A conventional job in a small midwest town quickly proved to be unsatisfying for Wade Foster, co-founder and CEO of Zapier. In this Infusioncast interview, Joshua Millage talks with Wade about how Zapier can make you happier and help you get even more power from Infusionsoft.
API groundwork is frustrating work at best. Nobody really wants to do it, but it has to be done. Wade and co-founder Bryan Helmig were freelancing together, blending their marketing and engineering skills to help small business owners integrate their web applications, when they had the idea for Zapier. Why not build an app to handle this tedious data integration work for them?
With what they had observed working closely with clients and learning their business needs, Wade and Bryan created Zapier as an out-of-the-box solution that small businesses can use to seamlessly integrate Infusionsoft with other core business applications such as Quickbooks. Their tool efficiently allows small business owners to resolve everyday integration problems themselves.
Zapier makes it easier for you to get more out of the applications you use in your daily business operations, helping you handle a wide variety of event-driven integrations. Wade has plans for future development and expansion to include shared logins, data searches, and other common workflow problems.
Wade encourages users to try creative approaches to leverage Infusionsoft’s capacities using Zapier to integrate with other tools. One example is Eventbrite for event marketing. The goal here is to get new leads to the top of your funnel and then follow up with them regularly. Using Zapier, Eventbrite can automatically enter event attendees’ data into your Infusionsoft database. Infusionsoft can then deploy client nurturing and remarketing campaigns for them. You can also do this with form generation tools like Typeform, Gravity Forms and Wufoo.
Books and blogs are fine sources of information, but Wade says his best lessons have come from one-on-one conversations with other marketers and entrepreneurs. He encourages listeners to seek out other people who are doing things you would like to do and ask questions about how they have achieved success. You can then begin to evaluate other campaigns and learn from their successes and failures. We internalize information best from other people’s stories.
Wade’s personal philosophy came from a mentor early on. He says, if you strive to be just a little better today than you were yesterday, over time those small steps add up to major improvements in business and in life.
Thank you for joining us.
Connect with Wade Foster
You can connect with Wade Foster and learn more about Zapier at Zapier.com, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter at @wadefoster.
Joshua: Hey! Welcome back to another episode of infusing cast. Today I had the opportunity of interviewing Wade Foster of Zapier and it is pronounced Zapier. I asked him in the interview because he said Zapier makes you happier and that’s how you remember it.
I loved interviewing Wade because his software is truly remarkable, specially for Infusionsoft users that don’t want to want to hire a web development shop to do a special integration. Zapier is a tool that I use extensively to connect infusion soft to a number of other web applications. We talk about a lot of different cool use cases and just talk about how you can run your business better using his tool, Zapier.
Check out Zapier at Zapier.com and without further ado lets get into today’s episode.
Announcer: How the heck do you use Infusionsoft? How do you make it work for you? Welcome to infusioncast. The only podcast that shows you the tricks of the trade and teaches you how to be an Infusionsoft expert. Join your host, Joshua Millage, as he sits down with Infusionsoft pros to hear their stories and experiences making Infusionsoft work for them. Ready? Here’s Joshua.
Joshua: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Infusioncasting. My guest today is Wade Foster, the co-founder and CEO of Zapier. An amazing application that I use, literally, every day to give my Infusionsoft application super powers. I’m really excited to have Wade so Wade, welcome to the show.
Wade: Yeah! Thanks for having me Josh.
Joshua: I’m really curious because I did a little research on you in the Linkedin profile and it seems like you’ve had quite the entrepreneurial journey. I would love to hear the origin story of how Zapier came to be.
Wade: Sure! Zapier came to be … Let me wind you back and give you a little bit of my history. I think it might be interesting for folks. Growing up I never really much, if any, entrepreneur aspirations. I grew up in a small mid-western, conservative town. A lot of people worked for the government. I just kind of assumed going through school that I would go out and get a W2 job and pull in a salary every year and that would be it. Settle in and have a nice mid-western family. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but that was the path that seemed most obvious to me.
Going through college I got really burnt out on that sort of work. It wasn’t interesting to me, I wasn’t solving interesting problems in school and I thought there’s got to be something that’s more attuned towards the ambition that I had. It just so happened that around that time was when the 2008 crash happen so when I was looking for internships and stuff like that, there were none to be found and so I figured … Well what else can I do this summer? What other things could I find? I started poking around online. I found that there were a lot of folks that created small little side businesses that were pulling in a few hundred or a few thousand dollars a month for themselves. Selling maybe a skill or a product that they made or something that they had already. I thought “I can do this too.”
I wasn’t quite ready to jump in myself so I actually found a local person, a local entrepreneur who was doing it already and needed help with marketing. Even though I didn’t have a marketing background I jumped in and said “Hey I’ll help you out a little bit.” That’s where it began for me. Helping this guy out, market his little software app. I did that for about a year and a half or so. I met a lot of folks in the community. I really got excited to do it myself.
