Inteview with Jonas Beisswenger, Founder of Wized

Wized, a tool for integrating third-party data sources and apps with Webflow, was created by Jonas Beisswenger after noticing a demand for reusable code while running a web development agency and was officially launched in 2021 with plans to continue expanding the capabilities of Webflow.
Inteview with Jonas Beisswenger, Founder of Wized

How did you get the idea for Wized?

I ran web development agency at the time, and clients often asked us if we can build some additional functionality that was not possible in Webflow alone.

Usually, clients would ask us to add user authentication, store some data in an Airtable base, and fetch and render data from an external API.

These requests were coming up more and more often, and I started working on some boilerplate code for authentication and database requests. (Boilerplates are code that can be reused over and over again with very few minor adjustments)

After building a couple of these projects I thought there should be a better / faster way of doing it. I then came to the idea to build a component builder, which can connect to third-party data sources, but in the process of it, I realised that Webflow is a perfect component builder that’s already out there.

Then I focussed on Webflow as the component builder, and started to build an application builder that loads on top of the Webflow project and only handles the logic.

What was your process from idea to launch?

First, I spent 2-3 hours building a concept to test my hypothesis, just to test if a tool like this can work with Webflow. This wasn’t really a product, instead, it was just a simple web application.

Once I saw that it was possible to build a front-end framework on top of Webflow, I didn’t want to build anything before validating the market.

So I spent the next few days designing a prototype in Figma and building a simple landing page.

To test the demand, and people’s willingness to pay, I added a call to action saying: “Join the beta for 29€ only”, and a stripe checkout.

Then I created a post in the Webflow Designers (Global) Facebook group, and I got a ton of positive comments and a surprising amount of pre-sales.

I then refunded the money to everyone that purchased, but the fact that so many people were willing to spend their money on a solution like that, confirmed that there is a market for the product.

I spent the next months developing the first version of Wized which was called Platform Wizards at the time. In December 2020, I shared a preview of the new landing page in the group and a 35-minute long crash course which gave users a preview of what’s possible.

This post received even more positive reactions, and a lot of people signed up for early access.

I scheduled a call with every beta tester, and I continued fixing usability issues and bugs along the way.

I continued developing the project, and in July 2021, I launched Wized, a completely revamped version of the initial concept with many major improvements.

Right now, we just launched our third version that is easier to use, more stable, maintainable, and performant.

Which tools did you use during the process?

I was building everything by myself, so my tool stack was pretty lean. I designed everything in Figma. Every component and every state.

Then, I moved to Webflow, and I build all of the components there. Finally, I exported the code and I used Vue.js to build the front-end.

The backend was built using Node.js and runs on the Google Cloud infrastructure.

Why did you decide to use this stack?

I have been developing apps with both Vue and React, and I noticed that I’m about ⅓ faster with Vue than with React. Also, with Vue, there is less code, and it’s faster to convert Webflow code to Vue than to React.

I chose Google Cloud and Node because I have experience with both of those platforms, and I have always found Google Cloud to be much simpler to setup and use than AWS.

Where do you see Wized 1, 3, and 5 years from now?

I believe that Wized will be the leader in integrating third-party data sources and apps with Webflow. Which also perfectly fits into the scope of Finsweet.

Expand the capabilities of Webflow, and build tools that benefit lots of developers.

I see Wized mainly as a Web application builder, but also a tool for loading CMS items from a different database. Once we add server-side rendering, users will be able to load data from anywhere in an SEO-friendly way.

There will always be lots of use cases that Webflow won’t be able to tackle, even with Logic. From what I saw, logic helps with some simple use cases like submitting data from a form to a CMS collection and making some conditional flows.

I don’t think Webflow is going to allow connecting to third-party APIs and real databases, which is easily doable with Wized.

Also, we are going to add features in the near future which allow users to build no-code Web3 applications, an area that might be to niche for Webflow for a long time. There will always be use-cases that Wized can help with, and we will expand our product along Webflow’s roadmap.

Before the launch of this new version, Wized was rewritten from the bottom up, this time more modular than ever, which makes it very easy for us to adapt to new demands, and build new useful features.

Do you see logic and memberships as a possible threat in the future or just as an opportunity?

Of course, it can become a threat at some point. Memberships are currently in beta, and logic is also just around the corner. We’ll have to see what’s possible with it once these features are out. But I think these native Webflow solutions won’t provide as much flexibility as Wized does, for quite some time.

I believe that there will always be the need for integrating third-party data to build real web applications, so Wized will always have its place in the Webflow ecosystem.

We’ll have to see how that plays out.

What are the benefits of using a real database instead of Webflow CMS?

Web applications are mainly a tool for Businesses, and businesses usually have their own internal data that they are dealing with. They have customer data, invoices, and much more, which are already structured and stored somewhere. It might be in an Airtable base, Salesforce, Hubspot, Notion or a custom Back-end. They don’t want to sync this data to another database like Webflow CMS just to build an application. Keeping data in sync data is always a tough challenge.

Normally, you want to have one source of truth. One database, that communicates with other services or the front-end.

And quite frankly, that database is usually not Webflow CMS.

Also, by having a real backend, you can build much more complex functions. In other words, Wized just gives you the ultimate flexibility.

Personal Questions

What is your background? Work experience, education, etc.?

It all started in high school. A friend of mine started working at a design studio, and he wanted to start his own clothing brand. He asked me if I could help him build a Website, and that will is going to take care of the t-shirt designs and printing.

I googled my way around how to build a website, if I remember correctly I stumbled upon Adobe Muse and Gumroad for the checkout, and the whole thing took me a couple of weeks. (laughing) The business only lasted for a short time, but my curiosity about web development was sparked.

Then later, after I had started studying a friend of mine approached me and he needed a website for some project. This was my first-ever paid web development project.

I continued building small websites and with more and more recommendations the clients grew in size and I decided to start an agency with two friends of mine.

At this time I also switched to building websites exclusively in Webflow. I think this was back in 2017 when Webflow just introduced CMS and animations.

As I told earlier, during my time running the agency the idea for Wized was born.

So you were running the agency and studied in parallel?

Yes, fortunately my university allowed a very flexible schedule.

At what kind of university did you study?

I studied Software Engineering at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. CODE is not a traditional university. Students have very few mandatory lectures. Instead, you had to complete one big project every semester, and you can generally choose this project on your own. The only requirement: At the end of every semester you are being accessed on your knowledge and learnings and in order to pass modules you need to have an oral exams. Often for Software Engineering this exam took the form of a code review. While working on those projects you can always talk with professors about challenges you face and can visit learning units for specific topics.

Besides my track, Software Engineering, there are also other two tracks at the university. Those are Interaction Design and Project Management, and you usually collaborate with students from the other programs on every project.

In the end, you learn how to work in a team and become very proficient developing software. Essentials skills you need for work.

As Wized didn’t get any venture capital funding. How were you handling your personal finances before having clients at Wized.

I had some money saved during my agency time and also was eligible to receive some profits from the agency. Although all co-founders left by now, the agency still continues to exist, with a new general manager.

Also, I was still officially a student when I started Wized, so I kept my expenses to a minimum and for example lived in a really tiny one-room apartment here in Berlin.

Thank you for those insights Jonas and all the best!