March 16, 2023

Episode 202: Arun Saigal, CEO of Thunkable

Arun Saigal is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thunkable, the no-code platform to build powerful, native mobile apps. He holds an S.B. and M.Eng from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Arun has held various leading roles at technology companies, including Quizlet, Khan Academy, Aspiring Minds, and Google. Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and a finalist for numerous other innovation awards. Arun is an established leader and visionary in the no-code and mobile development space.

Arun practices his musical talents in his free time, playing viola, mridangam, and even beatboxing. He also conducts orchestras and plays in several San Francisco-based music groups.

Julian: Hey everyone. Thankyou so much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have ArunSaigal, CEO of Thunkable, the no-code platform to build powerful native mobileapps. Arun, I'm so excited to chat with you. As I mentioned before the show, I'mreally excited about just the no-code platform space in general and in how itnot only offers non-technical founders the capability to bring on products, butalso even technical teams to be able to, add features and move quickly within,different sprint sessions and, and really.

the, what it offers in terms of theability to, to get powerful apps online and in front of consumers and startingto work on products. Being a founder of myself, I'm, I'm really excited abouthow things progress and how quickly, tools and, and platforms like what you'rebuilding at Funk allow other companies to do so as well.

But before we get into Thunkable and,and how things are going and, and what you're building and the whole process,what were you doing before you started the company?  

Arun: Absolutely. It, it's,it's great to be here. So excited to, to chat with you today. Before buildingthis company give you a little bit of the story.

So, directly before I was working with,with another friend who had started Ed Tech company, I was working with him. Onbuilding that, leading the mobile team there, where I experienced firsthand thepain of of mobile app development for both for non-developers with the, thepeople I was working with.

Yeah. And how they didn't have reallyany control over what I was building. They obviously gave me opinions, butreally had to wait on me. And my team to, to build things as well as even thepain that we as software engineers were experiencing where just to make a smallchange, I want to change the color blue.

Okay, well I'm gonna change the color.I'm gonna install the app on my phone and I'm gonna have to, see if it looksgood. And if it doesn't, I'm gonna have to go back and do it again. And, spend15 minutes to even make a tiny change. And so that was really, what I was doingdirectly before.

But maybe just give you a bit ofcontext. , as you said, Thunkable is the no-code platform to build nativemobile apps. And it actually started as a research collaboration between Googleand mit. When I was an undergrad and graduate student at mit, we were workingon thinking about how can you make it easy for anyone and everyone to buildnative mobile apps?

So yeah, if you don't know how to codeand you want to build an app for, for the iPhone or for your Android device or,or any smartphone, how do you go about and do that? And it was a cool time.We're, we're talking late two thousands into, into the 2010s where smartphoneshad had just come out and people knew the, these were powerful devices and theywere gonna change the world, but no one quite knew how.

Yeah. And so for me and, and my team, wesaid it's not just about. Making sure that these devices are super powerful.It's about giving people access to tools to build on these devices so thatthey're not just going to be active consumers of the content on these passiveconsumers of the content on these devices, but actually be active creators.

Because in our mind, it wasn't aboutenabling people to use apps that existed on a powerful platform, but by givingthem the ability to create the technology. That they needed to use, we felt itwould unlock a world of possibilities. And so we spent the time to build thisplatform, and it's been mind blowing to see how from that research project wewent to millions of users all over the world.

Creating apps. And then, like I said, Ileft mit, worked on worked on this ed tech company for, for a number of yearswhere I saw really firsthand the, the struggles of building mobile apps. Andthen decided to take that research project outta the lab and turn it intoThunkable in 2016. And that's what's gotten us to where we are today.

Julian: Yeah, it's, it'sincredible to think about the, the process within building of, of no codeplatform and discuss to the audience who, who don't know what goes into, havingit be able to communicate with different languages and being able to upload in,in different apps and configure and all the different I, I guess, I guessrequirements that an application needs to be able to, not only go from idea,but go into people's pockets and start being able to be used.

What, what goes into building a NOCOplatform and, and how. How long was that process? How, how long did it take youto get, get the platform to, to a place where you can start shipping out andhave people using it and, and getting that user feedback?  

Arun: Mobile app developmentis a really cool and exciting process, and it's also fairly challenging if youcompare it to, let's say, web development.

When you're building a website, you, youcan kind of, you write a bunch of code or you can use a no code web developmenttool. And there's a couple nice things. One as you're making changes, you cansee the changes immediately because everybody has a browser pretty much ontheir, on their computer.

And so as you're making some changes,you can just run it in your browser, in your, your Chrome or your Firefox orSafari or whatever. It, it, it's easy to kind of make quick changes and testit. And then when, when you're ready, depending on how you've set it up, youcan just kind of push it directly to the web.

You push it directly to the internet andthere's no there's no gates or anything. There's no one who kind of. Runs theinternet or runs the web. Yeah. It's, it's an open platform for anyone topublish to, and so it becomes really, really kind of fast and easy to makechanges, make updates, et cetera.

