Welcome to today's podcast episode, where we unlock the potential of technology with the founders of Thoughtforma, Jason and Gareth Edge. These brothers in tech have a wealth of knowledge to share, from their personal journeys in the tech field to the conception and execution of their innovative platform, Thoughtforma. We also delve into their passion for music and its intersection with technology and discuss the future of AWS and serverless architecture. So let's get started!
Here are the top five key points we will cover:
- The conception of Thoughtforma: Learn about the struggles and challenges that led to the creation of Thoughtforma, a platform designed to bring innovative ideas to life through digital applications.
- The intersection of music and technology: Discover how Jason and Gareth's love for music intersects with their tech journeys and how it influences their approach to technology.
- AWS and the future of serverless architecture.
- Thoughtforma's relationship with Nobody Studios: The Edge brothers share how they used Thoughtforma to build and help launch Ovationz, a marketplace for event planners to find virtual event talent and the intricate workflow processes put in place.
- The importance of good data management: We'll discuss why it's critical to have effective data management practices, the risks of excessive data collection, and how Thoughtforma bakes good data practices into its platform.
(0:00:11) - Thoughtforma
Co-founders Jason and Gareth discuss their tech backgrounds and how Thoughtforma was formed to help people bring ideas to life.
(0:10:54) - Exploring Music and Technology
Jason and Gareth discuss their tech and music backgrounds, top three albums, and how Jason's algorithmic composition experience has aided his computing career.
(0:19:29) - AWS and Future Serverless Architecture
Thoughtforma uses serverless architecture to create a platform for no-code projects, increasing scalability, security, and intelligent solutions.
(0:31:53) - Thoughtformer
Thoughtforma is used to export applications and run them on AWS, generating code for others to use, as seen with Ovation's two-sided marketplace.
(0:37:41) - Launch External Program and MVP Bootcamp
Thoughtforma's MVP Bootcamp enables developers to build and launch applications, with 25 participants showcasing outcomes on June 19th.
(0:45:29) - Data Management and Future Goals
Jason and Gareth discuss data collection, risks, bridging data and insights, mismanaging data, and Thoughtforma's no-code platform.
(0:55:05) - Exploring Future Tech and Exciting Possibilities
Jason and Gareth discuss potential of speech, augmented reality, virtual reality, global build event, and Thoughtforma's success with data responsibility.
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0:00:11 - Tyler Wells
Welcome to the Data Chaos Podcast. On today's episode, i have a conversation with Jason and Gareth Edge. The two brothers are the co-founders of Thoughtforma. Thoughtforma is the intelligent no-code platform with a mission to help people unlock and realize their purposeful ideas. They're also VPs of technology at Nobody Studios, the crowd-infused, high-velocity company creation machine. During this conversation, we dig into their backgrounds and how they got into technology. Jason's thesis an algorithmic composition helped influence the design of Thoughtforma. This was a fun conversation with a couple of tangential questions, but we managed to get back on track and learn a ton about these brothers in tech. So sit back, relax and enjoy the conversation. All right, Gareth. Jason, welcome to the Data Chaos Podcast. Thank you for joining me today.
0:01:02 - Gareth Edge
Thank you for inviting us, Tyler. It's great to be here. Yeah, absolutely Been looking forward to this.
0:01:07 - Tyler Wells
Fantastic. No, me too. It's great. You guys are just coming back from holiday and it's a good time to kick off. well, we're partially through the week right now, but it's a good time to talk a little bit more about Thoughtforma. Tell us, tell the listeners, gareth, why are you guys here? What are we talking about today?
0:01:26 - Gareth Edge
Yeah, sure, yeah, so I'm Gareth Edge and along with Jason here, we make up the founding team of Thoughtforma. We're also brothers as well, so we go back a bit. But yes, thoughtforma's mission is really to enable everyone to bring their purposeful ideas to life in the form of digital applications, and so we're building a no-code platform with intelligence-built in that's aimed at helping and guiding people turn those ideas into web and native mobile applications. We're also part of Nobody Studios, which is a venture studio on a mission to create 100 compelling companies in five years, and so we're using Thoughtforma as well to build out the technology for their portfolio companies as well, which aligns perfectly with our purpose and mission as well. So that's kind of what Thoughtforma is. Maybe I'll delve into a little bit of my background and sort of what brought us to this point?
Yeah, yeah sure So well for me like I've been into tech for as long as I can remember And actually Jason's largely to blame for this because with him being the older brother and he's always had this love of computers, we always seem to have a computer in the house of one form or another. You know, going right back to the ZX81 days, I just found computers fascinating. Remember just being awestruck by programming, typing out pages of code from the back of manuals just to get some like primitive game in basic to run. I found that thrilling for some reason And it just felt like magic to me. So it was always pretty clear to me that my future would involve technology in some form or another.
So I ended up going to university. I did computer studies, I specialized in software engineering And I quickly fell in love with the Java programming language And it was it was actually part of my course where I actually had the opportunity to do a year long work placement at IBM And I actually got to programming Java on their web sphere product. I loved it. I remember feeling really special back in those days because I had a two person office. There was this really cool office mate who was into the same music as me, So we were just there coding away, blasting some tunes out all day long, So those days bring back pretty happy memories for me.
0:03:55 - Tyler Wells
Wait, did you have? but you have where the windows in the office? Did you have windows or was it just there, just the door in the office? Can you believe it? Wow?
