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What’s In Your SaaS Stack – Zapier CEO Wade Foster

It started with a survey, and then it became an infographic. Now we’re on to the interviews. We’re talking to some of the fastest-growing companies in the world to find out what’s in their SaaS stack. We want to know what helps them to do business on a daily basis.

Zapier’s SaaS Stack

This time around we’re speaking with Zapier CEO Wade Foster. In this short interview, Wade tells us all about how Zapier’s distributed team not only keeps in touch, but also manages their projects. We’ll also dive a bit into what people are doing with Zapier, a service that is a bit like duct tape for APIs.

Video Transcript: What’s in Your SaaS Stack? An Interview with Wade Foster, Zapier CEO

Brad: So we’re back again this week, continuing our interview series with CEOs and hustlers and those people in the know, and we’re joined this week by Wade Foster of Zapier. Which Wade actually just told me that it actually is “Zapier”, because, what’s your guys’ little catch phrase, Wade? Because that was awesome.

Wade: Zapier makes you happier.

Brad: Lovely. That’s fantastic. So, for the people who might not know, give them a little bit of an introduction. What does Zapier do?

Wade: So it’s a web app that connects other web apps. So if you use tools like Wufoo or Salesforce or MailChimp or Evernote, and you need to pass data back and forth between the two, it will help you do that. So someone fills out your Wufoo form, and there’s a link to Salesforce. Someone tweets about your company, dump that into Campfire so you can get an alert about it. It hooks up 250 services. You can do it in five minutes, no technical work required. So really easy, it’s intended to be simple.

Brad: Very cool. So it’s primarily API to API talking?

Wade: Yeah, that’s what’s happening in the technical, nitty gritty details behind the scenes.

Brad: Okay. Cool. So obviously people could draw a quick comparison between you and If This Then That, but you guys seem to be much more enterprise-focused, kind of more professional-level, right?

Wade: Yeah, I mean, when I think of automation, every company in the world is thinking about, “How can we streamline efficiencies and cut costs and do things more productively?” That’s CEOs CFOs, COOs – that’s the number one thing on their mind. And so that’s the thing we’re trying to solve is, they’re all using — as everyone’s mass-adopted the cloud, every company is using more and more tools. And it’s harder and harder for the individual companies to build out all the integrations that they need. And so Zapier’s kind of like your one-stop shop for connecting all these tools.

Brad: Really cool. And how did you come up with the idea of it? What made you go, “Oh wow, somebody needs to build this.”

Wade: I’m a marketer by trade, somewhat technical but I’m not a developer. I was trying to hack on SendGrid and Mailgun and all these email APIs to try and trigger emails to go out at the right times for my customers. I used to work at a mortgage company so the lead cycle is very long, and we used automated email to try and prod people along and keep them in the pipeline. But me being a marketer was like, “This is stupid that I’m doing all this coding work when I just want to send an email. I should just be able to send an email.”

Brad: Right.

Wade: The flip side, my co-founder, Brian, was working on some SaaS products, and his customers wanted like a thousand integrations, and he’s like, “You can’t build all these.” And so he pitched me on this idea of connecting all together, and it made sense. A person like me shouldn’t have to learn how to code to do your job, especially for the simple stuff. And someone who’s building a SaaS product shouldn’t have to build thousands of integrations just to make their customers happy. There should just be an easy way for customers to get what they needed. That’s really where the idea sprung up from.

Brad: Really cool. Your marketing background is actually really interesting to me, obviously, because that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis. But also, it’s where a lot of our customers are. I mean, we kind of see three groups. We see your hackers and hustler-type people who have 20,000 contacts and are trying to keep everybody straight and whatever, and then your other group is obviously your really hard-core types. Like somebody’s building a product and that’s the guy who goes out and does all the research and finds out, “What’s the API that I need to do this stuff?” But then our third group are kind of just normal people doing their jobs.

And so coming from a real estate background, how do you keep in touch with everybody? What were you using at the time?

