Zapier founder on how to grow from your first user to your millionth user

This interview is about how a company has grown.

A few years ago I was contacted by this guy who barely had a business. But he said, Hey Andrew, I saw a problem that you have online and I have an idea for solving it.

And he solved it for me. But he solved it in a pretty weird way but it was such a big problem that I was happy and I paid him.

Turns out I was his first customer. Well, a few months ago he emailed me and told me they now have over 1 million users.

I realized I should do more interviews about growth, getting from your first users to you next million users.

Wade Foster is the founder of Zapier, which allows users to connect their apps and automate their workflows.

Wade Foster

Wade Foster

Zapier

Wade Foster is the founder of Zapier, which allows users to connect their apps and automate their workflows.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com and this interview is about how a company has grown.

You see, a few years ago, I got contacted by this guy who barely had a business. I actually don’t even know if he did have a business. But he saw a problem that I had online and he said, “Hey, Andrew, I have an idea for solving it.” I said, “Great.” And he solved it for me in a pretty weird way, but it was such a big problem that I was happy and I paid him. I sent him money via PayPal, and it turns out I was his first customer. A few months ago he emailed me and said, “Andrew, we now have over a million users.”

Holy crap. That’s amazing. I started tweeting out. He goes, “Don’t you think we should be doing an interview about that?” And he was freaking right. You know what? I should be doing more interviews about growth, not just where the idea came from, how you got your first users, but how you take off from there, what are the challenges around building a company where you’re doing everything as this founder did and then you have to start growing beyond you. What are the challenges beyond getting the first users? How do you get the next million users?

Anyway, that’s what this interview is about. The founder is Wade Foster. He is the founder of Zapier, which allows you to connect your apps and automate your workflows. I think those kinds of descriptions are not very helpful, so let me give you a use case. The very first thing that I wanted was when someone filled out one of my Wufoo forms with a little bit of feedback, I wanted to add a checkbox that says, “Also sign up to my mailing list,” and only when someone checked that box did I want them to then get added to my AWeber mailing list. That’s the first Zap that I created with Wade.

Since then, over a million people have created how many Zaps would you say, Wade?

Wade: Millions. I don’t know the exact–over 10 million. Yeah. It’s a lot.

Andrew: It allows people to connect lots of different apps to lots of different apps. I just gave one example. This interview is sponsored by Toptal, the company that will help you hire a great developer, and by Pipedrive, the company that will help you actually close sales and I use Pipedrive with Zapier. I’ll talk to people about it in a bit. Wade, is it Zapier, by the way, or Zapier?

Wade: Zapier makes you happier is definitely–that’s the way you pronounce it.

Andrew: I like that you said that, but for me Zap is what I would focus on. The whole idea is when you connect two different things, you’re zapping data from one app into another app. It bothers me when people say Zape. I would never Zape two apps together.

Wade: That was what we thought when we came up with the name. We wanted to fit the API in it, which is why there’s Z-A-P-I-E-R, API is there because we use APIs to power things. But we thought the Zap would make like a nice branding thing, right? Zap stuff.

Andrew: Yeah. It does. And it sticks with people. You told me you had a million people back then a few months ago. Today how many would you say you have?

Wade: Right now we have 1.4 million users.

Andrew: Okay, 1.4 million users. How many of those are actually paying money?

Wade: So 40,000 are paid customers.

Andrew: 40,000. What’s your revenue off of 40,000 people?

Wade: It’s over $10 million now.

Andrew: Over $10 million per what?

Wade: Year.

Andrew: Per year?

Wade: Uh-huh.

Andrew: Impressive, huh?

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: Are you guys profitable?

Wade: Yeah. We’ve been profitable for three years now.

Andrew: Is that a problem for you that you’re profitable considering that you’re funded?

Wade: No. I don’t think so. Profits are good, right? We want to keep growing. We want to push growth. It would be greater to have more revenue, but we’re not in a hurry to like spend the money either.

Andrew: Really? So I just had an entrepreneur in the office raise a lot of money. He told me about his investors were on the phone with him. He happens to have an investor that was especially aggressive who kept saying, “Buy more ads. I want you to have 1,000 more people by the next time I talk to you. I want you to buy half a million dollars’ worth of ads in the next 30 days.” You didn’t have any of that? You don’t have any outside pressure like that?

Wade: I think we did earlier on when we were less proven, but now we’ve consistently shown strong growth year over year, month after month with no slowdowns. We’re able to do it financially. We’re quite efficient. We’re a capital efficient business.

Andrew: What’s your profit? What’s your monthly profit now?

Wade: I don’t know what the exact number is, but we put between $200,000 and $300,000 in the bank each month.

Andrew: Each month?

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: So couldn’t you spend that on advertising?

Wade: We could. The thing is where do you–what ads do you spend it on that are going to get the right return, right ROI? Who’s going to manage that? You need to have someone on the team that’s managing the ad spend, so we would need to hire someone to help out with that. Do we have the bandwidth to hire that person? If we don’t, what does it take to get to that spot?

So we’ve doubled the size of the team in the last year. For growing the team size, we feel like we’re being really aggressive already on that. We feel like we are being aggressive in terms of how we spend the money. Yeah, we could spend more, but we feel like the wheels might come off the bus if we went even faster than that.

Andrew: I see. We’re going to talk about how a little bit of the growth–not a little. You had a big growth spurt and that actually made things really difficult for you. What I’m curious about is it doesn’t seem from my research and my conversation with you, it doesn’t seem like ad buys are what drives your growth. What does drive your growth then?

Wade: So a lot of it is kind of this machine of adding new integrations. So we have a developer platform that allows our partners to build integration on it. So, like the person who’s sponsoring the podcast, Pipedrive, Pipedrive built their integration on Zapier.

When that integration goes live, we do some co-promotion with them. They announce it to their user base. We announce it to our user base. We spin up a bunch of landing pages that target all the different Pipedrive use cases that we could possibly support. Google indexes those. We start ranking for those organically, and then each time we get a new app, that just means more people that can keep coming into the fold. So it’s kind of just this organic machine that builds itself.

Andrew: That’s it? Pipedrive emails their list and says, “Now you can connect Pipedrive to all these other apps using Zapier,” and they link out to Zapier. You go back to your list and you send out a link saying, “Zapier now supports Pipedrive.” And then you talked about all those landing pages, you guys automatically create them. I think we talked about it in a previous interview. I think you might have even learned it from a Mixergy course leader here, Patrick McKenzie.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: The idea is that you take Pipedrive and Google Sheets. You automatically create a page that says, “Automatically send data from Google sheets into a Pipedrive,” and anyone who’s searching on Google for a way to take data from Sheets to Pipedrive will come across your landing page, say, “All right, I should sign up for Zapier,” make a mistake in the pronunciation. They’ll sign up. They’ll learn later about the word zap, but then they’ll eventually hopefully become a customer. That’s your model?

Wade: Yeah, more or less.

Andrew: There’s nothing else? What’s more?

Wade: We have other things that we work on too. We have our blog and our learn site, which does a lot for building our brand. So blog and learn now pull in I think 1.4 million sessions or something like that to Zapier.com a month. The reason we do that is because Zapier is an invisible product, right? When you use Zapier, it just works. You might not even think about it.

