#15 : Meeting with Caravel

For this twelfth meeting of the NoCode Series, we went to the offices of Caravel, the complementary retirement company founded in 2020 by Olivier Rull, Hugo Lancel and Marie Janoviez. The company currently has 9 employees and over 2050 clients.

Thanks to Olivier and Hugo for sharing their story with us!

Hugo, a jack-of-all-trades from NoCode meets Olivier, the bearer of a beautiful idea

Originally, Hugo is a Growth profile having started with digital marketing, more precisely with lead generation. This is how he discovered the world of the Web and the tools of mailings, management or Wordpress.

He then joined a streaming start-up as an apprentice, climbed the ladder and eventually became Head of Growth. It was there that he encountered his first problem: a significant technical debt. To solve it, he starts using WYSIWIYG tools like Unbounce, the trendy tools of the Web/NoCode sector. Geeky and "mouse agile" profile, he uses design tools by passion and is interested in code, but has no real development skills.

He continued his journey and made a stop at Founders Factory, an entity that creates start-ups and accompanies them. As Head of growth, he starts to use NoCode to optimize the acquisition of his customers (CRM setups, landing pages, mailing automation, tracking, Carrd etc...)

He realizes that he can create existing ones that work well. From a simple landing page to a complex application, he understands the advantages of NoCode and starts to practice by creating fake sites, fake apps and databases on Airtable.

Finally, he met Olivier two years ago.

Olivier began his career with a very rewarding internship at Doctolib as the right-hand man to the director of operations. At the end of his studies, in 2015, he decided to co-found a start-up: Domos-Kit, which offers a solution for moving assistance. He thus gradually discovered the world of the web and quickly found himself confronted with data processing, exchange and analysis flows and many other time-consuming tasks.

Thanks to his knowledge, he decided to start again with a retirement project and to co-found Caravel with Hugo and Marie.

It is here, in 2020, that the Caravel adventure begins.

A well-functioning growth thanks to NoCode

Caravel allows people to invest and act for their retirement and therefore needed insurance partners. The platform had to be launched quickly, so after a long benchmark, they found an insurance partner and developed an MVP in LowCode.

At the beginning, the objective was not necessarily to use NoCode. Nevertheless, Hugo understands and knows the tools perfectly and will therefore start implementing them for Caravel, especially for automated integrations with the idea of saving time, creating a clear educational system and facilitating operations with their insurance partners.

The platform is released and the team realizes its first mistake: the product is for everyone and the target is too vague. Caravel then changed its business model and chose to focus on freelancers and small businesses. The solution remains open to everyone, but freelancers become the priority target.

The team quickly realized that compliance issues, laws, processes, etc... took longer to resolve than the creation of the product itself at NoCode . Nevertheless, the first users appreciate the platform and the promise of Caravel. The first contracts are signed and the team gets the proof that a stack NoCode allows to build a stable financial model.

Olivier and Hugo are becoming experts on the subject and as they told us:

Caravel does not do NoCode, but runs 100% in NoCode.

To learn the tools and processes, the teams use the Test & Learn method and are led by Hugo.

When asked, "Are you planning to create an in-house NoCode team?" the answer given was, "It's a possibility, but it's unlikely.

Otherwise, the team has integrated a lead developer who knows how to use Make and thus can combine Code + NoCode - a very good point according to Hugo!

Tools and figures

Caravel, born in 2020, has recorded 20% to 30% monthly growth over the past 15 months. The company now has 2050 customers and raised a nice €1.5 million in early 2022.

Regarding the tools used internally, we note Webflow - for the front-end - which allows us to excel in UX/UI design, but also Memberstack for authentication, Airtable for the database and internal admin tools, and Make for "Glue Everything".

Hugo and Olivier both find that NoCode allows for better customer knowledge (especially through the use of Segment), clearer operations and follow-ups, as well as great agility.

They see these tools as "a means to an end".

In concrete terms, the challenge for Caravel is the UX, which must allow simple and visually appealing user paths. The subscription path is therefore entirely created on Webflow, itself connected to Memberstack which retrieves the data and integrates it into Airtable thanks to Make. The use and knowledge of Jquery and Json is mandatory, and Hugo has created the necessary background to take care of it. He set up the connection to the back office via Make and buttons to connect to the (very complex) API of the insurer. He confided to us that 25% of the technical issues were related to the adaptation to the insurer API.

"The intelligence is in the knowledge, targeting and tracking, not the simple landings on Webflow."

The CRM is connected to Hubspot through regular workflows and the team uses an average of 750,000 Make requests per month.

Finally, like many, a Slack channel is used for ticketing. Channel called as often the "sweat channel" internally!

User Dashboard

Insights - mobile version

A vision that tends to change

Caravel has a DNA NoCode, but has decided to go beyond that, with longer and more robust cycles.

The platform is mainly based on questionnaires, information collection and management, so Nocode seems very relevant. However, they do not want to keep this model and would like to offer intelligence, so they are obliged to move to a stack code.

They don't want to set up a collaboration because Hugo is doing most of the work, and they know that if something doesn't go as planned, everything will break. They want to evolve and leave behind their MVP because they have reached the structural limits of the NoCode technologies, especially Airtable. Every new evolution and feature is therefore charged back, and the "debt" NoCodebecomes too large.

So after a successful start and a clear overview of the possibilities of the technologies, the team decided to switch the core product and the back-end to code logic, but to keep LowCode in the DNA, especially in the front-end with Webflow. But also to plug custom APIs, and to keep the efficiency of Memberstack.

Caravel's tips ?

  • Document. Everyone likes to use NoCode, but few realize that without documenting the work done, each evolution becomes very complex.
  • Try it. You learn on the way. Hugo had the skills but didn't dare at first, then he took the plunge and today it's one of his proudest achievements!

The two founders are aware that a solution like theirs, built on NoCode, will always need to evolve and scale.

Finally, Olivier will finish by reminding us, "We're doing all this because Caravel has a goal: to become the leader in retirement to ensure a good end of life for everyone!"

Another great meeting that proves that a launch based on a properly built MVP in NoCode allows to raise funds, to constantly scale, and to boost its Time-to-Market. In short, to succeed!