You were able to single-handedly build your product using Bubble. But will investors understand?
The question of how investors will react to your product being built on Bubble is one that’s on a lot of Bubblers’ minds. If you're anything like me, you think Bubble is the greatest thing since sliced bread since it's enabled us (people who don't code) to build technology companies on top of it. But most investors are in the business of pattern-recognition (finding companies that look like other companies that have succeeded) and they will not recognize the pattern of building on Bubble instead of code, until that pattern becomes more commonplace.
Bubble - why or why not?
Before focusing on what to tell investors, let’s talk about what Bubble is actually good and not good for.
What is Bubble really good for:
- Launching - you can get the first version of your product out of the door very quickly.
- Iterating - you can (also very quickly) iterate to find product/market fit based on customer feedback.
- Self-reliance - you don’t have to be dependent on coders because there aren't that many of them and they are expensive.
What Bubble is (currently) not good for:
- Native - you can’t build fully native mobile apps (but the Bubble API means that you can plug those in).
- Scaling development errors - there are no multiple dev environments, staging, merges, etc. (I'm sure that those are on the roadmap).
- (?) Scaling users - I haven't yet seen Bubble handle hundreds of thousands or millions of daily users (I’m sure that this will no longer a concern in a couple years).
The above pros/cons suggest that, at this point, a Fortune 100 corporation probably shouldn't build a major part of their technology on Bubble (although they may want to use it to test out ideas). But they also suggest that Bubble can be very valuable at the early stages of a company, when moving fast is imperative.
What to say to investors
You’ll move quicker than your competition
The good news is that if you're talking to early-stage professional investors (vs friends/family) you're usually talking to angels and micro-VCs who, on average, are quite risk-tolerant. They have to be in order to be in the seed-stage investing game, where most startups fail and only a few drastically increase in value. Thus, they are able to tolerate technology risk for the ability to "move fast and break things", the idea that you should adapt to the market quicker than others, even at the cost of imperfect tech in the beginning. Thus, I would really emphasize your speed advantage, how you'll be able to listen to your customers and change your product in a few hours/days instead of weeks/months
You are not married to Bubble
I would be honest about both the benefits and costs of Bubble but would also frame it as "I'm using Bubble to get to the next stage of product-market fit and more money, at which point I'll get more conventional with my development, in order to scale". That usually makes sense to potential investors and you can also talk about how Bubble isn't a closed system to ease their minds:
- Bubble's API lets you get data out at any time, which means that you can move your data to a different platform when ready
- The API also lets you plug external services into the core application, so you can extend Bubble's functionality with more conventional services
You need the money to sell and grow
Investors will inevitably ask what you plan to do with the money you raise and you have to make sure that your answer makes sense to them. So, if you say “I want money to focus on technical/product stuff", they are probably going to expect you to hire a big team of engineers. But if your answer is “I want to focus on sales/growth”, you can pitch Bubble as a reason you don't need to invest as much in product.
What actually happens
And then, besides the question of what to tell the investors, there is a related but different one of what actually happens in reality, once a company grows and raises money. Here are the scenarios we've seen:
- Company starts on Bubble, planning to only use it for an MVP but ends up staying on it. In the process they figure out that Bubble gives them a massive speed/cost advantage, which means they can hit profitability quicker, and they don't end up raising money (or end up raising less money).
- Company starts on Bubble for their early prototype but then migrates away to conventional development once they raise $xM. Reasons are: a) functionality constraints b) wanting to be self-reliant and not dependent on a company like ours for a critical piece of their product (there isn’t a mature Bubble developer labor market yet) and c) fear of approaching technology differently than almost every other startup out there.
- Company starts on Bubble, raises $xM, hires engineers in order to migrate away from Bubble but doesn’t end up doing so fully. In the process of migration two things happen: a) it takes a lot more effort to rebuild everything that they thought it would and b) the sales team is used to hearing about a desired feature from a potential customer, having tech implement it in a few days, and then closing that customer. This is no longer feasible with conventional development, which makes both sales and management upset. In that case Bubble can remain an integral part of the stack but other code-based systems get integrated with it, so that the company gets some of the speed advantages of Bubble without the entire tech infrastructure relying on this awesome but still very young startup.
It can be appealing to make decisions with investors in mind - what will they care about? Will they understand Bubble? Will I scare them off? Bottom line is - investors want to make money. To make money, they invest in companies that are either growing quickly or have the promise of growing quickly. Focusing on making decisions that will enable you to grow quickly is much more important than focusing on investors, who will ignore all of the technical "flaws" of your platform when faced with a prospect of investing in a rapidly scaling startup.
For more insights from the AirDev team, check out our blog. AirDev’s mission is to make custom software accessible to everyone. We offer fixed prices & timelines, money-back guarantees, and unparalleled speed and flexibility — all with the aim of bringing great ideas to life.