Someone on your team might have even set up a Zap and you’re benefitting from that work and you may not even know that Zapier is powering something important in your company, which in some ways that’s great, right? It’s the product just works. It does what it needs to do. From a marketing standpoint, that’s a challenge, right? It’s not a product, like Slack, that you’re in every single day using day in and day out.

So we’ve invested pretty heavily into the blog and learn to build up kind of a publication that keeps people reading stuff about Zapier, how to be better at work, how to use different apps at work, how to get more done, which then when they do things, “Oh, I need to solve this use case with this and that,” or they do a Google search like connect Pipedrive to Google Sheets, they see a Zapier and they’re like–

Andrew: So content marketing, that’s what works for you?

Wade: Yeah. We spend a lot of effort into that too.

Andrew: By the way, this whole invisible thing, you’re absolutely right. Once this interview is done, I’m going to go into Pipedrive and I’m going mark this deal as not complete, but I’m going to move the deal over to one more column to the right, which means I’m done doing this interview. Automatically Zapier will notice that I’ve moved your deal to the right, will send an email to Joe saying, “Joe, my interview with Wade is done. Here’s a link to where you can get it.”

Joe won’t even know that Zapier sent it out. He’ll think I actually hand-typed that message because it looks like it came from me. Except Joe’s smart, he’s seen me send the exact same formatted message for a few years now, and so he’ll know that it’s automated, but he won’t know it’s Zapier. That’s what you’re talking about.

Wade: Exactly. He knows you’re doing something, but for all he knows you’ve hired some dev that built you this custom thing or that’s a feature of Pipedrive. Pipedrive might have an email notification thing or something.

Andrew: Right. So here’s the thing with that, with content marketing. I’ve been looking at your blog. I like what you guys do. You teach on there a lot. But I’ve got to tell you it doesn’t look like people read it. I look at the share counts. The share counts tend to be pretty low, and I feel like Wade is doing this because he loves it, not because it’s working.

Wade: 1.4 million people who read it a month would disagree.

Andrew: 1.4 million people read it?

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: Just the blog?

Wade: Blog and learn. So Zapier.com/learn, which is what we have our books. So those two parts of the site get quite a bit of people reading them, yeah.

Andrew: So this thing I thought wasn’t doing very well is actually getting more hits than Mixergy.

Wade: If that’s the case, yeah.

Andrew: And learn, I see what it is. You’ve got a guide to getting started with Zapier, which is obvious, but you also have a guide to remote work, which is relevant to you because a lot of your people are working outside of the state that you’re in. I see. What’s your process for coming up with content that people will come and read?

Wade: It took us a while to kind of figure out what the right topics for us to cover were, but for us it’s the intersection of productivity and apps that you use at work. So you can see the books we’re writing about. There’s your guide to CRMs, guide to email marketing apps, guide to customer service apps, guide to this other category of apps.

So we figured out that there are so many of these SaaS tools out there these days. People use less than 10% of the features of these tools, like they just get started and use just the basic stuff. They really struggle to figure out how to implement processes that can really help them be efficient and productive in their work. So what we started doing was writing these guides to like the best CRMs you could use.

In fact, the first one we did was like the best forum software. It was just a list of like, I think, 15 different forum software companies, really in depth about the different features that each one has, why you would choose one over the other, that sort of thing. Those sorts of things did really well.

So we started to compliment them with things like, “Why do you use the forum software? How can you do more interesting things with the forum software?” All of a sudden we realized we’re basically writing a book about forum software, right? Start to finish covering all the different cool stuff you might use about it.

We had, I think, four or five different blog posts on this. We were like, “We can do some editorial work on it, package it up, make a book out of it, put it on learn,” which didn’t exist at the time, create learn, then put it on learn. We can make it available on Amazon, iBooks, things like that for new people to find it when they’re just trying to learn about various different stuff, and then we’ll just rinse, wash and repeat it. So we’re in the process of doing this for every category of software.

Andrew: I’m looking at CRM. One section of this CRM is called “25 Best CRM Apps for Every Business.” Somebody had to actually know the top 25 and then know what they’re good for, then get screenshots. It’s pretty intense to dive into a CRM. They all look confusing at first.

Wade: Yes.

Andrew: Who did that?

Wade: So Matthew Gay is our lead app reviewer at Zapier. He’s been doing this for years, even before Zapier. This was what he did at a company called Envato. There was this site called AppStorm, MacStorm, I think. They reviewed web apps and Mac apps.

So he’s been doing this for years and he’s super good at it. Like he knows how to get in an app, like explore all the features, take really good screen shots, figure out why people would use it, even if he’s not the right–like even if he wouldn’t be the end user of the app, he can still understand the type of person that would use it and why they would like to use it. And oftentimes he’s better at talking about those apps than the marketers at those companies themselves.

Andrew: I see. So you hired a guy who already had done this somewhere else, and you said that he was reviewing for a while before he created these guides. How did you do his initial reviews?

Wade: So it basically was–

Andrew: Like a blog post?

Wade: Yeah, it was just a blog post.

Andrew: I see. So you just hired him as a writer for your company?

Wade: He started as a freelancer for Zapier. So we were just hiring for like just any sort of blog post, and then one of the posts he happened to do was one of these big reviews, where he went through and reviewed a whole bunch of them. It worked so well, we were like, “We want you to do this basically all the time.

Andrew: When you say it worked well, how the hell did anyone discover it?

Wade: So we just started looking in our Google Analytics. We’d pay attention each month to the traffic going to various spots on the site, which pages are getting a lot of views, that sort of thing. We kept noticing his post routinely, this one on best forum software apps, that Google traffic would just keep going up and up and up like month after month. Most posts, they get the spike and then there’s like not a ton of traffic after that. His, there was certainly a spike, but then each month after, it was like 1,000, then it was 2,000, then it was 5,000, then it was 10,000 people going to this post every single month.

Andrew: And they were just discovering it organically. It wasn’t you doing anything to juice it?

Wade: No.

Andrew: I’ve got to tell you, Wade, I think in the past you’ve sent me messages–when you were starting out with content marketing, I sense that you were sending me messages saying, “Andrew, here’s a new approach to our blog. Here’s a new idea. We did this. We did that. Would you share it,” and I would share it out. That’s not what grew it.

Wade: No. That’s not what grew it.

Andrew: That’s just what got it attention in the beginning and helped you figured out what made sense.

Wade: Exactly.

Andrew: How much of your time was spent sending out messages to people like me making us feel special and asking us to promote it?

Wade: I think early on more so than it is today, today we don’t do that super often.

Andrew: What about you personally? How much of your cofounder time was spent in the beginning doing that?

Wade: In the beginning, I would probably say at least 50% of my time would be spent on things like building relationships with folks like you and then trying to write things that might be interesting and hopefully build the company a brand and get awareness for Zapier the product.

Andrew: I see. I notice that with the guides, I can flip through it via HTML or I can download it in lots of different formats. I’m now looking at one that I just downloaded in PDF format and you don’t ask me for an email address. Why not?

