Episode 15: A multi-million dollar business without coding
Chad has done it all. Code, no code, low code. After building a successful tech business while being reliant on developers and hard-to understand pricing of cloud licenses, he found no code and decided to rebuild his application, and thus his whole business, using the leading no code tools available in the market. Chad has some unique and outstanding advice for founders and entrepreneurs on this episode.
Jesus Vargas: Hello, everyone, and welcome again to the LowCode podcast. Today, we have Chad Shakonchick, he is the founder of Better Legal, and we are very excited to have him here because he went through a very unique process of building a company and software using no-code tools and then moving to traditional code, and then he came back to no code.
So I'm excited to learn more about that process. Chad, thank coming today.
Chad Sakonchick: I'm like Anakin, I went to the dark side, now I'm coming back.
Jesus Vargas: Right, exactly. That's what we think, developers don't agree with that though. So tell us a little bit more about, uh, your background, what did you, uh, study? What did you major in college? Your experience before getting into this business.
Chad Sakonchick: So I actually studied film in college. Um, but that was, you know, 20, 20 years ago. And, uh, I've always wanted to do entrepreneurship and startups. Um, but you know, back in 2003, when I graduated just wasn't, we didn't have the tools, they didn't have the support system, you know, when I, when I built my first company, I had to, co-locate a server in a place, you know.
Jesus Vargas: Right.
Chad Sakonchick: Um, then, you know, then AWS flipped it upside down, made it so where, you know, you could do AWS. However, now you need someone who's an AWS expert and AWS is its own, uh, just nightmare of, uh, complexity, and if you don't have your security settings...
Well, yeah, and, and if you don't have your security settings, like we, um, we thought we had everything, uh, you know, buttoned up and someone hacked into their system and, and spun up, uh, uh, instances under our account and ran up $50,000 about a year ago.
And we're still working with Amazon to try to, you know, get, get a refund or, or whatever. Um, so yeah, that complexity and, you know, with, with AWS, for example, you know, we would spend 800 or a thousand dollars every single month, like clockwork for four plus years. And then it just was like $30,000, $50,000, just like, it was just like, we were spending a thousand dollars a day instead of a thousand dollars a month.
And nobody like the, the way they have it set up is that like the onus is on you. They don't have any algorithms or anything that says like, Hey, you're going this, there was no email, there was no email, no phone call, no text message that said like, Hey, just FYI, do you know that you're spending what you normally spend in a month, in a single day, every day, this whole week?
Um, so you know, but then there's Heroku, but then, you know, Heroku got bought by Salesforce. And so there's been, you know, we've been kind of chugging towards this, um, you know, no code is really just a fancy term for wizzywig, you know, like we all, I, I used to build stuff, uh, you know, build pretty cool websites back in the day with a site called P machine that became expression engine, you know, we had Dream Weaver.
Um, but then there was just this kind of gap where everybody custom coded everything. Um, and then, yeah, so only in the last, you know, I know Bubble's been around for a while and I've had people tell me about Bubble for a couple of years and I never gave it a real shot because it looked too complicated.
Jesus Vargas: Okay. Yeah.
Chad Sakonchick: And because of #BuildSell30, um, I, I decided to kind of really give it a shot. And, you know, once I had put 10 hour, once I dedicated 10 hours to it, um, that, that was it. So anyway, going back, you know, so I tried to do a startup back in 2005, I tried to like build a website builder because
Jesus Vargas: So right after college you started your entrepreneurship life. You didn't get a job.
Chad Sakonchick: Uh, no, I did get a job at Dell. I worked at Dell for a year and then I quit and I did, um, like excavation and septic tank installation and management for my, uh, my dad's buddy. I did manual labor while I lived with my parents and tried to build my first startup where you had to co-locate, I used a site called rentacoder.com, which is now Upwork.
You know, it, it kind of like got bought up. So it was so early back in the day that I was like 25 years old and I was using RentACoder and I was like one of their quotes on their website. It's like 25 year old, Chad Shakinchick um, and, uh, and so it didn't really work out, uh, cuz I, you know, I got too complicated.
I focused too much on features and not enough on marketing. Um, and then I went and worked for an integration company and integration, has now been re popularized as automation. So like nobody's, nobody uses the term integration anymore. They use the term automation and Zapier popular popularized the term automation.
So I worked for an integration company for seven or eight years, uh, between the ages of like 27 to, you know, 35 or 30, you know, 33, 34. Um, and I got laid off because we got bought out by a bigger company and we were in a Skunk Works group that cleaned house, and so I decided, I, I decided I, I was like, I'm gonna do this now.
I sold my house, I had money in the bank and I was like, I'm gonna live on this until I do something, tried to do a startup called spacesift.com, it's still up, I didn't have really taken it down. Um, it was supposed to be like Airbnb for event management or event spaces, you know? Um, and I followed down that road for a while.
And trying to do, you know, marketing, freelancing, automation, freelancing, things like that, and.
Jesus Vargas: Two companies that you started and things didn't work out, how did know when to stop?
Chad Sakonchick: So with the web design company, it was just, I, you know, after a couple years I had eight customers paying $35 a month. It just didn't work. Um, a friend of mine, you know, the interesting thing about failing in a startup is that, um, especially now, companies love that entrepreneurial spirit, companies that wanna hire are like, oh, you've got startup experience,
like you've had to wear all the hats, you've done this before. So even if you fail and you have to like go back to a nine to five. You get a lot more respect now than you probably did, you know, a decade ago,
um, because you've got this like hands on self-taught resourceful experience, uh, that company's, you know, you know, desire.
So, uh, that, that was that one. And then Space Shift. It was really because I was doing Space Shift and Better Legal at the same time. I really spent two years on Space Shift and it was starting to get a little traction, um, but Better Legal was like, it just was Space Shift required so much like boots on the ground, talking to bars and restaurants and talking to non-technical people and trying to explain this problem that I was solving to them.