On mobile, it's, it's a totallydifferent e experience for, for a couple reasons. One, the considerations youhave to make are just a lot more so mm-hmm. , you have to think about thingslike, Offline support. Does the app actually work offline? What happens ifsomeone's using it on their phone and they're driving through a tunnel?

How does the app keep working? I thinknumber two is there's just a high expectation of what your apps can do.Everyone expects that their apps. We'll work nicely with push notifications,work offline, like I said, plug into your hardware. I want to, if I have anapp, I should be able to just open my camera from within the app, take a photo,upload that photo somewhere and do something with that photo, or take my audio,my speech, or think about how you're using, say YouTube and then it goespicture and picture while using another app.

There's a lot, lot of expectation fromyour app that you don't necessarily have from websites. So I think the firstthing is it's, it's it's a fairly. High expectation and a high bar of what tobuild. And so you really need to make sure you're building it to, to satisfyall these user expectations.

Then the next thing is form factors. Youhave to expect that it works on a, on a tiny, small phone that it scales up toa tablet and, and works for everything in between. And that, that's kind of,the next thing. Thinking about that. And then finally, when you've built theapp that you're really excited about, you've built.

The app of your dreams, you need to makesure that related to those form factors that it also, think about. , thinkabout a news app that it can change midway through. So if I'm in portrait, itworks one way, and then if I rotate, rotate the landscape, all of a suddenmaybe I have a second panel that opens my news articles or yeah, a second panelthat opens my email articles.

So once I made the app work well in one,one position on one form factor, I need to be able to make sure it works. Itrotates and et cetera. And then once you've made the app that you're reallyexcited about, you need to actually get it published. And that means you haveto package it up and put it in a, in a, in a form that the.

Apple App Store will accept. a separate app in a form that the Google Play store Google's play storewill accept. And then if you want to, to work on mobile web and things likethat, that's, that's another situation, which means you need to spit outdifferent kinds of code because to make a mobile app with.

Work with Apple, you have to spit outkind of apple's, code. They, they have their own coding tools and coding languagesthat work with them swift and, and objective C, things like that. Yeah.Similarly on Google you use, you need to use Google's coding languages thatthey like Java. Yeah.

Kotlin, et cetera. And then on web,there's yet another, another set of languages you need to support. So whenyou're building, when you're building it just one app, you actually have tobuild it kind of multiple times usually. Yeah, and then you have to publish itto the app stores. Unlike the web, as I said, no one really owns the internet.

The app stores are owned by companies,so you need to publish it according to Google and Apple's rules when you'regoing to their stores. Yeah, it needs to look and feel like an app should lookand feel for them. It needs to, it needs to support their use cases and theirguidelines. It needs to support their login mechanisms.

It needs to support payments and theywant, and the way they want payments to be supported, et cetera. Which makesit, a lot, a lot higher bar to get something out there. And then, They'llactually review your apps and tell you, Hey, we approve this, or No, we don'tlike this app. You need to go make these changes and come back to us, right?

Mm-hmm. . So, so it's a lot longerprocess and, and, and that's actually one of the reasons why no code tools areso nice, and we can talk about this more, but it's because it really lets youdig in to the parts that you want to and not worry too much about the thingsyou don't want to. So for example, if you build an app once on funk, it will alreadywork.

Google's infrastructure and on Apple'sinfrastructure, so you can launch it directly to the Google Play Store and toApple's App Store and to the web without needing to build three separate apps.You can just build it once on us and it works. You don't need to worry aboutthe offline cable that will it work offline.

We make sure that it works offline ifApple and Google need to make upgrades. Remember there's a big thing also whereApple and Google are upgrading their operating systems and their phones everyyear. Yeah. Which means that you need to upgrade the apps that you're buildingfor these phones every year.

Yeah, we're comfortable. Weautomatically take care of that under the hood. So you know , when theseoperating systems get updated in one year. We'll, we'll automatically make surethe upgrades are taken care of for you, so you don't need to put in all thatextra effort to actually do that.

So there, there's so many kind ofcomplexities to building mobile apps and one of the real joys of no-code toolsand, and and Thunkable is that we take care of a lot of kind of that mentaloverhead that you don't need to worry about. So you can worry about buildingthe, the app of your dreams. You can worry about building the cool, innovativething that you're doing that no one else is doing without worrying.

Oh, do I need to deal with thisupgrader? Oh, does this, will this publish directly to the app stores? We'lltake care of all of that for you so you can focus on the real creative genius behindyour app.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. It's sofascinating to think about just the ability to, to bring applications onlineand not have to think about, what, what a lot of founders and developers thinkabout all the time, which is the updates or the, the, you're having to bewithin regulations or compliance of certain, platforms or otherwise.