Wade: We want to get this spread as far and wide as possible basically. So we’ve given them away for free. If you do want an email address, if you do want to download the PDF, we do ask for email address. If you’re already logged into Zapier, we don’t ask for that.

Andrew: I see. I do remember being asked for an email address if I wanted to download, but if I want to click on it and look at it in HTML format, I’m not asked for it.

Wade: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Sweet. Got it.

Wade: You can get it on Amazon for free too. So the content in there, there’s lots of stuff talking about Zapier in the content of the book too. So even if we don’t get your email address, you’re going to be reading about Zapier at some point just by reading the book.

Andrew: I see. Makes sense. By the way, how cool is it, not only am I logged in, but my account level at the top shows up and it says, “Old free plan.” Ha, ha, ha. I got so much free stuff because I was one of the first users. Meanwhile I can only use this for myself. I find it’s a pain in the butt if I share my account with anyone else on the team or use it for anything else on the team because there are some limits to it. So then they all have to create their own accounts and then they share their password with me.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: So when I was trying to log in just for your conversation with me, I saw well, I can log in as AnneMarie because she has an account. I can log in as Olivia, my wife, because she has an account. I’ve got to just log in as me.

Wade: There you go.

Andrew: The integrations are really big because they feed the promotion, and also you’re constantly on the person’s site even after the promotion. Whenever I go to a service that uses you, they basically are promoting you. I go to Slack, you’re one of the big featured partners. So it’s natural to say, “What the hell is this Zapier? What do I do with that?” You started out doing the integrations yourself. How many did you get up to before you said, “That’s it. We’re done.”

Wade: I think we got to about 60 or so before we decided to build out the development platform to try and encourage other folks to build on Zapier. I think we probably have built maybe 100 internally. We have about 750 today.

Andrew: Does it help you to have them promote it?

Wade: Oh yeah.

Andrew: It does? If they build it, are they more likely to promote it than if you build it?

Wade: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s one of those things. Why would you invest so much time and effort in building these things and then not talk about it? That seems like a total waste of time, right?

Andrew: I remember I was working with a drop shipper. I said to the drop shipper, “Please, integrate with Zapier.” What I want was someone fills out a form on my site, Gravity Form, Gravity Form integrates with Zapier. Let Gravity Form send to Zapier and Zapier fire it off to the drop shipper. The drop shipper just was not sure what to do with that.

So I contacted you and I said, “What could you do to create an integration?” And at that point, Wade, I felt that you guys were getting burned out on creating it. It took a long time for you to do each one of these integrations. Was that the motivation to ask people to do it themselves, or did you know it would help with marketing?

Wade: We knew it would help with marketing. The real key point was we were going–this was in 2012. We were going through Y Combinator’s Summer Bash at that time. We were trying to decide–YC does this thing where they ask you, “What’s going to make you look most impressive on demo day?” We’re trying to shine you up and make you look all polished for the investors, right?

So we were thinking we could just slug it out, build a whole bunch of integrations and have a big number up on the screen and that will look impressive. Or we can go do this developer platform thing. We may not look as impressive, but I think it’s going to set us up better for the long term, because if we can get people incentivized to build integrations on Zapier, that’s going to be much better for the long term of the business. It’s going to be much more scalable. It will be cheaper, more capital efficient, all that good stuff, right?

So that was the debate we were having. We got an email on like a Saturday night at like 2:00 a.m. or 1:00 a.m. or something–it was really late–from Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box. I guess he had come across Zapier somewhere, maybe like in TechCrunch or whatever. The email was short. It was like, “Why isn’t Box on Zapier?” He was frustrated that Dropbox was on Zapier and Box wasn’t and wanted to know why it wasn’t there. The reason was we’re three guys. We’re getting to them as fast as we can, right?

But that was enough motivation for us to say if someone of Aaron’s caliber is interested, a company of that size, it’s important enough for him to have his product on Zapier, that’s probably enough energy for other folks to say we’ll dedicate an engineer’s time to build this integration. So we decided we’re going to go build this developer platform and try and use the motivation of these companies to ensure that it’s a big enough problem for them to solve to do the integration work.

Andrew: That’s pretty cool, by the way, that Aaron would do that. It kind of reminds me of like Steve Jobs asking an Apple developer why the icons don’t look right or why the font doesn’t look right. It’s impressive that the CEOs are still that deep in it.

Wade: Yeah. It was super cool. We were just kind of blown away.

Andrew: For the drop shipping company, we did the integration. We at Mixergy did it.

Wade: Wow.

Andrew: They should have done it themselves. How hard is it for somebody like someone in my audience, who runs a company called Social Bee Marketing, which allows you to promote your stuff using social media, if he says, “You know what? I want to integrate with all these different apps. I can’t build all these integrations. I’m going to just integrate with Zapier.” If he wanted to, say, hire a developer from Toptal, how much work would it be for that developer to add a Zapier integration to his app?

Wade: Good question. Assuming they already have an API built, a lot of products do, like that’s one of the things that exists already, it’s pretty straightforward. We have the documentation all there. You could do in a day, less than a day, honestly.

Andrew: A good developer in one day, just go to Toptal, you hire them, that’s it, you’re done?

Wade: Yeah. It will take them a little time to get the documentation and the lingo. If they have any questions, there might be some email back and forth. That might make it last two days or whatever.

Andrew: Email back and forth with your guys.

Wade: Yeah. Exactly. In terms of actual time spent at your computer working on the integration in a day.

Andrew: Interesting. By the way, Wade, you now have swagger. I’ve known you now for a long time. I feel like you were always very smart, but you didn’t have this confidence about you. You knew were right, but it was–I’m holding back, but I’m going to say it–in more of a nerdy way. Now you’re like you’ve got it. You’ve figured it out.

Wade: I don’t know.

Andrew: You don’t sense it?

Wade: It’s possible. I spend a lot more time talking on the phone and talking with people these days. We’ve grown the company a lot. So when people are interviewing for jobs, they often have questions about the company, where its direction is going, what things are working. You’ve got to sell it a little bit, right?

Andrew: You’re now doing it so much that you feel comfortable talking about yourself, about your business or talking in general.

Wade: Yeah. I think so. I think I figured out a little bit of what works. Before you’re trying out lines and you’re saying these things and you believe them, but you don’t know if you’re landing it, you don’t know if you’re communicating it exactly right.

Andrew: What’s one of the lines you know now lands?

Wade: I used to be kind of shy about the remote work thing, especially with bigger companies because you’re like are they going to think we’re kind of like this–it’s a weird thing. Are they not like a professional outfit, basically, but nowadays we’re 100% distributed. We have no central office, like we work out of Slack. I work out of my kitchen table.

Andrew: You’re in your kitchen right now?

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you turn the laptop around and let us take a look?

Wade: Yeah. So I’m on my couch. Here’s my wife over here.

Andrew: Hey.

Wade: She can wave. I’ve got a dog here right next to me. Yeah. I got that confidence after talking to enough people. I remember going into Facebook and meeting with them. We built a reputation about it, the team at Facebook, we were like excited to talk to. This is one of the best technical teams in the world at Facebook. First thing they ask us is, “So you guys all work from home?”