And even though the problem was very evident, they just still didn't care.
Jesus Vargas: Right.
Chad Sakonchick: So they didn't think there was anything wrong. So it was like talking to a wall, um, with.
Jesus Vargas: Do you think that has changed though? Like after COVID and 2022, are they not only more aware of the problem, but are they willing to spend money on that or not even now?
Chad Sakonchick: So the, the problem that I specifically solved, first, I, I, I started with event space management where was like book a space. I scraped all this information, I reached out to everybody individually, got PDFs on like, you know, if they had information on like what their, you know, capacity was, uh, uh, I, I reached out to the fire marshal in Austin and did all this stuff.
Like, I, I basically curated all this data. Um, but then it was like how you monetize that, you know, I, I, I figured out that I needed to get the booking information. How do you get the booking information? No bar restaurant wants to tell you when they're available. Even if you go on like open table today, you can't see a calendar.
You can't be like, you know, let me see what's available and let me peruse, because they don't wanna show you that they're, they don't wanna show you their avail availability, yeah. Because what happens a lot of times is that these types of businesses specifically are busy on the fringes. So like the Thursday, Friday, Saturday is when they're packed.
And then you just see all this like availability in the middle of the week. And people just have this assumption that like, oh, maybe they're not popular or whatever. So they,
Jesus Vargas: Exactly.
Chad Sakonchick: So that was a common thing, nobody wanted to share their calendar. They wanted it to be like, when do you want, uh, to have an event, and we'll tell you if it's available or not. And so what I migrated to was building a system that I called concierge that used Zapier and Google calendar. Um, it was like, it was when multi-step apps first came out and code steps first came out, I built this like crazy system that I would like tap into the owner's calculator, Google calendar.
And I, I put a form on their website that said like, when do you want, you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 7:00 PM. Whatever. I take that and I do a Google search and I'd see if there's an existing availability, um, and if it was available, I'd say, yes, we are available, here's all the information.
It would be an automated, uh, email. If there was something already booked, it would look for that same time, the day before and the day after the week, before and the week after cuz a buddy of mine, that's in the industry, told me, people are usually flexible if you can't get the exact time and they're really on a specific, they want a place, they'll be a little flexible cuz it, they might wanna do it on a Friday or they wanna do it that weekend,
and so they're a little bit flexible. Um, so I, I did, I then did a search for the day after the day, the day before, the day after the week, before the week after. And then I said, Hey, we're not available on this day, it was an automated email, we're not available on this day, but here are the dates that we are available.
And so this automation would run and get an email back to people within 15 minutes. And so, you know what a lot of people do when they're looking for events, uh, event spaces, they go out and they just, they reach out to a bunch of people, they send emails, they make, they leave voicemails. And a lot of these places just don't get back to you.
Even if you call a bar or restaurant today to like still, they just don't answer the phone. A lot of 'em don't have phone numbers. Um, so unless it's a nice restaurant, that's got a hostess stand, they just don't have a phone line or don't answer the phone.
Jesus Vargas: ...has no idea about availability for the next week an event.
Chad Sakonchick: So I built this system and it was working, uh, really, really well, and it was doing exactly what I advertised. Um, people were winning business, um, but then like the turnover is so high in those places, I get an email from someone say like, Hey, what is this? $99 a month charge. And I have to resell the people that I already sold to.
Um, so that's when, like we, I was Al I was also split time and I was working on Better Legal. Um, and so my buddy is an attorney, he was losing business, uh, as a sole practitioner, uh, and, and a great way to get new business is to set up LLCs or corporations for people. Because if you, if you're an attorney and you set up a business for somebody who are they gonna call when there's an issue, or they need to contract, they're gonna call you back.
So he was
Jesus Vargas: So you don't make a lot of money for setting up the LLC, but make it... like the profit is down the road.
Chad Sakonchick: Well, yeah, so here's the thing though, is like he was still charging his hourly rate of $300 an hour to set up an LLC. So people would call, he, he, he got listed on, uh, companies like AVO, Up Council, uh, those kind of like lawyer websites, those lawyer Craigslist type sites. And, um, and people will reach out to him and say like, Hey, how much for an LLC?
And he say $1,500. uh, because the state of Texas filing fees, $300, and then he was charging $1,200 cuz he estimated four hours of his time at $300 an hour. And people were like, whoa, like it's just me, I'm just doing like a painting company, why at $1,500, like I'll just go to Legal Zoom. They'll charge me 700.
Jesus Vargas: Right, right.
Chad Sakonchick: Um, so he was losing all of this business and I was like, why does it take you so long? And he's like, well, I develop a custom agreement for them and da, da, da, da, and I'm like, dude, most people don't know any of this stuff that you're gonna ask them when they're first starting the business, unless they're like a professional and they're like doing an investment and they know exactly who the partners are and blah, blah, blah, most people that are just starting just kind of like fall into it and they just wanna protect themselves.
So I said, just create a generic boiler plate agreement and cuz you can change the agreements later, right. And he was like, yeah, so I was like, give 'em boiler plate agreement, I'll set up some software for you to where like we'll ask the questions a certain way in a form. And then I'll pump it out into a, the 40 page document that you've got.
So you don't have to go through, cause a lot of the times, like, you know, he charge he's charging $300 an hour and a lot of that time is just him in Microsoft word, going to like the highlighted areas and changing the information.
He is charging $300 an hour for filling out a form on your behalf.
Jesus Vargas: Right, okay.
Chad Sakonchick: So, uh, we, what I did was I was like, Hey, charge 299.
And, uh, we, we made this agreement where it was like, okay, charge 299 for each one. And then we'll just split it. So you get half and I get half.
Jesus Vargas: Everything automated,
Chad Sakonchick: Everything.