Wade: I used a handful. The funny thing is I used a lot of CRMs, but I’d never actually been great at using one. Like I’d bounce around between a whole bunch…

Brad: Nobody’s really good at it, I don’t think.

Wade: We’ve been using RelateIQ lately, and really liking it, so I’m hoping that it might finally solve my bouncing around from CRM to CRM.

Brad: Yeah.

Wade: Truthfully, what I’ve always found the best way to keep in touch with people is automated email.

Brad: Yeah.

Wade: Tools that make this easier are things like HelpSpot, or Pardot, or Infusionsoft, Marketo, Elequa, on the more enterprise side of things, where you have like this huge database of people. They have different characteristics, different traits, and if you’re trying to keep up with them, based on whatever they’re doing inside of your products, or doing inside of their lead flow, you can trigger emails at the right time. Someone changes stages in the deal flow, quick fire off an email that is built for that part of the deal side. So make sure that they’re always up-to-date, always ready to go.

And I’ve always worked with lots and lots of leads. I’ve never been in a product that’s like really, really small amounts of leads, high dollar size. It’s always been like lots of leads, try and close all of the leads. And so automated email works really good with that because you can’t get on the phone with everybody. You need to close them some other way.

Brad: So what else is in your guys’ stack now that you’re kind of in the other side of things? What other kind of stuff are you guys using on a day-to-day basis there?

Wade: We use a ton of tools. We kind of “walk the walk”, so to speak. We have Trello which is probably one of my favorite tools ever because it’s so simple to do lists, and you can just drag and drop things across the lists. So we have a Trello board for all sorts of things. We have a roadmap. We have our editorial calendar. We have our hiring process. We have a biz dev flow. We have everything. It’s just like any sort of process is in Trello.

Brad: That’s cool. We have Trello, and I’m terrible at actually using it. So I guess, I’m like the other side of the spectrum from you.

Wade: Yeah, we tend to use Trello. We also tend to use Zapier to dump things into Trello. So like someone applies for a job, that automatically creates a card inside of Trello. If you fill out – we Wufoo a ton for quick surveys or quick information collecting. You fill out a Wufoo form, it creates cards in Trello.

Everything is going through and keeping everything nice and streamlined so that anyone on the team knows where the information is. You never have the tapping on the shoulder issue, It’s just like, “I know that things are going to this place, and I can probably find it there.” It doesn’t always work as simple as it sounds, but for the most part it does a pretty good job.

Brad: Awesome. So Trello it sounded like the main piece. What’s the other indispensable pieces for you guys?

Wade: Sure. So we use HelpScout a lot for – that’s what all our support runs through. We love the product. We love the team. It’s a great tool. We’re a distributed team, and we use P2, which is a WordPress team that Automatic also uses. They run their business off of P2. We are using it similarly. It’s like an internal blog where people just – if you do something that day that’s even remotely interesting, you type up a quick post about it.

It could just be a quick 100-word post, or it might be a more lengthy thing, like you had some really complicated thing you’re dealing with, and there’s lots of information that needs to convey. We’ve had really long 2000-word posts in our P2 blog that help people stay up-to-date. And the great thing is it’s indexable, searchable, all those good things that help solve the “Don’t have to tap on your shoulder” problem. So it’s like, “I need to know something”, go to P2, it’s there.

Brad: Very cool. Well, Wade, I don’t want to steal any more of your time today. I know you guys got stuff you’re always doing, and more Zaps coming out on the regular. I’m seeing everybody doing interesting stuff with what you guys are building together over there. So really cool.

Wade: Yeah. Nerdy rallying cry, connect all the things, right?

Brad: Well, I’m good with nerdy stuff, man. This is kind of like the life that we lead. Well, Wade, I appreciate your time. It’s Wade Foster, the CEO, the guy behind Zapier. Or one of two guys, right?

Wade: There’s three co-founders. Myself, Brian, and Mike.

Brad: Alright. Cool. Well, go check them out at Z-A-P-I-E-R.com and, Wade, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.

Wade: Yeah, thanks for having me, Brad.

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