The ’90s were a very interesting point in the history of technology. Computers were slowly making their way into households around the world and more companies started going online. It must have been quite difficult back then for the layperson to wrap their heads around hardware, software, and the difference between them.
However, some others picked up quite fast and began blazing trails. One such person is entrepreneur, Aliya Amershi, Tech Startup Coach and Founder of Codefree App Launch. In her teenage years, Aliya was already an avid coder, computer tutor, and the go-to person for any computer-related questions. Today, after 20 years of experience in the tech industry, she is a leader in the No-Code movement, giving special attention to women entrepreneurs breaking into the tech startup world.
Aliya was motivated by her love for video games to pursue her passion for coding and eventually landed her first out-of-college job as a Software Engineer for Electronic Arts (EA), a now-behemoth in the gaming industry. She then made her way to New York and joined Viacom Networks, where she helped launch the Emmy-award-winning Nick App. Several years of experience and many international adventures fueled her decision to migrate from the corporate world to the entrepreneurial league.
Dedication and genuine interest
In 2016, Aliya began her first tech startup, where she initially struggled the first couple of years. She was finally able to bootstrap her way to six figures in sales by her third year. The overall experiences from the initial phases of her startup were crucial to gather more insights about the struggles solo female founders have to face when embarking on entrepreneurship.
Especially in the tech startup space, these struggles are more daunting than ever. There’s a blatant underrepresentation of women in the industry and female founders have more layers of challenges when it comes to funding for their startups. The latter is a problem Aliya found to be one of the major causes why aspiring tech entrepreneurs end up abandoning their ideas and startups in the early stages. Another complication she found while examining this issue was that entrepreneurs mistakenly think that it’s all about paying for costly developers or learning how to code so that they can build some sort of advanced scalable tech product with a lot of cool features and pretty user interfaces, which then often discourages them from pursuing their tech startup ideas.
Pivoting to her new tech startup, Codefree App Launch, was a remarkable turning point in Aliya’s entrepreneur journey because she decided she wanted to solve this problem so that other entrepreneurs, especially women, would no longer have to struggle like how she did with her first tech startup.
“When I first started my entrepreneur journey several years ago, I was told by the “experts” that the only way to succeed in the tech startup world was to pitch investors, find co-founders, and focus on the technology because there was no way I would succeed on my own and without outside funding or some high-tech product,” Aliya recalls.
Aliya set about building her first tech startup and focusing all her energy on getting the perfect tech platform. Everything seemed good to go until her tech product was launched but for a whole year it was crickets, there were no investors or customers who were interested. She felt devastated.
Eventually, after a lot of soul-searching, Aliya realized that she was going about things the wrong way. The experts aren’t always right, and her business was suffering. So she delved into another phase of research by reading a lot of books and working with the right coaches and began to overhaul most of what she believed to be true about the entrepreneurial journey.
I was able to crack the code (no pun intended) and figured out a much better way of doing things,” Aliya said. “So when I launched my new tech startup, Codefree App Launch, I was able get customers within 60 days before I even launched. Then within one year, during the pandemic, I started experiencing exponential growth. And I did this by breaking all the rules, which is being a solo female founder without any investors, marketers, or complicated code.
Aliya proposes an alternative and innovative path in which you don’t have to pitch investors, pay massive amounts to developers, or even use code at all in order to get app ideas off the ground. As a Tech Startup Coach, she built a robust program, Codefree App Launch, to support other ambitious women tech startup founders.
”I was talking to several customers and fellow colleagues and I discovered that they had pretty similar experiences to me, especially the women and women of color,” Aliya said. “Even worse, they had no clue about the technology and what they were actually trying to build, so they started asking me for help on that as there was no other resource to go to. So I realized there was an incredible untapped opportunity here for an underserved market, which is how I started to pivot to my current tech startup, Codefree App Launch.”
How to go code-free?
For non-technical entrepreneurs, it might be hard to visualize launching an app without the need to invest a lot of money on costly developers or learn how to code themselves. The opportunities seem very limited, but the innovative option rising in popularity at the moment is to go code-free. It may sound too good to be true, but this is a fresh trend that Aliya, as an expert in the field, advocates for.
The No-Code Movement is meant to enable people with little-to-no technical knowledge to build their tech startup ideas, such as a mobile app or web app. It is changing the domains of software creation by removing major barriers to entry and opening realms of possibilities accessible to almost anybody.
Aliya integrated this trend into the core objectives of her proprietary Codefree App Launch program. Her program is a 12-week online accelerator that combines course modules, tech workshops, and group coaching, to help aspiring tech entrepreneurs, especially women and women of color, launch an innovative app idea that gets customers without developers, code, or investors.
The support starts from the ideation phase where she found a lot of people are usually stuck. When asked about their app ideas, most people can’t clearly articulate what painful problem they are trying to solve, the unique solutions that they are offering, or even who their ideal customers are. Many beginners also don’t have the insight to contact potential customers beforehand in order to find out if their ideas are even worth pursuing. According to Aliya’s program, this is one of the most critical steps that can’t be skipped.
Another source of anxiety for tech entrepreneurs comes from fund sourcing. With the numbers often reaching six figures in the tech startup industry and wild competition increasing every year, to many, this can be the most tiring and discouraging part of the process. For women entering the tech startup field, this barrier is a lot harder to overcome. According to data from Crunchbase, at the beginning of this year, only 2.3% of women-founded startups received funding.
According to Aliya, the realities are often too harsh to be left to chance. Female founders would save themselves a lot of mental stress by skipping the fundraising process altogether when they are just at the idea stage. Instead, it would be best to just get to work on their tech product with the help of an expert coach in the tech startup space to guide them so that they can start making progress faster without all of the guesswork.
“I believe hiring a coach, especially a Tech Startup Coach, is a much better option than a mentor, advisor, or consultant,” Aliya said. “For some odd reason, opting for coaches is not talked about often in the tech startup world. When I finally decided to hire my own coaches, especially those who had online programs, that was when my startup really started to accelerate to the next level.”
Another issue most aspiring entrepreneurs would hardly recognize is how marketing and sales work in the tech startup world. Providing an insider’s perspective, Aliya supports the notion that customers don’t buy the app or product itself, but the unique solution that the app offers to an important painful problem. As a result, entrepreneurs do not have to wait until they have a perfect app before they can start selling it. She encourages building a simple no-code and no-app tech product, super quickly and cost-effectively, which is known as the minimal viable product (MVP), and pre-selling or even selling it as a way of getting to idea validation and customer validation within a matter of a couple of months or weeks. An MVP is used to get the most information out of your customer with the least amount of effort, a popular concept from the Lean Startup methodology.
The final key ingredient to building a successful tech startup and innovative app idea is mindset. Specifically, entrepreneurs need to be courageous, resilient and stay committed in order to stay the course. As Aliya says, “the entrepreneur journey is not a sprint, it is a marathon. So it requires an ongoing commitment and continued effort to your app idea, your startup growth, and most importantly your customers. You always have to be iterating and improving both your idea and yourself in order to grow and succeed as a tech entrepreneur.”