How the Sixty team got into YCombinator by building an app without code

I’m a huge fan of how Sixty was built, and there a ton of lessons to learn from their story. Co-founders David and Alex were kind enough to share some insight from their earliest days:

When they first launched their idea for an expert marketplace, the team used a group of third-party tools “hacked into what we thought was the most brilliant app of all time.” The “frontend” was Squarespace, Zapier handled the logic, and Google Sheets was the database. It was just enough to start getting traction but had some serious limitations. For example, users had to re-enter their email and credit card information every time they wanted to use the service. “We were scaling at about 50% MoM, so the weekly conversation revolved around what we had to tweak so the stack didn’t explode.”

They had validated their idea, but need to grow into a more reliable platform. The only issue was that nobody on the founding team was technical, so they started looking at no-code options. That’s when David found the Code-Free Startup. “I flipped through your Airbnb course one weekend and realized that Bubble is basically Squarespace, Zapier, and Google Sheets all stitched together. But it had more flexibility – so it was exactly what we needed. The course confirmed for me that we could transition to Bubble.”

After taking the course, the team re-built the entire application and went from prototype to V1. The new platform, built on Bubble, “took us a few steps higher in the UX and sophistication departments”. It had user accounts, could display session history, and showed past experts matched with users. Existing users were thrilled, and new users continued to adopt the platform at an impressive pace.

With growth, comes speed, and things started moving quickly. They brought on a technical co-founder, Andrew, to start working on V2, and began looking at accelerator programs to keep up with growth. That led them to an exciting development: getting accepted to Y Combinator, the “world’s most powerful startup incubator” according to Fast Company. With an acceptance rate lower than Harvard, this was a big deal. The team knew this was the next step.

“We were both elated and relieved. We applied to ~4 different accelerators in the Bay, again, with the goal of just having an easy way to move out here and an immediate quality network. So getting accepted into the Summer 17 YC batch felt like a dream come true. The experience and people actually exceeded our (already high) expectations as well – one of the few hyped up things in life I’ve found to do that.”

Freshly relocated to Silicon Valley, the team has already made some significant progress. Their V2 platform is scaling and the team is now growing a B2B sales model to integrate Sixty marketplaces into a lot more software products. Next step: world domination 🙂

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