Andrew: They asked you that right away?

Wade: Right away. That was the first thing. They were super intimate, super interested in how that works, what are the mechanics behind it. That made me realize there’s no need to–we don’t need to hide this, people are into this. Let’s just talk about it. Let’s talk about how it works. Why it doesn’t work.

Andrew: Toptal, I should also say they’re a sponsor of mine. Any advice if someone were to hire a developer from Toptal and Toptal–do you know them?

Wade: I know the name. I haven’t used it before, but I’m familiar enough.

Andrew: All right. What they do is they said a lot of people are like you. They don’t want to drive all the way down to Mountain View from San Francisco. They don’t want to have to be stuck in an office. They’re great developers who want to have better projects to work on and exciting projects to work on.

So Toptal said we’re going to get all these guys, we’re going to test them to make sure they’re the best and the best. We’ll reject 97% of them because we only want the best of the best, and then we’ll have the other 3% in our network and when someone wants to hire a developer, they can come to us, we will match them with the perfect developer and so on.

Are there projects, like actually if you were to hire a Toptal developer right now, what would you have your developer do?

Wade: I would have them work on an integration.

Andrew: On an integration to what?

Wade: So like a new app on Zapier, like improve existing triggers and actions. That would be where I would have them spend time.

Andrew: What do you mean by improve triggers and actions?

Wade: So like Pipedrive. We get feature requests every day from our users. There are things that we have on Pipedrive that support it great. There are other things that we don’t have a trigger for it, don’t have an action for it.

Andrew: A trigger is this–I interrupt you a lot because I know the product and I want to talk about it. A trigger is this–when I move from someone from column nine to column ten, moving them to a new column triggers an email or triggers anything. It could trigger an email like I do or it could trigger adding that person to a spreadsheet or it can do any number of other things.

A trigger I might like is if someone has been sitting in column eight for more than a week, then do something. That’s one of your triggers. What I would use that trigger for is to trigger an email to my assistant to say, “Please, can you contact this person to see if he’s really interested,” or could you see if maybe there’s a problem with someone on the team because we haven’t talk to him. I see. So that’s what you would hire a Toptal developer for.

Wade: Exactly.

Andrew: Let me tell you something–companies like yours, companies like Airbnb, companies with one-man operations have hired Toptal for a long time. This is a great company that I’ve been talking about and raving about for years, but you don’t need to know that. They pay me so you wouldn’t be shocked that they do that.

But I’ve got to tell you that Andreessen Horowitz–you know Andreessen Horowitz, of course–they liked this company so much that they invested in it because they see the future potential of this because they know that more and more companies not just Airbnb, not just Zendesk, companies that are with it, but even companies like JP Morgan, even companies like Emirates, like Pfizer are hiring from Toptal.

So I want to encourage everyone who’s listening to me to think about hiring Toptal to either create an integration with Zapier, which gives them all these other integrations or think about what’s missing in their business and that they can’t do because they don’t the technical resources. With Toptal, you can hire one developer part-time or full-time or even a team of developers and they can work however you work. If you’re a HipChat person, they just jump into your team. If you’re a Slack person, they jump into your team there.

Whatever you do, however you work, they’ll find the right person for you, go to Toptal.com–actually, don’t go to Toptal.com, that’s for everyone else. For us, exclusive to Mixergy–and I swear, if you guys tell me that anyone else is offering this, I’ll top saying it–no one else is offering as good a deal on Toptal as we are here at Mixergy.

Here’s what you get as a Mixergy listener because Toptal was created by Mixergy listeners like you–they’re going to give you 80 free hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours. Think about that–80 free hours of developer credit. That’s in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks–no risk trial period on developers. These are the best of the best.

Go to Toptal.com/Mixergy. Because Joe Sugarman, one of the best copywriters ever, told me I should spell things when I talk about them here, especially Toptal, I will spell it right now–T-O-P-T-A-L.com/Mixergy. Top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy.

I want to know more about your growth. The other thing that you told me in private that really shot your growth up was adding that thing that I just love, the multi-step Zap. The Zaps that I describe are pretty basic, right? I move your interview towards column number ten. I fire off an email to Joe. What’s the next level? How does the multi-stop process work in comparison to that? What else would happen?

Wade: You can do multiple actions as part of this. So instead of just sending off an email, maybe you post a message like a message to your Slack team to say like, “Hey, this just completed.” So that’s another simple action you can add to it. It really just gives you a lot more flexibility in what you can set up though, like creativity is really your limits.

Let me give you an example. Eileen runs our user research team. She does interviews, not too dissimilar from what your workflow is–set up an interview with a person, do a call with them, record it, log the notes somewhere, pass it along to someone else, that sort of thing. Eileen uses this tool called Calendly. I think I you use Acuity Scheduling?

Andrew: Yeah.

Wade: So a similar type concept. Both products are great. Calendly lets you show, “Here’s my calendar, pick a time. I want to schedule this time.” So, when Eileen is setting up these calls with people, she’ll send them this Calendly link, they’ll click the link, when they pick a time, that will automatically ping a note into Slack saying so and so just setup a time just to let people know what’s happening.

It adds it to the Google calendar even for Eileen. It adds it to their Google event. It adds it to a shared calendar for the UX team or the design team. So, if they want to come and participate, they can. It sets up a delay. So it will delay it until a day before that event happens, so before the schedule call is happening. When that day before happens, it sends an email out to that person, reminding them, saying hey, just a head’s up. We’ve got this–

Andrew: Calendly will or Zapier will?

Wade: Zapier will. This is a Zap that’s doing this.

Andrew: Oh wow. I didn’t know you guys could do that.

Wade: Yes.

Andrew: I see. This is all one Zap?

Wade: One big Zap that’s happening here. So a day before, they’ll send a note out saying, “Hey, quick reminder, this is happening,” then like an hour before it will send an email, it would include–I think I missed a step, somewhere in there there’s a GoToMeeting that gets scheduled too.

Andrew: All these different things happen triggered by one action–someone schedules an appointment in Calendly.

Wade: Exactly.

Andrew: Got it. You added that.

Wade: Exactly. We added this.

Andrew: And as a result, what did it do to your sign ups?

Wade: So we added this in February. In February, we went from–we basically had a 70% increase in our daily signup rate.

Andrew: I’m shocked by that. I thought that only diehard users would care about that. When you say 70% increase, do you mean in free registrations or in conversions from free to paid?

Wade: Both.

Andrew: So why do you think it is? I feel like that’s the kind of thing that you don’t know you need until you use the product for a little bit.

Wade: You know, I think so too. It caught us by surprise. We knew that this was something people wanted, like that’s why we built it. We wouldn’t have spent time building it if we didn’t think it was valuable. But I’ve launched enough features now that it always surprised me when you’d get like big jumps in signups from new features. A lot of times you get better engagement, better retention, all those nice things but it doesn’t necessarily generate new signups. I think it was a couple things. One, yes it’s new and good and great. That certainly got people interested. But two, we pulled off a really good marketing campaign for it that we hadn’t really done before.

Andrew: Tell me about that.

