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AMA roundup - Emmanuel Straschnov
8 min read

AMA roundup - Emmanuel Straschnov

Bubble CEO Emmanuel Straschnov

What steps are Bubble taking to reduce the initial time to render & bundle sizes of included JS & CSS? Also, are there plans to include a unified UI toolkit at some point? Something like Bootstrap, Material UI or even just the basic (but uniform) styles something like TailwindCSS provides?

Performance is a major focus right now, now to be honest, what we find when we look in details is that db searches and workflow executions are more of a limiting factor than JS/CSS for now, so we're focusing on this first and then we'll get to assets. Yes, we've experimented with themes a while back, the feature is still there but def. not a great solution for unified UIs. Revamping our responsive editor + UI toolkit is on the roadmap this year, it's def. one of the things that we're not the most proud of...

What's changed with Bubble over the last 3-4 months? New developments you're most excited about?

We have a non traditional history for a startup. bootstrapped for 7 years, 2 guys/founders for 5... So what we've worked a lot after raising our round is putting together a great team. So what's changed a lot over the last 3/4 months is that we're starting to see the team work very well, and accelerate velocity on a lot of things. Marketwise, no-code is hotter than ever, which is awesome (and I take some proud in this, I think we're part of the reason why it's hot today...)

What are the plans regarding SEO within a Bubble app? There are some challenges and uncertainties for users (like content being rendered through JS and more).

It's something we keep an eye on, but to be honest, some Bubble apps work quite well SEO wise, so it's hard to know exactly the ROI of improving things. SEO tests are one thing, but Google's algorithm is something else...JS-rendering is quite standard now for modern web apps, so we'll see if that remains an issue in the longer term.

What is the workplace like at Bubble? I noticed you have New York listed as your location for job postings, but you also mentioned flexibility. Is it mostly in office, or is remote an option?

We're still a mostly non-remote company at this stage. Bubble is a complex piece of software and that impacts everyone on the team, engineers, designers, and success which is why it's easier to have everyone in the office right now. Flexibility is more around hours, work-from-home, etc. One day we may explore something different but not too soon.

Thoughts about creating a new software development methodology (the next agile) that integrates bubble and shape up? I’m a former product manager and now think every pm should learn bubble and add it to their process.

I also think so!! More seriously, yes, i would love this to happen. My view here is that's even more powerful is someone does it and distributes it without being part of the Bubble team, but we could try one day. In practice, today, we focus a lot on entrepreneurs so this may not be the first thing we do. Why don't you try.

Is there anything in the roadmap to make it easier for Bubble devs to deploy wrapper native apps to the different app stores?

Yes, but I really can't say when. We want to be for all platforms, and we'll definitely get there, but this is not a matter of months... Some people have wrapped things into native apps and it works quite well, the forum talks a lot about it.

On the Bubble platform, whats the rough percentage of individuals creating solutions for themselves versus people using your platform to create solutions for others (be it your in-house folks doing client work, freelancers / agencies using your system for their clients, etc…

It's sometime hard to know, but from what I see, i would say 80% for themselves, 20% for others

Can we expect to see the new user interface in this quarter?

Prob not, but hoping that'll go live next quarter. Give us a few more months...

Will you ever consider selling Bubble to a big player like Amazon or Google or do you choose to always remain independent just like for example Evernote.

All the decisions we've made so far are for independence and become a major tech company on our own, so I hope not. But sometime circumstances could lead us to do something different. One thing I'll say is that it's really not the focus right now...

As a founder and CEO, when your team was much smaller, how did you split your time. And nowadays, how are you splitting your time? Any regrets - you wish you spent more time doing this rather than that?

For 5 years it was Josh and I only, so I would do product, success, growth and finance, while josh was focusing mostly on the infrastructure. Now, it's a lot of hiring and knowledge transfer (5 years without people means a lot is in our heads...). I wish i spent more time hiring, that's the key to success.

If you were CEO of Webflow instead, what would you do to differentiate from Bubble as you move into web app functionality?

I'll let Vlad decide...I don't think we're on the same market. Webflow is more for designers and freelancers (for now), while we're more for business people and entrepreneurs, so that changes what the products look like. I don't see us as competing, but more helping each other to evangelize the market.

What would you say was the biggest takeaway from you MBA at Harvard and how does that impact your business today? E.g., management knowledge, relationships, inspiration, an entrepreneurial sense...

It's going to sound cheesy, but it's really "do what you love"...When I was in bschool, I thought i wanted to do finance, like everybody else then... and then i wondered, after talking to people, esp. faculty, is that really what I like and turned down a finance job for the summer and ended working, believe it or not, at Prada...Yes, the fashion brand

Any tips when it comes to mapping and building logic?

