Levon is a serial entrepreneur and the founder at Zeroqode.
Where did the idea for ImmuneCorps come from?
The idea of ImmuneCorps was Inspired by this tweet call from Angel List’s founder Naval Ravikant. Our team at Zeroqode joined efforts with the team behind Republic and we decided to build ImmuneCorps. The idea was to create a low-risk community of volunteers to help those who were high risk during the global pandemic. The team’s mantra at ImmuneCorps is that we can only fight this virus together. This inspired the building of an online village to protect those among us who are most at risk. ImmuneCorps’ end goal is to create a community of recovered COVID-19 sufferers who are willing to use their time and energy to help the most high-risk among us. However, until mass testing is widely available, ImmuneCorps wants to work with low-risk volunteers (young, no health issues, etc) and connect them with those high risk in society.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 4 am and work for 2 consecutive hours, mostly triaging through email, Slack messages as well as Asana notifications – all of this is basically low effort work which is ideal for the first hours after awakening. Then I do some exercise like stretching, jogging etc. If I’m with my kids I fix the breakfast for them and a coffee for myself (won’t have my first meal before 12 p.m with an 8-hour window for other meals). After that I try to do a 1-hour meditation session and then just relax reading through twitter and occasionally writing some tweets of my own. The rest of the day is basically alternating highly focused work with other activities (playing with kids, going out for a scooter ride or a walk, swimming etc.) I work for another 1-2 hours after kissing kids good night and before calling it a night for myself. About 1 year ago I reduced my sleep time to 6 hours and it turned out to be one of the best life hacks that improved my productivity and overall quality of life. This way I also feel more alert and present throughout the day and I now feel that I have all the time to accomplish a lot while also being able to rest, play and be on my own when I want to. However, I wouldn’t be able to achieve that without first going on fasts and changing my diet to vegan.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Whenever we have an idea that we want to implement my partner Vlad and I have a quick discussion. We identify the goals and priorities and decide if we want to invest our time and money in that. We don’t spend months of planning or writing up business plans, rather we follow the lean startup approach. We try to ship the MVP as soon as possible and then see where it takes us. Here at Zeroqode, we use no-code tools to launch our ideas in the quickest possible time. This was what enabled us to build ImmuneCorps so quickly.
Zeroqode’s volunteer team launched the platform within just a few days. Our no-code platform of choice is Bubble which is a very powerful and versatile platform that allows you to build virtually any kind of web application. We have built 100+ no-code templates for Bubble and whenever we want to launch an app quickly in most of the cases we have a template that is pretty close to our idea. That way we can tweak and ship the product in no time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
More and more people are choosing to become freelancers and engage in work that is location (and often employer) independent. In most of such cases they have a better work/life balance, they choose to do what they love, acquire better habits for eating, working out, relationships and seem to have much more freedom overall. All this leads to a healthier and happier life. Happy people make other people around them happier too, so I think society should support and motivate people to overcome their fears and take the risk of becoming self-employed
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
To understand how to be productive we should first understand why we are distracted and unable to focus. There is data and research showing that it boils down to our negative thoughts and suppressed (unprocessed) emotions. So any kind of effort directed at alleviating these causes would be tremendously helpful to boost productivity levels. I personally practice the following on a constant basis: 1. meditation, 2. bodywork with a therapist or by myself to find and work through the trigger points in my body that hold energy blocks 3. workouts, as well as stretching, etc. 4. going on long walks, spending a lot of time on my own surrounded by nature or near the ocean. Previously I’ve done various breath works, tantra and cathartic therapies to release emotions and negative thought-forms as well as meditation and mindfulness retreats to become more aware of what’s happening in the deeper levels of the conscious and subconscious mind. Recently I actually wrote an article about productivity hacks, you can read it on the Zeroqode blog.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Instead of focusing on how to make money, focus on how to help the society. The former is selfish, the latter is selfless, however it doesn’t have to be purely philanthropic. If you contribute to society and bring value then that will be always rewarded respectively.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Conventional wisdom is not wise at all. If it was the case the majority of humanity wouldn’t be suffering. If you really want to find the truth you should go seeking it for yourself.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make sure you have a great team where everyone is happy doing their part while communications and interactions among the team members happen easily with little to no friction. Almost everything can be delegated to others, and unless you do that, you won’t be able to scale.