We recently sat down with Wade Foster, the Co-founder and CEO of Zapier, to talk to him about his company. We’re big fans of Zapier and have used their services to automate all kinds of applications within our own business. For those who don’t know, Zapier let’s you easily connect API’s for hundreds of common services, like Dropbox or Google Drive, without having to do any coding. We thought it would be fun to learn a little more about Zapier, and how it can help IT Professionals be more efficient in their daily work.
Ian: Hi Wade, thanks for joining me today. I was hoping you could give me an overview of what you guys do for those who don’t know?
Wade: Zapier is a really easy way to connect any sort of web app that you might be using. An example would be someone filling out a lead form on your site, maybe it’s powered by Wufoo, or Gravity Forms, and then it automatically adds that person to a CRM, like SalesForce or Highrise. However, it’s not just specific to form software or CRMs, we work with project management apps, CRM apps, email marketing apps, social media apps, dev apps. There’s over 300 services that you can connect in really easy ways.
Ian: How did you come up with the idea for Zapier?
Wade: My Co-Founder Bryan and I were working at a mid-tier mortgage company and also doing some freelancing and one of the things that came up was that it was difficult to connect the things we were using. So for instance we would get people that would ask us “Hey can you make it so that my Gravity Forms would hook into my MailChimp account?” or “Can my Box account automatically upload stuff to Basecamp?”, things like that. That was really simple and menial work for a developer to do, but it was also really important for the client. So we thought it would be really nice if there was a hub where all these things could be connected and reused in simple ways, and you didn’t have to be technical to hook all of them up. So that’s kind of where the initial idea for Zapier came from.
Ian: How do you pick which apps you want to integrate?
Wade: Early on, it was mostly just us guessing what was popular and we would also collect data from our customers based on what they were telling us on support, the Google Page-Rank and Alexa Rank of the sites we were looking at, just some rough guess estimates of what we were adding in. Today, we actually have a developer platform that allows people to hook into us. So most of the integrations, are actually done by 3rd party partners that are interested in hooking into the ecosystem. We spend our time now working on some really big hairy hard integrations, that quite frankly, you can’t get anywhere else.
Ian: How can IT Professionals use Zapier to make their business more efficient?
Wade: Any IT company is going to be strong with tech, but may not have a bunch of programming resources, so it’s really key that they do things quickly and efficiently. So when people are asking you “Hey, can we have our contacts sync from google contacts to Mailchimp” or something, they can spin up a zap for that really really fast. Or if they want to have files they get sent to them via email automatically get saved to a Dropbox, they can do that too. Whatever tools an IT company is using in their business, there’s likely a way they can make them work together nicer using Zapier.
Ian: What tools do you guys use in your business that help you scale and be more efficient?
Wade: We are a distributed team, so we actually use a group chat tool called Slack for all of our internal communication. It’s our virtual water cooler if you will. We use HelpScout, which is our internal support desk, so for answering customers questions. We use Trello for project management. We have tons of Trello boards for different projects to keep track of how they’re progressing. Those are probably the core tools we use.
Ian: What’s been one of the most fun integrations you’ve done?
Wade: Oh man there’s so many good ones. One I’m really liking right now is an integration with FullContact’s Business Card Reader so when someone hands you a business card, you can scan it with the app real quick, and then using Zapier you can hook that up to send their data to other places. So for instance, I use it to scan a business card, and it automatically sends a LinkedIn contact request.
Ian: How has your role changed as your business has become more established?
Wade: That’s an interesting question. I view my role as ever-changing. My job is to find the next thing, and fire myself from it, and find someone else who’s better capable and can do it on a full-time basis. When we started off, I was building the marketing sites, biz dev, marketing, accounting, legal, everything that wasn’t building the back-end or the front-end of the main core app. But now as we’ve grown, we’ve had people take on a lot of those different roles for me, and so now I spend a lot of my time today recruiting and figuring out how to best enable my other teammates to be really good at what they do.
Ian: What’s your ultimate vision for what Zapier can be for people?
Wade: I think Zapier can be the hub for connecting various apps. If you need apps to work together nicely, you should be thinking about Zapier as a way to manage those. The toolbox if you will for connecting all the things that you have that are running throughout your business.
Ian: Do you have any personal favorite success stories of businesses using Zapier?
Wade: Sure. One is Kissmetrics and their webinar process. They used to go from about 4% conversion rates on their webinar forms to almost 50% conversion rate. So they basically 10X’d their conversion rate, in part because of Zapier. So what they do, is they use Unbounced to manage their webinar landing pages now, and Unbounced let’s them create a nice landing page. They can A/B Test it. Then they use Zapier to GoToWebinar. So they don’t have to use GoToWebinar’s landing pages, but they can use GoToWebinar’s really good webinar infrastructure. From there, when they use GoToWebinar, when people attend, they make sure to push those people over to Aweber so they ultimately wind up inside their email list.
You can learn more about Zapier at zapier.com.
CEO & Co-Founder