Jan232013

“At the time we didn’t have the capital or the revenue to go full time on Zapier. So the toughest challenge was keeping to momentum going in the early days to just keep building something when the product wasn’t very good and we didn’t have very many customers.”

Wade Foster
Wade Foster
Zapier
Co-Founder & CEO

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Zapier is the easiest way for anyone to connect hundreds of web applications. You can easily create Salesforce leads from a Wufoo form, MailChimp subscribers from PayPal, tweet new blog posts from an RSS feed. There are literally thousands of possible integrations.

MO: How did you come up with the concept for Zapier?

Wade: Anyone who has ever built a SaaS product has gotten the question “Do you integrate with X? So and so does and if you can’t I’m leaving.” Check out any help forum and you’ll see this all over the place. The problem is SaaS vendors don’t have enough time to build out all the integrations customers want and build a good product at the same time. And customers can’t afford to pay for custom integrations. They need something out of the box. Hence the birth of Zapier.

MO: Can you talk about how getting accepted into Y Combinator last May and how it has helped Zapier really take off?

Wade: There are lots of incubators and accelerators these days, but most don’t actually accelerate your business. Y Combinator does. Y Combinator helped put our name in front of the biggest software companies, legitimized what we were building in vendor’s eyes and opened doors to some of the most savvy investors.

MO: What were some of the challenges you faced in the early days and how did you overcome them?

Wade: Early on Zapier was a nights and weekends project for Bryan, Micah and I. We always envisioned it turning into a business, but at the time we didn’t have the capital or the revenue to just jump full time on it. So the toughest challenge was keeping to momentum going in the early days to just keep building something when the product wasn’t very good and we didn’t have very many customers.

MO: How does Zapier work? How have you managed to make it so user-friendly?

Wade: Zapier lets users create connections between hundreds of web services using a simple drag-and-drop interface. Making it use friendly is a constant challenge. While it certainly is easier to use Zapier than to have to dig into a code editor, read a bunch of API documentation and spend several hours building a php script to maintain some minor integration, Zapier isn’t quite as user friendly as we’d like it to be. We spend time everyday chatting with our users on Olark, responding to their emails, and doing user testing to hopefully find ways that we can improve the interface. Whether it’s a small piece of copy or choosing a different UX element we want to be making small improvements everyday.

MO: If I could grant you one business related wish right now, what would you ask for?

Wade: This is a tough question. Everyone always wants more time or more revenue or more customers so it would seem cliché to say that. Our mission is to create a company that has lasting impact not just for businesses or for SaaS software providers, but also for the people who work at Zapier or work with Zapier. So if I had to choose something it would be that Zapier is a company that people like, respect and really want to be associated with.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for Zapier in 2013?

Wade: There’s a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon for Zapier, but probably the most exciting is getting to grow and scale something. We’ve gotten to the point where we have integrations with 150+ services, which covers a huge spread of applications that are used by people all over the world. We’ve got thousands of users all over the world using us to solve real problems. 2013 gives us the opportunity to take the foundation we’ve laid and really build something that can help a lot of people.

 

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