0:04:04 - Jason Edge
0:04:05 - Gareth Edge
I was just a lowly industrial trainee and they blessed us with this two person office with windows and the loudest play music. So yeah, and then I basically from that point went on to become a graduate there And also had my first job was actually programming the Java programming language itself. So for me that was like a dream dream first job. So. So IBM was like a huge springboard for me. I quickly learned about software engineering, carried that forward then into a long career of software delivery, various different organizations, all different shapes and sizes.
And you know, throughout that career I've played like many, many different roles, pretty much covering the whole spectrum of the software development life cycle, and I've definitely got the war wounds to prove it as well. And actually really it's those, it's the struggles and the difficulties in software development that's ultimately brought about the formation of a thought former. You know it's. You know both Jason and myself have seen firsthand just how difficult it is to build good software. And that's even when you've got skilled technologists who've got great track records in delivering, you know, good, robust solutions. It's still a really challenging thing to get right. So when you couple that with the fact that there's, you know, just a huge shortage in technical skills but the demands just rising exponentially. It means that there's actually an immeasurable number of projects and ideas that are just like never ever getting to see the light of day, and it's that notion of ideas kind of staying locked in people's heads that you know. I just find that completely unacceptable And it's a real driving force for me to try and do something about it. So I'll just wind this bit up, because this is the bit that kind of was the turning point for me in terms of where, why I wanted to form thought former It all, that it all sort of came about, or came to a head, really, at a at the web web summit conference in in Lisbon, which was in 2017.
And there was this well known climate change activist there who's giving a keynote And essentially his speech was all about. It was basically a call to arms to all the technologists in the audience there, where he was basically saying that you know, we are the future, we hold the key to fixing these kind of issues, and that for me, was like the real turnaround moment. You know, it was at that exact point that I realized that I personally needed to do something about it And the thing that I thought I could do was to try and help more people be able to use technology, because, you know, it's not necessarily the technologists that are going to have the answers to these problems. It's those answers could be lying dormant in people's minds because they just don't have the skills to bring them to live. So that was the point where, you know, i realized I had to do something. I got home, i pitched an idea to Jason, all about how we could democratize technology.
Didn't think I was too crazy And he also, he also just happened to be working on some technology at that, that point that could form the basis of this platform that we could, you know we could use to help people bring their ideas to life as digital applications. So that was the advent of Thoughtformer. Very different concept back then, But the vision and the mission has always remained constant And that is, you know, to use technology to take technology out of people's way and ultimately unlock ideas that would may never have come into being.
0:07:45 - Tyler Wells
But, jason, you had to look at them a little bit and be like, okay, that's crazy. Maybe just a slight bit, because I mean, as founders, we've all got to be a little crazy right, it's got to be something a little bit nuts about us to say, hey, we're going to walk away from the safety of this very nice paying job over here and go do something that's, you know, either never been done before or is this completely wild idea because this sounds like fun.
0:08:07 - Jason Edge
Yeah, yeah, definitely Yeah. I mean I looked at him thinking he's crazy and thinking that's great because I'm I so Perfect.
0:08:16 - Tyler Wells
What brothers are crazy? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So let's hear your backstory.
0:08:22 - Jason Edge
Yeah, so so pretty much similar story to Gareth's. You know, similar length of time in the industry. You know I've been a developer, i've been an architect and my career kind of culminated in specializing in data and data management, data governance, and so I was leading a practice of practice around data governance, data management, and ended up running a team that authored the data management strategy for a major Middle East government. So that was. That was pretty cool, kind of got immersed in the whole thing.
Gareth kind of talked about, you know, the difficulty of building applications and developing, and I think you can also add to that the difficulties of managing data, because of course these applications are working with data the whole time. You know I've those two things together and it's a real problem. I still think a lot of developers don't understand the implications of what they're building. Further downstream, you know, when this data gets massive and people are using it in the real world, what happens to that data, how it's managed, how it stays valuable, and that's really what all of that work was about. So the work that Gareth alluded to, that I was doing, was about trying to help people understand what data they had, how to get more value out of it and to provide a sort of flexible way of allowing data consultants to go into these organizations and capture this kind of information and sort of turn the whole landscape around for people.
And that becomes a really interesting problem when you're working from right down at startup organization level, all the way up to national governments. You know, how do you, how do you have the flexibility to be able to capture that kind of stuff? So that's the kind of stuff I was working on And then when Gareth came to me and we started thinking about applications and allowing opening that up to everybody, i realized that you could actually extend that flexibility not just to describe data, but also the full stack of an application, and so data is describing data, plus logic, plus layout of, you know, uis, all that kind of stuff. And that's really what Thoughtformer is. It's a sort of extension of that principle and, just you know that, allowing the flexibility for people to actually build applications and doing that in a way that requires absolutely no code at all.
0:10:53 - Tyler Wells
Amazing, amazing. Let's take a step back. How do you're the older brother? How did you get to tell? when did software, when the computers, get into your life?
0:11:01 - Jason Edge
So I've always been fascinated with technology, gadgets, everything. You know. the first I mean. I'm also a musician and, unlike Gareth, I didn't do computer science college. I did music and music technology and recording. So I'm classically trained but also love all other forms of music, And so my sort of first foray into technology was record players. You know, my parents still talk about the fact that I was absolutely enraptured at the age of two by record players, you know, And so music thing spins around and music comes out.
0:11:35 - Tyler Wells
It's a big tap-tack pin right.
0:11:38 - Jason Edge
Absolutely Real shame when CDs came out, because you couldn't see anything, you know nothing was spinning, true, yeah, and the jackets just weren't quite the same right.
0:11:48 - Tyler Wells
Like a CD cover compared to like an album cover on an LP.
