea.

So, this time, he knew they had to go about building Serenifits smartly. And, more importantly, they had to buildd a customizable solution that fits their client's specific needs without breaking the bank.

Naturally, the first step Josh took was to validate his idea!

He paid $100 to have SurveyMonkey find survey takers in their desired demographics.

From there, they were able to determine that there was an actual need for the tool they were planning to buildd. The survey confirmed that they were in the right direction.

Now, they had to find a way to buildd the tool.

What problems did they face? And, how did NoCode help?

Problem ⇒ Building the product takes a long time & costs a lot

Now that the duo had validated their idea, they needed a customizable product to demonstrate to companies. They could have created a presentation of their idea to pitch to the companies but that wouldn't have worked as well or not at all.

And, while Josh knew how to program a little (emphasis on little!), he still needed a cheap and quick product to capitalize on the ongoing trend of "Great Resignation".

So, now he could either learn to code and buildd a product in 6 months. Or he could take a different route!

Solution ⇒ Use NoCode!

Now, in the past, while working on those failed ventures, Josh had learned to use tools like WordPress, Wix, Google Slides and SurveyMonkey. All these tools were great for how they were intended to be used. However, they needed a tool that would allow them to create a dashboard that is linked to a proper database.

Now, fortunately, while working on one of the failed ventures, Josh had discovered Bubble. And, he was immediately in love with the tool for its:

  1. easy learning curve
  2. affordable pricing
  3. the fact that you can buildd customizable solutions on it
  4. plus, it allowed the use of APIs through which you can connect the product with the customer's internal systems

Building the NoCode product

They quickly built a B2B solution that fit their hypothesis. The survey tool could:

a) automatically send surveys via email to a group of users
b) It could collect and analyze the survey data
c) It could show and visualize the survey data

Apart from these core functionalities, the survey tool could do a lot more.

Now, while Josh was building the product, his friend was setting up meetings with companies. When the time came to demo and explain their product, they could use the Serenifits demo tool first-hand and show the value it provides.

Serenifit's NoCode Tech Stack

Serenifits was primarily built on Bubble. Here's how their tech stack looked!

  1. Validation ➝ SurveyMonkey ➝ $100
  2. Development ➝ Bubble ➝ $16/month (They were on the legacy plan)
  3. Bubble Plugins ➝ $10/month
  4. Email ➝ Gmail business account ➝ $12/month
  5. Domain ➝ $20/year

So, their one-time cost on SurveyMonkey and Domain was $120 and their recurring cost was approximately $38/month!

As opposed to this, if they had built the product in other traditional ways, it would have cost them:

  • WordPress & Wix - $1000+
  • Traditional Programming - $100,000+

The most important bit is that they were able to buildd a product in 2 months that their customers could use right away, giving them valuable time to collect feedback and iterate!

Lessons from buildd-ing with NoCode!

The main takeaway is quite simple — nothing works better than NoCode when your intention is to buildd a high-quality product quickly and affordably.

1) On UI and UX

With Bubble, you can create beautiful and functional UI and UX. Now Josh truly believes that UI and UX matter. A lot of people say ... "just build a quick MVP and get user feedback…”

However, Josh disagrees with this.

In this day & age, where product-led software is the standard, one really needs to think and plan a good UI/UX. Without this, they wouldn’t have gotten all those meetings with Serenfits.

2) On execution

Now, the best way to approach execution is to first set goals and work on them meticulously.

Not only these goals will guide your product development, but they'll also help you track over time what you were able to achieve.

Anytime you feel like you are in a slump, you can look back and see what's left to be accomplished and get motivated.

3) On tracking

Data, data, data - track and measure everything that you need. This allows you to track progress, see how your product is being used, and make adjustments if needed.

Bonus: How did Josh buildd a Job board with NoCode?

When Josh moved to Germany 2 years ago he didn't speak German. So, now in order to stay in Germany, he had to find a company where English was the main language of communication.

Throughout that process, he realised that finding exclusive English-speaking companies is actually quite difficult. So, he went ahead to create a job board that specifically features all the English-speaking companies in any country.

He built the job board in just ONE DAY! It would have taken him 6-8 months to buildd one from scratch.

Here's their tech stack!

  1. Development: Bubble ($29/month)
  2. Automated emails: Postmark ($10/month)
  3. Automated job extraction: Page2API (free up to a certain amount)
  4. Automated workflows: CronJob (free) ➝ to schedule weekly emails
  5. Email: Gmail business account ($6/month)
  6. Payment: Stripe (free with % taken off from every transaction)
  7. Domain: $20/year

The total of this tech stack is $65 per month. Josh grew this job board from 0 to 2,400 users in just a month. And, now he is focusing on using SEO to scale the users further.

Spending 1 day to buildd a product that gets 2,400 visitors in just a month later is definitely a success in our book!

