We are fortunate to have a vibrant community of hundreds of members from all different places across the globe. We come together to talk about tools, tech, no-code and new ways to make creating & building even more productive than before. 

At Makerpad we love sharing our member’s journey through learning no-code, using new skills in their workplaces, building projects and even launching businesses. 

Each week we highlight a member from our community and share their story, background and previous projects through our Member Spotlight blog post series.

This week we are chatting to Connor Finlayson from New Zealand.

Connor is the Founder of Unicorn Factory, a marketplace for freelancers. ‍

Hey Connor, great to have you be part of the Member's Spotlight. Can you give us some background on how you got into no-code? How long have you been using no-code tools and what got you first interested?

I’m from New Zealand but I currently live in Ottawa. I am the founder of Unicorn Factory, New Zealand's largest freelancer marketplace, which is built with no-code tools like Webflow, Zapier, Airtable and Memberstack. I started it a few years ago, it started out as a referral service. I have freelancer friends and I would just refer work to them. Then I stumbled into the Webflow world and I figured that building out a bit of a platform would be a real good way to get some additional work and to bring in more referral revenue. Overtime, it evolved into basically just a bunch of landing pages for different freelancers. Now it has evolved into what it is today, we now have hundreds of freelancers and the whole platform is built using no code tools.

So I run the Unicorn Factory freelancer marketplaces both in New Zealand and Canada and I also run a YouTube channel too. On this channel, I help people who can't code to build online directories and marketplaces using no-code tools. I teach people how they can build their own version of Unicorn Factory using Webflow, Airtable and Zapier. This includes how to build the MVP but also the promotion side of the project too. Teaching things like SEO, marketing, monetization, getting traction, finding ideas and even tactics for meeting supply and demand for your two sided marketplace. ‍I also like to share tips and tricks for Webflow beginners. I review no-code tools and show you how to build clones of websites like Fiverr and YouTube using Webflow.  I have my own website ConnorFinlayson.com where my videos, courses and tutorials all live.‍

It sounds like Unicorn Factory is a fantastic foundation to teach people a huge range of skills. So can you take us through how you built Unicorn Factory in the past and what tools did you use for it today? 

Unicorn Factory is built using Airtable, Webflow, Zapier and Memberstack. I also use add-on tools like Jetboost and Integromat and a bunch of other ones too. 

Overall it's a really simple structure . It's just a directory where each freelancer has a profile page with an About section, with room for case studies and they can add their skills and rates. It’s a similar setup to something like Dribbble. Businesses can jump on to a profile page, fill out the contact form and I use Zapier to forward emails. 

It was a game changer when I discovered Zapier as it allowed me to automate a lot of the processes that I was doing manually at the time. I use Webflow for the front-end, Airtable as the database and Zapier to automate everything.  I also use Parabola to do a lot of the data syncing between all the different platforms. I use Memberstack for taking payments and gating the members only content. 

The first step users see is the signup process. I use Memberstack to sign up users, I then take down everything that I require in order for me to create a profile for them and give them access to the user dashboard where there are a series of jobs that freelancers can apply to. I also use MailerLite to do a bit of email automation. The reason why I use Airtable is because it's easier for me to sync data between all the different platforms from there. You could use the Webflow CMS to store all the data but Airtable is a lot more visually pleasing. 

That seems like a great stack to build a platform on! So let's bring things up to the current day, what are you currently working on and what stage is it at?

I split my time between working on Unicorn Factory, which expanded to Canada earlier this year and running my no-code coaching business - MVMP Launchpad. That’s where I let people see how I created the Unicorn Factory and how they can rebuild a marketplace for their niche using the same tools.

A while back I sold a no-code marketplace for hospitals. I built the hospital marketplace with a friend. So it's not like a huge sale but we built it out and I also did one-on-one training with them too.  ‍

I can see how you’ve built upon this niche and expanded it to work for many different industries. Thinking more of the future, what are you looking forward to seeing happen in the no-code space in the years to come? 

I am very excited to see how the Airtable apps space plays out over the next year. From what I have seen so far, there are some incredible apps being built and it is really allowing people to take Airtable to the next level.

I only expect that to grow further. I’m also looking forward to seeing how Jetboost grows too. It’s honestly great, so simple but so beautiful. ‍

So a final couple of quick questions. Do you have a favourite no-code tool? And what's the next no-code tool you're thinking of trying out?

It's too hard to pick one, so I will split my vote evenly between Webflow, Airtable, Zapier and Memberstack. All of them work well together and are powerful because they integrate with the others. The no-code tool I have recently started using that I have been really enjoying is Mailersend. It's a phenomenal tool for sending transactional emails.

‍If anyone is working on building a marketplace, or directory of some sort, using Airtable is the best place to store all the data. The Zapier integration Airtable has allows you to trigger a whole bunch of actions based on people being moved into different views. That is something that I don't think any other tool can do at the moment. So yeah, it's second to none. I don't think I could really run the Unicorn Factory or automate it to the extent that I have if it wasn't for Airtable. ‍

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Connor. We look forward to hearing more about your journey soon! 

Keep an eye open for our next Member Spotlight blog post coming soon!