Focusing on the #codeless space

Image Credit: Pablo Stanley

I have spent most of my time since 2004 operating businesses. While my background by education is engineering and my experience for two decades has been growing businesses, I do not have a knack for software design and product development. I’ve tried to learn how to make websites, tried to learn how to program, but it never really stuck! For me, it just needs to be easier.

So it came as a surprise to me when in December 2019 – just a few shorts months ago – I decided I would allocate some of my time into the role of an Entrepreneur-in-Residence to spend a lot of this year investing in the #codeless (aka #nocode or #lowcode) software development world with the purpose of building a SaaS business.

As I reflected on my life over the last few years a trend had emerged. I was noticing that while my clients were accelerating their revenue lines they were doing so faster than I anticipated. I am well aware that I’m best at what I do, but the results were exceeding my expectations. I also noticed that many of my clients were using tools that I had never had direct experience with.

It’s a new reality. Since January of 2020 I’ve connected with some of my friends in the #codeless space – investors, operators, founders, and creators. I’ve gone in and looked in to the space and tools. I’ve joined a small community of makers based out of Atlanta.

Over the last 12-18 months there has been a growing community – I’ve heard estimates of anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 people – across the globe creating and validating software ideas faster than ever. Not too many examples of any of them generating profitability yet, but there is plenty of opportunity to leverage the tools for existing businesses and it will come for those creating the tools.

In the last 75 days I’ve made a few interesting observations and built a handful of applications and workflows:

  • Building software and playing with tools doesn’t feel as daunting as it used to
  • Playing with ideas increases my knowledge of databases
  • Designing and laying out workflows is utilizing a different part of my brain, building new muscles

The overall journey feels comfortable given three years ago I made the switch from business executive to independent consultant. Moving in to this new world feels like a natural extension. I’m exited to share what I learn.


For the last decade I have been partnering with visionary leaders who have a desire to accelerate their business and push their personal growth to new heights. As an independent consultant for the last two years about 30% of my work is with early stage companies who are taking their understanding of the market and trends and are either solving a meaningful problem or fulfilling a new or growing desire. These leaders are particularly compelling to me when they are fully committed to themselves, have a large appetite to learn and have a large vision for themselves and the customer they serve.

There are three categories of businesses you can create today: service, physical goods, or information products. Many of these leaders tend to focus on service and information. However, when I met with Sky Gilbar and David Silverander, co-founders of Hitch, I was excited to speak with a team tapping into their superpowers and the physical goods category in the food and beverage carry space!

Sky and David’s company has a profound mission to make life easier for everyone who carries food and drink on the go. Hitch is a sustainable brand offering cleverly designed reusable storage to carry food and drink on the go. Their first product is the Hitch Courier, the world’s first water bottle that has a reusable, leak-proof coffee cup hidden inside.

The market for food and drink carry is large and growing. Transparency Market Research estimates that the reusable water bottle market is expected to rise from a $7B valuation to a $10B valuation by 2024. The everyday segment is expected to be the most lucrative segment of the space. When you go beyond water bottles, the data is scattered. It’s likely that the total resuables market will be around $22B by 2022. 

But how we carry reusables is at odds with the current trends and day to day reality. A dense McKinsey report unpacked by Fast Company presents a $900B packaging industry that is growing and growing. The actual logistics of carrying raises the question: How? The reality is there is only so much space when you’re carrying a water bottle and then asked to carry a coffee cup.

There’s a growing trend of people asking if there’s a better way to carry their food and drink. A recent internal Hitch survey found that 80% of people who carry a reusable water bottle won’t carry a reusable cup because it’s too hard to carry. So when you ask someone to carry a water bottle they may carry it, but when you ask them to carry that + another reusable you run into a carry problem, a human problem: too many reusables.

For coffee and water consumers the best experience would be to have a carry product that would allow for both. For people who already carry water bottles, the bottle could carry the reusable coffee cup for you. Think of a premium full-size water bottle with a removable barista-approved coffee cup hidden inside. The water bottle and cup are both double walled, stainless steel, and the cup is coffee shop ready, meaning it’s full-sized and includes a leak-proof lid.

