Light flow exploration without code

  To say that the hottest track in the field of enterprise services in the past two years, low-code is definitely one.
  In 2021, under Alibaba Cloud’s “Cloud Nail Integration” strategy, Dingding proposed a “low-code revolution”. The high-profile actions of the big manufacturers have given the market a lot of room for imagination. A large number of players run into the market and frequently receive financing.
  Hot and controversial. Some people say it “makes programmers unemployed”, some people think it’s “just a toy not a tool”, some people think it can do everything, some people think it can’t be.
  In any case, a group of local low-code manufacturers are rising at an extremely fast rate.
  In 2015, a group of students from Shanghai Jiaotong University teamed up to start a business and established a company called Qingliu, which positioned itself as a no-code development platform, that is, without the need for code development capabilities, to create a customized management system like building blocks to realize the digitization of multiple business scenarios. manage.
  For example, under the counterattack of the epidemic, Qingliu assisted the digitization of community group purchases and improved the efficiency of material supply.
  Community volunteers generally use group solitaire and a small program to place orders, which are not easy for the elderly to operate, the secondary verification process is cumbersome, the process is opaque, and the supervision is insufficient. To ensure efficiency and safety, it is necessary to streamline and standardize group purchases, and at the same time, a tool that can handle multiple nodes and multiple roles is urgently needed.
  In mid-April, Qingliu employees tested the pilot of the open community group purchase online system. With the help of Qingliu technical engineers, the volunteer team quickly built a suitable community group purchase system within a week through simple operation methods such as dragging and pulling to ensure that the head of the group , volunteers, neighborhood committees information exchange, tripartite collaboration, approval and implementation, review data, analysis and decision-making.
  There are countless scenarios, industries and platform solutions to improve efficiency. In 7 years, the company has obtained 6 rounds of financing, and completed the B round of nearly 100 million yuan in the second half of last year. Behind it stood Tencent, Qiming Venture Capital, Source Code and other star investment institutions. In recent years, it has maintained a 3-4 times revenue growth rate .
  In this new track, Qingliu’s qualifications look quite old, but the founding team is younger than expected. Bo Zhiyuan, the founder and CEO, is born in the 1990s, but Qingliu is his second venture.

  Low-code/no-code, what exactly is it?
  Simply put, it is a lightweight development mode, which requires no or only a small amount of code development, and can quickly complete the system construction by dragging and dropping the graphical code that has formed a module, which is suitable for developers of different experience levels.
  On top of the low-code format, the no-code approach is more thorough, fully investing in a lightweight and graphical construction method, eliminating complex texts and operations, and expanding the applicable crowd to business managers.
  Low-code technology existed as early as 2000, but it was not until around 2014 that it began to emerge at home and abroad. In recent years, it has exploded because the digital needs of enterprises are too many and too complex, and the output gap of application development is large.
  Reflected in the data, Gartner predicts that the growth rate of enterprise application development demand is about 5 times the speed of IT delivery capacity supply. To meet the needs of all business scenarios for the digital transformation of Chinese enterprises, at least 500 million new apps must be developed, which takes at least 4 years at the traditional development speed.
  The traditional IT development path usually takes several months or even longer. Not to mention the long cycle, the cost is also high, ranging from tens of thousands of yuan to as many as one million or ten million yuan. It involves personalized customization and requires a series of tests and bugs. The tedious work of repair has a lot of communication costs and time costs.
  The more pressing problem is that, with the advent of the digital age, those who do IT design and development and those who do business use the tools and languages ​​of their respective fields to “talk” about system applications, and the division of labor is fragmented.
  Before the establishment of Qingliu, I was an intern in an international software factory. At that time, a factory of one of the company’s corporate customers purchased management software products of more than 10 million yuan. I went to investigate and found that the business leader was still using Excel for management. .
  The other party explained: “The products the company buys are good, but the only things we can control are Excel and paper.”
  This became the premise that inspired me to start a business.
  Enterprise customers are less concerned about the technology itself, and more about what problems it can solve. In the early days of entrepreneurship, the team found that many companies wanted to digitize, but they could not recruit enough development talents. The business department also wanted to do systems, but did not have the ability to develop code.
  Qingliu found the entry point: for a wider range of people who have system development needs, teach them how to fish, and let people who don’t understand code or even Excel well, quickly start developing internal tools.
  Its construction path is a “building block” three-step operation: drag and drop to add fields, click to set business flow, and then check the allocation permissions, and finally complete the application release.
  At present, 70% of Qingliu product users are business roles. Using Qingliu’s no-code development platform, the implementation development cycle can be reduced from 6 months to 1 week, saving time by more than 96% and saving more than 70% of IT costs.
  For example, a Fortune 500 company in the field of construction machinery manufacturing used to take more than ten years to launch a few systems. Through the method of Qingliu and no code, hundreds of small systems can be launched in half a year, and basically all of them are operated by business personnel. Operation build.
  Now all departments of the enterprise have digital requirements. No matter how hard the IT department works, the output is also cyclical, and the delivery of so many application scenarios cannot be completed. This is where the light flow comes in.
Alumni Entrepreneurship

