Tracking the growth of low-code, no-code startups

Companies in the sector are on pace to raise at least $500 million in 2020

Startup buzz comes in waves, with a particular thesis or focus coming into vogue at certain times. Remember the short-lived boom in chat bots? That was good fun. And there was the ICO craze, which lead every startup you’ve heard to consider the financing option for at least a weekend.

We’ve also endured the early-AI bubble, the blockchain rush and a cannabis-driven wave as well. Even sub-theses can see spikes, such as the neo-banking industry, say, or robo-advising. Hell, we saw mini-crazes in insurtech marketplaces and OKR software this year alone.

Fads in startups are not new. Today, as venture investment tilts towards enterprise software, we’re in something of a SaaS craze. Inside of today’s SaaS surge, however, is a smaller trend that I want to explore more: no-code and low-code startups.

Largely, low-code and no-code refer to tools that allow non-developers to either employ little (low-code) to no code while either building logic inside of software, or full applications. Low-code, and no-code development often feature drag-and-drop interfaces (Techopedia, TechTarget), but not all low-code and no-code tools are used to build apps.

Defining the sector and its focus is difficult. PitchBook says low, and no-code development platforms “expedite the creation of new applications with minimal coding requirements and offer tools for non-programmers.” And a recent TechCrunch article by a couple of venture capitalists argued that low and no-code work is “not a category itself, but rather a shift in how users interface with software tools.”

A bit like how AI and fintech are squishy categories, low-code and no-code have wide remit.

After talking to a number of entrepreneurs lately who built these capabilities into their startups’ applications, it appears that today founders expect the capabilities to more help non-developers re-order logic inside apps for their own need, instead of building whole-cloth applications.

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