For companies, Hitch presents a new business opportunity. There are many companies looking to freshen up their brand image with digital transformation, sustainability and diversity/equality initiatives often leading the way. Others have connected closely with the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Consumption platform. With Hitch they can:

  • provide means to cut costs for themselves while showing benefits for their employees and their communities.
  • meet their employees through personalized customization.
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Improve the carry experience for their employees through superior design

Hitch is about to drive a movement where millions of people will think consciously about what happens when they use an object, like a paper cup, for just 10 minutes before it goes off to a landfill. There is a growing awareness that paper cups cannot be recycled with cities and coffee shops introducing surcharges or banning them from their coffee shops voluntarily. 

Sky and David have the right background to tackle this market. Sky had led product design and storytelling for multiple startup companies, he co-founded Snapwire, a platform connecting mobile photographers and brands. He’s brought his talents as a consultant to brands like Google and Coca-Cola on brand, sustainability, product, and experience design. David’s wheelhouse is sales, operations and finance having most recently been the COO of an athletic apparel manufacturer. Both share an appreciation for the value of a deeply considered brand with a meaningful vision. 

Sky and David have assembled an impressive team that has the ideal skill set to help them bring an excellent and innovative product to market. With the support of an experienced mechanical engineer and an award-winning product designer, they undertook a deliberate and purposeful design process that has resulted in a truly impressive marriage of aesthetics and functionality. 

Sky and I were introduced in early 2019, got to know one another and spent most of our initial conversations on how to leverage what an individual is best at. When Sky reached back out in the summer I was excited to learn that he had partnered with David and they had launched a project with a large vision leveraging their individual strengths. A tough call to make for many entrepreneurs is burning the boats and taking the island. They both made that call.

Today I am happy to announce that Hitch and Vik Duggal are partnering. I’m excited to join the team as an advisor and help launch the first product.

Let’s do this together!

How an executive assistant grew her practice by following a clear playbook

The Vik Duggal Workshop aka The Workshop is an offering that is part of DuggalConsulting. Two years ago I started helping friends who wanted to live the consulting lifestyle I had created. I do this through a 2-day offsite specifically dedicated to refining the offer to be sellable immediately after leaving. Some friends take advantage of the ongoing support I provide for six months afterward.

This is my way of taking what I’ve learned creating DuggalConsulting – a business that serves companies ranging from VC-backed technology startups to large companies doing $12B in annual revenue – and by serving my clients to help friends unlock their full potential.

In this case study, I interviewed Ferren Warner from ACE – an executive assistant service that is building a larger business after The Workshop.

Ferren Warner, Founder/CEO, Ace

1. What made you sign up for the workshop?

I knew that my business had a cash flow problem. Honestly, I started the company with my first client being my mom. Yes she was my mom, but as the Chief Medical Officer of the largest public health plan in Southern California transitioning into a consultant traveling 80% of the time.

I thought she was the perfect person for phase one. I think I took for granted that I didn’t have to raise money or bootstrap. I just started doing what I knew best and trusted the rest would go from there.

I quickly realized 15 clients and 10 team members later that I was really in business. Year 1 “proof of concept” was done. And I was headed into Year 2 attempting to up-level everything (team, service, client coverage). I quickly realized to do it well meant a shift in the entire business model…but I didn’t know how to get there.

I was also intrigued. I knew what Vik had done for himself and I saw first hand the success of his hard work (full disclosure he’s a client). I envied the model he was living and breathing. I wanted to learn how to manifest that for myself and my family.

2. What was the most impactful part of the program?

There were so many wonderful parts of the workshop!

(1) I loved the opening and how we were asked to explore answers to a series of prompted questions. My favorite “why are you here?” and “who are you doing this for”. I revisit those questions every, single day. It motivates me beyond words.

(2) crafting our target audience. I can’t believe I had never done this before. I think I was stuck in this “thank god anyone wants this service” mode that I didn’t take time to think through whether I thought they were the ideal client or not. I now have it firmly in my mind who the ideal client is.

(3) Crafting my sales proposition. This was a light bulb shattering moment. When I was finally able to have the words to describe what ACE is meant to be. Not just an on-demand VA service. It’s so much more than that. The value of the service, the ambitious but attainable goal…my mission felt very clear and I am now able to easily identify where my growth opportunities are.

