Simple.Ink is a fast Notion website builder. Its co-founder Ch Daniel shares his love of the No-Code movement, his top marketing and distribution tips. and why a sense community fuels his passion for new projects. We also discuss what’s next for Simple.Ink, as he looks to take on more established website builders and empower a new wave of online creators.
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Hi Ch Daniel. Please introduce yourself and your professional background?
Hi, guys. My name is Ch Daniel. I am the co-founder of legitcheck.app (an authentication company for luxury items) and Simple.Ink (a No-Code website builder). You could say I’m a serial maker.
I’m a young founder and I’m trying my best every day. I’m 24, and my brother is 18. We’ve been working together for a few years and we like to do our best when it comes to No-Code, building in public, SaaS, running a bootstrap business. We’ve made six digits last year solely from No-Code tools and eventually, we’ve left that behind but here we are.
"We've made six digits last year solely from No-Code tools and eventually we've left that behind but here we are."- Ch Daniel, Simple.Ink
How would you describe Simple.Ink to somebody who hasn’t heard of you or Notion before?
Simple.Ink is a Notion website builder.
We build websites via a super fast, simple and beautiful process through Notion pages.
Notion is pretty much a note-taking up. It’s very flexible but at the same time, very simple.
Another trait of Notion is the fact that it’s really, really hard to make a page look bad or ugly. Therefore, given all these ingredients, people really, really love building websites with Notion.
So, with Simple.Ink and via Notion’s note-taking app, they can edit the content of their beautiful website.
It’s an alternative to Wix, Squarespace, and so on, but we think is part of this next generation; next wave so to speak of No-Code tools, which aimed and optimized for simplicity. Obviously, it’s in our name too.
So, in summary, Simple.Ink is a website builder that people love to use to create beautiful, fast and zero-headache websites.
How did the idea come about?
So, I’m looking at the No-Code space and noticed the fact that everybody seems to be going in this direction where No-Code tools are developed to mimic every single thing that code can do.
That’s absolutely fine and I love it. It’s definitely the correct direction but we believe something else has gotten lost. And that is optimizing No-Code for simplicity, for stress-free, for fast iteration, etc. To do new and different things.
I know people who can code who also love to use No-Code tools, but when it comes to replicating complex things, they’re going to use their coding skills. We hope to change that.
"I know people who can code who also love to use No-Code tools, but when it comes to replicating complex things, they're going to use their coding skills. We hope to change that."- Ch Daniel, Simple.Ink
What are some of the most interesting or creative uses of Simple.Ink you’ve seen?
This will be biased because I think communities are super interesting and creative, and no two communities are the same. We had a website for a community of French people who own the classic Mini car, the old ones. If you ever watch Mr. Bean, you will know the old British Mini. So, that was super interesting and creative. But for me, obviously, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so that’s what was interesting to me.
You’re a huge advocate of the No-Code movement. Can you explain how and why you got so into it?
Oh, one of my favorite topics to discuss.
There’s a quote that I love that I think describes why it’s so important to me…
It goes something like “Maybe the person who could cure cancer was already born, but they were just born in the wrong place – in a third world country. So, they just couldn’t grow up to manifest their cure to cancer.”
I think it’s exactly the same way, maybe a bit less life-changing that I view creativity.
If you look back at history, every single time, we lower the threshold of putting something out in the world more useful, beautiful, life-changing, life-improving stuff comes out. So, the No-Code movement, I think, is part of that.
The No-Code movement is this important step in lowering the barriers to creating, so more stuff is going to come out.
Think about all the companies, all the communities, the podcast, features, the one-off projects, and all the artists. Think of all of this unmanifested potential that is just not put out into the world because the threshold is too high.
And, you know, maybe somebody has to work two jobs, three jobs, one job, maybe has no job, whatever. Maybe their life situation doesn’t allow it. But instead of three hours, you need to spend only one hour, I think that opens up the gate for way more creation to be put into the world and ultimately, humans probably are here on this planet to create amongst other things.
"With Simple.Ink, instead of three hours, you need to spend only one hour, I think that opens up the gate for way more creation to be put into the world."- Ch Daniel, Simple.Ink
Where do you think No-Code will be in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully, we’ll leave it behind. Hopefully, No-Code will not be called “No-Code” anymore and it would just be something that we’re so used to that it’s just part of what we’re doing or part of what we’re offering, part of how we’re building.
We have countless examples in history of the internet, or of computers. To pick a random one: voice over IP. Yeah, sure, people still use it, but it’s pretty much jargon at this point. But because we’re so used to it now with WhatsApp, all the messengers, Zoom, Skype, etc, people just don’t have the notion of VoIP. That means it’s so ubiquitous, that it’s part of what we do everyday. Hopefully, No-Code will be exactly like that.
"Hopefully, No-Code will not be called "No-Code" anymore and it would just be something that we're so used to that it's just part of what we're doing or part of what we're offering, part of how we're building."- Ch Daniel, Simple.Ink
You’ve got a very generous free plan. What are the main benefits of upgrading?