Jesus Vargas: ...would fill in their details and then that'll
Chad Sakonchick: Yep. And so he did his first one and he was like, he was like, all right, time me, I'm gonna do the filing and everything. And I was like, all right, you're done nine minutes and 23 seconds.
And he is like, oh my God, I'm gonna make more money per minute.
Jesus Vargas: So from four hours to nine minutes.
Chad Sakonchick: yes. And so, because, uh, because like, again, the, the, this, the state filing is a form. What any state you go to, except for Maine is still a paper document, you have to physically hand sign it and mail it to Maine. Uh, some of the states are still backwards like that.
Um, but most states have an online form, but a lot of the reasons why people hire us, the, the most valuable thing that we provide is the legal document. So where are you gonna get the legal document, uh, that you're gonna grow your business with? Like, yes, you can download a one page operating agreement from a free website or whatever, but like, you should really have a robust agreement that has been honed over decades and decades.
And that says, like, if you get new, you know, as if you have a one page agreement and then you get three new investors and their partners, you don't have any dispute resolution kind of stuff built into your contract. So you need a robust agreement that can grow with your business. And so we provide that whether you're a one person company or a 10 person company, um, but then we do the filing for you.
And the reason that the filing is important is because if you set it up wrong, you put the information in wrong, that information is now public on the state's website, and people can get the wrong idea of who owns the company or whatever. I had a guy Georgia call me and say that he just moved states, he moved his trucking company from this state to that state.
And the bank told him that he had his, his secretary fill out the state filing for him, and he went into the bank and the bank was like, well, you don't own the company, your secretary does. I don't even know how that happened, cuz that shouldn't based on that information, but like the, the bank was very adamant about this.
And so it's just kind of like you pay it's it's like it's 299 and we'll make sure you get your state filing your EIN, your, your Lulo
Jesus Vargas: For 300 bucks.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah, and, you know, co compare to like Stripe Atlas, Stripe Atlas is only in Delaware, so you have to dial in Delaware. Um, which isn't the best for, for most people actually.
Um, and so we file in the state. We're cheaper than like Stripe Atlas. We provide all the same stuff. Um,
Jesus Vargas: any estate, right?
Chad Sakonchick: we file in every state.
Jesus Vargas: Okay.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. But then we also support you if you've gotta make changes. So like, if you've gotta make a name change in Florida, if you wanna make a name change or an address change, you have to write a physical check for $25 and mail it to the state of Florida.
And so what we've done over time is built these automation. So at first it was this cobble together automation where it was just to help him. So he was still manually filing the state LLCs.
Jesus Vargas: Mm-hmm
Chad Sakonchick: Um, and the, the EINs over time, we, you know, hired, uh, uh, contractors to. Build, uh, systems that actually do the filing themselves.
So now, so now in our most volume states customers, the filings don't ever get touched by a human. We take the information, we validate that it's correct before we file it, and then it gets fired off. It gets filed with the state, filed with the federal government and the, the document, the legal documents generated, and it gets sent to the customer automatically.
So in states, so a state like Texas takes two days, it's still gonna take two days. Uh, but in New York we actually can get it to the customer in under an hour. Um, so if they order, they get their documents in under an hour, whereas you've got Legal Zoom who is a 2.6 billion company that makes 500 million a year and their default price is like, you know, it costs like $150 or $200, but you get it in 30 business days, no matter what state you order from.
Jesus Vargas: Wow. Okay.
Chad Sakonchick: 30 business days, isn't even 30 calendar days.
Jesus Vargas: Right, exactly. It's a month and a
Chad Sakonchick: A month and a half. Um, but then you can pay an extra $150 or $200 to get it in 15 business days or $250 to get it in seven business days.
But none of their most expensive pricing is still gets to our turnaround time. Um, and a lot. And, and the vast majority of this is because of automation because we've, we've automated the things that are high volume and redundant, you know? So like states like Texas, California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, uh, Wyoming, like these states are,
you know, these like seven states are like 50 or 60% of all of our business. And so those get automated and put through the system and we deliver to our customers as fast as seemingly possible. If there's anything wrong, we can white glove help and talk to the customer and, and work with them because we are saving money on not having to have like legal zoom has rooms and rooms and rooms of people that are just hand filing, you know?
And then like, and then you've got human error. Like what, what happens when someone types in the wrong information or they copy and paste it in the wrong thing. So, you know, use humans for what humans are good at and use automation for what humans are not good.
Jesus Vargas: Yeah. Use bots for repetition and then use humans for think. And then when it's a repetitive process, a bot can do it now, something that's, that's quite interesting. So something that comes up very often at the podcast is when we're speaking with founders, uh, they, they build an app, build a company around their app or something.
Um, they get the MVP or the first version of the app. And one of the most challenging things for them, for everyone is getting their first or their users, right. How did you handled that at the company?
Chad Sakonchick: So, and this is the reason why I moved away from Space Shift and, and started focusing mainly on, on Better Legal is, um, you know, I was having to like hunt people down and go through friends of friends to like meet people for Space Shift, uh, with Better Legal, you know, we took the money that he made over a year.
So we, we didn't even start the company for a year. It was just his own clients. Whenever someone reached out to him, he'd say, yes, $299, $299, $299. So that first year he did 50 LLCs through himself. And so what we agreed upon, uh, at the beginning was that he would keep half of it and the other half would go towards this future company of ours.
And so we had, you know, uh, 9,000 or $10,000 to spend. Um, and so we got those first customers because he already had the demand, he already had people and we were helping him. And we made an agreement that like, he, he would get half and then this future company that we co-owned would get half. Um,
Jesus Vargas: Why did he get so many clients? Does he has a good online presence or just referrals?
Chad Sakonchick: Because people, so, because he had those, those online listings, like AVO, Up Council. So when people are looking to start a company, they're either looking for a lawyer to do it, a local attorney, or they look at legal zoom and they compare and contrast. And so people were looking, finding him on this like Craigslist type site called AVO or Up Council.
