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Alastair Budge

How Leonardo English is helping people learn english with no-code tools

Leonardo English

Learn english with podcasts

Full Time Income

Monthly Revenue

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Built with

What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company? 

Before starting Leonardo English, I spent several years working in marketing/growth roles, but before even that I taught English. So I guess I have a mixture of marketing and teaching experience.

I’ve always been very interested in languages, speak several myself, and live on a small island where people come to learn English, so I was always fascinated by the doors that speaking a new language unlock.

I wanted to start my own company for two main reasons. Firstly, I love the process of creating something from scratch, and finding people who are willing to pay for what you have created is a great validation that you have created something worthwhile. Secondly, I wanted to have autonomy over my time, and build a business that allowed me to live where I wanted. 

What no code tools did you use to build Leonardo English and what purpose did each play in the final product?

It’s all no-code apart from some custom JavaScript. 

For the “front end”, I use Webflow and Memberstack (to manage membership), and Integromat is the glue that links up Stripe, Airtable, MailerLite, MailerSend, Slack etc.

On the back end I use Transistor to host the podcast, but I also classify this as a “no-code” tool because it has an excellent and very friendly API that is easily configurable with Integromat, so I use Airtable as a database for all of the podcast content, which is then scheduled directly in Transistor.

What were the initial costs to get Leonardo English off the ground? 

Really not much at all. I guess under $250 to get everything off the ground, which was mainly SaaS. I charged for the service from day 1, and (given most of the cost is SaaS) fortunately even a small amount of early revenue started to cover these costs.

What was the process of building your studio from idea to launching?

I actually had the idea for this while my wife was 7 months pregnant. I wanted to get it off the ground before my son was born, so I hurried to build a basic website in Webflow, write and record a few podcasts, and I pushed it live the week before he was born. 

Note: not a good idea to try to start a podcast with a new-born baby in the house!

How do you attract customers?

Given that my main “product” is a podcast, it tends to be mainly discovered through the podcast networks. I have also invested heavily in SEO / content creation, and am starting to see the benefits of that now. 

I have experimented with paid ads (Facebook/Instagram), but haven’t seen them perform well yet. Like every business, I’m still looking for new ways to attract customers!

What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building Leonardo English?

Podcasts are a hard slog! Discovery is poor, and it can take a long time to see any kind of results. I had an audience of 0 before starting, so I was starting from scratch. It was only after more than 12 months, really, that I started to see real growth in the podcast.

What’s more, my podcast is in English, for people learning English, but they are mainly searching for a solution to their problem in their native language (i.e. they are searching for “podcast para aprender inglés” rather than “podcast to improve English”)

What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company? 

There has never been a better time for non-technical people to start a company. If you can’t code, then use no-code tools to get your idea off the ground. You might not even need to move off “no-code” tools, depending on what you’re actually building. 

I thought I would need to build a proper web application when the business was large enough, but I still can’t see an immediate need for it. 

I’d also recommend not necessarily going “all in” immediately. Play around with tools like Airtable, Integromat, Zapier and Webflow. Build fun little projects. Discover the possibilities for yourselves. Then apply them to a problem you are passionate about, but don’t get wedded to your first idea. 

Personally, I still love playing around with no-code tools, and developing little flows/automations, so I think if you start enjoying creating projects with no code, then it won’t feel like work, it’ll be something you want to do in your spare time. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get, and the more likely you will find a problem that turns into a company.

What are your future plans for Leonardo English?

At the moment the main “product” of the company is its podcast, English Learning for Curious Minds

The business model is a membership that allows listeners to access learning materials associated with the podcast, and to get bonus episodes.

In the future I’d like to create standalone narrative podcasts and courses, and become the go-to place for audio-first English learning content for intermediate and advanced speakers.

How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship? 

It will surely democratise it. 

The product I’m building now would have been possible 10 years ago, but it would have been complicated and expensive to build. I would have needed to code it myself, and I don’t have the skills to do so. Instead, I can do it with an intermediate level of knowledge of no-code tools, and minimal costs. 

No code tools will help people realise that, for many “software” businesses that they look up to, the value of the business isn’t necessarily in the complexity of the code, but rather the product design, marketing, and operations. 

When more people realise that they can create valuable web-based businesses without knowing how to code, then this can only be a positive impact on entrepreneurship.

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