At the moment the main features are custom domains, advanced SEO, and soon unlimited everything.
It’s lined up with what I said about the threshold of creation.
We’re giving away a very generous premium plan for those who want to create. If there’s any commercial benefit mission in what you’re doing, you’re probably going to need these features. You’re not going to get your wrist slapped if you just want to grow without having any commercial mission.
Very soon one of the main benefits of upgrading would be, in a word, ‘unlimited.’ We think many people are going to love it. Go check it out.
You often say "better distribution can beat a better product” - what’s been your biggest marketing wins for Simple.Ink?
Usually, distribution is a very slow process.
I mean, you can go viral, but that’s not really distribution. So, although it is a nice marketing win, and it’s a nice headline, that’s not really what I call distribution.
I have a very boring answer here, which is the biggest marketing win is the bit-by-bit that we’re doing every day. Brick-by-brick, layer-by-layer that we’re putting on to this distribution that we’re building. That’s the point of distribution. That’s why so many people are not really attracted to it. There’s nothing fantastically fancy about it. It’s kind of like going to the gym.
So, I like to think of it as not just one day or tactic.
Sure, you might feel a bit better one day but there isn’t one day where you’re fantastically elated.
But let me tell you something that nobody tells you, it isn’t all that glamorous because if you mess it up with that product, you launch to an already sloppy distribution, you’re going to be 10x more fucked. So, there you go. Nothing is fantastically outlier on this planet. It’s all balanced sooner or later.
If I have to say something it’s we’ve been number one “Product of the day” on Product Hunt twice actually.
And related to that, you and I originally got in touch through helpukraine.simple.ink, a website we’ve made with resources for the Ukrainian people. That wasn’t really a marketing play but it became, so to speak, a marketing win in a sense that we’ve seen many more Ukrainian people, and not only Ukrainian people but many more people getting a paid plan of Simple.Ink.
If none of that would have happened, it would’ve still been perfectly fine because it wasn’t meant to be a marketing play. It was doing good that ended up having a side effect.
What’s been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned with Simple.Ink?
I would say the biggest lesson is how many times you can throw stuff at the wall for it to stick.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a really big companies, small company, funded or not funded, one person team or a million person team.
Simple.Ink reminded me of that because it’s somethine we started from zero once again. You can launch many products for the same product. You can even launch an article multiple times by the way, so I went out with that philosophy and kept shipping.
How does this compare to your other previous projects?
Oh, beautiful! It keeps getting better and better.
I also don’t hear anybody else talking about this.
With every project you make, every company, every song I guess if you’re a singer, every painting, it gets better and better because you have your compounded set of experiences.
In terms of comparing, it feels like everything we’ve accrued we can pour into this. It has interesting potential. It’s not fantastically big I would say, but maybe we can come back in a few years and laugh about the fact I said it has potential. Maybe it has or it hasn’t, we’ll see.
It’s a different beast to anything we’ve done before. It’s pure SaaS. It’s a website builder that has completely unique features that other companies don’t have and we’re just learning as we go really.
You run r/SaaS on Reddit - can you explain what it is and what you and others get out of being part of the community?
I’d say it’s a sense of community.
Members get resources, help, conversations, discussions, connections, etc. Anything you would get in a community. They get this filtration service so to speak, which is crowdsourced. If you’re going to Reddit, people can upvote or downvote your post. The best always rises to the top.
What do I get out of it? I get a sense of doing my part in this mission I believe in, which is that software as a service (SaaS) is a fairer business model. It’s a better positive sum game than what we had before.
I also have a sense of duty and community. I just love it. It’s really close to my heart.
"What do I get out of it? I get a sense of doing my part in this mission I believe in, which is that software as a service (SaaS) is a fairer business model. It's a better positive sum game than what we had before."- Ch Daniel, Simple.Ink
What’s next for Simple.Ink in 2022?
More product and more distribution.
Definitely more simplicity too. We will never get as complex as any other website builder. Greater simplicity sounds like less stuff, but it’s actually less stuff that’s more powerful. That is really our aim.
Apart from Notion, can you name 3 marketing tools you love?
Number one should be Webflow, another No-Code way to way to design and build websites visually.
Number three is built by another friend, Sabba Keynejad: VEED.IO. A really easy way to make videos. He’s @sab8a on Twitter.
Whilst two of those are made by friends, I genuinely love using those tools!
And finally, you recently landed your platform and audience to support the Ukrainian people. Can you tell us about that?
We were looking to put together a mega list of resources for the Ukrainian people because we kept seeing a list here, a list there, a list there. And I just looked at it I said “Ah, shit. I wish we could somehow intersect them all so we can have a mega list.” So, helpukraine.simple.ink was born.
We’ve also made the page interactive. So people can submit a suggestion (e.g. a link) and it instantly gets added there. We keep monitoring it and still do to remove any spam or anything like that. But that was our solution to find only the best and most impactful ways to support the Ukrainian people.
In this nightmare of a situation, you really need every single thing you can get.
Obviously, we made it with Simple.Ink because it’s the website builder we know how to use best.