Wade: We decided we were going to do a big event with our biggest partners. So we found top partner in each category, so like best CRM app, best project management app, best email marketing app, best note taking app. We pitched them. We’re going to do this big thing around multi-step Zaps. We want you to email your users, let them know about it. We’ll point them to this page that promotes you and it’s going to promote these other big partners in the space, so you’re going to get eyeballs on your logo from all these other folks too, right? It’s not just going to be Zapier promoting this. It’s going to be other folks.

So we managed to get companies like Trello, MailChimp, Evernote, EventBrite, Slack, Pipedrive, you name it. I think there was about a dozen in total to do this. There were a ton of people just paying attention to the multi-step Zap launch. So it got like a lot of buzz, a lot of new links, a lot of active people paying attention to it.

When we did it, I expected, “Okay, this is a great marketing launch. It’s going to cool down a little bit. We’re going to see a big spike and then it’s going to come down, but it will be a little bit better than it was before that.” It spiked and it stayed high. It never went back down.

Andrew: That one page kept going?

Wade: No, just the daily signup rate for Zapier.

Andrew: Oh, I see. Wow.

Wade: Yeah. We went from signing up. I forget what the exact number was, but it was 70% more than what we were normally signing up during the weekday.

Andrew: I see. That was you doing that, contacting all those people.

Wade: Yeah. So it was our marketing team–me and Danny and Joe, Matthew, Carlin. We’ve got a team of folks doing that now.

Andrew: What’s your personal process for keeping track of all the people you contacted? I was contacted during that launch. What’s your flow for that?

Wade: For special events, we don’t really have a great one, honestly. That one was exceptional because it was like, “This is a big thing,” we just like dug through our inbox and it was like every person we ever met, let’s try and get in touch with. So it was very manual. With our partners, though, it’s a lot more systematized.

We use Pipedrive ourselves. This is becoming just the Pipedrive love fest today. We use podcast ourselves because it’s great. We have people we want to contact as we get into discussions with them to working on tile and then as they move through the process, we check it off and say, “All right,” and if they don’t, we put them to sleep and then revisit them in three months.

Andrew: We might as well talk about Pipedrive. I think people don’t know about Pipedrive because they don’t think of a CRM as being something that is full of columns. They think of a CRM as looking like the address book on their iPhone, which is great. But what Pipedrive does is they say, “We’re going to help you guide people towards a goal,” whether it’s promoting your blog or for me it’s getting people to do an interview or for other people, for most Pipedrive users, it’s closing a sale. So they say, “What are the steps involved?”

For us there are ten steps involved in doing an interview. For you it sounds like there are four steps or five steps involved in getting somebody to share. Each one of those steps is a column and then whenever you suggest someone who will go through these steps, they get a card that goes in column one, then when you take an action on them, you move them to column two, then when you do your next step, you move them to column three, all the way until the conclusion.

What’s nice about it is anyone on the team can see who’s in column three and as a result, they can do the next step with them and move them to column four or anyone else could say, “This guy doesn’t want to participate,” let’s mark them as lost. To me that’s really important too. We always think about closing a sale.

To me, for everyone on the Mixergy team, I want them if someone says no to an interview or doesn’t respond, I want them to mark that person lost in Pipedrive and use that little field to tell me why we lost them. I want to know did we lose them because they didn’t respond? Did we lose them because it turns out that they were not a good fit? What is it?

So we could then go back maybe once a year, maybe once every few months and see why are we losing people? What’s the problem? If it’s because they’re not responding, then let’s try changing up the email we’re sending out. If it’s that we’re losing people because it turns out they don’t have a really successful company, let’s do better research up front so we’re not embarrassing ourselves later on.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s what Pipedrive is about. It’s fantastic. It integrates with Zapier and so many other things, but frankly, if it integrates with Zapier, that’s all you care about. Imagine that, imagine anyone listening to me can say, “Our goal is to close a deal, close a sale. Everyone on the team can contribute it.”

Here’s something else I like about it Wade–I like that it gives you stats so I could see once a week or once a month how many people did we add to our Pipedrive? How many potential interviewees? Who’s adding the most so I can thank the person so I can thank that person and who’s adding the least so I can say, “Hey, how about being a little creative and suggest more potential guests?”

Or yesterday I needed to fill in another interview slot for today. I went and I found a few people who were just waiting to do an interview and before I emailed them, I saw what’s the last email that Andrea sent to them so that I’m not emailing them like a monkey, but I see Andrea emailed them the day before, I can reference it. I went and I said to Alex of Groove, I said, “I know Andrea contacted you,” and I knew it because I saw it in Pipedrive, “I know Andrea contacted you yesterday, but I want to push you to say yes to doing an interview today because I have an empty slot, here’s a link. Go book yourself.”

I can talk about it for hours. Go check out Pipedrive. Again, created by actually someone who never knew of Mixergy but has become a Mixergy fan since then. They’ve been incredibly supportive. They’re giving us 45 free days of Pipedrive. Go check them out. It’s enough time for you to really see how much it can grow your sales or how lazy you’re being because it will give you stats to show you you’re not moving those cards forward.

Go to Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. Picture a pipe driving down the street–Pipedrive.com. I think they also have a problem with a lot of people think it’s Pipeline.

Wade: Oh yeah.

Andrew: It’s Pipedrive. Picture a pipe driving down the street and you’re going to see yourself actually closing more sales, Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. They actually put an end date on that offer. That means that they probably put an end date with the ads with me on Mixergy.

Wade: You’ve got to get a deal in Pipedrive now to follow up with Pipedrive.

Andrew: Don’t think we haven’t, actually. Sachit is on it right now. He’s on his way to–Sachit the guy who sells for us–he’s on his way to India, but before he travels out, he sent me a note saying, “Andrew, I can still contact people when I’m in India, here’s how I’m going to do it and here are the people I’m going to contact.” Pipedrive is one of them.

I wonder with integrations, do you have a team of people who look out for integration partners since that’s so big for your marketing? Do you have a team that works with them to promote? What’s your process with that?

Wade: Yes. This is probably where our best processes lie. We have a team of like three or four support engineers, QA engineers, platform engineers who help partners with integrations. So, they coach them through the process. Once the integration is ready, they do a QA check on it, make sure this is a quality integration, just like you don’t want to do an interview with some schmo, we don’t want to launch an integration that’s not any good. So, we’re just verifying, “Does this work the way that we hope users want to use it?”

We have used Trello for this, which is like Pipedrive, but maybe a little more flexible and more broad use cases for this. We have a whole bunch of steps. We have an internal Zapier app that fires off a bunch of specific stuff that’s specific to Zapier. So, when there’s a new app that gets moved into pending state, it creates a card in Trello, has a checklist that’s all there. It does some auto checks that fill out some of those automatically.

A person does a review, checks them off, makes sure they hit them. If they need feedback, we send an email back to them saying, “Here are the things you need to improve.” If it’s good to go, we pass it along to the next column, which triggers a notification to Ze who works on all the co-marketing. So Ze gets in touch with the marketing team at the other company and says, “Hey, here’s what I want to do with you. We typically do A, B and C. We know this works well because we’ve done it 600 times now. Will you do A, B and C with us too?”

Andrew: Sorry. Keep going. What else?