There were several of 'em, and so he had a listing, a directory listing on all of these sites, um, and so they'd reach out and say how much originally he would say it's $1,500 and he was losing business. Then he would say it's $599. That includes
Jesus Vargas: everything
Chad Sakonchick: filling fee. And he just got business left and right.
Jesus Vargas: Yeah. Okay. Okay. Right.
Chad Sakonchick: and so, and so we took that like $10,000 and I threw together a site via like a Jekyll site, um, and then spent $1,200 on Google ads, took some of that money spent, uh, $1,200 on Google ads and got two customers for that $1,200. So, uh, we made 50% of our money back and we were like, wow, okay, that's what with no optimization, no anything like we're not profitable, but you know, that's just like, so, so early on, we were profitable in Texas very, very quickly. Um, we just happen to live in the state, one of the top three most, you know, business friendly states and popular states in the country, so that was just good luck on our part. Um, so we were very, we were very successful in Texas, very, very early on in Texas is still our number one state that we get, uh, business from.
Um, and then it was just kind of like. Picking, what is the next state? And what's the next state, and then just growing the Google ads organically. So at first it was like we did 12 a month and then it was 30 and then it was 50. And then it was like 80. And then it was like 97. And then it was like 96 and we couldn't break that a hundred, you know, a month.
And then it was a hundred and it was like a hundred, 150, 200, 300. But then when we hit, like that 300, we were losing, we had taken friends and family and we had taken some more money from angel investors, but we were losing $150 per business per formation. Um, but we had built in some
Jesus Vargas: of the ad spend.
Chad Sakonchick: on the ad spend.
Yeah. So every, every company that came in and paid us $299, we also lost $150. So it cost
Jesus Vargas: because the, the, the per click went up?
Chad Sakonchick: customer. No, that was just because we were trying to grow too fast. We, we just didn't like, we didn't have the google AdWords person, we didn't understand Google AdWords is, is good, um, you know, and, and even so over the last couple years, we've, we've struggled and struggled and struggled because we've, we've stuck with Google AdWords as our main and number one, uh, marketing channel.
We had, you know, Facebook as our secondary channel, but just as a retargeting channel for a while. And it, so like in 2021, we actually like took off and we had a, a great year. We did 2.5 million in business and we did, um, we had one month or redid 500 LLCs in a month. Um, and then we just had a long, slow decline, uh, towards the end of the year.
Um, we, we moved marketing to, from an agency to, uh, some contractors that I found and they've been killing it. And it's like, for us, like it was the, it was Google ads, and Facebook working together, but also we had finally found some partners, uh, some YouTubers that, you know, we had this affiliate code, so it cost $299 to file with us.
Um, but really because like during our entire growth period, we gave all that money back to Google. So we, we, we were really trying to grow that subscription revenue. So right now we've got, you know, uh, we're almost at 60, uh, sorry. We're almost at 50,000 MRR. Um, so we're trying to,
Jesus Vargas: What is the product? That's a subscription?
Chad Sakonchick: There's two there's, um, and, and there, and there's state required things.
So every state requires that you have an in-state physical address that they can send mail and a Constable to, to deliver a lawsuit, um, so you can't have a PO box. Um, if you're in California and you own a property in Texas, you can't use a California address cuz they can't send a Texas Constable out to California.
So you have to have an instate address, but it's also in different states, your information's public. So if you're a landlord, you don't necessarily want your tenant to know where you live. If they get disgruntled, you don't want them coming by your house. If you're a professional, you're an engineer, you're an attorney.
You don't want a Constable walking in. Yeah.
Jesus Vargas: knowing where you live. Right, right.
Chad Sakonchick: So, um, so there's multiple reasons, uh, to use registered agent service and we, we provide that. And then the second thing is state compliance service. So every single state requires you check in with them on a regular basis, some states it's just so they have fresh.
So they know who are the active companies versus who are the dead companies, uh, for other states, so they can collect tax revenue, uh, so they know, you know, they, they, they ask what your gross revenue was. Um,
Jesus Vargas: Is that, is that yearly
Chad Sakonchick: yeah,
Jesus Vargas: that you have to
Chad Sakonchick: yeah, yeah. And so, and so like so many people just forget about it. I I've forgotten about it a ton. Um, I was actually in a company where we invested my business partner and some family members and another friend we invested in a company. Um, we all put it into an LLC, we call it Funds Out LLC, F U N D S Out LLC.
Um, and we invested in a, a local startup in Austin. Uh, we invested $60,000 between was between four of us and or six of us, and we, we started an LLC. We, and we invested through that LLC, but then nobody filed the state compliance. . Um, so then we had a nine return five years later, and so they were paying us back and we couldn't open a bank account under that name because it wasn't active in the state of Texas.
And the state of Texas said we owed them 5,000 or $6,000 a year because we didn't report what our gross revenue was, which was zero.
Jesus Vargas: Right. Oh, right. Okay.
Chad Sakonchick: So we had to
Jesus Vargas: you all done. Five
Chad Sakonchick: we had to just like fork it out, yeah. Um, because we couldn't get the money back without doing that, yeah. So it's just, it's one of those things, so yeah, those are our two subscriptions.
Now we have thousands and thousand people, you know, 57%, so out of every hundred LLCs that are formed through us, 57 subscriptions are created, so we have pretty good subscription, uh, pickup rate, you know, we've got churn obviously, but, um, we're, we're right at the point now, where if we just start breaking, even with formations, um, we can run the company at profit on just the MRR.
So we're right at that, at that point. And so for us, it's just like how many more businesses can we form? And so, you know, we charge $299, but you know, again, we're happy to break even so we can either increase the volume on Google ads and like lose more money on Google ads and Facebook and, and those things.