3. What kind of results did you get from the program?

In 30 days I was able to:

– identify my current client base and identify who my ideal clients are, 

– I was able to speak comfortably about the future of the company with existing and new clients, 

– I was able to convert existing clients to the new model, 

– I onboarded new clients, 

– I have made improvements to internal operations with the team and how we function, 

– I brought in $72,000 in the first 45 days and am set up to bring in another $600,000 in the next year.

4. Anything surprise you about the program?

-I was surprised by how emotional I got. What I experienced in that workshop really changed my life. We were talking about everything in the construct of what to do with my business, but the potential it unlocked changed the way I think about my life (and that of my husband and kids). I’m so grateful. Yes, I actually cried at times (outside of the meeting of course).

5. What did you think of the facilitator?

He’s alright 🙂 KIDDING. Vik is incredible! He’s the reason I even came. It was not an insignificant amount of money for me to come, but I didn’t think twice about it. I jumped two feet in because again I’ve seen the outcome of what he’s done for himself and others. I’ve seen his magic. It’s pretty infectious.

6. Who do you think this program is for? 

This program is applicable for almost anyone at any stage of their business journey. I believe it’s for those who are just starting and looking for positioning and value prop support, I believe it’s for those whose businesses grew so quick and organically that they haven’t had time to pause and roadmap (that was me!), I think its for those who are struggling to figure out how to pivot / save their company when they’ve think all options are exhausted… but mostly I think it’s for those who know that life can be exactly what they dream it to be, but need a bit of support putting that into fruition. I feel like I’ve been fortunate to be put in the right place, with the right “support”, at the right time. I’m ready to help others live the richest, most enjoyable, stress-free life they can live. Ace is ready to take off. Let’s do this! 

How a UX leader thoughtfully grew his consulting practice

How a UX leader thoughtfully grew his consulting practice 

It has always been a goal of mine to share my learnings and expertise and the stories of companies and entrepreneurs I have helped – from seasoned veterans to those just starting up. It’s part of the reason I created The Vik Duggal Workshop two years ago as I built my own consulting practice. I have received incredible results; I want to share them. In this event, I take attendees through an incredible experience over two days to analyze what they do better than most and MAXIMIZE all aspects of their consulting practice. When done, they have all all the tools to increase their income and deliver amazing value. 

Today’s interview is with Prakash Chandran. Prakash is the former head of UX for Google Enterprise. He attended The Workshop and used what he learned to increase the value he delivers to his clients. He answers six questions for you today:

1. What made you sign up for the workshop?

After getting to know you, It was clear that you had more experience than me and were at a level in your consulting practice that I aspired to. After you sent me the initial workshop offer, the email spoke to the problems I was having, but sounded a little bit like so many things i’ve heard pitched to me before. The difference for me was the fact that you were willing to be fully transparent about the practice you had built and that you took the time to address my concerns when we met for coffee. You gave me a little hint of what was to come by telling me my revenue model might be wrong. I like that I got some value before even taking the workshop.  

I’d say I was also at a time where I was looking for a breakthrough. My wife had me read a chapter in the book YOU are a Bad Ass and it was around the limiting beliefs we put on ourselves. It just so happened that I met you shortly after that happened.

2. What was the most impactful part of the program?

* Hearing about your values (aligned with mine). We spoke about this briefly yesterday. “Figure out what you do REALLY well, figure out how to sell it so you have more free time to do things you love”

* Putting structure around how I talk about what I do

* Putting together an offer email. Empathizing with the customer first, saying I can help and then being very clear and structured about how I will help them. Finally ending with what the investment is 

* Being asked to reach out to people in my network immediately

* Seeing other people go through the exercise with you of figuring out how to talk about what they do

3. What kind of results did you get from the program?

Before the program even began, I signed my first retainer customer. In total my monthly revenue has gone from $15k (the most I had ever done in a month) to $60k per month (consistently) and should hopefully grow if I can figure out how to systematize even more.

4. Anything surprise you about the program?

I don’t think anything surprised me per se. I didn’t really know what to expect, but taking the time to be with like minded people and having a mentor to really provide structure to our thinking was just what I needed.

5. What did you think of the facilitator?

I love that you love when people unlock things for themselves. You’ve clearly spent a lot of time thinking through what’s important and how to get the life you want, and you can articulate it in a way that inspires people to get moving and create better circumstances for themselves. It’s a true gift!

