What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?
I've been working in analytics since I graduated from college 11 years ago. I started my career working on the corporate side, then moved over to the agency side as that type of work/culture is more in my wheelhouse. I started Excelformulabot while on paternity leave 6 months ago, while I had some time outside of my full time job. The Twitter algorithm was getting to a point where the only tweets I was seeing were about AI, no-code and solopreneurs. I started seeing how easy and quickly some AI applications were being built, so I said to myself - "why not me?".
What no code tools did you use to build Excel Formula Bot and what purpose did each play in the final product?
The tech stack includes Bubble.io for the web application - frontend and backend, Stripe for payment, OpenAI for the AI itself and Sendinblue for broadcast and transactional emails. Each of the tools integrates through Bubble.io and literally, the entire application is built without one line of code. I cannot say that for the spreadsheet add-ons, which is all code - none in which I touched.
What were the initial costs to get Excel Formula Bot off the ground?
$25 per month for a personal Bubble.io plan and $10 for a domain. That's about it. When I launched the site, I launched as an MVP. It was a single page application with just an input and output field. I didn't even require a login, nor were there API limits. While I only had a $25 fixed payment for Bubble.io, I quickly racked up several thousand dollars in OpenAI costs, as it quickly went viral on social media. Having no login and API limits at the time was scary, but it was the best thing for it because people started talking about it and how it was too good to be true.
What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?
I never used Bubble.io prior to launching Excelformulabot. Ironically, it's similar to working in Excel - it's all logic-building, so it naturally came to me. Of course, I ran into some limitations, but there's so much documentation/videos out there on web tools like Bubble.io these days that any roadblock I ran into, there was a video that showed me how to fix it. While the MVP only took me a couple days to build, it took me about a month to build the site as it stands currently. Once you start adding on to the tech stack (Stripe, Sendinblue), it can take a bit of time - especially when building API-based workflow to send user-level data from one tool to the next.
How do you attract customers?
I am living a nocode builder's dream. I spend 90% of my time building and 10% of my time marketing. I've been fortunate to ride the wave of virality since launching. Nearly everyone that has heard of the site heard about it on social media (Reddit, TikTok, Twitter and Instagram). Hundreds of "productivity hackers" on social media love sharing it with their audience. They like to share it because it's a free tool and let's be honest - people love free. If I didn't have a free offer, I don't think it would be shared as much as it does. The 10% of marketing I do is social listening and engagement. Someone has an Excel problem on the Excel subreddit? I'll answer with a screenshot inside Excelformulabot of their exact problem and the AI answer. Someone talking about Excel formulas on Twitter? I show them what they're missing out on. If there's conversations about Excel, I try to be there.
What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building Excel Formula Bot?
Finding time. I am still working a full time job. I'm not like other indiehackers. I have a wife and two kids. I'm the breadwinner, as my wife is staying home the first year with our newborn. I'm not in a position (yet) to risk everything. But every night when everyone goes to bed, I start my second job. Being limited for time forces me to stay focused and only work on what's important. Let's just say, I won't be adding dark mode anytime soon.
How much money is Excel Formula Bot making per month?
Currently at $4.2K in MRR and just surpassed $30K in three months since launch.
What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company?
It's never been a better time to build something for someone that doesn't know how to code. There's so many resources out there to build. If you have an idea that you think "no way can my crazy idea be built without code," you better think again. It sounds cliche, but if you can dream it, you can build it.
What are your future plans for Excel Formula Bot?
The Google Sheets add-on is about to get some fancy bells and whistles, so make sure you follow along to hear more about that. Additionally, I'm working on a partnership with a big time Excel social influencer to bring his content to life on my website to incorporate educational content to the site. The AI bot is great, but people still want to learn. Also, there's a lot of work being done in the next couple of weeks to focus on B2B, as there's a big opportunity there. And lastly, another added value component that I'm going to hold out on broadcasting because I haven't started it yet, but it's going to be HUGE for the site. There's so many copycat Excel AI sites out there and I don't want them to see this interview and add it first!
How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?
There was a surge in entrepreneurship post-COVID for various reasons. It's only going to increase further as the barrier to entry has been lowered with no-code tools. But with that, there's going to be a lot of failures. Because it's become so easy to build, marketing is becoming more important to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. There's 9 other Excel AI sites, but you probably only know about Excelformulabot. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you better know how to market it.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Feel free to reach out to me on twitter at @bresslertweets. Seriously, if anyone has any questions, I'm here to answer them. I hope that I can act as an inspiration to at least one person reading this. If I can build something with a family and full-time job and not knowing how to code, there's no reason you can't.