Um, but what we've also started to do is just, we give every single one of our customers, a coupon code or a, an affiliate link. And we say, Hey, you know, thanks for signing up, if you've got a friend or you've got another LLC you've gotta do, or family member, whatever, give 'em this code, they will get a hundred dollars off.
And because we already have your address, you gave it to us, we will fire off you a hundred dollars check. And so it's a grassroots way to save our customers money, may help our existing customers make more money and it's actually more profitable
Jesus Vargas: Now you...
Chad Sakonchick: ...paying a multi-billion dollar company.
Jesus Vargas: yeah, that's amazing. So it's pretty expensive, it's a pretty expensive keyword.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah, it's, there's a lot of, um, there's just a lot of competition. I mean, there are a few big companies there's Legal Zoom, there's Ink File, Swift Filings, Biz Filings, Ink Authority. And then there's just like dozens and dozens of like local ones
Jesus Vargas: Right, correct.
Chad Sakonchick: Um, and so it's just fighting in that, uh, in that realm. And so we're, we're literally in, I think still the only company that is just like one price point.
Like we don't have a bronze, silver gold plan, it's just like one price, there's no confusion, we do upsell the subscriptions because those are optional, you know, they, they are required by the state, but you can do it yourself. Um, those are our only two upsells that we really do, um, so yeah.
Jesus Vargas: Let's let's talk about, um, so you started like, did you build the first version of Better Legal yourself?
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah, it was just, it was literally a type form. Jekyll site, the Jekyll site type form, um, Zappier, Web Merge and Asana. That was the whole company. And I, and I could still, I could rebuild it right now using those tools. Um, we still we're we're about, because Bubble is so badass, we're going to, uh, finally change our form for the first time in six years, our form we've been hobbling together with this form, uh, for six years, but we haven't found a better option without custom building it. And then, but custom building, every time we custom build something, it just takes forever. Um, so yeah, I, I basically, I, I worked for a month to develop this form and the zap that would all like, take the information and then take all of the operators and owners of the company and like put 'em into an array and store them, uh, like this and then put them into the document properly.
So I spent like a month building out exactly how it would work and, but it would like create, it would just create a new task. And then my buddy would like see the task and it would like, it would, it would put it would auto put the, uh, the operating agreement, the legal document there. So all he would, he, all he would have to do is like file the state, filing the E filing and then deliver all three things to the customer. So that's how you can just get started. It's just like you can use these things you just get started. Um, and then I substituted, he was complaining that like people would make changes and you'd have to go in and manually make changes. So then we moved us from Asana to Salesforce.
And so Salesforce was our kind of like tool where you could like change the information and then still, uh, generate the legal document once you were happy with the information. Um, but we always knew that we wanted a dashboard. We wanted people to be able to see their documents, store their documents, see their information, make changes of their information.
Um, and Salesforce was just prohibitively expensive. Like there was no chan, no chance at all, that we were gonna be able to afford Salesforce to make a profit. Uh, so that's when we went custom code and we like, you know, I planned way ahead. I wanted to make it, you know, cuz you make the wrong decisions early on in the foundation.
You, you limit what you can do later. So it, it took a long time to like build out the foundation of the system, and then I had to use Zapier, I built like a zap that would like migrate things from Salesforce to the new system, um, so then we had the new system set up, uh, we used that for years up
Jesus Vargas: How did you, did you hire contractors? Did you hire an agency to build a custom app, custom software?
Chad Sakonchick: Every single person that we have hired, not every person, but most people that we work with are from Upwork.
Jesus Vargas: Okay, okay. And do you think that you did a good job, like scoping your project in, because at the end, you went back to no code and low code, so what failed?
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah, so it just like, we had a really amazing system, like, I was really happy with what we built. And even if we didn't build any new features on it for years, it is, I still think better than all of our competitors. Um, but we wanted to build more stuff and it's just the maintenance, you know, like it's a black box.
You don't know what things are doing. And then all of a sudden, one day, like the dashboard doesn't work, the dashboard isn't there. And you're like, what happened? And then it's like, oh, I had to restart this. Um, and, but then anytime we wanted to build something new, so you always kind of had to have developers around because if something breaks, yeah.
If something breaks, what do you do? You just stop running the business. So you kind of always have to pace someone so they're around, you know, for 20 hours a week and someone, something breaks you can move on that. But the real, the, the straw that broke the camel's back was that, uh, we had a girl doing automation, Kate, Kate, uh, Kate and I put together this, like this referral system that I told you about. Um, and the way that we tracked it was just with a Google sheet. And so we built this whole automation that just was managed through a Google sheet and we built it in like a week, you know? And so it was like, uh, send this person a check, but you know, if they're gonna hit over $600, halt the check until the accountant puts an X in this column, because we've gotten a W9 from them from the IRS, cuz we have to report that. Um, and it was just a management a spreadsheet, but then we were starting to get so many people using it that they were like, wait, did I get paid for this one? Did I get paid for that one? Blah, blah blah. So we wanted, again, it was just show we wanted to show visibility so they can log in and see all of the payments that they've made and match up and say, oh, I've gotten all my orders or all my, my affiliate payments.
Um, and so I, I budgeted a month to do. Um, and I was like, Hey guys, here's what we've built. You just really need to duplicate the functionality and
Jesus Vargas: with code, right.
Chad Sakonchick: with code and, and, and give us a, uh, a screen. And here's the mockup we created. Here's the here's in Figma, the mockup that was created, it took five months
Jesus Vargas: Why
Chad Sakonchick: and it wasn't even, and it wasn't even like launched. It was launched kind of in beta, part of it they, they, they told me it was because we still gave them other things. The first month they had dedicated total to themselves to do it. We didn't bother 'em with other things, but then obviously other things came up and we had to get this done,
and we had to get that, this, that, this, whatever, they were like, well, you know, with scope creep and da da, da, it was like, no, this, there was no scope creep. I do understand that there was other things, but like, you just, you overengineered,
Jesus Vargas: Right.