Wade: Yeah. And then basically we do A, B and C. That’s a successful launch.

Andrew: What’s A, B and C?

Wade: For us there’s a couple things we know are really smart. One is the partner needs to set up a landing page that showcases the integration, talks about Zapier. A lot of folks have an integration directory or some app where they showcase apps. Put Zapier there, basically.

Andrew: On their integration page? You don’t want a separate page.

Wade: Yes, wherever they’re going to drive users to. If they already have one set up but they’re driving people to see it, include Zapier there, a nice easy lightweight thing. We’d love it if you include it in your onboarding emails. When someone signs up to an app, you often get a series of emails teaching you how to use the app. Email one is like welcome. Email two is like here’s the basics, learn the basics of using Pipedrive, right?

And then as you go through that flow, you often get to like, “Here are the expert steps to using the tool.” We ask people to include Zapier there, which is nice because now every person that signs up to that tool is going to get some exposure to Zapier. That’s a big one.

We also embed Zapier in some products. So we have a handful of companies that have embedded Zapier. So you can set up zaps from right inside the app. So we work on that with them. And then set up a date to email the whole user base. We’ll do the same and it will be a big announcement for it.

Andrew: And it seems like you don’t want them to just say that there’s a Zapier integration. It seems like you want them to explain it in a certain way. You’d like for them to do a blog post and maybe this is just something I’ve noticed and it’s just happenstance, but it seems like a lot of them will even do screenshots of what you can do.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: The example I’m looking at right now is Trello doesn’t just say we work with Zapier, but you say here are some use cases. When someone emails, it goes into Trello.

Wade: Yeah. That’s exactly–we started this interview when you were talking about Zapier like, “Here’s how I use it.” Zapier is a tool that’s kind of hard to describe at a high level. The best way to learn it is to talk about, “Here’s how you can use it.” The best way to do that when we launch with partners is have the partner in their own voice write about why they built the integration, what use cases they were hoping to solve with it and why they think their customers should check it out. We can give them screenshots and a few things that get them started. So they just kind of have to fill in the blanks on it.

Andrew: I wonder if some of these are out of date. Do you guys ever go back and work with them to update those blog posts?

Wade: A lot of them are out of date. We need a better process for revisiting old stuff.

Andrew: Even this Trello one, there’s one that was done this last year, but it’s looking a little bit like it’s out of date. It’s enough to explain the features. So it’s not bad. It just doesn’t have the latest stuff. So you guys don’t do that?

Wade: No. We don’t really.

Andrew: And the embed in there is your embed. It’s not screenshots. I was wrong. You give them an embed. Is that right?

Wade: We have a little widget where you can click, “Use this,” and it pops it up and gets you started on it.

Andrew: That’s what you do. They were doing a widget?

Wade: Nice.

Andrew: Got it. That’s one of your features? I didn’t know you could do that.

Wade: Yeah. We can.

Andrew: Meaning if there’s an integration that I use, I use Pipedrive and Gmail, for example, I can then create a widget of that and put it on my blog?

Wade: Unfortunately not yet. We want to get it to where you do it. Right now we can only do it for partners just because the tooling is really clunky. If you recall way back when I was demoing Zapier to you the first time and you were like, “How does this work?” It’s kind of at that stage now, where it’s like–

Andrew: It was so clunky that I had three lists on AWeber and you said, “Andrew, go sign up and do it,” and I go, “Why don’t you just do it with me?” And we did a GoToMeeting where I did a screen share and you said, “Andrew pick your list.” I go to pick my list and it’s like, “Forget about that. Which list do you want?” And I then I said the list and you go, “That’s list number 1587.” I go, “Who the fuck am I trusting with my list? How do you even know that’s the right one?” I wish I had a recording of that. That should be saved for posterity.

Wade: It was great. That’s what we needed at the time, though. That was–I think a lot of folks when they get started they think they need this perfect jewel. But really you just need one person that cares and is willing to give you that feedback and help you out a little bit.

Andrew: I’ll tell you that for me I was so desperate that I didn’t care how bad it looked because I was just going to set it and forget it. I just wanted when someone checks a box to refer them to be subscribed. I don’t need to go check that every week. Let that be your headache. Boy, I didn’t know you’d make it look this good. I wish I hadn’t become your first customer. I should have been your first investor. Did Kevin Hale ever invest?

Wade: He did. Yeah.

Andrew: He did, right? I want to see what else happened. Here’s the other thing. I think I might have alluded to this, but for a long time you were doing the books in the company.

Wade: Yes.

Andrew: And then things got a little out of control because you hired a lot of people to deal with all these new customers, 70% in growth is pretty dramatic in addition to what you were doing. Then you said, “I can’t do this anymore.” Did the company break at that point? Was there a problem?

Wade: It never quite broke, but it was not like a fun time. So, in February, we launched these multi-step Zaps. We had the 70% sign-up rate. Our new signups for us correlated very highly with customer support tickets. So here we are getting 70% more signups, which meant 70% more tickets in our support inbox. We hadn’t hired any new staff on our support team.

At that time, I think our support team was like six people. So, if you’re doing the math, we basically need to double almost double the support team just to catch up to what we have right now. We’re basically a half a team behind, like we need to double that team. What ended up happening was I would do my normal work during the day, then at night, we have all these other support tickets that we need to get to, to help out these customers who are trying the product for the first time and I would just do support tickets.

So here I am moonlighting as customer support at Zapier now. I did that for like six months while we were trying to hire these folks. In the process, we were doing a lot of HR work. We’re remote, so we’re bringing people into new states, which has compliance issues, the headcount is a lot higher than what it used to be. I was trying to keep the books at the same time. It was like, “This is too much work for me to handle. I’m going to make a mistake.” I’m not an accountant. I’m not an HR person. I can do it because I’ve been doing it and I’m able to learn and read a book, but I have too much on my plate. I’m going to make a mistake.

So I started emailing CEOs, other folks who I knew had reached the stage. They had made a hire to help out with this type of work, trying to figure out what should I even be looking for. I never even hired for this role. I’m not an expert at this stuff. So I don’t know what I don’t know. I just needed help, right? Fortunately, people were really helpful. I was asking, “Should I get a senior person? Should I get a junior person who maybe I can just coach and take the easy stuff off my plate?” Those are the types of questions I was asking.

We had a bunch of people emailing me back, “You should try this. You should try this, try that.” I got a bunch of perspective, which was great. One of the emails was super lucky. I emailed–I had exchanged a few emails back in the day with Jenny Bloom, who at the time was the CFO at MailChimp, which is a company I had looked up to a ton because they had grown bootstrapped. They just announced a couple months ago they were like $400 million in revenue a year or something. It’s a company I look up to them a ton.

So I emailed Jenny and I say, “Hey, we’re looking to hire for this type of role. What advice do you have having gone through all this stuff?” Just same email I had sent. Jenny replies back, “I just left MailChimp not too long ago. I’ve always liked Zapier. Maybe we should talk.” I was like, “Yes, we should.”

So one thing led to another. She ended up helping me with the books for about a month and it went really, really well. We found out we had a pretty good working relationship and I said, “Do you want to just do this again with Zapier?” So Jenny joined us as CFO in I guess it was May or no, it was–her first official day was April 15th. I remember that because it was tax day.