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What is Strabo?
Strabo is a wealth management platform that helps you manage your financial assets spread across multiple countries on a simple dashboard.

How did Strabo come to be?
An ex-British athlete and an ex-Amazonian, Ben and Michael, came together to create Strabo. Michael, who was brought up in the US and now worked at Amazon in London, couldn't find a tool to manage his financial assets spread across the globe. So, he built a platform himself!

Why go the NoCode way?
While building Strabo, Mike and Ben had 1 main priority - create an MVP quickly and launch the product to a limited set of users to quickly get direct feedback. Then they could iterate on the said feedback. NoCode was both affordable and quick to execute, so they decided to buildd their dashboard on Bubble!

Strabo's NoCode tech stack:
1. Bubble — Dashboard
2. Webflow — Website
3. Figma — Design
4. Notion — Notes
5. Canva — Assets

6. TypeForm — Forms
7. Mailchimp — Emails
8. Ahrefs — SEO analysis
9. Medium — Blogs
10. Jira — Productivity
11. Prefinery — Referral Programs

Within just a month, Strabo's MVP was ready and they spent a total of $320/month (~£280/month) on their entire tech stack. Since the entire dashboard was built on Bubble and their requirements were very advanced, they outsourced the backend Bubble work for £10,000.

A marketer scales his startup to $50k MRR on a $500 NoCode stack!

Erman Küplü worked as a digital marketer for 15+ years created Analyzify, a data analytics tool for Shopify apps.

The platform essentially connects you with 3rd party tools and simplifies the process of data collecting, tracking and reporting — a valuable offering, especially for e-commerce store owners.

Version 1 of Analyzify was completely built on Ruby on Rails. But, Erman could only code a little in PHP & HTML.

He wanted to make many front-end, UI/UX improvements. But, for changing a simple feature or altering a line of code, he'd have to call up the developer.

That's when he came across a post about building Shopify apps using a NoCode tool called Bubble. With Bubble, we could easily edit their Shopify app through a simple graphic interface.

That was a game changer and they quickly went on improving the product and adding cool backend workflows!

Analyzify's NoCode Tech Stack

1. Bubble ⇒ manages all frontend and 90% of their workflow
2. Tallyforms ⇒ created customer-facing forms for different support requests
3. Contentful ⇒ is their headless CMS. Manages their in-app content, website content, FAQs and much more.

4. Coda ⇒ is their internal database. Most of their data is sent from Bubble to Coda
5. Zapier ⇒ integrates all their apps
6. Zendesk ⇒ they use Zendesk's support ticketing system to attend to customer support requests.

Well, Analyzify immediately took off!

1. Version 2 was built only in 5 months using Bubble with less than part-time effort.
2. In just 1.5 years, Analyzify went from ZERO to 1500+ clients. And they expanded to 3 more products.

3. They passed an MRR of $50K+ and their team grew to 20+ people!
4. As for their cost — their entire tech stack only costs them $500 per month.

But, eventually, Erman shifted from a NoCode to LowCode solution. Reasons:

a. To add custom server-side logic
b. To handle data from multiple apps in a single place

How to buildd a quality SaaS startup on a $500/month NoCode tech stack!

What is UserLoop?

UserLoop is a Shopify tool that helps e-commerce merchants collect user feedback during the checkout process and later via email.

It comes with in-built analytics and customizations to drive relevant insights from user feedback and inform your marketing decisions.

Founder, James Devonport, had some experience in the customer feedback and e-commerce domain. So, he built a simple tool.

But, UserLoop was nothing like the product it is today!

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Version 2 ⇒ His early uers were all based on Shopify. And they wanted an app that doesn't require a lot of set-up work on their Shopify store.

So, with that feedback, in a few minutes, he made the app easily installable and usable on Shopify without any set-up process.

Version 3 ⇒ The customers wanted to run surveys during checkout and not just emails. So, he added that feature.

Version 4 ⇒ Then they wanted to run multiple surveys and not just one. So, that prompted James to add more complexity and customizable features to UserLoop.

Benefits of using NoCode:
1. Low cost
2. Whip up a working prototype fast
3. Start collecting feedback from day 1
4. Make changes and iterate in a few clicks
5. Ship features quickly

UserLoop's NoCode Stack!

1) Bubble ➝ Used to buildd the entire platform (integrated with Shopify)
2) Postmark ➝ Used to send emails
3) MixPanel ➝ Provides proper analytics for the survey data
4) Hookdeck ➝ Handles all the Webhooks

The impact

Today, UserLoop has
1. Onboarded 350 Shopify stores
2. Reached 70K customer responses and 100K emails
3. Scaled to $10K MRR
4. Grows by 20-30% month over month
5. All on a ⇒ $500/month NoCode tech stack + $1000/month of Bubble freelance contractors