We asked The Excel Dashboard Toolkit founder, Josh Cottrell, about building an app that allows users to build visual dashboards in Excel. Josh has a background in startups with a focus on product management. His approach to product management has always been rooted in design and he has always wanted to understand the development process more. He chose Bubble because the no-code platform offers more control than tools like Wordpress or Squarespace and enables him to build every feature from the ground up without coding.
Tell us about your app and what it does.
The Excel Dashboard Toolkit is a comprehensive set of visualizations, design elements, page designs and more that allow you to build stunning dashboards in Excel. Many people understand Excel formulas but they are rarely taught about the platform's design features. This toolkit gives you pre-made visualizations that illustrate more complex design concepts. The visualizations can also easily be customized and used in your own projects.
How does your app work?
Right now the app mainly functions as an ecommerce platform but I'm building out a more robust system that allows users to quickly find an appropriate template and walk through fast and easy tutorials to understand how to structure their data for each visualization. I'm relatively new to no-code and the initial version of my app has required that I learn the basics like properly implementing responsive designs, integrating with Stripe, making contact forms and adding downloadable files. It has been an incredibly fun learning experience!
Tell us a little about your background and how you discovered no-code tools like Bubble.
I have a startup background with a focus on product management. In 2016 a startup that I co-founded was acquired and soon after I found myself as digital nomading across the world with my wife. My approach to product management is rooted in design and I've always felt like I needed to improve my understanding of the development process. No-code was on my radar (mainly because of Ben Tossell at Makerpad) and it seemed like a great stepping stone into the world of code.
Why did you build your app on Bubble?
I knew I needed more control than was offered from Wordpress or Squarespace. I also knew I wanted to build every feature by hand from the ground up. Bubble was one of the only no-code tools that could give me granular control of the design features while also being fairly easy to understand for someone with a limited knowledge of coding.
What have been your milestones or successes so far?
My first sale felt incredible. I honestly had no idea if anyone would pay for the toolkit so it was incredibly validating to know people thought it was worth it. Then there was a point where sales covered the cost of my Bubble account and the domain registration - technically "profitable". Finally there have been tons of small milestones as I begin to better understand how to structure a database, how to build my own custom visualizations and so much more.
What are your future plans for your app?
I want to allow people to sign up for monthly access to a learning hub that enables them to easily develop their visual design skills in Excel. That includes video tutorials, embedded tables, sample files, multi-layer user permissions for teams, etc. Being able to build this myself and handle every step myself makes me feel far more comfortable taking the leap to expand this project. I can test, validate and test some more, without ever having to have a back-and-forth with a developer. That's really enabling for someone with my skill-set.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more. Over 500,000 users are currently building and launching businesses on Bubble - many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even raise $365M in venture funding. Bubble is more than just a product. We are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs that are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.