0:11:52 - Jason Edge
Yeah, very different, absolutely Not quite the same And that you know, i've got this weird fascination with singles. you know 45s I don't know what it is, not even LPs, but singles. they do something for me which was obviously ingrained from that very early age. I don't know what that is. So yeah, music, music technology has always been fascinating.
0:12:13 - Tyler Wells
Well, let's do this before we move away from music. Let's say, let's take a complete tangent here. We're supposed to talk about tech, but we're in the music right now. I love music as well. Let's go about top three albums of all time.
0:12:24 - Jason Edge
Oh right, Your top three albums, my top three albums, your top three albums of all time. A Night at the Opera by Queen.
0:12:33 - Tyler Wells
Oh, very good.
0:12:33 - Jason Edge
All right, all right. American Pie by Don McClane, okay, and Bata of Hell by Meatloaf.
0:12:43 - Tyler Wells
Wow, i didn't see that one coming, but okay, yeah, meatloaf is in there. That's amazing, okay. So what are yours Top three? Gosh, i'm going to struggle here. Top three albums of all time. Now, i'm on the spot and I was not prepared for that. Let's see. I'm going to throw. How about? okay, computer by Radiohead, oh, cool, yeah. Yeah, that's always fantastic. Gosh, let me throw in. I want to throw like a Led Zeppelin in there somewhere.
0:13:15 - Jason Edge
I kind of need to have it.
0:13:17 - Tyler Wells
Yeah And oh gosh. what else can I come into?
0:13:23 - Jason Edge
This is where data chaos becomes desert island discs. This is the I mean, i'm the chaos right now.
0:13:28 - Tyler Wells
I can't even think of my time. I like so many music, I mean so much different things. It's really hard. What else would I put in there? Why don't you share all this with us and try to figure out how absolutely you do need to figure out. I mean the doors. I can put the doors in there as well, there's just, you know, yeah. I kind of you know, i was almost thinking maybe I might pull something in from the cure, i might pull something in.
but I mean for greatest all time. I don't know, todd, how do I, how do I not get Pink Floyd in there, right, oh, i mean it's hard. Or the who. I mean there's, yeah, there's way too much.
0:13:59 - Jason Edge
So all right, let's.
0:14:00 - Tyler Wells
Yes, I mean all good stuff, All good stuff, We'll go back on track now, sorry, since I just failed at that question so far. Yeah, there you go, search and write, all right, so back to music technology. You're coming out of university, you've? got a green music tech. When do you start? When do you start? When do you first start writing software?
0:14:18 - Jason Edge
Well, to be honest, i kind of got into college a bit later, so I actually left school as an apprentice. I got a job as an apprentice computer developer, so I did that for a couple of years and then went back to college. So I always had already had a couple of years under my belt there. So, yeah, and that was programming mainframes. It's a brilliant start to anybody's career in terms of development. You know, when you're talking about distributed computing, the kind of discipline that you get from programming mainframes is second to none. Obviously ancient technology now, but really really valuable. So, and also about you know how to sort of manage. You know getting processing done in the smallest possible space, because those machines, although massive, were actually incredibly underpowered in some ways. You know squashing data down to tiny sizes to fit in. You know, in those those massive sort of fridge-sized cabinets that probably only stored about 20K.
0:15:17 - Gareth Edge
They know it's all that kind of stuff.
0:15:19 - Tyler Wells
Yeah Yeah, memory management at a whole other level, absolutely yes, that was all good.
0:15:25 - Jason Edge
And then I, as I say, i got to college and did music, but I did actually I couldn't actually avoid the tech side of that And my thesis was all about algorithmic composition And so I was. that's actually that's served me so well because there was such a lot of. I was doing a lot of recursive programs, programming in there, recursive algorithms, you know, sort of algorithms that call themselves and sort of experimenting with where that takes you And it's crazy to think how much of that has actually served. you know that particularly thought-former Thought-former is incredibly sort of meta. Things call themselves all over the place. So having a grounding, who would have thought that that comes out of a music degree? you know.
0:16:11 - Tyler Wells
That's pretty amazing, No that's, that's very, very interrelated though I'm sure.
0:16:15 - Gareth Edge
Yeah, absolutely Yeah, definitely as I think the other thing to mention, jason, is that you say how that sort of had a theme throughout your computing career. But you know, i remember when we were actually working together on a startup. This would have been like 2000, i think was in 2000, 2001.
And it was actually Jason. Jason enticed me away from IBM at the time because he said look, i'm working on this startup And you know, startups back then were a whole different ball game to what they are today. And the way that he described it to me in terms of the technology that he was working on, i just had to. I had to leave IBM because it was just, it was groundbreaking to me, you know, and it was this thing that carried through his career and my career because of him, which is about just trying to be as smart as possible with technology and generative. You know, back then he said look, i'm basically what I'm doing is creating some processes where, by just by defining data in the database, we're gonna be able to generate front ends. So you know, fast forward what? 17, 18 years, and we're now building a no code product. You know, the seeds were already planted way back, way back when, and it was really it was probably a hell of a lot harder too.
0:17:41 - Tyler Wells
I mean, that had to be very difficult.
0:17:45 - Jason Edge
Yeah, i mean, there was some crazy stuff going on those days And I have to say, it wasn't our startup, they were my clients, but there were crazy things going on where they just wanted delivery at the speed of light. Hence the need to be pretty smart about delivery and get rid of all that boilerplate stuff. And so, you know, one aspect this guy said was you know, define the data structure and then write programs to mine that data structure and turn that into well, this is the implication for the front end Let's you know surface all that stuff. So that was one thing. The other was there was one guy that was wanting to do effectively chatting.