What does that mean in regards to kindof the future of, of businesses for founders in particular? If, if they ha, ifthey can minimize that amount of time they're spending on, that, productionright? And can spend it on fundraising or acquiring new clients or hiring team,how does that change the landscape of companies and also in your opinion, howdoes that change the velocity that they move at?

Arun: That, that is thebiggest game changer in my mind. So it now, yeah. There's a couple things thatwe, we unlock. First of all, all of a sudden, anyone who has a great idea canbuild an app, right? When someone says, oh, if only there was an app for they can actually create that app. And what is really cool about that isit's no longer the idea, people have to be different than the folks actuallybuilding the software when they can be the same person.

That means one, the ideas can be builtin the exact way that it was envisioned in the in the mind of the creator. Andthat's huge. The second is that they can move a lot faster. Cuz now you're notgoing from idea person. Product manager to designer to developer, back to thedesigner, back to the pm, back to the, the person with the idea.

Now you've taken that whole chain and,and, and the idea person can be the product manager, can be the designer andcan be the developer, and that just makes it so much more efficient and makesit again, come to life in the way the initial person thought because it doesn'tget lost in, in a game of telephone.

Next of all, when you don't have toworry. All this other overhead we talked about, when you don't have to worryabout the maintenance and updating the app in and updating the app when theoperating system change or dealing with any of kind of these, these, what Iconsider overhead changes and not, the core functionality, what that allows forall of a sudden is, You to spend your time doing the things that are most importantto the business.

Right? It's actually building out yourcreative ideas. And as you talked about, it's fundraising, it's team hiring. I,I remember, when I was I was an Android developer building an app in, in, inthe early 2010s. And then Google came out with this awesome update materialdesign, which really I think elevated their design game and the look and feelof Android apps.

And it was so. But I remember itlaunched and they said, oh, everybody needs to upgrade to material design. Andall of a sudden I had to change my whole roadmap and spend two months of myteam's time redoing our entire app when I hadn't planned it because they madean update and I had to deal with it.

And again, the apps looked a lot betterand I, I'm glad they did it, but it wasn't part of my plans to deal with, andall of a sudden I had to, well, Funk. We take care of those upgrades and, and,and and overhead changes when you. When, when we get told, Hey, these thingsare being done. We deal with it under the hood.

You just come to and say, Hey, upgrade,publish again, and it's done. Yeah. And so all of a sudden your roadmap isn'tjust being changed from under you and, and the things you get to spend yourmoney and time on are building the creative awesome things that you're tryingto build. And not worrying about, oh, do I need to change the curve of mybutton now?

Or, oh, do I need to make sure I upgradeit to this, SDK, version 47 instead of 46? You don't need to worry about that.We'll deal with all of that for you, and you get to work on what the thingsthat make your company great. .  

Julian: Yeah. Well, one thingthat makes me think about is, is the idea that a lot of found or not the idea,but the, the, the situation a lot of founders find themselves in when theystart building their mvp and they have that initial product build, which is atechnical debt that comes with however they, they've come to build it to thusfar and.

Typically if they work with like a devshop, there's a lot of technical debt that's associated with it. But how does,how does a product like Thunkable? I guess in my mind it seems like it wouldminimize that because of its ability to update quickly and, and really organizethe development process in a very structured way that, you they needed tograduate from the, the product into something a little bit more, personalizedor unique to that business, depending on what they do.

It could be a much easier transitioninto that. So I, I have two questions. One is, how do you think about technicaldebt and how does Thunkable bull products like Thunkable bull kind of considerthat? And then two, are there any limitations or, or is there a point in timewhere someone can graduate from Thunkable bull or does it essentially scalewith them?

Arun: So on the firstquestion around technical debt, I. What's really cool about no-code tools is,again, as I've talked about with handling your overhead, we, we really helpremove a lot of the technical debt that you often face. And there's, there's a,there's a few reasons behind this. One. When you build anything, you're, you'reusing inable, you're using, basically we're just an abstraction on top of, thenative code.

So let's say you, you build somethingthat's relatively complicated, like, when I push a button, , pull up somehardware sensor. Pull up my camera. Let's, yeah, let's talk about that. Youpull up my camera and take a photo and send that photo to some server. Now todo that, it, it, it's an asynchronous call.

It's, it's a little bit complicated anda lot of people often, will kind of do some hacks around to get it working andthen never come back to it. Well, with us when you say, open my camera, webasically have a bunch of code that runs under the hood. Do a really good andefficient job of opening your camera in the right and cleanest way.

And so what's good about that is kind ofyou, you're, when you use Thunkable, you know that the code that's beingwritten is kind of the best code out there. Yeah. It's, it's, it's. It's it'sindustry standard, high quality code. And so you're not poking around saying,Hey, I don't really know how to do this, so I'm gonna hack some stuff together.

Cuz we've already done it the, the rightway under the hood. And so you can trust that when you're building somethingwith us, that you'll actually have excellent, really efficient, high qualitycode. Cuz we take the time Yeah, to write it once. And then know that it'sgonna work everywhere across the board.