6. Who do you think this program is for?

I think this program is best suited for consultants/contracts who have already taken the leap to get out of the W2 world but aren’t making the kind of money they want to be making. Secondly, someone who is STUCK at a W2 job who has spent a career crafting their abilities and thinks they are capable of more but doesn’t know where to start

Anything I missed asking about?

I think there’s a certain mindset that people need to be in to get the MOST value out of the program. They have to be ready to change and to make an investment in themselves. I think it’s hard to really figure out who sits in that bucket, but I think the price (cost of investing in themselves) is a good start.

If you think of any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

Before you Learn, Learn How to Learn



There aren’t a lot of long-form readers today in my network. If you are, hit me up on Twitter. You may be someone who does in fact read magazines and longer fiction, or non-fiction books; but, most are reading micro-content around the Internet. Where and how you put your attention has transformed over the last decade and I’m no different. I had just stopped reading long form content the way I used to.

Last year I had the good fortune of watching the Warren Buffett – HBO Documentary and after a few conversations with friends learned that the best advice he has for people (which he acknowledges most people will never follow) is to “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”


A number of things culminated toward the end of last year that caused me to sit down and create a plan for increasing my power of knowledge in key areas of importance in my life. Then, last October my good friend Nate Ver Berg dropped Gary Hoover’s The Lifetime Learner’s Guide to Reading and Learning on my desk. I want to share what I learned.

The objective is simple: Increase my power of knowledge in key areas of importance in my life.

The purpose is absolutely clear:

  • I believe it will help me get smarter, faster
  • I can incorporate upgraded beliefs through my practice of reading
  • It is another fast way for me to obtain knowledge
  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Will reduce stress
  • Keep brain sharp
  • Slower memory decline
  • Improve sleep
  • Expand vocabulary
  • Improve memory
  • Improve analytical skills
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Improve writing skill

My Key Takeaways for reading non-fiction books

  1. It was important to me to have a very specific objective around why I wanted to read.
  2. I now spend less than five minutes gathering key data from the cover flaps, bio, charts/graphs, publisher, edition. I am surprised as how much context I build before I read the first page. Additionally, I will flow through the Table of Contents and ask questions like: what do they mean? is this surprising? does this resonate? If I’m intrigued I’ll even dive into a chapter that stands out to me. I’ll then read the first several pages to get the gist of the book.
  3. Within the first 15-60 minutes I have a good sense of the author’s POV, background and basic take. I’ll also understand the author’s message, key points for me to understand, subject areas within the broader topi area s/he focuses on.
  4. Now it’s time to head to the index (this part is much easier in physical books, but doable on Kindle books as well). I’ll peruse through the index and flip to pages to understand how certain topics relate to the book flipping around the the specific pages the topic leads me to. I’m often surprised to see people, places, words in the index which I didn’t/couldn’t appreciate were related to a subject matter. This expands the knowledge tree.

The Five Ways We Learn

Hoover’s take some time in the book the outline the five ways we learn: study (making notes, asking questions, arguing), conversation (talk to everyone, ask deep questions, probe, LISTEN), observation (pay attention, watch people), experimentation (learn by doing, creative tests) and thinking (make time for thinking – draw, make outlines, sketch, play with ideas, dream up opposite ideas and assumptions, ask “why” about everything, put myself in their shoes).

The biggest takeaway from it all is that we are strongest when we do the combination of reading and learning AND allow information to flow. The latter involved emailing insights and discoveries to friends; explore with others. For me, the writing started almost immediately (in a notebook). I’m not using this blog to allow for the flow of information.

The biggest takeaway from it all is that we are strongest when we do the combination of reading and learning AND allow information to flow.


The most important part of reading is selection. How actively you read matters, but what you choose in the first place matters more. Two people in my network who are voracious readers are Kesav Mohan and Sutha Kamal. They will also openly admit that they are currently going through more books than they should be. I believe they have a good pulse on great books in particular categories and I’m grateful for their support on my journey to increase knowledge.

There are two ways I see to approaching reading: to try to understand the author’s intent, or to attempt to gleam what’s important to to me. I choose the latter.

I’ve now built a solid list of books in the areas of biography, love relationship, parenting, and finance. That’s what important right now and I’m excited to share what I read.

This time of year I often hear people sharing how much they will read in the coming year. Whether you are, or are not someone will read a lot in 2018 I hope you will take some time to think about how you will learn. Wishing you all the best in your quest for knowledge!