So, it's just crazy stuff.
0:18:49 - Tyler Wells
Yeah, so you're hiding the polling somehow. Yeah, interesting, interesting, okay, yeah, i mean the back. Then there was only. I think there was like AOL instant messenger. You might have had maybe some MSN or fewer. I mean, icq was around obviously.
0:19:03 - Jason Edge
Yeah, yeah, i see you Yeah.
0:19:07 - Tyler Wells
Well, let's fast forward to today. Let's talk a little bit about Thoughtforma. Let's dig into infrastructure Cloud, where you guys hosted who you were using. Let's walk through that a little bit.
0:19:19 - Jason Edge
Yeah, i picked that one up, gareth. What have you been, as you like So effectively? the Holder Thoughtforma is hosted on Amazon Web Services, aws. You know, i've been experimenting with this stuff for a few years, even before the time that Gareth said back in 2017, there was a lot of stuff that I've been sort of experimenting with and really the only credible cloud provider at that point was AWS. Obviously, other people have come along since, but they kind of led the field. I still think they do to some extent. They less on the AI stuff at the moment. They're playing catch up a bit there, but I think what they're And I tend to very much agree with you.
0:19:55 - Tyler Wells
So I'm a big fan of AWS and I feel like they are definitely leading the pack in terms of functionality and everything else like that.
0:20:05 - Jason Edge
Yeah, Cool, and even what I just said about the AI stuff. Gareth and I were at the AWS Summit in London yesterday and there is an element of playing catch up, but I think what they've got coming out is going to sort of start leading again. So, yeah, i think AWS is cool. It's all cloud-based. What we're building here is a platform that allows anybody anywhere to be able to create projects without any technical skills, and those projects end up being a piece of technology and application or whatever, and themselves get hosted. So all of this has to be very, very flexible and scalable, and that's really what these cloud providers are set up to do.
But one of the things that we think is particularly forward thinking in the way we've architected this is that we're using something known as serverless architecture, whereby, even in cloud, the original options that you had available to you were still servers, albeit that you provisioned them in the cloud, and you still thought in terms of provisioning servers to host your applications In serverless. Of course, there are still servers, but we don't ever get to see any of that stuff, and so you're now sort of thinking at levels you know Lambda functions where you're just saying here's a piece of code when somebody needs to do something or request something, do it and then disappear again, and so you know you're thinking at a much more tiny level, and that's incredibly scalable. It's actually more secure in some ways. It's certainly a lot less hassle for us because we don't have to think about, you know, keeping servers up to date, et cetera, and the great thing is that servers are not sitting there with most of their capability not being used the whole time, so we're now completely serverless.
Everything we do is serverless. There was one point where we just had one remaining component that was to do with data indexing, and even that was causing us issues, so we got rid of that as well. So everything is completely serverless, and we do think that that gives us some real advantages. It's not just in terms of, you know, management and scalability, but actually there's some features that we plan to bring out that you could only do with serverless, and that's more around some of the intelligent stuff that Gareth has been talking about. Maybe, gareth, you want to pick up on some of that.
0:22:32 - Tyler Wells
Yeah, yeah, yeah sure, i think Gareth is bad. There we are, yeah, yeah yeah, no.
0:22:36 - Gareth Edge
so well, Let's bring it out a little bit.
0:22:37 - Tyler Wells
That sounds good.
0:22:39 - Gareth Edge
I think so there's a really sort of exciting point on the horizon with the introduction of like intelligence into the no code space. I think, you know, for us personally, i thought, for this is where we're looking to kind of redefine the space. You know, all the current players in no code at the moment. I mean they're doing don't get me wrong They're doing a great job making good inroads into, like, helping build applications, but they're not really offering what we see as the complete solution. There's still a big sort of gaping hole there. You know, they're still sort of leaving a lot of handoffs, you know, from designers to data experts, through to infrastructure engineers, which brings us full circle back to the original problem, which is that there aren't enough skilled technologists to cope with the growing demand of, you know, technology projects. So you know there's one part of the problem. But once you've actually got your application built and launched, there's really then, you know, a lack of knowledge on how to improve it in order to optimize the business, and that's because that requires like an understanding of you know. What data do you need to collect, how do you interpret that, and then what do you actually do with it to bring about like positive changes in the application and ultimately in that person's business.
So this is where we think intelligent no-codes comes in And actually, as we call it, thought-former I no-code.
This is where you kind of take all the good intentions of no-codes but complete the picture, you know, adding the know-how, adding the intelligence. So it's about guiding the user in the areas that would usually require expertise or additional skills and experience. So we see this as things like giving assistance and recommendations on how to build the user interface That's slowly starting to propagate out into the no-code space as we speak. You know, taking the security and the infrastructure, which are normally like huge concerns, you know we handle Jason has already alluded to this we handle all of that invisibly so that the user just doesn't even have to think about it. But it's the real innovation we see is when the product's up and running, you know. So that's when it's about, like deriving insights and recommendations that can then be easily tested. You know, changes that could bring about things like increased revenues or solving user acquisition sticking points or making a path to purchase much more frictionless and automating that process so that it's all done intelligently.
0:25:27 - Tyler Wells
So the plan is to use OpenAI to essentially feed it data that you're capturing inside of Thoughtforma, around all those aspects that you just mentioned, and then utilize the power of OpenAI to provide recommendations back to the user, whether the user being the developer, in this case, or non-developer, since it's low code, no code. Whoever's created this application? Let's unpack this a little bit more. There's a lot there, so let's dig into that a little bit more.
0:26:00 - Gareth Edge
Yeah, exactly that.
