NoCode Automation For Increased Efficiency is A High ROI Upskill For Yourself & Your Team.
Alexis Kovalenko is the founder of the French NoCode Community in 2018, which now has 6000+ members, and the Co-founder of Contournement. Contournement is one of the pioneering education companies around No-Code in Europe.
Alex is a No-code hacker, a Full stack entrepreneur, and the host of No-code World Radio (ncwr.fm).
His Twitter: @alexkovax
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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:07
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort and money on repetitive tasks that added no value one day, the better automation podcast by PROCESIO came to help them find a way. Because of this, these businesses save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions because of that these businesses grow, scale, and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz, and I'm your host that Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business, processes and life. My guest today is Alexis Kovalenko. Alexis is the founder of the French No Code community in 2018, which now has over 6000 members and the co founder of Contournement, a No Code Hacker and a full stack entrepreneur, Contournement is one of the pioneering education companies around no code in Europe. Alexis is also the host of No Code World Radio, which is an English language podcast about No Code. Alexis, how are you today,
Alexis Kovalenko 1:38
as is very good, very happy to have a chance to chat with you again, especially about automation, which is a topic I'm very passionate about.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 1:47
It's fascinating that you're passionate specifically about automation. Why is that topic so important or a focus for you.
Alexis Kovalenko 1:57
So you know, I'm originally a programmer. So ever since I know how to code, I've always written myself some small scrapes, some things you know, to help myself do my work, do my homework, maybe even when I was a student, you know, like, I feel like code has helped me a lot back in the days to be more efficient for it and save time. And now I'm very happy that we've all those NoCo tools are pure, make all those tools, you can do the same without coding, and it's much more accessible. So everyone now has a chance, you know, to, to stop doing repetitive, repetitive tasks to do all those things that the machine can do. And you know, this save saves time, you can spend that time with your friends, maybe you can start to spend the time learning, maybe you can spend the time working more if you want to earn more, you know, maybe I don't know. So yeah, I like this concept, you know, like automating for saving time, pretty much.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 2:55
Why are you saving time important for you?
Alexis Kovalenko 2:57
Well, you know, it's a bit of a cliche, but you know, it's the one resource that you know, we keep losing, like, you know, one second after the other. And I don't know, I feel like you know, feel a bit, you know, urge, maybe it's not good, actually, but that you know, to do many things that I'm interested in many things. So I want to learn a lot. There's many people to meet, you know, there's a lot of things to be done, there's a lot of travel to be made, you know, so that's why, you know, kind of always feel like, we don't have enough time
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 3:28
You are a polymath, basically. And well to ask you about this, because it's very important. I can understand automation for personal productivity. But when it comes to businesses, do you feel businesses should begin with a plan for automation from their very first day or week or month? Or they should do things you know, in the repetitive way until they find their product market fit? And when they find it, then they can be focused on automation? Do you find that automation is something that nowadays is so accessible, so important, which would be from the very first day or you begin as an entrepreneur with a chaos? And then only when you begin to earn money, then you turn that into order and efficiency?
Well, I think part of the answer isn't is in the question of, you know, this this topic quite well. I don't think you should be automating everything from day one. Because it's not just about earning money. I think it's also because at the beginning, you don't really know what you want to automate. So I think things you need to do them in the repetitive way in the like by end a few times and iterate already by hand and then once you know exactly because you might already make the process you want to automate better just by hand and once you know exactly what you do, then maybe you can automate you shouldn't wait too long. Also, that's That's true. I think you have to I have it in mind. But and I think there's even like a portion that's in between that when you would say semi Automate, you know, you automate parts of the process. So you keep doing by hand, until, you know, break after break of this whole process step after step, you managed to automate everything,
Thank you. And that reminds me of something very important, since you're speaking about processes and everything. I don't know how you're doing it at the French, no code community or control no more. But do you believe there are two schools of thought one of them is to use the best practices, the, you know, the proven SOPs or standard operating procedures for your business processes to follow that, while other people say if you do that, then you're not unique, you will be too similar to what everybody's doing. So you should try to innovate and at least create some difference in the processes that you are using, and therefore your business really should not look from the inside similar to any other business in this world. Which one do you agree with? Do you view view this as a right perspective? Do you see people within your community following one philosophy? Or the other?