Chad Sakonchick: You overengineered it, um, and so a half a year of our, two and a half, or I would say one and a half, we had one full time, 40 hours a week, front end developer, and one 20 hours a week front end developer, and then one 20 hours a week product manager. And it took five months to get that done. Um, and we were paying them $8,000 a month. And so after my January, like #BuildSell30, build bubble myself thing, I was like, wait a minute.
Jesus Vargas: Tell us a little bit more about the #BuildSell30 because not everyone knows about that.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. So Erik, um, uh.
Jesus Vargas: Erik from Flywheel, we had him in the podcast.
Chad Sakonchick: yeah, so he, uh, tweeted out randomly, I was on a surf trip in Costa Rica and he randomly tweeted like, Hey, wouldn't it be cool if people did this, like, they have to build and sell the customers in 30 days. And I was like, absolutely, how do I get involved? Blah, blah, blah.
And so, uh, so many people got on that train that he actually decided to do it and I reached out to him and I was like, Hey, I'd like to like sponsor it. Um,
Jesus Vargas: Um, okay. Okay.
Chad Sakonchick: and, uh, so, so through another company that I have called the masonry, the masonry is basically like a, a company, the masonry.com, the masonry is a company that I build things that like, are, I need them for Better Legal, but they don't exist.
So I build them over here because I need them for Better Legal, but I also know that it doesn't make sense for Better Legal them just to exist in Better Legal, I wanna sell them to other people and provide it to other people. Um, and so it was kind of my, like my skunkworks lab, if you will.
Jesus Vargas: Your studio, right?
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so, um, so we sponsored it and, um, uh,
Jesus Vargas: So up until that point, you hadn't spent a lot of time with bubble yet.
Chad Sakonchick: I spent zero time with bubble. And so what I did was I, I bought, um, Kirin, uh, Kirin no-code life. Uh, I bought his bubble course, um, and the first thing that Pablo's first thing said was like, take the bubble 12 lesson interactive thing. I was like, why am I paying you to take the bubble thing? But like the 12 lesson, like anytime anybody asked me about bubble, I send them bubble.com or yeah, bubble.com/lessons or bubble.io/lessons.
And it's like a 12 mini apps that you build and you build them in like 45 minutes, total. And it like shows you like everything that you can do with bubble and how you like can immediately start messing with Google maps and you can immediately start messing with Spotify and all this stuff. Um, and I was like hooked.
I was like, okay, cool. So then I, I watched the rest of, you know, Pablo and, and Kirin's um, bubble crash course. And I, I listened to it on like 1.5 X or 1.7, five speed, cause like I've, I've got experience with development. I just didn't know how things work. Where does this go? How do you do this? How do you do that?
And so I, I spent 10 hours on that thing and I was like, immediately, like, all right, we can do this. And so I built my own app called trade beacons. It's just like an investment, like S sec filing website that I built myself, uh, on like some live streams and stuff. But I was like, that's it we're like after looking at then I went on Upwork and looked at like how much development was costing.
And at this time, you know, we weren't profitable, you know, we were starting to get close to profitability, um, but like we were running outta money as a company, uh, the investors were like, we're not putting in anymore. And so I was like, we need to do spring cleaning, we needed, so like, I was like, it's time to go profitable.
Um, and we gotta get rid of these developers that it just costs too much money and they're great guys, but it just, it just didn't work. Um, you know, we're not, we're not developing a bunch of crazy stuff. Bubble perfectly serves our purpose to build a dashboard and let people log into it. You know, we don't need five months of development and tens of thousands of dollars to accomplish that.
Um, and so, um, and so, yeah, we've, we've been building, we're still, we're not done yet. Uh, but the first, like the fir after two weeks, I was like, we're be in a, I, I originally said it was take 60 days in the first two weeks. I was like, we're gonna get this done in the month, but then it's like, you get a lot of the stuff done, but like there's so, you know, after six years, I, I counted the other day.
We have 273 active zaps in our account, um, and so that's a lot of stuff. We've got 250,000 items. We just have all of these things that happen automatically, uh, so we're almost done, uh, we really could have pulled the trigger at the end of, uh, March, but, um, we we're doing extra stuff. I wanna make sure it's like pixel perfect.
And that we, you know, our sales are going up right now and I really am kind of timid to like, mess with that, I don't want people to, it's, whatever we've got right now is working I'm I wanna make sure as possible. Um, you know, and then just making sure all the data flows back and forth properly.
Jesus Vargas: right.
Chad Sakonchick: Um, cuz we actually have to run both systems and parallel because again, 273 Zaps are pointing the old
Jesus Vargas: Yeah.
Chad Sakonchick: system.
And so we're gonna have to like, just right now we run a nightly sync. So like, um, we use the Masonry, uh, the Masonry's flow product, which is basically like code in a window, automatically hooked to a, uh, uh, a web hook in an authorization token.
So the ops team can like wall log into one or the other, or both. So anytime someone like changes a status update or anything like that, like it'll run to Zapier or an Integromat and change both at the same time
Jesus Vargas: Update the bubble. Right.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. And then we'll start kind of moving fully over to, uh, to bubble. Um, but all in the meantime as well, we've also been doing,
Jesus Vargas: yourself?
Chad Sakonchick: we we've, we've also been doing, uh, like that five month partner dashboard I was telling you about, we built that in like three days.
We have that done and it's done in three days. And so we've also gone a little further and we're like, you know what? One of the big complaints with our ops team is that they, they they're in the app on our app and then they're in Asana and they're back and forth and back and forth. So like, why don't we just recreate Asana within our system?