It's pretty much that Maybe not necessarily just OpenAI. It could be that we start tapping into some of what AWS is starting to open up with their Bedrock Artificial Intelligence Services, because one of the things that we're probably going to need to do is make it so that we can tweak the model, make the model understand conceptually what an application is trying to do and therefore understand what it needs to do in order to improve it as well. So if we can get to the point that the artificial intelligence and the machine learning can understand context, can understand that it might be better to do things a different way. Let's try out collapsing down this path to purchase from five clicks to two clicks. Then what we could even do is, rather than just recommend back to the builder of the application, thoughtformer could actually build a variation, so it could say look, this is the version that you've got out in production today, but how about trying out this one, which is a much shorter path to purchase? And then it's almost like spin that up in an A-B test to a automated.
0:27:17 - Tyler Wells
A-B testing right there. Automated A-B testing.
0:27:24 - Gareth Edge
And really again, i was just going to say this is where the power of You go.
0:27:32 - Jason Edge
So where I handed back off to Gareth there to explain all of that was, i said that we felt that our architecture gave us some benefits, and that is that we've just talked there about creating a single variant. But what we could actually do is create a number of variants and actually have them all out there in the wild against the original version, all collecting user behavior data and seeing which are scoring the best, and then it's kind of surviving the fittest. Okay, so this is looking the best. Let's promote that Now. Where our architecture helps us in that is that we don't have to actually provision servers for each of those versions of an application. To us, an application is just data, and so our serverless architecture allows us to say all right, so let's just Somebody's calling this application and they're calling application version A And somebody over there is calling application version V. It doesn't matter to us, we just provide them all And the architecture is there to service that.
0:28:30 - Tyler Wells
Well, when you say the application it's just data, kind of expand on that a little bit more. It's just data that can make, they can mean a whole lot of different things. Yeah, that's true. Can we sort of define that a little bit better, that's true.
0:28:42 - Jason Edge
So just going back to this concept of it's no code, i mean clearly, in the same way that serverless is not serverless there are servers.
No code is not no code. Somebody's written some code somewhere, and of course that's us. And so what you're actually doing when you build an application on ThoughtForm is you're configuring blocks or atoms of capability and processing somebody has built. And so when I say that an application is data, what that data is doing is telling is coordinating all of those atoms of data sorry, of capability to behave together in a certain way so that it feels like an application. And so variant A or variant B to us is just slightly tweak, the way that those things work together and therefore the way that the application behaves.
0:29:33 - Tyler Wells
Is it configuration? So it's configuration. It's effectively. Yeah, okay, it's effective. Okay, great. What format are you using? Are you using YAML or are you using JSON? What sort of is the underlying descriptive language that you're using for that data?
0:29:47 - Jason Edge
Yeah, so it's largely JSON, But effectively, we've created our own DSL domain specific language that allows you to configure all of those aspects of an application It's data, it's logic, it's UX UI, all those aspects.
0:30:04 - Tyler Wells
So that sounds like that enables really good portability as well. Completely So you can start to move these things all over the Okay got it Yeah so one of the things. I was just gonna say I think It's your turn.
0:30:15 - Gareth Edge
Gary. Thank you, i think I might be lagging slightly here. Yeah, so sorry to talk over you, but you hit on a really good point there, tyler, which we actually see as a differentiator as well, which is that because of that portability, we're actually gonna be able to enable our users to fully export their applications. So they don't need to run them inside the Thoughtformer platform necessarily. They can export the entire application. And also because the infrastructure is code as well, there's no reason why that cannot go as part of the export as well. So our users can benefit from exporting not only their application but an entire infrastructure that will support it and then can then run that themselves, which nobody else in the NoCode space is offering.
0:31:04 - Tyler Wells
All right, let's actually This is really cool. Let's unpack this a little more So somebody can come to Thoughtformer had never written a line of code in their life that can understand logic and reason and can sort of come with this great idea. They can start to incubate this idea, build this idea out on top of Thoughtformer And let's imagine that all of a sudden, massive growth takes place. They hit some level of escape velocity that says, okay, yes, i wanna stay on Thoughtformer, but maybe I need to move beyond that, because there's gonna be limitations of every platform, right? So, a lot of times that has to do with scale.
But now you've enabled this company to come in, get started quickly with NoCode, with no developers, but maybe achieves this place of high growth. And now, because of the portability and because everything is code, the infrastructure is code, you could potentially say, okay, export this and run this in my own AWS. And because you've got the language, specificity and everything else like that, the AI could come in and say, no problem, here is everything you need and I've already spun it up for you. Yeah, absolutely Wow. And your competitors? they can all do this too, right? Yeah, that's what I heard you say is no? So yeah, that's pretty powerful. That's really interesting because.
0:32:31 - Jason Edge
So I think one of the things that helps us to do that is probably worth talking about this too, because we just talked about an application and what an application is, and I've said an application is just data, and it is to us. When people are building an application in Thoughtformer, they are just effectively generating configuration data. We don't then take that and actually generate code off the back of it that gets run. So that kind of seems a bit counterintuitive, based on what we just said about providing code on the back end. But the thing that enables us to do what I just described is that, effectively, an application is rendered at the time that somebody is running it, and so the thing that we like about the way we've got this architected is that we can render to a number of different output formats. So at the moment we're rendering to a web output, but also to native mobile. So that's worth saying. Just from one single build configuration you actually get web and native mobile.