Andrew: By then had you already filed your taxes? Did you taxes or extensions?

Wade: We did extensions. So she helped us work through all that.

Andrew: It seems like everyone does extensions. Why?

Wade: Why not? They give them out for free and it lets you get some extra time to figure things out.

Andrew: I think last year was the first year in a decade or so that I finally filed like fully finished on time. The accountants kind of want you to postpone it too because you don’t lose anything. I just want to be done with it.

Wade: That’s how I feel too. I’m just like it’s a headache. That stuff weighs on me, right?

Andrew: Me too.

Wade: You get a note a from the IRS and like I just immediately start freaking out because it’s like, “What did I do wrong?” A lot of times it’s not that. They sent me a mail and confirmation address change. And I just see the envelope in the mail and I’m like, “What did I do this time?”

Andrew: I don’t even think it’s, “What did I do wrong?” It’s, “What do you need me to do now?” Because it’s always some wacky thing like, “Contact this person, get them to give you this information, then make sure to do it by this deadline or else.” Or else what?

Wade: Exactly.

Andrew: What are you going to do?

Wade: Sometimes they threaten things, like you read it and you’ll be like, “I think I already did that. Do I need to do this again?”

Andrew: And then it turns out they have a phone number. I always scan it and then I send it to the accountant and I say, “Just can you handle it? I don’t care if it’s going to cost me. It’s going to cost me more if I do it.” They say, “We called the person up and here’s what we found out.” “You actually got on the phone with them? I didn’t know you could do that.”

Wade: When I get on the phone with them, I ask them stuff and they’re like, “I don’t know.” “Well, I don’t know either. You’re the one that sent me the letter.”

Andrew: I want to spend a little more time on content marketing. You’re someone who’s gotten a lot of content. Alex from GrooveHQ, the helpdesk—

Wade: They’re awesome.

Andrew: It turns out it was content marketing that turned things around for them. In preparation for my interview with Alex, I talked to one of the people who worked for him because I heard that Alex was kind of shy and wasn’t eager to talk much. So the person I talked to said, “Look, things were pretty dire there for a while. We had to revamp the product and we realized that content marketing was our only hope. So we did this blog.” We’ll talk about it in my interview with him. But for you, how did you figure it out? Can you talk a little bit more about the first test that didn’t work out, just as a way of understanding your process?

Wade: You know, for us, we were fortunate that we had this–we were doing these integrations. We had this marketing strategy that was working. Content marketing for us, the blog was another layer. It was another channel for us to explore and figure out, “Can we make this work?”

So, in 2013, when I started working on it, I was writing about the company. It was like, “How does Zapier operate? What’s cool about Zapier,” which is fine, like that’s a place I think a lot of people start with that. And occasionally we’d get a post on Hacker News and we’d shoot to the top and we get a bunch of traffic and two days later, there would be no traffic, right?

Andrew: It wasn’t a resource. It was about you guys internally.

Wade: Yeah. There was no reason for people to come back and read it. No people were referencing it on a continual basis. It didn’t help people learn or anything like that. So, it wasn’t working. We tried a few things. Then I remember hearing something from someone at Twilio. One of the things they commented that worked for Twilio was to make their customers the heroes of the story.

They said, “Talk about how people use your product, talk about not like the product itself, just talk about the cool things they’re doing.” That’s what Twilio’s marketing is, is if you pay attention, it’s all these people building these cool apps and this really interesting stuff. Twilio is this backdrop to the whole thing. It doesn’t feel overbearing. It doesn’t feel like Twilio is just like, “Buy our SMS service, buy our SMS services.” You just know it’s Twilio. It’s just here, right?

So I thought okay, that feels like a nice way to do content marketing. I think we can try that At that point in time we had a lot of users who were doing cool and interesting stuff. I’ll just call them up and interview them and try and figure out what it is they’re doing, why it looks cool and then I’ll write up a guide to how to replicate their success.

I’ll make it super in depth so that if someone reads it, then can either just do it themselves, or they can forward it to the person on their team who’s in charge of that area and say, “Hey, Melissa in marketing. I want you do to this.” She doesn’t need to ask that person anything. She can just follow the post and check all the boxes.

That’s the level of detail that we were shooting for. We did a couple of those and it worked. We got a lot of traffic. They started ranking well. We always try and make them about specific problems. I recently–the phrase I like to use–I just came across this recently.

We like to write posts that are like, “How to Tie a Tie.” For a lot of guys, you only tie a tie a couple times, like if you’re going to a wedding, if you’re going to a funeral, that’s when you tie a tie. A lot of guys don’t remember, they go to tie a tie and they don’t remember exactly how they do it. So what do they do? They go to Google or YouTube, “How to Tie a Tie,” they watch the video and they tie their tie.

For us, that was what we were trying to figure out. Our user is doing something really cool. What are they searching in Google for that’s that thing? Is it how to run a survey or how to interview a guest, how to give a talk? What is it that they’re searching for? We’ll write the story around how this person is solving that problem. Zapier will be weaved in there because they’re using Zapier as part of the solution. That’s when we first hit on–that’s when we first hit some goal.

Andrew: What’s one of your “How to Tie a Tie” posts?

Wade: So we have a really good one about how to run a survey that’s just like, “Here’s how to setup a good survey.” It’s one of those things that like if you’re a professional, you probably run surveys at some point in your career, but most of us aren’t professional survey makers. But I’m sure you’ve written a survey at some point in time.

Andrew: Yeah, “The Ultimate Guide to Forms and Surveys,” is that it?

Wade: Yeah. So in there, there’s a chapter that does really well. I forget what the exact search term is that gets you to that page, but it ranks pretty well for a couple different longer tail versions of how to write a survey. I don’t think how to write a survey itself it ranks for yet.

Andrew: So, when you realize people need to be to write a survey, did you then go to Google keyword search and look for a keyword to use?

Wade: Yeah. We kind of do that. We play around with Google’s Trends. I don’t know if you’ve used that before.

Andrew: Yeah.

Wade: You can type in keywords and see how they grow over time. So we do some of that stuff to figure out, “All right, Do we think we can write a guide that’s better than this stuff and rank for this well? That’s kind of how we go about it. All of it comes from our users. After you talk to a user, you’re like, “Okay, that’s a cool story that somebody else should know.”

Andrew: And you’ll interview the user to do that?

Wade: Yeah. We’ll interview them. Sometimes it will be on a call. Sometimes we’ll exchange a few emails.

Andrew: I see. I can see how that’s different from–here it is. Here’s a post that Danny, your cofounder–

Wade: He’s one of our first marketing guys.

Andrew: Sorry, one of the first marketing guys. 2014 he wrote a post called “12 Marketing Lessons Learned from 60 App Integrations in 6 Months.” There aren’t a lot of people that are going to do app integrations and they’re not your customers. It’s more self-referential as opposed to some of the newer posts that are, like you said, “How to Tie a Tie.” I can see the intermediate ones. “6 Online Marketing Tactics Every Real Estate Agent Should Know.” That’s like you advancing towards this new discovery.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: Let me close out with this. The reason you and I met was you saw I had a problem, a deep pain. You said, “I think I can solve it.” You solved it. You built a product that did that for me and other people. Do you still go through this process of understanding your customer pains or potential customer pains and then improving your product or improving something based on it? Can you give me an example of how you do that?