We can have a task management system in our app. And so we're doing that now. And so we can show more visibility to our customers about what's going on with something. So when they log into their dashboard, they can actually see the task of the filing that's going on and see the communication that's going on and just provide more transparency. Yeah. Yeah, no, uh, so I'm not doing it myself. Um, we're, we're using, uh, a company called productivity suite that is helping do that. And it's basically kind of like a SAS tool plus like a retainer. Uh, development thing. So we're still paying development, but it's like much less expensive. We're paying a flat fee every month to use kind of this like dashboard template that we're customizing. Yeah. That's in bubble. Um, and, um, and so, yeah, we've still got some development stuff, but we're it, it's gonna, it's, it's, it's gonna work out phenomenally and we've already like, you know, we needed some certain things like we, um, like with Stripe checkout, for example, we've got a unique process where, uh, on the payment page we have a one time fee and an optional subscription fee. And so there was no way to do that. Um, but then, then, so once you buy, then we take you through a couple more steps where we ask you some more information and then we land you on a final confirm and file page that shows you these other. Optional
Jesus Vargas: The upsells, right? Yeah.
Chad Sakonchick: And so then you need to be able to upsell yourself as well, um, and so there was no way to like carry that forward. And then, so there was no system that did that. And so we, you know, um, under the masonry created a new Stripe plugin, and so we're just gonna make that open for people to use. We gotta tighten it up a little bit and make it pretty. Um, but that's just gonna be like a free tool that we provide people.
We also had, we had this, uh, in activities, we have these like custom fields. So, um, like every year we, like, this is how we collect information from clients. So every year with the state compliance, um, we have this kind of calendar of like Texas for everybody. It's May 15th for Nebraska. It's the, the last day of the month on the anniversary of
the formation, and you know, this state it's the last day of the quarter of the month before your anniversary, in this state, it's some it's, so they've got all these random dates and when your due dates
Jesus Vargas: 50 different logic,
Chad Sakonchick: so as we're coming up for the new year, we just, we run a script and it just creates an activity on everybody's
Jesus Vargas: Hmm.
Chad Sakonchick: thing for like state compliance, 2022.
This is the due date. This is the customer ID. This is the card on file, blah, blah. This is how much the filing fee is gonna be. Da da, da, da. Um, and then we already know what additional questions are gonna ask. So Texas is gonna ask what your gross revenue is. Um, and so we auto drop these custom fields on this little activity, and then each activity has its own little link.
So then we fire an email to customers say like, Hey, state compliance is due. You're paying us for state compliance, um, here's the link to the activity that shows all the information about this, um, there, you will see empty fields, we need you to fill those in. So we need, so, so, you know, we were doing that with like data types and fields and, and the way that we did it on the old system was we actually just stored it in a big JSON blob, and we just decided to do that again. Uh, so we created another plugin that basically is like a JSON right reader. Uh, so you can just have a blob of JSON in, uh, uh, text field, but that is also editable via the dashboard. Um, so, so we've got a very elegant little system, so that's just gonna be another little, um, plugin that, that we provide people.
Jesus Vargas: I mean, that's really, you really became like very with bubble pretty fast now, like building plugins that you gonna buy or sell for the community building in top of bubble, so you're not only building your own product, you're also building like bubble products.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. And like with the masonry, what I really wanna do, like, um, if anybody's familiar with like Unreal Engine in Epic Games, um, they've got a developer community that I I'm looking at as like the, like the beacon of like what I'd like the Masonry to be, where it's like, they have product, like they have products that they sell, which is the Unreal Engine, um, but in the same site, there's like forums, there's links to YouTube videos, there's articles, there's interviews, there is links to podcasts and there's code snippets. Like where you can drop, you can literally see an abstract of like, oh, this is what this does. And you can like paste the code directly into your, um, Into your project.
I think it would be super cool for people to be able to say like, because like one thing that I needed that I copied off a GitHub was I needed a script that just converted us full state to a two, two letter code, so Texas to TX New Hampshire to NH, and I was like, oh, I've gotta write this code, and I searched for it, and I was like, oh, this guy just had it for free on GitHub. He was like, yeah, pay, so, so what I had to do was I had to take it and I had to put it into, uh, a Python code step. Um, but I had to do it in like five different places, but then I needed to make a change. Now, which zap were those in and how do I change them?
And so what the Masonry flow does is it's like, it's like a little hosted text editor, and so instead of putting it hard coded into Zapier or even Integromat, where you can't even put code in Integromat
Jesus Vargas: Right,
So now instead of having it hidden all in Zapier or whatever, um, and
Jesus Vargas: 20 different
Chad Sakonchick: edit it and if I wanna edit it in one place, I can edit there. And so I can just call it via web hook in Zapier. And it, it, it works, you know, perfectly, but then also I can provide it to other people for free or for a monthly subscription or per use, you know?
So like, we've got things like, like a name parser, you know, like, you know, Zapier is now worth, I think, $4 billion now, but you physically can't take a full name and, parse out the first name and the last name and the middle name and the suffix using any a formatter step that they've got. Like, it doesn't exist.
Why like, and nobody in the community can do it. Nobody who is as Zapp or user can say, I've made this for everybody, here, plug it in, like it's gotta be an official thing. Like, so this, this is a way for people to create a community of things that they need and they can give and share, but I also very strongly believe that all these people that do things and build things that are very useful, um, that, you know, low code.
If I develop a script that's super useful, or you develop a script that's super useful, you should be able to monetize it and you shouldn't have to give it away for free and put it on a forum and say, Hey, it's free. You can say, Hey, you know, I've developed this script, I'm not gonna let you see it. I'm not gonna let you see the code, but here's like what it does.
And you can give, you can give inputs and outputs and the Mesa rule makes sure that it's not sending to any nefarious saving anywhere weird or whatever that we'll, we'll take that responsibility. Um, And you can just say, I want to use this. And we say, here are your inputs and here are the outputs you're gonna get.
