How to build a no-code MVP for SaaS startups

Thierry Maout • Jun 7, 2022 • 11 min read

Starting a business once seemed like an unattainable goal, requiring massive cash investment and technical expertise. With the rise of no-code, the prospect of being an entrepreneur is now available to anyone with a computer, a router, and enough motivation.

But where to start? As more and more web apps built without code pop up online, you might be wondering what the hype is, and how to get on the train yourself. 

Look no further. 

Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or an employee looking to start a side project, this article will help you learn more about what an MVP is and how to build one without code.

Let’s get started!

Ready to build your MVP?

With Softr, you'll get it up and running within a couple of days or even hours.

What is an MVP?

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the first version of a product or feature, with just enough functionalities to be used by early adopters, who can in turn provide feedback. The concept was created in 2001 by Frank Robinson, and popularised by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup a decade later.

Minimum viable product breakdown

Image Source: FilmMakingLifestyle

In essence, an MVP is a “pure” version of a business idea, taken to its most simple state, used to confirm whether that idea is good or not by sharing it with potential customers. Think of some of these simple examples that would reflect the idea behind an MVP:

  • Do you think you’re a good cook and want to open a restaurant to share your sushi crèpes' original recipe? Start by sharing a stand at a local food market and giving out free samples.
  • Do you want to build an app for barbershops to book and manage appointments, with a payment interface and music playlist? Find the most pressing issue you can solve for barbers and focus on that first. 
  • Are you hoping to open a jewellery store with your custom creations? Start by approaching local stores that can sell your current inventory so you don’t have to invest in renting right off the gate.

Do you get the idea? This is a massive shift from the way entrepreneurs or businesses have traditionally gone about launching new products. Let’s compare the old and new ways of doing things to understand the reasoning behind the MVP methodology and why it makes sense.

The old way to build a business

To start a new business, traditional businesses would typically invest a lot of money (sometimes their entire life savings for some entrepreneurs) and resources upfront. They would then take months or even years to focus on building it, before releasing it into the world when they consider it to be perfect and ready to hit the market.


  • The ability to release a finished, polished product in the end


  • Very expensive, this method requires a lot of people and cash over a significant period of time
  • Extremely dangerous to build something in a bubble without real-world validation from users. What if no one wants it

Best for:

  • Massive enterprises with big internal (and maybe confidential) projects
  • Companies with millions of dollars to spare in R&D

The new way to build a business

Modern businesses and especially tech startups have adopted the agile methodology, an approach to software development and project management consisting in working on small, consumable deliverables instead of huge projects. 

For startups, this means working on a minimum viable product (MVP) version of a project, focusing on a single key feature, constantly iterating according to user feedback, and eventually pivoting (remodeling the entire core product) if necessary. 


  • Fast way to figure out if an idea is worth pursuing.
  • A great method to understand the core value of your project.
  • Financially responsible. If an idea doesn’t stick, you should move on.


  • Not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of energy and self-reflection to be able to truly embrace.

Best for: 

  • Small, agile teams or solopreneurs.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) startups with little upfront investment.

The second option likely makes more sense for you if you’re reading this. So let’s take a look at what an MVP development cycle can look like.

The 5 steps framework to build a successful MVP

Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an instinctive iterative process. Nothing groundbreaking here, but the important thing is to keep to some key principle which, trust us, is easier said than done:

  • Keep it short and simple: By definition, this should stay a truly simple product
  • Trust your users: As hard as it might be sometimes, they’re the ones that will potentially pay. So listen to them.
  • Think of the money: Monetization might come back and bite you down the line. This shouldn’t be the main focus, but have a plan (or several) in mind.
  • Know when to let go: Not every project will work out, and that’s fine.

These apply throughout the entire process, which we’ve broken down into 5 steps.

Research (market + customer) 

Ideally, you should be building something that addresses a problem you’ve faced yourself. This is probably the most logical way to go about it. 

But regardless of whether you’re familiar with the pain points on a personal level or not, you must conduct thorough market and customer research to validate whether your SaaS idea (and/or your focus for the MVP) is worth pursuing. There are several ways to go about this:

  • Surveys sent out to relevant communities and/or using dedicated tools.
  • Interviews with potential users, in person or online.
  • Competitor research using platforms like G2 or Capterra.

If you really want to go full-on startup mode, you can even leverage Softr to create landing pages without code for your upcoming product (before you even start working on it) and spread the word online to see if interest is spiked at all. This is a great way to validate your idea without investing much time and energy at all. 

Business model definition 

This is a bit controversial but could save you a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in the long run (a bit dramatic, sorry). 

A flawed business model is one of the top reasons why startups fail, and it’s no wonder. With the amount of energy it takes to build a product, gather a team, set communication, and more, it’s really easy for monetization to take a backseat and become an afterthought. Additionally, founders are often idealistic and believe providing a great product should be their number one priority. 

This is a great sentiment and a commendable way to approach things but can become a double-edged sword when it comes to business. 

While you don’t need to have a 4-year financial forecast ready by the time you build your MVP, having a business model in mind is instrumental in how the user experience will be shaped and should be left to the last minute. Something to keep in mind.

Feature prioritization 

Going back to your overall idea, chances are you have a full-fledged, complex product in mind. But whether that idea is a Customer Relationship Management with payment processing abilities or a poker odds calculator integrated into banking apps, you need to simplify it.

The entire goal of an MVP is to strip down your idea to its core value, in order to validate whether this is something users might be interested in. 