Wade: Absolutely. At Zapier, we do all hands support. Everyone in our company spends time answering customer questions. So, if you email Zapier for support on a Friday afternoon, from about 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, I’m in our HelpScout inbox just answering customer questions. I do this every week. I’ve done this every week ever basically from Zapier’s standpoint. And everyone in our company does something similar. People on our marketing team, our design team, they’re doing a four hour shift in support.

Andrew: They’re answering all support questions, anything that comes in?

Wade: Anything that comes in, more or less. Some of them we have to pass along to our dedicated support staff.

Andrew: I see. You just assign it to someone else who can handle it. At least you’ve read the problem, see that people have had it.

Wade: Exactly.

Andrew: What’s an example of something you’ve done differently, maybe marketing that’s done differently because of that, maybe product development you did because of that?

Wade: Sure. Oftentimes we spot areas where we should double down on. So we notice a lot of marketers using Zapier with like form software to lead gen. Honestly, it’s similar to what you were doing in the beginning, Wufoo forms, send them to AWeber.

Andrew: Now it’s Typeform it looks like is your number one form software.

Wade: Yeah, Typeform is really popular these days. So that’s one we talk about a lot. But we also notice other things like where we shouldn’t pay attention to. We know our accounting integrations, they’re good, but they’re not as great as they could be. We know from a product standpoint we need to work on that and our marketing team knows maybe we wait a little bit to feature those case studies. Let’s let the product team iron out some kinks there. Once that gets ironed out, we’ll talk about that more. The marketing team will hedge towards the stuff they see and support the customers are raving out.

Andrew: I see. When you discovered marketers were using forms as a way of collecting email addresses, which they then used to market to the people who filled out the forms, what did you do with that?

Wade: That’s when we start like writing–it’s topics for our blog. It’s topics that go in, when we talk to our partners, so if we’re trying to get them to write about stuff, we’re saying go focus on these use cases. We know people will love them. Here’s a customer that you can talk to about it.

Andrew: Got it. I see. And do you ever do any of this–I knew we’re running a little late here. We’re a little longer. Do you have to go? Do you have another call?

Wade: I’m good to go for another ten minutes or so if we need it.

Andrew: Do you ever do this with your employees? Do you have a way of understanding when they have a pain point and solving it for the next time you onboard a new employee or when they have a pain point and solving it for the next time you communicate with someone else on the team?

Wade: Yeah. We haven’t systematized this great yet. I’m starting to work on that more. One thing we do is after we onboard a person, usually within the first month I’ll give them a few weeks and then I’ll start asking them, “Hey, someone’s getting ready to start again at Zapier next month. You just went through this. What did you think we did right? What do you want to make sure the next person knows that you knew ahead of time, right?”

Andrew: Do you have an example of something you learned that way?

Wade: Yeah. We do in person onboarding even though we’re a remote team. A lot of people have commented it is super helpful to do that in person onboarding and it’s super great that like myself, Bryan and Mike, the two cofounders, we’re there in person with them. We’ll spend that week right there next to them for every person we’ve hired.

Andrew: They’ll come to your house?

Wade: Sometimes they’ll come to our house, but a lot of times we’ll get an Airbnb here in the Bay Area.

Andrew: And you work out of the Airbnb with them.

Wade: We call it Airbnb-onboarding.

Andrew: I see. What did you learn that sucked about your onboarding?

Wade: Well, we always learn things that suck. But keeping documentation up to date is a bear. Stuff just goes out of date so fast.

Andrew: So someone will get onboarded, say, “I didn’t know what to do. You guys gave me a document and that confused me even more because it was out of date.”

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s a document that you would give a new employee that was out of date?

Wade: A good example is we’re getting ready to fix this. We have employee directories now. We have like five of them. I don’t know why–why do you need five employee directories? We’ve got this great value which is transparency and documentation because we’re remote. What came along was someone was like, “I don’t like this directory, so I’m going to make a new directory that has the features that I like.”

Someone else came along and was like, “That’s not quite right. Let’s make a different one in this different app or in this different format. That will be better.” Instead of saying, “This is the official one,” it just gets prepended to the onboarding guys. So, someone’s like, “Go put your name in this app, go put your name and your picture in this app, in this app, put your picture and your email address and the things you like to do.” Now we’ve got like four places people are putting like–why does it even exist? We just need one place, right?

Andrew: I see. Now you’re going to combine it because people were confused when they signed up.

Wade: Yeah. They were like, “Which one do we actually use? Certainly you don’t use all these.” it’s like, “Well, no, of course we don’t use all of these.”

Andrew: That makes so much sense, ask the last person you brought on board what sucked out our process and what was good, emphasize what was good and whatever sucks try to find a solution for. You guys are hiring, by the way. When I asked you before the interview what you guys were working on, you told me about that. Anyone who wants to come work with you guys can go check out Zapier.com–actually, I’m on the about page.

Wade: Yeah, you go to /jobs and /about. It has all our jobs.

Andrew: Yeah. It looks like the jobs page led me to about. It’s on the about page, Zapier.com/about. And the other thing I can find in the about page, speaking of open, everyone’s freaking email address.

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: You’re Wade@Zapier.com to anyone who wants to contact you, Mike@Zapier.com, Bryan with a Y @Zapier.com. That’s how to contact the founders. You guys are so freaking accessible. Will you actually read your email?

Wade: Yeah.

Andrew: It won’t be a Zap that reads email and says, “Thanks for contacting me about Mixergy?”

Wade: A Zap might read it too but I’ll read it as well.

Andrew: All right.

Wade: I still read all my email and mostly reply to all of them.

Andrew: Well, congratulations on building this company. I’m such a huge admirer of your company. I use it every week and don’t even notice. It’s just there. All right. Well, thank you for doing this and thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. I will, as soon as this is over, go into my Pipedrive and push Wade’s card into the tenth column, which will then trigger a Zap that goes out to Joe and I can do that because I use Pipedrive. If you’re listening to me, you should check out my sponsor, Pipedrive.com/Mixergy.

And if you realize these integrations actually make sense and you want to build a Zapier integration or any other integration to grow your business, Toptal is a company you can hire and frankly they’ll do that or so many other things. They’re great developers. Go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy. And then the next time someone says Zapier, don’t correct the, it’s kind of awkward.

Here’s what I do. I often will start saying Zapier back to them until they pick up on, it, which is a jerky thing I ordinarily–if someone mispronounces a word, I’ll go with their mispronunciation and not make it awkward, but with Zapier, I feel like you should know it’s a Zap, man. It’s a Zap. I understand when people say Udemy instead of Udemy, but I don’t get when they say Zapier. It’s Zapier. You’re Zapping something. Go check them out, Zapier.com. Thanks, Wade.

Wade: Yeah. Thanks, Andrew. I really appreciate it. Good catching up.

Andrew: Congratulations. Bye, everyone.


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