  I studied at Shanghai Jiaotong University with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. I used to be the president of the school’s student union.
  The first time I started my business in 2013, I did an independent music copyright project, and later sold it to Xiami Music, which made my first pot of gold.
  I majored in information security and computer science, and decided to return to the technical route for the second venture, and chose To B as the direction.
  To be a To B, the initial investment is large, the value return period is long, the project polishing process will have ups and downs, the technology and product route often need to be explored repeatedly, and it is difficult to find talents who know how to do it.
  The founding team of Qingliu is not an entrepreneur with rich experience or sufficient resources and financial resources. Youth is our greatest advantage.
  Our investment institutions will also joke: “‘Enterprise service’ is destined to be a long-term process. It’s not like having an idea today and having a market value of tens of billions tomorrow. You are young and can afford time.”
  In Shaw Building, Shanghai Jiaotong University A small office, Qingliu was born. As an entrepreneurial project for college students, the development process was much smoother than expected.
  In the initial stage, Shanghai Jiaotong University provided us with 8 free workstations, and then became the first paying customer of Qingliu. The first few investors of the company are also my Jiaotong University alumni.
  The polishing of the product has also avoided a lot of detours.
  Low-code/no-code products must not only ensure that they are universal tools for pan-industry, but also need to have a certain industry vertical, and test the ability to abstract and aggregate processing after building an industry scenario-based “demand pool”.
  Qingliu is relatively fortunate. It has never overturned the product structure adjustment, but will do a lot of small-scale optimization, at the cost of giving up many opportunities for large projects in the early stage.

  From the very beginning, we have to spread the coverage of industry needs widely enough and target enough enterprise users. If we only do a single project for a certain customer, it is difficult to abstract common needs.
  Figure out the direction of entrepreneurship, sort out a large number of long-tail needs within the company, and complete the construction of the initial product – this process took the team more than 3 years, and it was not officially commercialized until 2019. In that year, the company’s revenue increased compared to 2018. 30 times.
  At present, Qingliu has covered dozens of industries such as manufacturing and retail, and has launched nearly 100 business scenario solutions such as enterprise resource management and production management, and has thousands of paying customers. In terms of product matrix, in addition to the no-code system construction platform “Light Stream”, there are also light analysis of native BI products, light code for coupling technology and business, and a one-stop service platform for light mall.
vertical exploration

  Gartner has given an estimate: nearly 90% of enterprises are facing the challenge of application development, and it is estimated that by 2024, about 65% of the world’s applications will involve low-code development.
  At present, the maturity of the domestic market is indeed not that high, and it will accelerate in the future. I can clearly feel that the demand side is changing.
  The attitude of some customers to overweight has become radical, and relatively high-end industries such as medical and pharmaceutical, energy, and finance, as well as more large enterprises, have gradually begun to choose no-code products.
  Large customers have more medium and long tail scenarios, and their demands for standardization and process are higher than those of small and medium customers. These small scenarios were previously carried by Excel and paper.
  For example, a high-tech manufacturing company with an annual turnover of tens of billions of dollars has encountered difficulties in after-sales service – its customers need to apply for repairs by email, and the processing cycle is long. The process is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  If you use standardized SaaS products on the market, it is difficult to solve their individual needs; if you use your own IT for development, the cycle is very long, and you have to consider that the after-sales process will change from time to time, and the adjustment and optimization of customized development costs are extremely high.
  The company’s after-sales department finally found Qingliu, quickly built the system, and completed the online upgrade of customer repair requests. As a result, the data visualization of after-sales orders was also realized.
  In the second half of last year, Qingliu refined customer types and solutions, and launched a proprietary cloud-free code-free platform, “Proprietary Qingliu”, which is mainly aimed at waist and large enterprise customers for them to use dedicated cloud resources or their own servers. Deploy to achieve independent and exclusive use.
  As the accumulation of industry know-how deepens, Qingliu gradually expands industry vertical scenario solutions and launches various industry solution templates. Next, we will continue to cooperate with vertical partners in the industry to explore.
  In terms of charging, Qingliu mainly adopts an annual subscription system. For some small-scale teams, the cost is as low as 10,000 yuan per year; for large enterprises that have independent and exclusive needs without code, the cost can reach the level of one million yuan.
  In the past two years, there have been more and more new players in the industry, and the market has shown signs of mixed good and bad. There are many “pseudo-low-code” in the industry, under the guise of low-code, the project delivery system is still in the end.
  Some people come and some go, and the first low-code manufacturer to announce its exit has appeared. Heipayun, founded in 2019, was officially discontinued on May 31 this year and was acquired by ByteDance.
  must return to the value itself. For light flow, it means maintaining blood production.
  In the SaaS field, some companies actually lose more by selling a penny, and they cannot see the dawn of any profit. It is not a positive business. It is still necessary to create value, to bring additional increments to the industry, and to make customers willing to pay.
  With this gazelle enterprise, I am still exploring.

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