But that third thing, that thing about generating code off the back end well, that to us is just another renderer. Let's just render that configuration back into code that somebody else can then take away. So that's that. But then we've got all sorts of plans for these renderers. We've just heard Apple talking about their vision pro stuff. We could render out to 3D space, and we're already talking about that. We could render out to speech. We can go to IoT devices. We can go to wearables. The worlds are always to really about where we can go with this stuff.
0:34:06 - Tyler Wells
Just another renderer sounds like Yeah, beautiful. Who's building on Thoughtformer today?
0:34:12 - Gareth Edge
Yeah, so it's a good question. Basically it probably in order to answer that it's probably good to introduce Nobody Studios and where we play into that journey.
0:34:28 - Tyler Wells
So I mentioned my own studio.
0:34:39 - Jason Edge
What a great decision that was. It was indeed It was a lot of fun.
0:34:43 - Gareth Edge
Yes, Yeah, so I mean Nobody Studios. For us, we've been on the usual startup journey where it's been extremely bumpy, as all startup founders know. When we actually got introduced to Nobody Studios, we were probably weeks away from completely running out of our financial runway. Jason and I have been bootstrapping Thoughtformer. We were in full-time contracts, doing everything. This was a side hustle. We were doing everything to try and keep this thing alive And it was getting to the point that we either had to go for traditional funding or we probably had to wind the thing up and go back to nine to five day jobs, which was just like a hellish vision for us at that particular point.
But that's when we got no fun there. That's when we got introduced to Nobody Studios. It was a very serendipitous moment when we first met Mark McNally and heard the vision. Everything just felt right. It seemed to have all the ingredients that we were looking for when it came to growing our own company. You know, they were kind of offering us skills and resources that we didn't have And they were offering us real world companies for us to build using Thoughtformer, so that sort of circles.
Back to your original question, which is who's building on Thoughtformer or how's it being used. So when we first came into the studio, we were kind of given an assignment which was like let's take one of our portfolio companies and have you build it out to show that Thoughtformer can do what it says on the tin. So that's what we did. So we, you know, over a very short period of time we managed to build and launch an application for a company called Ovation's, which is a two sided marketplace. That makes it very easy for event planners of virtual events to easily find amazing talent and to make them part of their events quickly and affordably, and it kind of cuts out the middleman agencies and opens up a whole new market of speakers and other forms of talent. So we've actually built and launched that. We've done that ourselves That's me and Jason actually building on top of our own platform. But it's got some pretty intricate integrations. It's got a lot of workflow. Workflow processing going on is handling scheduling, marketplace payments, including kind of revenue splitting, and that was our way to sort of show what we could do all without a single line of code. And that's been kind of step one on the growth story. And so now the next step is we need to open the doors up to external users and show that others can do it. So that's the stage that we're at. Right now We've opened up a private alpha program.
We've also brought into the team a very experienced no code person who's become a product advocate for us, who super connected in the no code space. He's built tons of no code applications himself using all the various competitors products. So he's, you know, he's got an intimate knowledge of what's out there And he's helped us to find our initial users. So one of the first things that he did was set up what was what we called a builder challenge right, which was basically like a four week period where we wanted to find four users to build four applications completely remotely for completely different applications and just prove that Thoughtformer can be used by external users. And that was such a resounding success that we've now expanded that. And we're now we've made you know, because of our product advocate actually he's made that a repeatable process We're now about to launch what we're calling an MVP boot camp, which is going to be a repeatable four week process.
We've expanded it out now to 25 people that are going to be in each cohort. We've already got 53 people have signed up, so oversubscribed already. But the beauty of it is that you know it's bringing real world problems to us externally and some really exciting problems as well. Like it's now circling back to the whole reason that we did this, we're getting some super purposeful ideas that people want to build on.
0:39:41 - Tyler Wells
Thoughtformer. I mean, the ideas are probably, you know, limitless. But I think what about, like, what about in terms of so you've got this cohort of 53 people, you've already done a five, you're going to try to go to 25. How many companies do you expect being launched out of that? Great question, that's me.
0:39:59 - Jason Edge
0:39:59 - Tyler Wells
Yeah, i mean that's that's that's where the that's where the rubber hits the road is. I've come up with this great idea, yeah, i've. I've now created this MVP fast and efficiently using Thoughtformer. I can now go, i can now start this company, because I've built on top of Thoughtformer. I think that's, that would be the, the ultimate sort of what feather in the cap of.
0:40:21 - Jason Edge
I've gone from idea to to build to company, to revenue, obviously, yeah Well wouldn't it be great if every one of those, those participants, led to a company you know? so it's effectively 25 each time. You know we're setting it at 25 at the moment. We'll need to improve that process and scale that as well, so that that's going to grow And eventually we'll just open the doors anyway, right, and so who knows? I mean it could be. Yeah because I mean the ultimate.
0:40:49 - Tyler Wells
The ultimate net step is self service, right? So essentially anyone in the world with an idea can come and build on part of Thoughtformer. They can build it. So it's maybe their pet project or maybe it becomes the you know, the next Facebook or the next whatever it is Yeah. Yeah, and all that can be done on Thoughtformer Yeah. So when is when does this kick off? When is this, when is this happening?
0:41:16 - Gareth Edge
So the first incarnation of the bootcamp is kicking off on June the 19th. We've actually closed submissions for that now because, as I say, as as we've already said, we've been oversubscribed, so we've now already got a pipeline for the next one. But yeah, so the first bootcamp will kick off on June, the night Monday, june the 19th, and we'll run for four weeks And, yeah, again, it's, it's one of those things that is, you know, it's, it's proving our traction, it's proving our growth story, it's the thing that's going to generate stories, compelling stories that we can start to tell as we go out and seek funding, for example, because that's the next step for us, the next step is for us to go and get seed funding. So we want to be able to tell some really compelling stories, not just about the platform and the technology and the capabilities that we've got, but actual, real world stories that are validating the whole reason that we started all this. So really exciting, exciting times for us.
