Practical Programming: How HelloFrom used No-code Platforms to Build a Prototype in Weeks, not Months

Author: Emily Tyson

Hellofrom Facebook Katie Herlihy MSBA '21, Ellie Morrison ND '23, TJ Dasso ND '20

[Editor's note: This is the first article in a series.]

The IDEA Center’s Student Entrepreneurship programming helps students gain better experiences early, enabling them to practice marketable skills while still in school. This kind of “practical programming” equips students with real-world experiences that they can take from their time at Notre Dame and apply wherever they go next.

Ellie Morrison is a sophomore Business Analytics major at Notre Dame, and does not know how to code. Katie Herlihy will graduate with an MS in Business Analytics from Mendoza College of Business in the spring of 2021, and also does not know HTML.

Both Morrison and Herlihy, and the rest of their HelloFrom team, have been able to build a landing page and mobile app using no-code toolsover the course of weeks, rather than the months it could have taken if they were using more typical programming methods.

HelloFrom is an IDEA Center startup. According to the company’s recently launched landing page that Herlihy and the team built, the company wants to make “simple pleasures” even simpler, by offering its customers the ability to show the people in their life that they care, “with quality cards, personally selected” for their relationships.   

HelloFrom’s landing page was built using Squarespace, a website builder that allows users to create a custom website using pre-built templates and drag-and-drop elements. Herlihy said she was not particularly confident about building the website (her expertise is in business analytics, marketing and social media), but that Squarespace was intuitive and allows her to not only build the landing page the team wanted, but to add analytics that will aid HelloFrom in their early marketing efforts.

Additionally, Morrison and TJ Dasso, a recent Notre Dame graduate with a degree in computer science, worked together using the no-code platform to create the mobile app that the company’s customers will use to manage their account and order cards for their relationships. 

Both Morrison and Dasso participated in a bootcamp over their winter break and were paired with a startup in order to apply what they were learning. “This is an example of how the IDEA Center’s role as an educator and catalyst paired the University’s talented students with innovative entrepreneurial tools and then gave them an opportunity to do actual work,” says Ryan Biggs, the IDEA Center’s manager of derisking. Biggs explains that he worked with Prof. James Rudolph of Notre Dame's Department of Art, Art History & Design to identify motivated students who were willing to spend their winter break to learn a new skill.

An added benefit, explains both Morrison and Herlihy, was how all the team members were able to contribute in the process of creating the landing page and building the mobile app. “There isn’t one person who knows everything,” said Herlihy. “The process is accessible to the entire team and no one particular person owns it all. Using no-code tools helped to remove the ‘person behind the curtain.’ ”

Morrison adds, “Transforming the vision for the idea into a functioning platform has pushed us to think about how to make the user experience both intuitive and enjoyable. There are so many factors that go into this process, but combining TJ's engineering background with my design and business experience has been integral to our fast-paced timeline. Our whole team has had lots of fun conversations about greeting cards along the way!”

Another no-code tool the HelloFrom team is using with great effectiveness is Mailchimp for their automated email marketing campaigns.

For further insight into the benefits and possible limitations of Low-Code/No-Code tools, take a look at this short article: Low-Code No-Code Movement: What’s Real and What’s Hype?