Learning to Low-Code With a Purpose | SAP Community Expert Interview with Lola Ojabowale
|The SAP Community Expert Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from industry experts and leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, processes, and technology.|
What triggers us to learn and take our professional and personal experiences to the next level?
Some call it determination; others call it persistence; while others see it as a dose of resilience __
and many call it a combination of all three.
Consistently doing what is needed to succeed, with total focus and resolve, can be extremely difficult.
Many lessons learned come from facing challenges or hardships.
Whether from reflecting on overcoming health issues, downswings, heartbreaks, or failures that one goes through, each experience can help an individual or team grow.
These setbacks, and learning from them, become stepping-stones to new achievements, leadership, and helping one get to the “next level.”
For Lola Ojabowale, Low-Code/No-Code (LCNC) expert, Founder of Lunch Pail Labs, Dartmouth alumni, and high-energy problem solver, she loves to build LCNC apps and work with cross-functional teams to drive business impact.
What was one of the tipping points for her to take LCNC to the next level? When a very close family member was diagnosed with cancer, she made a commitment to learn LCNC to deliver her first product around a plant-based meal-planning app inspired from supporting the family member, helping others, and sharing the culinary legacies of people of color.
During this journey, she used a full range of skills and experience with a central drive based on determination, persistence, and resilience to create an app which provides value and tangible impact.
It was great to connect with Lola from her home office in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area.
Stephanie De Camara Marley (SM): Hi Lola! You may be aware that your alma mater, Dartmouth College, had two professors who invented the BASIC language 50+ years ago. A pretty cool fact! Given this history and your studies in math, economics, and engineering, did you get introduced to Low-Code/No-Code (LCNC) while attending Dartmouth? Or did LCNC catch your interest later on? How did you get started in this space?
Lola Ojabowale (LO): That’s a super neat fact! I didn’t know that.
My interest in Low-Code / No-Code (LCNC) came several years after college. Post-college, I went to work for an industrial supply company, and the company paid for any classes I wanted to take, so I took a ton of design and user experience (UX) classes and got involved in Atlanta’s startup ecosystem.
I loved attending hackathons where I got to contribute to prototyping ideas but still didn’t get to turn them into functional software.
And then, I had my very first idea for a product which was a plant-based meal-planning app following my dad’s cancer diagnosis. I was fully committed to learning how to code to build it and joined an iOS development program. In the middle of that experience, I went to an indie hacker meetup, where I met someone who introduced me to the world of no-code, and that’s where it all began!
SM: Congratulations! You won the “The No Codebase Award” for pushing the boundaries of building apps without code. What was the use case (or proof of concept) for your winning entry?
LO: The award happened because of a nomination by a client! I had worked with a consulting firm that was turning their experience into a SaaS. With the help of no-code and some integrations, we built out an early version that was entirely on a third party application. They came across the opportunity and decided to nominate me and Lunch Pail Labs, which was very kind!
SM: As an entrepreneur and founder of “Lunch Pail Labs,” a digital product studio, you focus on “building all sorts of things for clients with the help of no and low-code tools.” In your work with organizations such as Chord and Refolo, what’s an example of what you learned to help deliver successful outcomes?
LO: Chord, which address drop-in audio, and Refolo, for plant based meals, were all internal projects. On the client side, I’ve worked with consultancies like Intro all the way to venture-backed startups like Daily.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned after dozens of client engagements is that quality relationships help projects go smoothly, and consistent communication and transparency are big pieces of achieving successful outcomes. Luckily, no-code makes a lot of that easy.
Several no-code tools enable custom dashboards so clients can get the information they need about the status of things at any time. I also use no-code for operational triggers, summarizing meetings, and some automated communications. When starting a project and during it, I’ve found the more I don’t assume and keep communications consistent, the better teaming towards the requirements and end-goal.
SM: Wow! You created a wonderful site called the Integrations Directory which helps extend LCNC apps. What motivated you to develop this platform? How does it save users time?
LO: It was born out of my experience building apps for clients. One of the cool things about LCNC apps is that they are often extendable, so even if the platform itself does not have a particular functionality with the right API or integration, you can add that functionality.
And in my experience with projects, one of the early parts of a scoping process is figuring out what integrations you might combine to achieve that first build, so I started organizing that research to save myself time on future projects and decided to share it publicly.
The primary time saving mechanism is the time saved researching and testing integrations. With the directory, users can find an integration for their no-code tool that has been reviewed by another person without having to ask Twitter, Slack or do their own research.
SM: Very impressed with your podcast series, Lunch Pail Daily, including episode #346.
It’s very down to earth and informative. What are a few key topics you plan to cover going forward?
LO: I’m a big fan of the build-in-public movement, and even before focusing on Lunch Pail Labs full-time, I was inspired by HAWRAF’s transparency and the indie hacker movement. It was too cool to see entrepreneurs building a life and a business around what they enjoy, and the radical transparency that some owners did so.
I knew that whatever I ended up starting, I wanted to embody some of that transparency, which led to Lunch Pail Daily.
I hope that Lunch Pail Daily can be an asset that folks can reference in the future about bootstrapping their studio or solo business and can provide some shared motivation.
In terms of topics, I’m looking to continue to cover the journey as openly as possible, including what it’s like running a solo business, scaling a solo business, growing products, different revenue streams, etc.
SM: Given the projections by industry analysts that LCNC will continue to have explosive growth over the next few years, what trends are you keeping an eye on? What will help drive adoption with non-programmers?
LO: I’m bullish on platforms that let no-code and code coexist in the same environments. This is especially useful when building consumer-facing products with no-code. Some newer tools enable users to translate a visual interface into code and easily extend with code. That will help more businesses feel confident starting with no-code.
As far as adoption with non-programmers, I think a common misconception with no-code is that it’s no effort. There’s still business logic, design, and user experience, and platforms that make it easier for users to go from 0 – 1 across all of those fronts which will make it more accessible for anyone to build functional software without code.
What is next?