Yeah. And so that's one of the reallynice things is kind of that, that ends up relieving you from a lot of thetechnical debt that you might otherwise have because we, we take on that loadand deal with it under the hood. The second point that, or related to that, youtalked about kind of using development shops and then the technical debtaccumulating over time.

again. I think one of the bigger thingsyou see with mobile app development is your cost to actually get somethingbuilt are, are usually relatively high. Yeah. In, in traditional appdevelopment, your cost to maintain it is actually significantly higher. That'swhere really the, the, the, the biggest money goes.

And so let's say you hire a developmentshop, they go build an app, they hand it off to you. They do, let's assume theydo a good job. They hand it off to you. Now over the years, you want to keepmaintaining it. It's gonna either cost you a bunch of money to keep payingthem. Or it's something that you're gonna have to hire for, maintain in house,et cetera.

Now with unable and things like us, onceyou've built, kind of an, an app on our platform, it works. And then as you goon over time, like I said, things like the upgrading certain SDKs under thehood or, or making sure there's software kind of. Under the hood that worksand, and that it's maintained and upgraded over time.

We deal with all of that so you cantrust that you're using best in class software when, when you're building anapp with Thunkable. So both when you launch, but then especially over time, youhave that ability. Yeah, and I think that is really, of, one of the unique thingsthat. When you think about long term, which leads to your second question, whenyou think about long term you can trust, working with, with the no-code toolwill actually make sure that your, your app stays relevant and upgraded and,and excellent over time and doesn't slow down or fall behind because of allkind of the technical debt that weighs on, on a lot of apps and a lot ofcompanies.

And that leads, I think, to your secondpoint, which which, which, which is really around how do you scale with. With atool like Thunkable Honda, no code tool scale. And I think one of the reallynice part about using a tool like Thunkable is that we are built to scale.

And so if you look at the app sourcetoday, there are, there are many apps out there that use us, that have.Millions of downloads and hundreds of thousands of downloads and, and continueto thrive on us years later. And the really nice thing is because of the waywe, we are built, we really built ourselves to be able to scale with you sothat you never have to think about moving on or moving off.

For us, we really try and be on the kindof cutting edge of what is out there. So when, again, one of these big uh, bigsoftware providers around smartphones are releasing. New and excitingcapabilities. We're plugging into them. When you have, right now where we are,let's. AI and chat pt, came, came out in, in its most recent form a few monthsago, and people were all excited about it, within a couple weeks we wereintegrated with them and you could use that directly in our, in our platform,right?

And so whatever is new and exciting, youcan, you can wait, and Funk will have it soon after, and we're gonna have itwork in a really nice, robust way so you can trust that it'll work. And so asyou scale, it's actually really easy to scale and rely on Thunkable because ofthe fact that we've. Built our products so that the apps, the content, thingslike that, that you've built on us will scale and will last, kind of year afteryear after year.

And that's, that's one of, again, thereally nice things about using a tool like this is you can kind of build on usand then just trust that it'll keep working and not have to kind of think aboutit day to day. .  

Julian: Yeah. It's amazing tosee that, I, I'm sure there, there's some, or a lot of mobile applications havea standard kind of procedures and, and, and capabilities that they, that theyneed.

And once you don't have to think aboutthat and you can kind of iterate that, I'm sure, once you see, I guess, Iguess, a lot of developers or a lot of founders who, whoever use the platformdoing things consistently and over time then you kind of just build towardsthat. And I'm, I'm interested in the ChatGpt, obviously it's huge. We'rethinking about AI and a lot of people are integrating AI into and, and using itin ways to develop applications and websites and things along that nature. Howdoes a company like yours think about working in tandem and how do you kind ofallow or, or, or, or integrate the capabilities of it in a way that itmaximizes or, or is able to impact whoever's developing on the platform to doso, either just more effectively, more efficiently and not substituted out and,and not things get out too conflated because it's, it's such a robust system tointegrate within your platform.

What, what does that do? Not only now,but in the future of Thunkable.

Arun: So for, for us,anytime we take on an integration, we do a couple things. One, we, we try andbuild it in a, in a way that's really robust and lets you harness the power ofit. But one of the things we also do is try and figure out. What are the most,kind of obvious use cases, what are the main ways people wanted to use it?

One of the things that, that youmentioned, which is, which is true, is we get to see a lot of people buildingon a platform like ours. And so yeah, we are able to kind of understand whatare best practices, how are people using things, and apply it at scale. So thenext person who comes to us has the benefit of the last, million people thathave built on us and what they've done to say, oh, okay, everyone's really,wants buttons like this or uses it like this, or these are the kind ofcapabilities, right, that are most valuable.

And so we're able to really optimize forthose use cases and make them really effective. So when you talk about, these,these new AI capabilities or, or, or any, any new kind of capabilities thatcome out in the market? Yeah. For us, what we try and do is say, talk to usersand understand how do you want to use this?