You know, we're already getting some great stories from just the initial incarnation, which was just, you know, four builders. But those four builders were geographically located all over the world. You know, there was one, one guy who was actually a 16 year old, based in Osaka in Japan, who basically built a Instagram clone in like six hours, you know, not fully, fully functional, but like enough for it to be, you know, an application that people could then come along and play with in six hours. You know, it's those kind of things where it's like, okay, that's, that's starting to show the capability of this thing and the fact that you know, anybody in the world can come and do this stuff. So super, super exciting And there's only more to come now, especially as the real world. So what are the?
0:43:16 - Tyler Wells
they built that clone. Where is it now? What's it? what is it doing? Is it still out there and live and living? or did he shut it down? Or was it just?
0:43:23 - Gareth Edge
Yeah, no, it's still out there. I mean, anything you build on Thoughtformer is live, live on the internet. You know, one of the things that we're going to do is build a showcase page on our, on our, website, so all of the builders that come through that want to showcase the outcomes will feature on this page and people will be able to go and use their products that they're producing. But it's a. We feel like that's a really good way to also promote these people as builders, because if somebody's done a you know, produced a compelling application through Thoughtformer, and then somebody else comes along and says, well, i'm probably not going to do that myself, but it then opens up another, you know another market really for them to actually build on behalf of other people too. So it's starting to see that kind of community of builders.
0:44:19 - Jason Edge
Super interesting It's going to be a big part of the whole thing. So you know there's that aspect of it. But you know we talked earlier about those atoms of capability. At the moment it's Gareth and I that are building those. We're already starting to think about. You know how can you make it so that the thing is extensible and other people can build it at different levels, some using just no code, some actually using code themselves to just build out the extensibility. So you know the whole thing is going to is going to be a community led thing.
0:44:49 - Tyler Wells
So, jason, you talked a lot about you have a deep background in data, so obviously podcast is called Data Chaos. We've seen a lot of and I'm sure you've experienced lots of crazy chaotic things around data. Let's dig in. Let's let's stick with the theme that I failed at, which is top three. This time you won't do albums, but how about? what are what are sort of the top three? Maybe, maybe we can put it into three biggest mistakes you've seen, either around data I was almost going to say corporations or people, but let's just, we'll just go with what's the three biggest mistakes you've seen people make with data?
0:45:29 - Jason Edge
Well, when you when you introduced it at the beginning, one of the things you said what's your biggest regret? So let me start with that one and then I'll come back to the other, because it might is probably slightly surprising. My biggest regret in terms of data is that I didn't start a personal daily journal from when I was very young. So, in other words, i haven't collected data about my life And I wish I had, and I tell you why that. I think that's becoming relevant And that's because I think that data and AI are going to mean that, you know, computing and data are going to be increasingly more, more parts of our personal lives.
You know, look at the kind of stuff that Apple is talking about at the moment. you know, things are going to just become much more. you know, the sort of digital world is going to become part of the real world, and I just think that the more that you you can allow you know that that digital, those digital entities to know about yourself that, the more they're going to be able to represent you more authentically you know well yeah.
I mean, there's a risk to all of this, of course, and I think you know I was watching that as a lot of people. I was watching the presentation on the Vision Pro stuff And as it was playing through, i was thinking right, so you're watching a lot of people wearing these funny goggles, you know, talking to other people. how does the thing actually? how do you actually be cut? I can't see a camera in front of them. You know, how are you going to actually be a be be part of that conversation?
And they already had the answer to that, which is that they're going to create, basically, a digital avatar that represents you as you're in a conversation with, with those guys. So there's the first manifestation of that Right. Then you start adding you know, actual, authentic representation of the way you think and your knowledge, you know, your experience of life. I just think that, yes, just the future is incredible and probably slightly scary.
0:47:28 - Tyler Wells
So definitely scary. I mean, yeah, Well, I'll let you go Keep going.
0:47:32 - Jason Edge
Yeah, so I think from somebody who's sort of spent their lives kind of helping organizations that you know are really sort of struggling from the amount of data that they've collected, it probably sounds a bit strange to say, well, we're not actually collecting enough, let's collect some more. There we go. So yeah, there's that. So I guess the crazy things I've seen are people just collecting data all over the place and then completely losing sight of what it's about, what they've got, what the value of it is. On the back of that experience that I, you know that work that I mentioned, i wrote a book, a co-wrote, a book called Crossing the Data Delta, which was, you know, the sub-tech. The subtitle of that was to say you know, this is about helping you, helping organizations, to get the information from the data, the information that they need from the data that they've got, so kind of recognizing that you've got this massive amount of data on one side and then there's a huge gap between that and the actual insights that you need to get from that data. And, you know, a key part of not being able to bridge that gap is the mismanagement that goes on of that data, which can be broken down in so many different ways.
I worked with one organization that had you know. That was sort of saying that they're able to comply with you know data protection and personal GDPR-type regulations, and yet they had a 30 terabyte data lake and they didn't know what was in it. So you're kind of saying, okay, so how can you possibly, how can you possibly say you're complying with you know regulations around personal data when you couldn't tell me what personal data might be in that lake? You know it's those kind of things that are crazy, and so you know and it's a big. It feels like a big problem And I think data management is the practice of data management is how do you, how do you eat the elephant and break that down into manageable, manageable units?