Alexis Kovalenko 6:18
You know, I would say that I'm more of the second school? I would, I would say, to answer your question straight away. Because because of the No Code tools, like all those tools, like mentioned a few, but I mean, there are more, there's so many things, they're making things so accessible, that you have a chance to make things like your own, you know, like you to adapt exactly your way you want to automate, you want to operate. Exactly to fit your business and your and your what the way you want to proceed. Because those things are more accessible, maybe back in the days, it was easier to fit into into, like more standard things and tools, they would lead you, you know, into. But now, I think I mean, I don't know that maybe this what I'm saying is not applying to all businesses, maybe like some specific businesses have to follow very strict procedures. But in the general, you know, sense of what we're talking entrepreneurship, I would say like, you know, now we were able and we should aim to, to do things really our way.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:19
Thank you. And to step back a little bit, you mentioned, you come from the coding space, and as a programmer, and now your focus is no code, you're investing your life, you're betting on it all that? How was that journey? Or that background story of you becoming interested in NOC code? What value do you find it offers people? And do you see it as something that is indispensable for the future that will really, really make everything different because of the citizen developers because of the ease of use because of all of that.
Alexis Kovalenko 8:01
So it's a mix of two things, I would say for myself. So I've worked like almost 15 years as a developer and lead Dev and CTO was very technical. And I still love like the technical aspect of building products. But I get a little tired, you know, like, it's tough to stay on. Understand that you know, all the new frameworks, when you're a coder, you have to be very good all the time and learn new things. And it gets exhausting, you know, the older you get. But the way how I really discovered and get into those no tools, and no code space, is because of my co founder and one who, whoever was following those tools already since. Since when he was not called NACA tools, like he was building site with websites with Squarespace back in 2010. He and he was like We met in a company started seven years ago, to help people become programmers to make code more accessible, but back then it was with code with tools like Ruby on Rails, which are making, it's easier to learn and build things with Ruby on Rails than to build things with C or you know, like all those very tough languages. So he was very interested in making technical building more accessible. And he was also following those tools. He discovered bubble back in 2014. He showed me showed it to me back in those days. And I was like, yeah, it's not very stable. It's, um, code and a coder. So I don't really care. You know, I kind of dismissed it. I have to admit it at first. But then in 2018, I discovered web flow like the two tools that really made me switch I would say is workflow, which I found is an amazing tool for programmers also, you know, like I could see like, Okay, this web flow was built by web developers who want to make life easier, you know, for people to build websites, and they know their what's the pain and our table I think it's more in the subject of automation, I think a table is making. Building a relational database so much easier. It's improving the life. So many people say, okay, like, I know how to build a MySQL database, but it's complicated. Not everyone can do that table is bringing this in almost a fun way. You know, like, using our table. I think it's fun. It's beautiful. It's colorful. And so this is really what convinced me. And then the last reason I would say, like, we get, as you said, we really betting on this because it's true. It's, it's because we saw an opportunity, I would say, like in 2018 2019, there was already a lot of content in English, there was several, like, great people already producing content, but nothing in French. And so we said, okay, like, we have a chance now to kind of come and be some among the pioneers of the bringing this no code movement and some of those tools into the French community. So we started the community, we provide free content, we build online courses. And then slowly, we realized that automation, and I include a table in automation. It's really the future it's it's building websites, building apps with Babel, and all this is amazing. But what most people need is automating is organizing their data better, improving their work, their productivity. And so that's why we went full in this, like no cut UPS thing. Specifically, I would say,
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 11:32
thank you. And I have a very important question to me personally, that I believe maybe control the mall will be a factor in solving this issue. I was reading, I think yesterday itself, about some professors and teachers that are saying Generation Z, and alpha, are really, really bad at using even simple tools like Excel, because they grew up on iPads or on phones, etc. Where they already have the app, it's so easy to use, the UI UX is already thought through, they don't use a lot of desktop or laptop apps in general. And therefore, like a teacher was showing them how to use to do some things in Excel. And they really were confused, not in a lazy way. By that they literally had no idea how to use excel at all, and the logic of it was lost on them. 100% compared to all the apps that they click on, to use in a much, much simpler way. We were speaking about how anybody could learn airtable Learn a process to learn and whatever tools that you're speaking about, but in the future, people are less and less able to handle the fundamentals and the basics of computer creation of Biz Ops of no code building, what will happen here now, if because a lot of the people involved now in the no code community grew up on enough of the desktop tools to understand okay, so when you click on this, this happens, you they understand the logic, they can get some intuition for how something can work, they can at least have a basic understanding of databases and all that. But if the newer generation doesn't even have those basics, all they know is how to play video games and to click totally optimized UI UX apps. Well how can Kong dollar more help with this? Do you notice it in the French market with the younger generation because this was a North American like article that I was reading about and what are your thoughts about this?