What is this going to unlock for you?That's going. Your life better. And then we try and build those integrations inthe, in the ways that. Really quick and easy and effective for people to, tobuild what they're, what they're trying to build with with, with the tools thatthey, that we've provided.

So if you look at, as you talked aboutwith this, the new AI stuff around chat, G B T, et cetera, we've said, okay,what's really cool, people want to build interfaces in their app where you'reable to kind of have a dialogue within the app. You're able to chat somemessage and get a.

Whether it is textual or, or visual. Sowe should make it really easy to just say, Hey, when I type something into intoa, kind of text box and submit it, I'm able to make a request directly to, to,to, to Chad g p t, get back the results and display it. Or I'm able to make arequest and ask for something visual and get the visual result back and displayit.

And so it's something that we've just madesuper simple and said, Hey, when you, when you put in , get, get, get theresult that, that you want, and display it really easily. Right? So for us,we've said, what's the use case? How do people actually want to use this? Okay,let, let us do that research, that underlying research of what's the mosteffective way to use it.

And then let's. Build the, theintegrations that that, that allow that. And I think that's, again, a reallynice thing about no code tools is we've done a lot of the heavy lifting of howdo people want to use it, how do they want to interact with it, et cetera.Yeah. We've built that out. And then given you the flexibility to just takethat and, and stick that right into your, your apps and experiences.

Julian: Yeah. That's incredible.And, and tell us a little bit more about the attraction of the company,obviously you, you recently announced a, a huge funding round, which congratson, that's exciting to see what you'll take then and how you use it, of course.But tell us about what the attraction has been, up to, up to this point.

And what in particular are you excitedabout up to the, how many people are building on your platform, how manyapplications have come from it and, and how, how many companies? You mentionedearlier, you see a lot of them on the app store, increasing in amount ofdownloads, the amount of users what is, what's exciting about this next part ofthe journey?

Arun: Yeah, it's, it's, it'sincredibly exciting to watch the, the growth of No code of course, and thegrowth of Thunkable. Within that we've seen, at this point, three and a halfmillion people who have made apps on our platform. Wow. And it's, it'sincredible when you think of. The, the number of folks we've enabled andempowered to build.

And what's so cool is when you look atwhat they're building, it's individuals with cool ideas. It's kids in schoolsall the way up to a, a huge number of the Fortune 500 s who are saying, Hey, weneed to make our processes. More optimized, more efficient especially in, the,the way the world is going, everyone's pushed to do more with less.

And so by having a, a platform likeours, when I, as I, as I said before, when you can kind of really focus the,the folks who need to be building the app, To be the people who have the ideas,who, who are the creators, who are the ones who are looking Yeah. To really,really make a difference. And , when you can say, Hey, let's make the appbuilding process really efficient.

Yeah. And, and give the tools to thepeople who need it the most to actually build it. It's super cool. So we'veseen. Like I said, three and a half million people built millions of apps. Ithink at this point it's actually it's, it's o over 10 million apps just of, ofevery kind and shape and size.

And we have, a significant percentage ofthe apps on the app stores, both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Storethat have actually been built using us. And like I said, it's every kind of appfrom tiny, tiny apps with, single digit downloads that are just made for asmall group of, five folks who are working together all the way up to huge appswith millions of downloads, influencers who are using us to, to, to work withtheir audiences and.

And massive companies that are workingto enable everyone internally to be able to, to kind of be on the same page anduse internal apps. It's it's it, it's so cool and, and so powerful. And I mean,there, there's so many stories I can talk about just, but, but really robust.And what's, what's fun is also.

the problems that are being solved Yeah.Are problems that we couldn't have imagined in our wildest dreams could besolved. And the whole reason to make a platform is so that you can enable theseuse cases that you never imagined. Right? Yeah. And so we've just seen theseincredible problems globally that, that we didn't even know about.

that that have now been solved becausewe've unlocked the power for folks who had an idea and never knew how to code,to actually be able to build apps to solve the problems that are the most Yeah.Important and impactful to them.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And tellus a little bit about, what are some of the biggest challenges that Thunkablewill faces today?

Arun: That, that's a, that'sa great question. I think like any business you, you always wanna make surethat you are able to, get to the folks who need you the most and deliver tothem the, the, the, the perfect the perfect solution. For, for, for what theyneed. So I think for us, challenges always, I think hiring is always achallenge.

Finding the best people. Yeah. Outthere, we've, we've been fortunate to be hiring and, and, and are alwayslooking to, to hire more and find the best people. And then I think also asI've said, you for us it's, it's all about being a cutting edge tool, keepingup the cutting edge technology.

And so for us, we're always, trying tomake sure that. Whatever, whatever technology is coming out, we're assessing itquickly and deciding is this the future and is this something our users want touse? And if so, how do we as quickly as possible incorporate it into oursystems and make sure that we're kind of building the the best and mostcomprehensive tool.