One of the things we've done, wanted to do in ThoughtFormer, is to bake some of those good practices into the way that we capture data so that you know people don't have to. In the same way, they don't think about the infrastructure or even about how to you know the know, how required to build an application. They also don't have to know about how to manage data because it's done for them, and so, yeah, there's a big part of data management, data governance, in ThoughtFormer.
0:50:02 - Tyler Wells
Yeah, i mean a lot of what you just said. You know sort of made up part of the thesis for why I built my current company. So many organizations create well, every organization today is a data company. I think that's a premise we can all get behind. They create tons of data. That data goes to places like lakes, like Redshift, like BigQuery, like Snowflake, you name it, and it's sort of it just accumulates and it continues to accumulate. You add more teams, they create more data. You add more users, it creates more data.
And, like you said, trying to derive insight and value from that data is a big problem. I think I mean I've seen it in my past where data just went to places and died And it just continued to ring up that AWS bill of more and more and more and cost incurred costs without getting any sort of return on. You know that expense that you're paying to hold that data And a lot of that data is exceptionally valuable. It can provide a lot of insights And it sounds like you're taking a lot of what you've seen in the past and seeing past mistakes made and fixing those, rectifying those and bringing using that to influence how you're building ThoughtFormer and your own data governance.
0:51:18 - Gareth Edge
I was just going to say that. You know this is why we're really going to start making a play for the whole extensibility aspect within ThoughtFormer, so that we can you know, we see a massive affinity with what you're doing. You know we're not we're not certainly not going to be the experts in surfacing those analytics and those insights and those dashboards and things. You know we're doing a good job of collecting the data, but not necessarily surfacing it to our end users. So a platform like Propel is perfect for us to start using our extensibility and say, right, well, let's integrate, let's integrate with Propel, let's take our data and take all the great stuff that you guys are doing in terms of then surfacing that to the user with the insights and the analytics, and that's just one perfect example where we don't have to be then, you know, almost do what you guys are doing, because we're not going to be able to do that. You know that's it's just a step too far for us, and so let's build that into our extensibility roadmap.
0:52:27 - Jason Edge
So one thing, one thing to add to that is that we've talked about this in the past. You know, and you've said, that one of the biggest problems that you often face is that, before you can do that, you're having to help people clean up their data. So our goal is to make sure that, with ThoughtFormer, you don't have to do that. You know that the data is already clean, and so that step is is is you avoid that, but we can then still push clean data out and you can do the magical things that your platform does.
0:52:55 - Tyler Wells
Clean from day one. I like that. That would. That would make things much easier, definitely would. So let's, let's, let's, let's. I mean obviously we've got the next sort of you know big build event coming up. What's the rest of the year look like for ThoughtFormer? What are some of the big, the big goals you know you have out there that you want to hit?
0:53:14 - Gareth Edge
Yeah. So biggest goal is getting funded. Yeah, we're looking for seed funding as soon as we possibly, as soon as we possibly can. So that's our sort of North Star right now Lots of stuff on the roadmap that we're that we're working on.
Key one for us is usability. You know, jason and I are not UI UX experts in the slightest. So the platform in its current alpha form we know has a number of usability flaws. So we've actually brought a UI UX designer into the team, very experienced lady who's doing a fantastic job of redesigning our interface. So we're really excited to build that out and get that released over the coming couple of months.
As a result, as I say, extensibility is a huge one for us. We want to make it so that Jason and I are no longer the bottlenecks. You know it's not about us having to build these integrations into ThoughtFormer, it's about opening it up to the end users to be able to do that themselves. So that's a huge one. And then really leaning into the intelligence side of things, especially the runtime intelligence, and really starting to get unleashed this power of self optimization. You know, having applications that are self adapting, self aware and self optimizing, we see, is the future of the no code space And so really sort of bringing that to life and also being able to pitch that at least the seed of it and the idea of it and the concept, we think is the thing that's going to clinch the seed funding for us. That's just a couple of things. I mean there's just so many things happening this year, but it's all fun and games.
0:55:05 - Tyler Wells
Jason, what about for you on the tech side?
0:55:09 - Jason Edge
So I mean, gareth talked a little bit there about usability and you know part of it is about tidying up the current UI, but I think the other side of the intelligence piece is also about how to actually make building applications feel much more natural and intuitive to people. So we've got ideas around, you know, just using speech, so you talk and your application gets built, or you type prompts in the sort of chat, gpt way of doing things. But you know, we've had these ideas for a long time. And then along comes Apple with its whole AR and VR play and you sort of seeing a world where you could just put some goggles on and start talking to the room and suddenly this application is appearing in front of you. You're not typing anything, you don't have any technical knowledge, you're not talking to experts, you're not paying anybody to do all this stuff. This is just around the corner for us, so really exciting stuff, a lot of exciting stuff out there.
0:56:06 - Tyler Wells
I think what would be interesting is, as you go into on the 19th, you know, the big sort of global build event. once that wraps up, i think it might be a lot of fun to come back on the podcast and talk about it. I would like to learn more. I would like to see what people build. I think it would be great for Thoughtforma, but also for the builders. maybe we can showcase something there We have another discussion about that and see what that looks like.
0:56:31 - Gareth Edge
That would be fantastic. Yeah, that would be awesome. We'd be honored, yeah.
0:56:35 - Tyler Wells
Excellent. Well, gareth. Jason, i appreciate the time this morning. For me it's a little earlier than it is for you over there in the UK, but I appreciate you taking the time and hopping on this episode with me and having a conversation about Thoughtforma. It's been great fun, thanks. Absolutely.
Transcribed by https://podium.page
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