Alexis Kovalenko 13:48
is probably the same I wouldn't say notice it to be honest, it's super interesting. I didn't know about that kind of study and those conclusions so thanks for sharing this with me because it's it makes sense and it gives me the opportunity to say that I think what applies to excel may not apply to our table because I've truly believed that part of this I don't know if I would say no god revolution but you know let's ever get to this like movement or whatever phenomenon is part is the is the UX revolution is like all those tools at table in first is extremely well designed to make it accessible to most people. So I'd be curious to see you know, like if I didn't have access to really young people enough you know, to try this but I would bet that because all those people are you saying all these young people they're fluent with the numeric stuff, maybe they can't and I really understand that they won't find Excel making sense for them. But still you know they're very comfortable with the computer in general the Mavs you know, clicking what maybe more With the phone then, but so I think our table might work better with them. And, you know, I would say also the same for older generation, you know, because I see my parents, you know, they have a hard time also understanding things that are happening in the computer. So also for them, it's how to use Excel. And I think maybe a table would be easier. But it's super interesting. I will, when I go back to France, I will definitely try to get like 15 year olds and show them a table,
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 15:27
I will be very interested to know what you'll discover as well, this will be very valuable to the community and to the understanding, because there are a lot of assumptions. And I will play the devil's advocate, although you know, I love the no code community. And you mentioned the no code revolution. Do you really believe there? Is such a thing? Or is it something we say to each other, just like a football team, holy games, or whatever? Oh, love the same team in there. Like we're the best in the world, we win the war, I know, blah, blah, blah. But it's not really real. It's just the words that encourage each other. So to you logically, and practically, the what revolution is there? Or even if it's not a revolution? What big impact? Does no code have? Is it like some people will say, I think I remember, there is a video by Steve Jobs. I know it's from a long time ago who was speaking about, like abstracting code, it's similar to no code. He wasn't really dissing the no code, per se. But he was saying that you have to understand code so that you can create tight code, and then you can write like eight lines that replace a billion things. But if you abstract it, people will lose that ability, that logic, that understanding, and therefore they're create bloated apps that are not as optimized as if you're a hard code coder who understands what he's doing. So what is the no code revolution? Is it real? And if it's real, what difference will it make in the years to come?
Alexis Kovalenko 17:02
So yeah, if you're right, you know, I don't really like to use the word revolution, because it's a bit too much. And we're also in a bit of a bubble between ourselves, and we're very convinced about all this. But what I would say is just it's, well, Steve Jobs, you know, is definitely a visionary. So we can't take that from from him. I would say it's just a matter of several facts that brings this no code. tools together, I don't know, movement, revolution, whatever phenomenon, I don't know, it's just two words, but you know, it's like, fast internet, very powerful clouds, and browsers. And, and this UX, you know, and you bring all this and you are very, you just have to type bubble.io, or airtable.com. And you're into software that is accessible to us, almost straightaway, not directly straight away. That's why we do courses. But it's much easier than learning how to code are much easier to learn how to use excellent, I would say. So, that's, you know, it's like, all those facts come together, and they bring this Where are we going? You know, we were asking this in the previous question, I think, and that's the wish of several tool publishers, like a manual from verbal, the co founder, he doesn't like the word, no code. And he believes, and a lot of people read that we won't be using no code anymore in five years, just the term, maybe we say visual programming, maybe, you know, just won't be will be the same. Because as you're saying, and that video of Steve Jobs, really everyone should watch it, you know, it's no good to just the the higher level of abstractions, you know, like he's saying, In this video, I think you're right, with a line of codes, what people were putting, everyone's read, and now it's just your you don't write code, you just drag and drop some blocks, and you're the same as those a line of codes, you know, so it's just a higher level of abstraction and eventually just become the norm. There will be coders, visual programmers, you know, when and what's the impact? Well, I would say just more people able to build, you know, digital products, and more people, which is what is interesting is even more working efficiently, you know, with digital tools and automating things and you know, being that's, that's the impact I can see. But it's true, we're very at the very beginning. Maybe that won't happen, really, because maybe not everyone is going to embrace those those tools. We'll see. But it's, we see an increase, you know, especially during the COVID time the lockdown there is like very, like all those local tools and they raised a lot of money also. So they're here for a long time. You know, our table is valued, I don't know, like one 2 billion, 4 billion, I don't know, like those numbers. So they're here to stay. You know, I think what we'll see we'll see together and we have a chance to talk you know, You're here, hopefully,
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 20:01
yes, actually no code. I remember, Microsoft Front Page from the 90s. It was called What You See Is What You Get, or WYSIWYG or something like that. No, not really sure. So, or I think it was Lycos in France where you can build a website similar to Squarespace, but very basic. So it was a drag and drop, and therefore it has gone through a lot of iterations. Now it became its own thing. And to ask you, again, a lot of entrepreneurs or business people who come to the no code space, maybe they have this blame thing about what is offered to the people, or the idea or the assumption there is, oh, like, I remember one. No code teacher was saying, in order, you know, to succeed, that no code, you should plan this year to finish 20 projects, and all that. So the focus is on skill development, rather than actually creating something that earns money that creates revenue, that makes a difference and an impact for clients. And therefore, someone will get enthusiastic, they will get lost and the skill development, they will go through all the courses and then end up in like losing money and thinking, what did I get into, and they might feel negatively about the NOC code community, rather than positively because they were going in the wrong way. And there was a marketer who gave this example he said, Look, if your clients are someone who had an accident on the road, and they're bleeding, they don't care, if you come to them with like, a bicycle to take them to the hospital or in a Rolls Royce. All they care about is to get to the hospital so that they will survive. And therefore, where do you draw the line? Is this just marketing? Or is there really too much focus on skills compared to usefulness? And you spoke about efficiency? Or do you believe that even if you find something that is useful to clients, if your skills are not there, you will not really deliver a satisfactory experience, and therefore you end up losing? What is your thought on this?
