What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?
My background is in corporate finance and consulting. Seeing hiring managers struggle to evaluate candidates' spreadsheet skills during the job interview motivated me to create this company.
What no code tools did you use to build Rate My Excel and what purpose did each play in the final product?
The main no code tools used are Bubble (drag and drop web applications), Stripe (payment processor) and Sendgrid (email templates).
What were the initial costs to get Rate My Excel off the ground?
The initial costs were primarily my time to design the web app and create and iterate the hiring assessments. I did purchase quite a few paid Bubble plug-ins along the way to try them out. Luckily, the plug-in monthly license fees are prorated so it's cost effective to try out multiple for a week and pick the best one.
What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?
Most of the time was spent on building out the custom user dashboard area and creating the actual assessments. Each user receives a private corner of the website where they can review their orders, invite new candidates via email and see their score reports. Creating the assessments involved brainstorming the top real-world Excel skills needed at each level and writing practical exercises where candidates can showcase their abilities.
How do you attract customers?
Right now it's mostly word of mouth and paid search advertising but in 2021 I'm looking to work on SEO and getting more Capterra reviews from customers.
What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building Rate My Excel?
The largest challenge has been configuring all the API's to work nicely together. Every so often an unforeseen edge case pops up that I scramble to fix. For example the recent Gmail outage caused my email delivery failure alert webhook to accidentally form a recursive storm of 14,000 emails to my inbox. Luckily I was able to work with Sendgrid customer service to delete all the pending email alerts and added a workflow to Bubble to prevent future issues.
What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company?
It's a great time for anyone with the interest and time to build things online, whether it's a fun side project or a full on start-up idea brought to life. The recent explosion in no-code and low-code tools in web application development reminds me of the period where upstart travel websites made travel agents obsoleteby letting people plan and book their own trips.
What are your future plans for Rate My Excel?
I'm currently working on developing quicker hiring assessments that take 15 minutes to complete instead of 30 minutes. The focus will be purely on candidate work samples instead of the current mix of work samples and answering questions. Hopefully this means less of a time investment for candidates while still giving hiring managers valuable insights into who will be most successful in the role. I'd also like to add an option where managers can choose to have us automatically email gift cards to candidates who complete the assessment as a thank you for their time.
How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?
Right now it seems like no code tools are best for building out MVP's or quickly proving ideas. As they add more features and improve performance issues I hope to see people thinking of no code tools like Bubble as a permanent home for their web applications. Every month or so I wonder if there will be a breaking point where it makes sense to code up everything from scratch and migrate away from Bubble. Luckily that hasn't happened yet.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Rate My Excel offers a free 5-minute Excel self-assessment available here, along with several hiring and productivity resources on the company blog. Thank you so much Seth for getting in touch and best of luck to your readers!