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Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries, the show that explores the future of tech with innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Prakash Chandran, Co-Founder and CEO of Xano, a no-code backend development platform that has raised $5.4 million in funding.

  • Prakash’s background in tech, including his experience at Google during the early days of Gmail and Google Calendar, and his previous startup that faced engineering resource constraints.
  • The problem Xano solves: unblocking product owners and stakeholders who have their own projects but face a backlog due to limited engineering resources, by providing enterprise-ready tools for building software without coding expertise.
  • The evolution of no-code from early WYSIWYG editors to more powerful tools that enable citizen developers to build consequential applications, and Xano’s focus on providing a scalable, secure, and compliant backend solution.
  • The challenges of marketing to developers, who are often skeptical of hype, and the importance of offering a freemium product, fostering a strong community, and creating valuable content to build trust and showcase customer success stories.
  • The role of community-led growth for horizontal platform tools like Xano, which can be used for a wide range of applications and benefit from a network of users helping each other and highlighting their accomplishments.
  • The impact of YouTube content and a consistent cadence of educational videos in attracting over 40,000 developers to the platform since its official launch in January 2021.
  • The process of refining messaging based on customer conversations and product-market fit surveys, emphasizing Xano’s strengths in scalability, security, and compliance.
  • The emergence of citizen developer-led software creation as a new subcategory, akin to the rise of developer-led adoption pioneered by companies like Twilio, and the need to educate and empower a new generation of software builders.
  • The cultural and educational challenges of moving upmarket and convincing legacy-minded CIOs to embrace no-code tools for enabling product owners to build software under IT supervision.
  • The long-term vision of empowering the world to create scalable, world-class software, democratizing access to software creation beyond the current 27 million developers serving 8 billion people.

Actionable
Takeaways

Solve for a Specific Pain Point:

Xano's success stems from targeting a clear problem faced by many organizations - the backlog of projects that non-technical stakeholders want to build but can't due to engineering constraints. By focusing on this specific pain point and providing a solution tailored to the needs of citizen developers, Xano has been able to gain traction and differentiate itself in the crowded no-code space.

Invest in Community and Content:

For horizontal platform tools like Xano, building a strong community of users who can help each other and showcase their creations is crucial for driving adoption and growth. By consistently producing valuable content, such as educational YouTube videos, and fostering an engaged community, founders can attract and retain users even in the absence of a narrowly defined ideal customer profile.

Refine Messaging Based on Customer Insights:

Prakash and his team initially positioned Xano as a fast no-code backend builder, but through customer conversations and product-market fit surveys, they discovered that users primarily valued the platform's scalability, security, and compliance features. By adapting their messaging to emphasize these strengths, they were able to better resonate with their target audience and differentiate from competitors.

Embrace the Role of Educator:

As no-code tools become more powerful and enable citizen developers to build increasingly complex applications, founders in this space must take on the responsibility of educating and empowering this new generation of software creators. This includes not only providing intuitive tools and comprehensive documentation but also evangelizing the possibilities of no-code within organizations and helping to overcome cultural resistance from IT gatekeepers.

Aim for Venture-Scale Impact:

When deciding whether to raise venture capital, founders should carefully consider whether their vision has the potential to create a transformative impact on a large scale. For Xano, the goal of democratizing software creation and empowering billions of people to build applications that touch every aspect of our lives represents a venture-scale opportunity worth pursuing, and has helped guide their fundraising strategy and choice of investors.

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