Yeah, and then I think. The last piece,which we really feel like we, we, we get right, but we're always questioning isjust that right balance of being the most powerful tool out there that enablesanyone and everyone to do what they want. Well being simple enough that anyonecan use us, right? Yeah.

And really striking that balance. It'salways a, a fine needle to thread, but it's always something that we'rethinking about and making sure we're offering the most rich and robustcapabilities while still being accessible to anyone who has an idea and wantsto build an app.  

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And ifeverything goes though, what's the long-term vision for Thunakble?  

Arun: For us, it's aboutbuilding. A, a, a large self-sustaining company that enables anyone andeveryone to build software the way they want. So long it's been kind of the,the, the haves and the have nots and in, in, in software have been the peoplewho can create the software and the people who can use the software.

And we are really trying to bridge thatdivide. And take, as I said, take passive consumers of technology and turn theminto active creators. Take people who have ideas and give them the tools sothat they don't need to wait on developers. They don't need to pay oodles andoodles of money and, and wait for months on end to get somebody who's gonnahelp them.

They can come up with the idea and thengo build the ideas and see those ideas come to life and come to life quickly.Yeah. And we are excited to be the platform that enables everyone to build.What they are looking to build. So for us, it's building a long term, huge,robust, sustainable company that, that is building software that gives so muchvalue to our users that, that they, they can't live without it.

And it allows us and allows the world tounlock the creative, the creativity Yeah. And the possibilities that are ahead.If you look at where we are in the world of software, we're still in, in the,in the, in the early, early days of, of software development in general. Right.You look at kind of technologies that existed for.

Tens, hundreds, thousands of years, andhow people have refined them over time. Right? The, the, the web we're talkingabout right, is, is, is, is barely 30 years old, right? It's still so new inmobile apps, smartphones, right? 2007, 2008, right? It's still very early daysfor these technologies and we're excited to be the platform that enables peopleto build the future of, of technology and that, and that's the company that,that we're building here.

Julian: Amazing. I always likethis next section I call my founder faq. So I'm gonna ask you a bunch of rapidfire questions and, and we'll see where we get. But first question is, whatare, what's one or, or two of your favorite apps that have been built onfundable?  

Arun: Great question. Ithink couple of my favorite apps.

For a few different reasons. So one is,one is an app made by by a TikTok star. She had she's a, she's an , art person,draws and had and had a great kind of TikTok following, but wasn't able tomonetize that at scale because of the fact that she didn't didn't, didn'tnecessarily have the, wasn't necessarily gaining the, the money that she neededfrom, sponsorships, et cetera.

Built an app on Thunkable to engage withher followers. Ended up getting tens of thousands of. Ended up generating somuch revenue from that that it allowed her to go full-time, to make her contentbetter, et cetera. And the reason I love this is because it was somebody whowas super talented, had ideas, Hannah Vision.

Yeah. Didn't quite know how to harnessthat. Use Thunkable to build an app to engage directly with her fans andfollowers, and now is able to do this full-time and, and has enabled her to, tokind of live out her dreams and her passions. An another, another app that I,that I really love is, is actually one that there's a, there's a large Fortune500 company that, that needed to optimize delivery routes.

And so they found Thunkable and it wasan operations manager who was a person with no software background, foundThunkable, started building For his drivers and, and empowered them and now hasempowered a whole fleet of drivers to have better and optimized routes. Becauseof the app he built.

Withable. The reason I love that isbecause it's just somebody who had an idea and wasn't trying to, kind of builda billion dollar business or whatever. It's just, I have an idea. I want tomake my life better and more efficient. Built and app using, comfortable to dothat, and all of a sudden unlocked a bunch of creativity and a bunch of kind ofefficiencies within an already existing business.

Because of the fact that he had thetool. And then maybe the last app I'll talk about is, is one that, that, that'sone of the earlier apps that was built on Thunkable, but I still really love,which was a, a gentleman in the, in the country of Yemen didn't know how tocode, but Yemen was in Civil War and, and they needed apps to help.

Help basically their power managementfiguring out if they were actually gonna be able to maintain their powerovernight. There was, there was war. A lot of the power grids was going down,and this was a problem as, as I talked about earlier, were problems that Ididn't even know existed.

Yeah. This was a whole problem in thecountry of Yemen. I didn't know it existed. This, this amazing gentleman,Anwar, but you know, at the age of 24, builds an app with us. Half a millionfamilies and businesses end up using him, his app, he ends up getting an awardfrom one of the ministers of I forget the title of, of, of Energy Minister ofPower.

I think because he helped alleviateYemen's energy crisis. And this was all because he was a man who had a problem,had an idea, didn't know how to solve it, found Thunkable, and was able tobuild a solution to. Make his country a better place. And that tho those examplesare, are so unique to me each for, for what they've done and also just so,exciting and showing off kind of the power of Thunkables, of, of th of BLEsplatform.