Yes, the learning is curve is definitely there and real (i think 5 to 10n hours). it's actually something we embrace. If there is no learning, there is no flexibility really, and you can't build what you exactly want

Are you planning on any lighter tools for early stage makers? I think the main editor experience is a bit of a steep learning curve but there are so many little areas first time makers can benefit from if there was a lighter leaner Bubble product?

We're going to try a few things to make the learning curve easier, but to be honest, it will never be 10 i was saying above, if you don't have to learn, you can't do much. And while a few hours seems long, compare it to learning code, it's very little. We're working on a better documentation and video tutorials to help there, hopefully that'll make a big difference.

When bootstrapping bubble in the early days, what did you do to keep income coming in for yourself?

We got income from customers. The first two years was our savings, the customers and we took our salary after 2.5 yrs.

If you were a new user on Bubble, how would you go about learning the product/what are steps you would take to go from beginner to pro?

So see above for a few key things around the learning curve. We're working on ways to make it easier, but it will always be there. Now in terms of potential, while I can tell you it's there, why don't you ask on the forum if it's worth learning...They won't be biased. If I may, re learning... "No pain, no gain"...

Can you tell us more about the Bubble accelerator? Seems very exciting, how exactly would this program work?

We're going to figure this out in the coming months with the person we hire, but the goal is to assist startups on us better than just providing them with the platform.

Why no code is starting to shine recently?

I think it's a combination of 1) tools getting better (in particular Bubble) 2) people realizing coding is not for everyone and is tedious. In 2012, learning how to code was really hot. Now people know it's not that quick to get to a place where you can do something

How do you differ in such competition?

We differ in terms of feature. You can build Airbnb on bubble, really, you can't really do that with other tools yet. That's why our learning curve is longer. we're much more powerful.

What were the most effective growth engines you've used particularly when bootstrapping?

Community, for sure

Do the majority of users work on one-off projects (i.e. retained over a period of x months then no longer return) or do they become habitual users of the platform working on multiple projects?

Users defeinitely use us for more than one project

What's your user demographic like and general churn rates?

Our demographic is the non technical, tech savy person. Gender, location and age wise, it's actually all over the place. You know, the guy or girl that loves discovering a new saas tool if there is something to be done. Or genuinely enjoys using excel.

In the early days, how did you go from your first few customers, to your first 100. What tactics did you use to market and acquire them?

We found them offline, at tech meetups. They were looking for engineers for their startups, and we told them "we won't be your CTO, but we have this thing, it should enable you to do it, and we'll help you on the way". We got our first paying customers in Dec 2012 that way, 6 months in!

Regarding VCs, have you some indicators about their perception and will to invest in startups built with Bubble?

It used to be tough I think, now it's much easier. A startup in europe started on us, raised 16m and "therefore" moved off and hired a CTO and an engineering team...then guess what? They're coming back! Stories like this will help fundraising a lot. In general, honestly, if you have growth and happy customers, investors will invest. Tell them you'll save money on engineers and iteration time. It's more cost efficient for them.

What surprises you the most when it comes to how users use your platform?

They sometime do things that we thought were impossible. That is the best feeling ever. Sometime I have to look at the source of the page to confirm it's a bubble app.  And sometime they also do non business stuff. One guy in germany told me he built an advant calendar for his gf's ipad. Which may be the coolest thing ever built on Bubble(he said that saved his relationship... no joke, he came to me at a meetup in berlin and told me "Bubble saved my relationship"...).

Will it be possible to run bubble apps on European servers in the coming year?

It already is if you're on dedicated (ireland, london, frankfurt and paris). On the main cluster, probably another year before we get there.

Who do you consider your direct competitors?

Direct competitors, honestly, are bootcamps and dev shops on upwork. Other no-code tools may be seen as competitors but we have very different capabilities.

Based on your experience when raising funds from investors, what's your feeling how do investors look at no-code (non-enterprise) tools, do you see many of them trusting and believing in the future of no-code, or you think most of them aren't onboard yet?

I can't speak for investors that I don't know, what I can say is that I get a lot (like a lot) of emails daily from them, so it must peak their interest..

Are there any plans on improving the current state of the marketplace? It seems like one or two companies are dominating it? Don't you think this bad for your users, less competition leads to low number of products (plugins, themes) which also leads to higher prices?

Yes, I would like the plugins/templates to be more even spread out, but on the other hand the two companies you're referring to are doing a good job at providing good quality stuff. It's a battle we'll pick one day, but one at a time, right now, evangelizing, improving performance at scale and easing the learning curve is more important I think. If we do that, more companies will come to sell on the marketplace as well.

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