Twenty-five million people are fluent in standard programming languages. That is one person for every 125 people in the global workforce. But it is 1.4 million fewer than needed. By 2025, we will need four million more and the current channels can’t deliver this growth. Now is the perfect time for new sources and approaches to plug this gap.  

This is where Bristol’s Agilebase comes in. We are the UK’s leading no-code CRM system, we help organisations upskill their work force as an affordable way to digitise their back office. Launched in 2015 by CEO Cliff Calcutt, CTO and Oliver Kohll, Agilebase has grown 20% a year with no outside investment. No code has grown in popularity at a similar rate. There were around 2.6 million low or no-coders in 2021. That number is likely to grow by 40% a year until 2025.

But Agilebase is more than no code, explains CEO Cliff Calcutt, “Agilebase wants to change not only how software is built – but who gets to build it.” 

1 – In your own words – what do you do?

We develop the Agilebase software platform, it’s the leading no-code CRM system. It can manage all the internal data in your organisation. We have clients that use the platform for a vast range of things, resource planning, project tracking, and tons more. 

Agilebase allows you to take all your Excel Spreadsheets and put them into one  system. With traditional “off-the-shelf” CRM systems, there are so many problems because bits of the system just doesn’t not match your requirements. With Agilebase you can get exactly what you want. 

Agilebase replaces programming languages with web interfaces you can recognize. We will turn up on-site in the morning and get you started. We start to build a system to manage part of your job. Generally, by the end of that morning, you can use what has been built and know enough to start improving it yourselves. 

Say you want to add a field. You can do that in 10 seconds. You don’t have to raise a support ticket. Nor do you have to wait 24 hours for someone to get around to reading it, then wait a week for it to get implemented.

2 – What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?

As I say, Agilebase is changing how to build software – and who gets to make it. It used to take a team of expensive engineers to build software. With Agilebase, anyone with a web browser and an idea can make it a reality. It does not matter what gender, race or age you are or what your educational background is. If you are a systematic thinker and know your domain Agilebase is easy and fast to learn and use.

By making Agilebase easy to use, you are not only more productive, we believe it makes work more fulfilling. Being able to be involved in the development of your own systems is exciting for people.

3 – What are you most proud of in this journey?

Of our most senior users, 50% are women and virtually none of them have a background in IT. Agilebase is really powerful but the most important thing is that it is so easy and quick to learn which means it allows people with domain expertise to take control of their systems.

4 – What have you found difficult about growing Agilebase?

As a three-person founding team, we each had clear skill sets and responsibilities. However as we grew, and new challenges emerged our responsibilities needed to expand. Extricating ourselves from our original day-to-day jobs to give ourselves time to take on these new responsibilities is still a big challenge. 

Finding gifted suppliers rather than journeymen is also tough, especially when the skill set you are looking for is unfamiliar. You don’t know what you don’t know. 

Our method is to triangulate. When searching for a supplier, if a person’s name crops up more than twice, we know we should talk to them. 

White men dominate IT. Women make up less than 20% of the workforce, and 15% of workers come from black and minority ethnic groups. The tech industry faces a massive problem with diversity and inclusion.

We want equal opportunities. It is a priority for us to hire women and people from black and ethnic minority groups. That is the challenge for us – and the whole sector.

5 – What would you do differently if you started now?

In hindsight, we would back our own judgement more. You get a lot of great people in the business support sector who are trying to help start-ups. But they target their advice at young people with little experience. As a management team, we are older and pretty experienced. We probably should have been more selective in what we listened to, it’s too easy to get distracted.

For instance, we are bootstrappers but so much of the business support on offer seems to focus on getting VC funding. Seek out the people who map to your business, they are out there but you need to be very selective.

6 – Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?

Agilebase has enjoyed 20% growth every year but one since 2015. That includes throughout Covid. In the next 12 months, we are looking to forge a repeatable “go to market” strategy that will allow us to move this growth rate up to 100% per annum.

7 – What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you?

WECA – the West of England Combined Authority –  has been invaluable. They bought the Agilebase product in 2017 which was brave and validated our no-code approach. Valentina de Michelli has been terrific. Growth Hub – which is a division of WECA – has been amazing. Sian Carbrera has been excellent. 

8 – What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?

Groups designed to help tech innovators offer generic advice, which is great for young inexperienced founders but not much help to us. The great thing about the Bristol and Bath tech cluster is that there are many people involved. This means you can be sure there is someone out there whose skill set and experience is just right for you, that can help.

9 – Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?

Gravitywell is a creative technology consultancy in Bristol. They have an excellent track record. They offer a blend of creative thinking, technical expertise, and business understanding to deliver powerful solutions for their clients. I give them my vote.

10 – Where can we find out more about you?

We will be appearing at the next techSPARK festivals, first at Bath Digital Festival this July and at the Bristol Technology Festival in October. We’d love to see you there. Otherwise, drop us a line at