Vlad Magdalin — The 15 Year Journey To Building Webflow and Creating the NoCode Category
“A lot of human fulfillment comes from belonging and purpose and connection, and things that can’t be quantified or bought with money.” –Vlad Magdalin Welcome to the Conscious Creators Show; where through intimate and insightful interviews with authors, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs and other podcasters, you'll learn tools and tactics to 10x your creativity and strategies to grow and monetize your audience. Vlad Magdalin is the founder and CEO of Webflow, a company that is working on empowering designers and entrepreneurs to design, build, and launch websites and applications without having to learn how to code. In a past life, he studied to become a 3D animator with dreams of working at Pixar, but happened to fall in love with the power of programming for the web midway through art school. Most days, you can find him on Twitter yelling into the cloud about how NoCode is going to change the world. At home, he’s outnumbered by two unstoppable daughters and an amazing wife, who constantly remind him that there's so much more to life than growing the business bottom line. In today’s episode of the Conscious Creator podcast, Vlad Magdalin, co-founder and CEO of Webflow, speaks with host Sachit Gupta about his experience slowly building Webflow over more than a decade. Listen to find out what was driving Vlad to stay dedicated to his idea while overcoming obstacle after obstacle. Learn how Vlad’s experience as an immigrant has impacted his worldview, how he has evolved through the long journey of launching Webflow, and more. Episode Highlights: Vlad immigrated to the US from Russia with his family when he was 9 years old. Vlad began learning simple graphic design techniques while helping his dad with a Russian Yellowpages business that began for the Russian immigrant community in Sacramento. He learned self-reliance during his teenage years, helping his parents with odd jobs. Vlad was never interested in the tedious, science and math driven aspects of computer science, but loved the creativity and possibilities of what you could create. Vlad had the idea for Webflow when he was in college, bought the domain with his father’s help, and began furiously coding. Webflow fell to the wayside when he got married, but after a while working at Intuit, Vlad picked the project back up. While at Intuit, Vlad developed an application called Brainstorm that was used internally within the company, and an executive at the company wanted him to develop it and work on it full-time as his job. Vlad tried a third time to develop and launch Webflow, but then his wife got pregnant. Very suddenly and unexpectedly, Vlad received an envelope approving his trademark for Webflow, five years after his application had been rejected, presumably because the previous trademark holder had let it expire. Creating more complex applications that don’t require code to build won’t work others out of a job, it will just free them up to be able to work on more interesting problems. The user experience is more interesting and complex than the architecture of application programming, and it is that complex problem that will probably always require human work. Vlad doesn’t recommend taking the risks he took because just because it worked out for him, it doesn’t work out for most of the people who try what he tried. It wasn’t until the first month where Webflow’s income equalled its expenses that Vlad felt they were here to stay. They pursued profitability earlier than most VC startups because they had such a hard time getting funding. Vlad hopes to always focus on the people and the team at Webflow rather than giving into purely capitalistic impulses. Just because someone finds value through using Webflow does not mean that anyone else who might have built an application is losing out on anything. 3 Key Takeaways: Having autonomy and support at his job with Intuit helped propel Vlad towards making Webflow successful. Making technology more accessible does not put anyone out of a job, but actually creates more opportunity for more people. The human impact of your work and the team you work with is the most important thing. Tweetable Quotes: “Seeing something that can be better and realizing that it’s possible, just having that unlock in your mind, just makes it so obvious that it should be a thing.” –Vlad Magdalin “Knowing how I’m doing this work and charting a path in my head for how I would create a more visual, a more natural abstraction for that same work, it just made me believe that it had to become real.” –Vlad Magdalin “There was an assumption that empowering more people to create software visually will work programmers out of a job. That’s not true at all. It’s the same assumption that was made when spreadsheets were becoming a thing.” –Vlad Magdalin “I was starting to see that every milestone feels less and less certain.” –Vlad Magdalin “To attract the best people, to make sure that they do their best work, you have to give them autonomy, you have to give them a chance to master their crafts, and there has to be a shared sense of purpose about why that work is important.” –Vlad Magdalin “A lot of human fulfillment comes from belonging and purpose and connection, and things that can’t be quantified or bought with money.” –Vlad Magdalin Resources Mentioned: Webflow Vlad Magdalin Twitter Bret Victor’s Worrydream Vlad on the Twenty Minute VC with Harry Stebbings Actions: Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app and let us know what you think by leaving a rating and a review. Thank our guest and let them know what you thought of today’s episode — send Jane a message on Instagram! 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Duration: 1 hr 13 min