In April 2021, India started seeing an explosion of COVID-19 cases.
The Delta variant was infecting hundreds of thousands of people every day, with deaths numbering in the thousands. The country’s healthcare system — one of the poorest in the world — collapsed under the strain, and patients were left without access to critical resources like hospital beds and oxygen.
For Vensy Krishna, a lawyer-turned-tech-educator, it was impossible to stand by and watch her community suffer. Using her skills in no-code development, she built a simple app to connect people in need with medicine, food, and other lifesaving resources. In a matter of days, Vensy’s app garnered international attention and hundreds of thousands of visitors.
During No-Code Conf 2021, Vensy shared her story about how the no-code app she launched in a few hours ended up helping thousands of people — mobilizing a hundred volunteers, and garnering recognition from the United Nations. Watch Vensy’s full talk for more details, or read on for key takeaways about how she harnessed no-code principles to make a big impact during a time of crisis.
How no-code tools transformed a Google sheet into a viral app — in just 2 hours
Vensy knew firsthand how COVID-19 was wreaking havoc in her city, Hyderabad. Her mother had fallen ill with the virus, and since the healthcare system was overwhelmed, Vensy struggled to find where hospital beds or medical care might be available. While her mom ended up recovering at home, Vensy had seen friends on social media share Google sheets that listed information about care providers, medicine, and other resources. Vensy remembered coming across a no-code tool that created apps using just Google sheets, and decided to see what she could do.
“I knew that users needed an app that would categorize data, offer communication options, and update in real time,” Vensy said. “So I duplicated a Google sheet, cleaned up the data, and connected it to Glide, a no-code platform. From idea to launch, the first version of the app only took two hours to build.”
After buying a domain and setting up an analytics tracker, Vensy launched the first version of the app, Hyd COVID Resources. Her hunch about the overwhelming need for this kind of information was right — within a few hours, the app had over 10,000 users. By day three, once media coverage started driving awareness, traffic spiked to over 5,000 users per second.
Scaling the app — and a remote team — with no-code tools
Still relying on no-code tools, Vensy worked on ensuring that the app, as well as her growing team of non-technical volunteers, could scale to handle the demand.
When Vensy looked at her dashboards and saw the number of users accessing her app, she was initially worried that it might break. But the no-code platform handled the traffic and functionality without issue.
“It was terrifying to know that so many people were relying on a solution that I built during a national emergency, but I was also grateful to have the tools to jump into action at a time of need for my community,” said Vensy. “To the naysayers who doubt no-code’s ability to scale, I say this: no-code is powerful if you just give it a chance.”
Scaling a remote team
Ultimately, the app couldn’t rely on a Google sheet alone to provide current information to its users. A growing number of volunteers joined Vensy’s team to verify, clean, and update the data within the app.
Vensy set up no-code tools to handle volunteer onboarding and education: collecting applications through Google Forms, screening applicants with Airtable automations, and using Notion to coordinate training and documentation. Team members adopted these no-code platforms and practices to keep everything working smoothly, without requiring any group meetings or Zoom calls — even as the team grew from three to over 100 volunteers.
“Teams working with no-code are independent and fast,” said Vensy. “They’re empowered to identify problems and solve them. I could train my team quickly to take ownership of different parts of the app. I had a non-technical team, but each of them added their own important perspectives to all the work that we were doing.”
Empowering communities with no-code principles
Vensy believes the no-code movement has huge potential to empower communities to find swift solutions to immediate needs — just as her team was able to do with Hyd COVID Resources. It comes down to three key principles: the importance of documentation, building in public, and teaching no-code as a skill.
Importance of documentation
With no-code tools, teams are able to solve problems on their own, without waiting for a developer to come and assist them.
“At the heart of this idea is a culture of extensive documentation,” Vensy said. “My motto was simple: document everything that’s done more than twice so it saves time later. In our Notion headquarters, everything that we worked on was documented and recorded for new recruits to learn from and to avoid our previous mistakes.”
Culture of building in public
Empowering communities through no-code takes internal documentation a step further — creating a culture of building in public.
“This means openly sharing your knowledge and lessons with the world at large,” said Vensy. “This empowers community leaders to come out and actually build solutions on their own. While building in public, you’re also showing…how others can follow your example. It encourages community-level solutions for global problems. ”
Teaching no-code as a skill
Vensy’s app was all about connecting local residents in Hyderabad with available resources. As it grew to be incredibly popular, other community leaders reached out, asking her team to scale the app and include their cities.
“But I knew the best way to help was by empowering leaders to step up for their communities,” said Vensy. “So I responded by sharing all my documentation and templates for free, and hosted a free training class for people all over the country. After my workshop, hundreds of people responded in their communities by building apps to serve the people, using no-code.”
Why no-code was the right choice to help India
For Vensy and her team, no-code tools were the ideal way to quickly provide access to information through an app — while democratizing the ability to build and maintain that app. “Building with no-code is affordable, accelerated, and accessible,” Vensy said. “Scaling with no-code makes it easy to build an impactful product and a diverse team. And empowering people with no-code is the most powerful way I know to change the world.”
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