Alexis Kovalenko 22:15
It's good that you're opposing those, those two things, I would say, I'm definitely more on the skill side. But I see also your point. But that's where I would also draw a line between building products for clients or for yourself, you know, if you want to launch a startup or something, you have an ID, and automating organizing, you know, productivity. And I think in productivity, like learning how to use automation tools, or database tools, if you have those skills, they will always be useful to you and to people, I think like it's because you know, like literally just even just to organize your recipes for you quit your kitchen, you know, or I don't know, like, do your to do tool, or to do list in inside a table. You know, like, this is very, how to say, you know, like a skill skill set that's going to be used in very various ways. While building tools, building products, it's, it's that you have to deliver something that's valuable, it's true. But we don't we don't need you know, also like 10,000 of Airbnb clones and marketplaces. And I feel like sometimes also, there is a bit too much product being built. Because a lot of people are hoping also to, to get the next you know, unicorns or something like this. While you know, just the basic skill of automating will always be useful to you and to people because everyone needs it.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 23:50
Thank you. Thanks. Everyone needs it. Do you have some examples or stories or just recommendations for business people? Who will let's say they think, okay, me as an entrepreneur, I should learn automation and database, no code skills, or one of their team or a few they should upskill them with the skills, they will think in terms of return on investment, what kind of specific or tangible results or problems they can solve if they add more and more automation skills to their teams.
Alexis Kovalenko 24:28
So I will take the example because it's quite quite command, ecommerce. So you know, an online shop building, like there is this this brand in Paris called loom. It's doing like clothes that are very durable. They very like, you know, trying to be eco friendly and all this that when they started, it's two people, two co founders, and they didn't have a developer, they didn't have coding skills. And that is decided, Okay, we will manage to start our online shop without developers. So they went to Shopify, this is to do the shop, like people know about that. But then when you're doing when you're selling clothes, you have many things that are happening after the sale, you have to send an email to the client to confirm that the sale went, Okay, then you have, once the clause has been shaped, you have to sell again, send an email to confirm the shipping, you have to know once the one the closes, has arrived. And this you can do manually also, of course, but if you want to scale, you have to do it, you can automate this, you know, all the sequence of email. And having the email sent at the right time, requires some coding skills or a good use age of automation tools. Like you know, the one we we mentioned. And those people, they managed to do everything without coders, even sending the data to the warehouse, sending like, you know, many things, they have a great experience client experience. And it goes back to the question you were asking earlier about, like, of course, they could have used as a tool for email sequences, you know, that exists, you know, like drip emails. But they decided to do by themselves, they use make, and they just, they wanted to have their own experience for their clients, you know, something very custom, for instance, after three months, they send you an email to say, how is your clothes going? Is it Is there a hole or something and we repair it one year later, also, they just wanted to not use something that's on the shelf, they wanted to build their own experience and provide, you know, a great experience because it was important to them. And so they could own you know, this, and I think that that was that their dominant, many examples, I like this one, because it's a brand that is quite successful, still to this day, and they don't have any coders, you know, so they saved a lot of money, you know, you asking about the return on investment, while they already saved in the beginning, because they didn't have to invest. So their investment was much lower, they had a lot to invest already to build the clothes, you know, to produce the clothes to produce things. So they could save on the digital part, which is very important to them, because there are online shop only they don't have a physical shop. So you know, like this, this is I think, easy way to see you know, where, where you save money, and you and you save the also the staff, small staff, because everything is automated.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 27:38
Thank you. And before we finish, I have to ask you this question, I was speaking to the founder of No Code Germany. And what he said he wants is to prove that developers are wasting a lot of time being inefficient and unproductive, that maximum, they're truly being productive two hours in the day. And therefore using no code tools is really, really, really much more efficient and productive than hiring coders or having a coding team. In most cases, of course, we're not speaking like people at Google or whatever. But for most normal companies, as someone who knows both sides, you have been very technical CTO and all that as well as the no code side. Do you agree with this? Or is this just a perspective of someone who loves no code, and therefore sees everybody else as wrong?