And you can use it for free in the marketplace or you can pay for it or whatever. So I think that more people need to monetize. I call it the gum road for code.
Jesus Vargas: that makes a lot of sense. There's no, there's a huge opportunity there, cuz there is so many things that everybody's building for their own apps that you could just call like a service like yours and then save a couple hours of development,
Chad Sakonchick: is like the whole point of bubble to begin with
Jesus Vargas: Yeah, exactly.
Chad Sakonchick: Like, I don't need to figure out how to create a sign up, login, forgot password. I don't need to figure that out, cuz it's the same, it's been the same for the last 40 years, so.
Jesus Vargas: yeah, yeah. What do you say it's that you built this, uh, large business. What do we, Twitter? All developers code. Doesn't you agree with that at a certain, do you think that eventually better legal will grow faster than bubble and then you'll need to move back to code? In my experience, I always tell clients these no-code tools are evolving and, and becoming larger so quickly.
Like they're moving way faster than you are. So no
Chad Sakonchick: That's like saying
Jesus Vargas: you grow your business, they'll, they'll outgrow you.
Chad Sakonchick: I, I don't, I don't believe that at all, because also bubble is not a one stop shop. It can be, it can be a place where you build the front and the back end and you do everything, but then if you decide, you want to migrate the back end to another tool, you can do that.
And then it can just be your front end. and yeah, I, I, it, I think it's, I think it's developers who everybody that I talk to that says that is a developer who is like a hand coder bespoke. That's like saying that that's like someone that's like a, ludite saying, don't use these looms. We'll make these rugs ourselves.
No, there's always another easier, there's like, it's, it's like a mountain that gets built, so there's like there's, there's the ones and zeros or there's assembly language, and then there's the next level that, you know, Fortran and C and, and then there's Python and you know, then there's, uh, Jango, and so now it's, you know, what runs Bubble, probably those tools.
Jesus Vargas: right.
Chad Sakonchick: So how is someone gonna say that you can't, you can't do that? You know, it's it's, it's also like, I, I look at where we are right now as the equivalent to where. Agriculture was like a hundred years ago in the United States. It's like 90% of people had to like grow their own food. And so like, we have to find these developers, you have to code it yourself.
Jesus Vargas: got better because of that. Both
Chad Sakonchick: Um, and then like once they had the proper tools, you know, they had the plow, they had machines, they had, uh, all of these machines that they built themselves, one person on one farm built something, and then another person on the other farm was like, that's amazing. Can I have that? And then that person, instead of being a farmer anymore, started making more of these machines and selling 'em to all the farmers and then another one made one and then no one improved on that.
And then someone improved the, the transportation. And so that's where we are right now is we're
Jesus Vargas: and everybody got better because of that.
Chad Sakonchick: Out we're.
Jesus Vargas: farmer and the machine builders. Yeah.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. So like we are, we're gonna get better tools and more, and it's almost, I should say it's like the inverse of agriculture. It's like everybody used to grow their own food. And now a very small percentage of the population grows all of food right now, a very small percentage of people know how to code because it's just too difficult.
It's justs, too time consuming. If everybody was a coder right now, nothing else would get done. We'd all starve because no one would be able to do literally anything else. So now that everybody can code, I mean, what is Excel other than a visual programming language? How many people are power Excel users and that once they figure out Bubble and a dollar and Glide, or like whatever's next after that or something that works better for their very specific, uh, you know, need like, like they're going to pick that up.
They're gonna build their own stuff. I think, you know, companies like Salesforce and Asana should be the ones that are scared because they're the ones that make a very specific tool that it's like, this is what you should use for everything. And if you want it to be changed, you need to hire these very expensive people to customize it for you.
And then you're not allowed to get off of our system because you're too deep into it, and there's no way you could ever get off of it. Now we're gonna have people that are like very good and have very deep knowledge about a very specific topic. And they're gonna be like, God, I really wish there was an app that did this, a, like a, like a, a cattle rancher or, uh, you know, someone who who's into algae.
You know, I, I don't know, like anything. Super niche stuff that it doesn't make sense to have. That's how bubble started to begin with, if you look at the founder's story it's because the guy was hired by a photographer that did like some kind of like, uh, storage, like coding and storage for uploading to like Getty images or something like that.
And he was like, it's very good product that I developed, but my expense, it cost too much to have me as a developer full time. But if he was able to build his own app, he could have made a very healthy living off of the app because there were enough customers that needed what he provided because he needed it to make money on it and make it a profitable company.
But once you start adding more people and development and DevOps and HR and blah, blah, blah, everything that a developer is gonna need to, to sustain it doesn't make sense. So we're just gonna see this explosion of apps that are super niche. Um, And, and, and I think it's, it's better for everybody globally because you're gonna have more products to do exactly what you need.
They're gonna cost less because they're not, you know, they're, they're not, uh, being held up by this huge operational expense. Um, and then you're just gonna have more people that are millionaires. You're gonna have more millionaires and less billionaires. And why is that bad?
Jesus Vargas: Right, exactly. And, and businesses will have better software that fixes their pains in a better way than having to use Salesforce for everything when it doesn't might sense.
Chad Sakonchick: right.
Jesus Vargas: Cool. Uh, Chad, where can people find more about, uh, you and your company?
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah. So, uh, Twitter is where I live, um, actually like live inside of Twitter. Um, so twitter.com/csakon, um, DM me, I'm always having to chat with people. Uh, some of the people that have I've hired, uh, to help me with this conversion and to help me build tools are people that reached out to me on twitter, so don't be shy, say hi or just start tweeting and reply to my tweets, like them, whatever.
Jesus Vargas: Awesome. That's great. Thanks so much for being here Chad.
Chad Sakonchick: Yeah, thank you.
Jesus Vargas: Bye.