Whether for individual creators,somebody within a massive organization or someone who's trying to, make theircountry a better place.  

Julian: That's incredible tohear about. Yeah. The, the ease and ability for individuals who see a problemin the world to, to use a platform like Thunkable Bull and then to, to createsolutions around them.

I mean, that's, yeah, I don't know whatmore satisfaction you can get out of that as a founder, but that, that's,that's pretty much at the height of it. That's incredible. Next question isthere's obviously a bunch of no code platforms out there and, and a bunch ofcompanies building these, these amazing, robust.

how do you think about competition inregards to, what the other's building or what your consumer's building? Do youthink about, what other competitors are building or do you kind of focus onoptimizing your current users and, and getting the feedback from them on whatto build and what to build next?

And. Or, or are you pushing the visionpast that and beyond that? And then kind of following up, how do you kind ofthink about, competitors or, and, and the whole development process when, whenthinking about, no code is, is, is, it's not a complete red seed space, butit's, becoming more and more like that.

Arun: Absolutely. I thinkthe cool part about no code, and especially when we started was that it was asmall and nascent space. And now as you said, everybody's coming in building nocode tools, et cetera, but. Still. I think if you look at the biggestcompetition to no code, it's really one inertia. It's doing nothing.

It's, I have an idea, add too hard, Idon't do it. Two is hiring out hiring out offshore teams and things like that.And I think what's, what's, what's great about no-code tools is our, ourfavorite folks who come to us and start using us are actually people who havealready used no code tools.

And they say, Hey, I've already used nocode. I understand how it. But I don't have, the tools I've been using don'tsupport what Funk does, and I think Thunkable is really in a, in my mind we're,we're in a category of our own where if, if you want what we do we do it betterthan anybody else. But it is, it is this cross-platform, native mobile appdevelopment with the ability to publish the app stores and kind of live test asyou're building your apps plugging into your hardware, working offline, allthat stuff.

If you want that there, there's nobodybetter out there than we are. And, and so for us, we actually love a, a lot ofthe no-code tools out there because they, they really are, it, it is such a,it's such a huge space that we, we want you to build your, your website using ano-code tool and build your infrastructure and backend data.

Pipeline tools using no-code tools andbuild your front end of your mobile apps using, using the no-code tool likeThunkable. And so for us we, we find that the, that the competition actuallyhelps us more than hurts us in that if you find somebody in our, in the no-codespace and you've decided you like no-code, then when you need to do the thingsthat Thunkable does, because we do it better than anybody else, you'll end upcoming to us.

And so I think that's how I see the, thecompetition and especially folks who started in the early. It's a small, it's asmall groups of folks. Yeah. A lot of us know each other fairly well. Yeah. Andreally like, like, like, like each other's tools and we just support differentuse cases.

And, and, and I think to your pointthough, now it's becoming a really, really haunt space that a lot of companiesin, in the market that are doing really niche things. And I think for us it'sabout keeping , our mission of being the most robust and, and powerful. No codeplatform to build native mobile apps and continuing pushing the envelope onmaking sure we're, really dealing with bleeding edge, techno edge technologies.

And we are the most robust tool outthere. And I think as long as we are listening to our users what their needsare, and, and we are, and we are plugging that with kind of the most powerfuland exciting software out there and, and, and we're continually doing, We feelreally confident and excited about our long-term future.

Yeah. Amongst all of these other no-codetools that are working to solve just tremendous a tremendous number of problemsout there.  

Julian: Yeah, I love that. Andthinking about, your business model, I'm curious on how you've thought aboutthat and where you landed and was it always the same? From, from theconception, a lot of no-code platforms either do compute, power, and, kind ofthe more you, the more you use, the more expensive it becomes.

But, if you use less, obviously there'sa trade off or just having user seats or having acc access to the platformaltogether. How, how did you land? What's your current business model and, andhow did you come to land on that? And has it always been the same?  

Arun: Yeah, that's a greatquestion. Business models are always evolving for companies, for us.

You, we have kind of, two differentsides to the business. There's the, there's the more B2C side selling to theindividuals. Sure. People with ideas, founders like folks who are listening tous right now who say, I have an idea. I don't have a crazy amount of money, butI, I want to tinker with something.

I want to build, I want to buildquickly. And, and that's really, kind of our, our individual plans Yeah. Thatare focused on individuals with ideas and, and that and that that's kind of, wehave, our starter plan and kind of our, our more robust plans for, for more.Robust builders.

And that's really focused around the,the individual building experience. And so those plans are really focused on,one person comes in, has an idea, wants to go to conception, up to publishingan app in the app stores. And then we have our, our teams focused plan and thatand that. And those are, those are really focused on larger companies, peoplewith ideas, teams who are trying to work together.

