Doubling down on internal tools

November 17, 2022
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One of the hardest things to do in a startup is to ‘pick a lane’, especially when your product has broad applicability and can be used for a variety of use cases by different types of customers. 

Back in mid-2021, we launched the second iteration of Noloco when our focus switched to no-code client portals to centralise customer interactions, initially targeting marketing agencies. Our platform then was focused on external-facing use cases, enabling our customers’ clients to log in to branded apps to see their data. Everything from our pricing to functionality such as messaging and file-sharing modules reflected this focus.

Over the next few months however, we recognised a much larger opportunity in helping organisations build front-end apps from their data in tools like Airtable, Google Sheets & Postgres. Since launching Noloco 2.0 in November last year, we’ve been able to support hundreds of users with a diverse set of use cases: from contractor payroll management, to internal practice management to sophisticated CRMs (see our Customer Stories). Over time, we’ve seen more and more of our customers build apps with Noloco for use exclusively within their organisations. In other words, our customers started building internal tools.

For the last year, our messaging, pricing and product tried to cater for both internal and external use cases. Sadly, this lack of focus has been holding both us and our customers back. By straddling multiple lanes, we haven’t been able to clearly communicate to prospective customers the value Noloco can bring. By trying to be something to everyone, we struggled to resonate and break through the noise.

Doubling down: internal tools

We have decided to shift our focus exclusively to internal tools. The main changes that will come from this relate to our messaging, positioning and pricing (as we’ll discuss below). Although anyone can still use Noloco for customer-facing apps, we imagine that our new plans might not be as favourable for those use cases.

We know that many of our existing customers use Noloco for external-facing use cases and may want to understand more about why we chose this path over solely focusing on external-facing use cases. We’re happy to share these thoughts openly with our customers who have supported us throughout our journey so far.

Every organisation needs internal tooling. Currently, the vast majority of internal tools are built in-house by engineers and are hastily thrown together only when other teammates scream loud enough and engineers find a few spare minutes to help. Typically, the tools that are built aren’t very user friendly and seeking further improvement feels like pulling teeth. Some organisations leverage low-code platforms to build internal tools faster, but more often than not an understanding of SQL and Javascript is required, meaning developer resources are still needed every step of the way. For these reasons, people ‘make do’ with inefficient workflows and bad processes. 

We believe that Noloco has a great opportunity to become the category-defining no-code internal tool builder. By focusing on non-developers with our pure no-code approach, we believe that Noloco can enable Operations, Growth, Product & Support teams to build their own tools without having to rely on engineering resources.

We also see great potential for repeatability by focusing on internal tools. Fundamentally, organisations build internal tools to allow team members to access, analyse and update data. This is something that Noloco excels at. Through our no-code approach, we enable internal teams to build functional, useful apps that can be adopted throughout the organisation far quicker than the time it takes to code them.

In comparison, external apps face great challenges. Firstly, it is much more difficult to gain user adoption for external-facing applications. It’s easier to get your team to use something rather than a customer or external partner. This often leads to disappointment where apps don’t receive sufficient adoption. Secondly, whereas internal tools are more focused on function over form, for customer-facing use cases, app creators often want more flexibility and greater control over customisation than is possible in Noloco. Our builder experience deliberately has sensible defaults to make it easier to build and get value quickly. It’s normal to want more control and have everything aligned with your brand for customer-facing use cases, but this isn’t what Noloco is good at. Finally, there is also less repeatability. We don’t encourage prospective customers to build their main customer-facing products with Noloco for the reasons described above. It’s quite possible that someone within an organisation has a need for an external-facing app that’s separate from the main product - but finding that person is quite tricky and the use cases and required features can vary dramatically.

Aligning pricing to value

We recently advised customers about upcoming price changes. However, the feedback we’ve received over the past few months really highlighted how different pricing makes sense depending on whether your use case is internal or external. For example, those with customer-facing apps often hope to have hundreds if not thousands of casual users, so user limits have to be very high to please such customers. On the other hand, internal tools often have smaller numbers of users who log in every day where the tool is a core part of their workflow. 

We spent time researching and understanding what pricing would work best for all of our customers. However, despite our best efforts, what we arrived at was a pricing system that tried to cater for the needs of both use cases but didn’t fit either particularly well.

Recently, when I was analysing our customer usage and trying to understand the value each customer derived from Noloco, I was drawn to one metric: active users. In my opinion, this gives the best indication of the value our customers get from Noloco apps: how many of their users are actively logging in each month and using the apps? With this in mind, we have decided to move to a simple per-user pricing model based on the number of active users.

New Pricing

Here’s a summary of how our pricing is changing. To see all the details of new pricing plans, visit our pricing page.

  • Existing customers will have the option to stay on their current pricing or opt into new pricing
  • We’re moving to pricing per active user
  • We no longer will price separately for builders, team members and other app users - there will be just one price per active user
  • We’re removing all record limits across plans so you can have unlimited database records
  • We’re removing limits on the number of apps across plans so you can have unlimited live apps

Our new pricing system reflects the opportunity Noloco has to provide value to customers over the long run. We know that new customers will likely start with our generous Free tier and initially upgrade to just a few seats as they try out the platform. However, we hope that we can form long-term relationships with customers where Noloco becomes the backbone of their internal tooling and our pricing will scale accordingly as more users within the organisation adopt Noloco apps. This better aligns our incentives and ensures that we focus on building a better product for our customers.

As emphasised above, we are going to enable our existing customers to choose whether to stay on their current pricing or switch to new pricing. We hope this highlights to our community that this change is all about setting ourselves up for long-term success as opposed to any short-term gains.

Within Noloco, what we like about our new pricing model is:

  • It’s straightforward and easy to comprehend
  • It will keep us honest - we will only get paid per active user meaning that our customers have to get value from the platform

Closing Words

We are truly grateful to all of our customers who have supported us since the beginning of our journey. The purpose of our new direction is to give Noloco the best chance of providing value at scale - which is something every entrepreneur wants. We absolutely do not wish to alienate any of our existing customers which is why we’re giving you the option to choose between old and new pricing. We’re really excited about the next chapter in our journey and look forward to working with our amazing community to build the no-code internal tool builder.


When will pricing changes take effect?

Our new pricing is live for prospective customers. Existing customers can choose to continue on their previous plans or opt into new pricing.

How do I opt into new pricing?

You can opt into new pricing from your billing page.

What if I’m on an annual plan?

Those on annual plans can switch over to our new pricing and we will apply a pro-rated credit balance to their account for unused time on their current plan.

How do I monitor my usage?

You can monitor the number of active users from your Billing page so you know where you stand.

Is anything changing within the product?

We are really happy with our overall builder experience so we don’t envisage changing anything significantly in the way apps work. The bigger change here is not related to the product but marketing, pricing and positioning. However, we are unlikely to continue improving certain features that are purely used for external-facing use cases, such as open registration and modules like messaging, file-sharing and billing. 

Can I still add external users to my apps?

Yes, you can. You will be billed for each active user in your apps regardless of whether they are internal or external. We recommend that you set up database permission rules to limit the access that these types of users have within your apps.

You can find the answer to many other FAQs in our support guide. For any other questions about your plan, you can contact

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