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Bootstrapping, we have bootstrapped Zeroqode from 2 to 35 employers in 4 years. Bootstrapping was an effective way to satisfy our hunger for doing business the right way. It pushed us to come up with quick and innovative ways to be as efficient as possible. We hired only as many people as needed to stay profitable throughout all the years since the inception of the company. Instead of spending mindlessly on paid ads, we were experimenting with highly effective guerilla marketing strategies which did pay off! For example, building side projects and launching them on platforms like Product Hunt, Designer news, etc. Another example is that we’ve built this super simple page to send whatsapp messages without saving the phone number to the contact list. It took us literally a few hours, and we hunted it on Product Hunt. Not only it generated quite some traction from there but it is also one of the highest organic traffic generators today! Also, having no outside financing pushed us to find the most efficient ways to build products for our clients so that we could save their budgets and at the same time maximising our profits. So instead of following the regular route of hiring web designers, front-end developers, back-end developers, etc. we hired web designers and trained them on how to build designs plus functionality using Bubble no-code platform. This way one person alone can achieve in a few weeks that which is normally accomplished by a team of 5-6 people in 3-6 months.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Before starting Zeroqode I decided to build a meditation app. It was called Zenify and I spent $50K of my own money and 1 and half years building it in a traditional way, hiring one team first then switching to another. I’ve gone through so much frustration working with development teams that seemed to always be behind the deadlines. The bugs were endless and kept popping up even after many iterations. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out that most of the entrepreneurs who are new to the internet businesses field are having the same experience. The app didn’t take off and I sold it a year ago for a fraction of the investment I poured into it. However on the flip side, while working on that app I gained so much insight and understanding about how to build UI/UX, how to position products and promote them online.
While working on Zenify I stumbled upon Bubble which led me to start Zeroqode. And having gone through that frustration and pain of dealing with the conventional development processes, we now make sure our clients have much better experiences when they want to build a web or mobile app. So looking backward I don’t regret the time and money that I’ve spent on that project at all. Those who watched Steve Jobs’ graduation speech at Stanford University might remember his words when he was saying that most often it’s impossible to connect the dots looking forward, but you can connect them looking backward. So now I see the experience as utterly positive and necessary for my following success at Zeroqode.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start a no-code web development agency. With the recent pandemic outbreak, we see that more and more businesses and services are moving online and that creates a tremendous surge in demand for web development services. With no-code technology the barrier to enter the market has been reduced drastically, moreover, we have a program for aspiring entrepreneurs to help them start and run their web dev shops with minimum investments and in very little time. And with 100+ no-code templates that we had built, client apps won’t have to be built from scratch but rather tweaking and customising one of the existing starter packs without code.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a Lego Education set that comes with engines, battery packs, various moving parts, remote controls, etc – this is an incredibly fascinating activity that I love to do with my 5 y.o twins. It allows us to experiment with mechanical engineering, understand how electricity works and overall boost creativity levels – not only for my kids but for me too! Our brains are wired to switch activity, that way they are more efficient – and I love to switch to this!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Asana project management tool – it helps us track all of our projects and tasks, collaborate on them with the team as well as see where everyone is up to.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
If I may recommend a digital content rather than a book that would be AngelList Founder Naval Ravikant’s podcast.
What is your favorite quote?
Justice is what is right now – this quote may seem very simple and perhaps somewhat naive, but on a more profound level it carries so much meaning. It says that nothing happens without a reason, that everything is in equilibrium and whatever we experience in life is right. It brings so much peace and tranquility with it.
- Failures always lead to successes, but only if you don’t give up
- Whatever happens in life is right, even when it doesn’t look so
- Less sleep + more exercise and meditation + right diet + alternating activities = outstanding productivity
- Almost everything can be delegated to others and unless you do that, you won’t be able to scale.
- If you are not happy where you are – don’t be afraid to trust yourself and change your life
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.