Someone's designing the app, someoneelse is actually building the app on funk. And, and for them there's a lot ofcapabilities you think around. Yeah. Organization around organizations,collaboration administration of, of, of the product. Thinking about kind of theindividuals who, seats for individuals, building the apps as well as seats forindividuals using the app.

Especially if you're thinking aboutinternal tools. Right? And so kind of we have it split into kind of the toolsfor personal use and then the tools for kind of larger company use.

To free features for, for folks to comein and use the platform. As we built more robust, really professional features,we, we built out the individual plans. When it was really an individual playerexperience. And then we added on kind of the multi-player plans as we startedgrowing within organizations and recognizing that kind of, those, thosefeatures were needed, the more more robust security inversing and things likethat.

And, and so we've, I, I'd say our planshave, have stayed consistent over time, but the types of plans and the types ofthings that we offer have grown as our product has grown.  

Julian: Yeah, it's, it isincredible that to see kind of as the product grows, where, not only how, howpeople are using it, but where they're using it, and then how those differentindividuals maybe need certain features.

And, and I feel like that unlocks awhole different set of, I, I guess challenges, issues, whatever you may call'em as you grow there. But I, I, I know we're coming to the close of theepisode here, so I want to. Because I always love how founders extractknowledge and, and what they ingest and, and how they extract knowledge fromsome of the things that they ingest.

But whether it was early in your careeror now, what books or people have influenced you the most?

Arun: There are so many ofthem. And it's a, it's, it's a, it's a great question. I'll, I'll, I'll tellyou a few that I. Liked in terms of books and, and a few people who, who havebeen instrumental, I think in terms of books I've liked, I'd say early daysreading Andy Grove from Intel High Output Management, just on how to thinkabout building organizations and companies.

And it, it's just, it's, it's a, it'sjust a great, straightforward kind of thing through of that. I really like edKamal's book on how he built Pixar. I think that was just, great to hear thefounders story there and I really. I really enjoy I really enjoy that book. Andthen in terms of people, I think when I was When I was very fortunate to be atmit, I think that the, the advisors I had, there were just some of the mostincredible and foundational people in in, in, in, in, in the world oftechnology.

So worked with gentleman named HalAbelson who, who's, in, in many ways, the, the godfather of Open Chorus, one ofthe creators of the Creative Commons, the pre software foundation, et cetera.And so, and he thought a lot about how software gets built and kind of helpedme think a lot about how software gets built.

Mm-hmm. . Tim Burners Lee, one of the,the, the, the guy credited with created the worldwide web. He was another oneof our, our advisors in our lab. And, and kind of thinking about, okay, how didyou build the web? Right? Yeah. Like, what a fascinating concept to think of.And, and again, when I was talking about how kind of knew this stuff is like,it wasn't, it, it's not that long ago that, that he built it.

And so having, him there, to, to help itand mentor us, I think, a, a couple folks there that were just really importantand valuable. And then I think. Over the, the, the years I've had, I mean my,my co-founder way, he's he's, he's incredibly bright and incredibly good atchallenging me on the things I think about and has helped kind of shape mythought process and my thinking.

So those are, those are a few of the,just, just many, many, many folks out there who have just had an incredibleimpact on my, on my thinking and and how I I approach building software andbuilding companies.  

Julian: Amazing. Arun, it'sbeen such a pleasure chatting with you and I, I could ask you 10 if not ahundred more questions, not only with your experience, but your enthusiasm forno code and, and where kind of software and development and, and, and productsare being built and where it's going.

But obviously we have to close theepisode out. So last little bit here is, Where can the audience find you? Wherecan we, where can we be part of funk? Give us your websites, your LinkedIns,your Twitters. Give us all the plugs where not only we can support you as thefounder, but we can start playing with the, the product and the platform, andmaybe even start building something.

Arun: Awesome. Absolutely. Imean, step one, go to Start building today. T H U N K A B l e,Thunkable And, and you can log in, you can create an account, you can startbuilding. And that's, I think, where to be in terms of funk. You can findeverything. Thunkable is our handle everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

You go there, you'll find us. We'rewe're, we're on the internet. We're very findable. Myself, Arun, you can findme. My hanging handle is ak seigel everywhere. So you find, on Twitter, you'llfind AK seigel on, on on, on, on LinkedIn. You'll find me there. Connect withme, reach out. I, I love.

Working with and supportingentrepreneurs, founders, people with ideas who are looking to get to the nextstages. And, and Thunkable is, is often a tool in their toolkits. And so ifthere's a way Thunkable can help, a way, I can help, very very excited to doso.  

Julian: Amazing. Arun, it'sbeen such a pleasure chatting with you and not only learning from yourentrepreneurial journey early on, but also currently what you're working on atThunkable and who you're helping and who you're enabling.

So it's been such a pleasure. I hope youenjoyed yourself and thank you again for being on the show..  

Arun: Julian, it's my treeto be here. Thanks so much for having me, and excited to to do this againsometime.  

Julian: Of course.

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