It is a difficult but very valuable exercise, which will force you to refine your idea and project. Not only will this allow you to focus on what matters most, but it will also help you formulate a clear value proposition. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What problems are you solving?
  • What are your users currently doing to address this problem?
  • Why should they change the way they’re currently doing things? What’s in it for them
  • What makes your approach different?

These questions will help you define things and break down your idea further. And remember the principles we mentioned earlier: Talk to your users, and trust their answers, even if it means accepting your idea is, well, not that good. 

Product Development 

Time to get your hands dirty! This is supposed to be the fun part but can turn into a world of pain without the right methodology. A lot of companies and entrepreneurs stay stuck at this stage and never manage to release anything. 

This is where our principles will once more come in handy. Remember that the goal is to release something, not to put out a perfect version of your product. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, has a famous quote that reflects the mindset you should be in:

“​​If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

When it comes to the practical aspects of building your MVP, head to the next section to go into detail about your options.

Feedback (and back to the top)

That’s it, your MVP is ready! Now is the time to share it with users and gather feedback to see if your idea is a good one, if you should adjust, or if it’s really not that pressing of an issue for your audience. 

In order to validate your idea, there are multiple ways you can get feedback:

  • Running customer interviews, either in test groups or with individuals
  • Creating online marketing campaigns using landing pages and ads to get users to sign up 
  • Sharing your MVP with other makers in online communities such as Indie Hackers, Facebook communities, or launching on Product Hunt.

Be careful about that last point, however. Even though we love how online communities have been instrumental in our success, you have to be mindful that feedback on your MVP should primarily come from your target audience. If your product is aimed at senior citizens, for example, feedback from other startup founders shouldn’t hold as much weight as live usability testing with people that would actually use your product.

There are plenty of ways to get feedback on your MVP, depending largely on the nature of your project and your target audience. To get extra insights from makers that have gone through the process, feel free to join our Slack community!

To add the last puzzle piece to the picture, here is a great video guide, breaking down the MVP Framework and more.

Michael Seibel shares his approach to building an MVP and getting your first users as a pre-launch startup.

Now that we’ve been over the 5-step framework of creating a Minimum Viable Product, let’s look at how you can actually work on building your idea. 

Ready to build your MVP?

With Softr, you'll get it up and running within a couple of days or even hours.

How to build an MVP?

There are three main ways you can go about building your MVP: Developing it yourself with developers, externalising to an agency, or building it without code. Let’s look at each scenario:

Developing an MVP in-house

Most “legacy” companies and enterprises go for this solution when building a new feature. For smaller startups and solopreneurs, however, it might not be the wisest choice.


  • Totally tailor-made


  • Very expensive: developer costs, hosting, etc
  • Technical: Do you have the skills or team to build a web app from scratch?
  • Time-consuming: Can quickly turn into a huge undertaking, defeating the purpose of an MVP (moving fast and iterating)

Externalizing the development 

Another option is to deal with an external agency to build your MVP for you. While costly, this has some benefits.


  • Access to developers for a lesser price
  • Very customizable


  • Expensive: Web development agencies come at a hefty price tag
  • Quality: You’ll have to resort to someone else building your product and will likely need to make some compromises along the way
  • Time: This option can also take a significant amount of time

Building an MVP without code

This last option is our favourite (did you guess?). Using a no-code solution such as Softr, startups, and entrepreneurs can build their MVP without technical knowledge, at a fraction of the cost.


  • Affordable: Softr pricing starts with a free plan
  • Non-technical: Anyone can start building without prior technical experience
  • Fun: How does building a website as easy as building lego sounds like?


  • Options: Although personalization options are multiple, no-code doesn’t allow for the total freedom provided by coding (yet) 
  • Effort: You do have to build it yourself! (or you can get in touch with a no-code expert)

In conclusion, it all depends on your objectives, product, and target audience. Find out what works best for your specific business and goals to decide whether to use no-code, low-code, or code development.

How to build an MVP without code

Softr leverages the power of Airtable to help you create marketplaces, boards, web applications, community apps, client portals, and more without code. 

At the heart of Softr are the concepts of building blocks and databases.

You can arrange the building blocks to create whatever you want, and define relationships and links within your app or with other websites and parties. On the database side, Airtable helps you display and manage the data “behind” your application.

build an mvp with Softr

How does it work? All it takes is 4 steps:

  1. Choose your building blocks: Select from 60+ beautifully-designed, responsive blocks to start building. You’re able to customize the design as you like.
  2. Connect your Airtable base: Your data is organized in Airtable, connecting it to the building blocks.
  3. Link pages & application logic: You are able to view, search and filter application data, as well as send user-filled form data back to Airtable. Zapier and other automation tools can help connect your application logic to any external service you’d like.
  4. Adding user accounts: Add membership options to your web app to publish gated content, set user permissions, or even enable Stripe payment for example.

Ready to build your MVP?

With Softr, you'll get it up and running within a couple of days or even hours.


Building an MVP is a great way to figure out whether that one idea you’ve had for a while is worth pursuing. With the tools and resources we provided in this article, you’re fully equipped to go out there and start building.

The no-code community is a great place to exchange with like-minded people and bounce ideas back and forth among enthusiasts. We strongly encourage you to join some of these no-code communities and learning resources.

Good luck on your MVP journey! Get started with Softr for free and start building today.

Frequently asked questions about MVPs

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the first version of a product or feature, with just enough functionalities to be used by early adopters, who can in turn provide feedback for future modifications. The concept was coined in 2001 by Frank Robinson and made popular 10 years later by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup 10 years later.

No-code development is a term describing tools that help people build software without code. Learn more here.

Absolutely. As a matter of fact, a number of startups have already done it.

Anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of millions. Using Softr, you can start building your SaaS startup MVP for free.

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