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Sep 16, 2021 • Issue #65 by Aron Korenblit

5 questions for Curtis Cummings, no-code infrastructure @ On Deck

This week, I'm excited to share this interview with Curtis Cummings (@curtisjcummings), No-code infrastructure at On Deck. Curtis' role is so meta: creating tools to enable others to create more! I'll let him speak for himself.

Could you introduce yourself and what you do @ On Deck?

I'm Curtis Cummings and I lead the No-code Infrastructure team at On Deck. We enable anyone to build products, tools, and processes with No-code reliably at scale.

I've been a developer for almost 20 years with a lot of that time spent as a consultant for a wide range of companies including Apple, Symantec, and Lowes. I found no-code about 2 years ago and fell for it hard. Now I work with code and no-code which is like having superpowers.

If I understand correctly you focus on the “no-code” infrastructure at On Deck. I’m curious, why should we care about the tools responsible for infrastructure (whether they're "code" or "no-code")?

Infrastructure here is more about creating an environment that supports team-wide product exploration using no-code tools. On Deck has a core set of tools for sure, but we actively encourage teams to try new tools.

To enable this we develop the building blocks teams use to build their workflows, prototypes, and MVPs. Then we help harden or rebuild those solutions as they start to scale. It's at this point that we may add new tools to the set of core tools.

One challenge I see often in companies that rely heavily on no-code is that everyone becomes a workflow creator. You end up with hundreds of parallel workflows instead of having a true single source of truth. How do you combat that at On Deck? 

Having over 100 no-coders creating workflows and other solutions is one of our greatest strengths. It means we can build quickly in response to fellows and explore all sorts of product areas without needing big technical build outs.

As a globally distributed company with no offices, we've turned Notion into our source of truth. There are training modules, operating procedures, best practices, and how-to's for pretty much everything including all of the workflows that have been built.

What is your favorite workflow at On Deck?

That's got to be my Mastermind group automation. It’s two parts with some human intervention in between.

The first part is a script that operates on an Airtable and creates groups of fellows based on timezone and other preferences using a complicated algorithm. Then the groups are fine-tuned by humans. Finally, the last part of the automation creates private Slack channels for each group, invites the group members, posts a custom intro message and then creates repeating calendar invites for each group.

It's saved 100s of hours in the last 10 months.

Final parting words? 

A no-code first culture is one that empowers everyone to independently build their own solutions, allowing your product and engineering teams to work on only the highest-leverage projects.

This will become the norm in any fast-growing startup.

If you want to see this culture first hand, On Deck is hiring for all roles! Check out beondeck.com/careers to apply!

Huge thanks to Curtis for this interview. Curtis will be on the stream next week for Introduction to APIs (for no-coders). I hope to see you there!

Until next week, keep building

Aron

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