Alexis Kovalenko 28:34
I had a chance to meet him actually. And well, Chad, he knows also code like the coder world very well, because he had a startup like recruiting like top level coders. And so, but I think he's being a bit harsh on the productivity of coders. What I would say is that I would like to see more coders embrace, especially automation tools, because part of like, they could save time, there are things you will always have to code, I think we're really far from the time where no good tools can allow you to do everything. But mixing both, I think is the true secret of productivity, you know, in a coder, and I include myself in this, you know, the back background, you know, in technical skills, we're also masters, the Nuka tools, and especially the automation tools, you know, to connect API's and things like that, you know, connecting API's is a long process, you have to learn to read the documentation, you know, when you're a coder, it's tough, you're, you know, writing a lot of code to process the data. You can do this with automation tools, saves you a lot of time and then the specific part maybe maybe processing the data in a specific way that's very like for your project very specific, then you code that you know, and a lot of tools they allow you to put code inside them also, you know, like literally like, I think our table for this again, I love our table so that's why I talk a lot about it but our tables you You can put scripts, you can build apps with code, you know, there is this mix of no code plus code, which I think is part of the this future. And it can be to two different people, you know, in a coder working with a coder, but it's the NOC coder is saving time and enhancing the productivity of the coder. Or it can be the one 1%. As that is all, there is this very interesting project. I don't know if you've seen it. Code meets no code. I think that by Aaron and corner, it's a community of No Coders. I think we're mixing a lot of code, like evermore low code approach to those tools, and they're doing amazing thing, you know, they're unstoppable, you know, they can do everything. So yeah, and you can come from both sides, you know, to have this approach. So I hope more coders come to towards no code. But I wouldn't say no coders are more efficient than, you know, kudos, it's very, it's different.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 30:58
Thank you. That's very balanced, very balanced perspective. And since you're mentioning, no code tools that can add code within them. process, you can have such custom actions where people can code or add their own code to whatever no code that they're using PROCESIO, the modern low code, no code platform for advanced automation, and creating an enterprise grade back end for your software. Even if you use bubble or anything. Where you can any listener or viewer can request a free account at PROCESIO.app. And they get every month one full hour of execution time, which is equivalent to 100 Human hours and to the listeners and viewers who need more than that there is a very generous 50% Upgrade code that you can use. It's BETTER50OFF one word capital letters. And you can read more in the description and you Alexis Can you speak about Contournement what people can learn there, some Francophone or French speaking people or not, as well as about your podcast, what's interesting there so that people can find you and can learn more.
Alexis Kovalenko 32:16
Thanks for this opportunity. Contournement, like all the content we produce is in French. So if you speak French, please, Come, we will be very happy. We do courses about no cut ups, I would say so it's like focused on on several tools. And this like whole, like we have introductory course, I would say about no cut ups, like connecting several tools and understanding this philosophy of using several tools to to be more productive. And then there's the French and awkward community. Also, if you speak French Oh, everyone's welcome there. And I do a small podcast in English where I had the chance to meet Chris from No Code Germany. And several people when I travel, I try to meet the interesting know, coders where I am. And so I interviewed them. So that's in English. And I also asked them a little bit about their, their city, their country, I'm looking and if you're watching this, and you're part of a local No Code community, please contact me because I'm, I'm looking for all the communities and see, you know, what's the, what, I think we can learn a lot, you know, by exchanging how people are doing no code in different countries, and I'm interested in seeing the differences and maybe maybe there are no differences. Everyone's doing the same, which will be also interesting. So yeah, this is more like the international version.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 33:38
Thank you. I like this. This was my privilege, my honor, a truly enriching conversation. And we went in all directions and it was all interesting and I thank you very much.
Alexis Kovalenko 33:51
Thank you. Thanks for your time was super super interesting exchange differently below learn a lot by all those chats so and that's why I'm super happy to to do this.