Along this way I met this guy, Brian [inaudible 00:04:08], he’s actually now my co-founder, and we met playing music. I’m actually a jazz musician too, like a hobbyist jazz musician and he plays base and guitar. I play sax. We play in a quartet together and he’s a really good developer. We started working on freelance stuff together. We would build mini-apps for folks. If you needed my help, marketing expertise, Brian’s engineering help we would just split the work that we would be able to draw in. One of the things we often got asked to do was to pull data from these different apps. We had someone ask “Hey can you pull these paypal sales into quickbooks for me.” or “We’ve got this list of contacts and we need you to upload it into sales force for me.” This kind of stuff that I call API groundwork. It’s not the stuff that’s exciting for engineers but for a small business owner, who’s using these different tools in their business, they really need them to work nicely together. And they weren’t, to be honest.
That’s where the initial idea for Zapier came. We felt like we could take this freelance work that we were doing and we could turn it into an out of the box app that would allow a small business owner to just plug and play both these tools together. That’s the start of my entrepreneurial journey. Just messing around with stuff and eventually stumbling on to an idea that could be maybe a bit bigger.
Joshua: That’s amazing. It really kind of came through this process of doing client work. Then seeing this trend line and really following it.
Wade: Exactly! These are everyday little problems that folks had. Integrations is not a revolutionary thing, it’s something that’s been done for decades, but we felt like we could do it in a lot more efficient and better way. We figured “Lets give it a go.”
Joshua: It is done in a much better way because … I run a web development shop now and it’s funny, we do the occasional integration but you hit it right on the nose. It is API ground work and it is not fun. If a project like that comes across, the engineers would yell at you. It makes it so nice to have an app out there that we can refer people to, that does such a great job of connecting things, that they can manage. I think the beauty of Zapier, that I’ve found, is I went in using it to solve a couple of key pinpoints – and actually Quickbooks was a great example because I use a Quickbooks integration in my account – but then this creative spark hit me and I thought “Oh, wait a second. There’s all these other cool things that I can do.” You can get … If you have a marketing mind you think “Oh man if I can pull data from there and use it over here.” The sky is the limit.
What are some of the things, maybe random or obscure connections or cool use cases that you’ve seen in your customer base?
Wade: One that kind of took off was this Typeform to Slack integration. Where Slack came out of no where, is super popular now and it was built for teams in mind but there’s this niche group of people who took what Slack is great at but turned it into an old school chat room for communities. What they would do was they’d set up a Typeform form and say “It’s $25 to join our community.” Through the Typeform’s app and Slack integration when people would sign up and pay through Typeform that would create an invite email to let them come into the Slack group.
It’s just like a mini-business that’s built on one integration. It takes a product that wasn’t intended to be used this way – Slack – and creates a whole new use case for this product that has blown up and is pretty popular now. I think that kind of stuff is super cool. Something that people maybe wanted to do, or maybe they didn’t realize they wanted to do, just comes out of no where and ends up being really popular.
Joshua: I love that. For those of you who are listening who don’t know what Slack and Typeform are. Slack is an amazing chat app. I use it to manage all of our internal communications at CodeBOX. Typeform, correct me if I’m wrong Wade, it’s just a beautiful form creator but it allows you to do a lot of dynamic things.
Wade: Yeah exactly. It’s like Wufoo or Gravity Forms or Formstack or Jawform if you’re familiar with any of those. But it’s the new kid on the block. Typeforms are definitely prettier than most forms that you run across that’s for sure.
Joshua: I’ve noticed they have a lot of dynamic animations and things. That’s really cool. It’s like a really rapid prototype. I think it’s more than a prototype because once they pay and they’re in Slack, you’re ready to go. That’s a really cool user case for people who want to start a premium community. I can see myself doing that with this infusion cast/crew. That’s really awesome.
With Zapier, where are you headed? Is it just to take over the internet with all the connections? What’s the next few years look like for where you’re headed?
Wade: That’s a good question. I think for us, we got into this to really just make it easier for small businesses to get more out of the apps that they use. Today is about this event driven integration. When something happens in this app, do something over there. But there’s a lot of others ways that apps just suddenly don’t work together nicely. There’s the whole sharing log-ins problem, there’s the seeking data problem, there’s a broader set of workflows that could be powered by Zapier that we just can’t quite handle today because it requires a bit more complexity under the hood. Those are the types of problem we want to tackle. We really just want to make it like a central hub to help you get more out of the apps that you’re using.
Joshua: That’s great. That’s a great vision. I think that for Infusionsoft users that’s music to our ears because while we love Infusionsoft … I always liken it to when you buy Infusionsoft is like buying the engine to a car but you kind of need to build the car. Integrating other technologies, like Quickbooks or something else, is important. Your tool allows people to do that really easily and really well.
You competed, I think 2 years ago, in the battle of the apps competition so you understand our community better than a lot of other app creators. What advice do you have for Infusionsoft users who want to get on Zapier? What are some of the things that you’ve seen people use that are kind of cool for us?
Wade: I think Infusionsoft in particular, some of the great use cases revolve around the top of the funnel. Infusionsoft has this remarkable engine for nurturing your leads and re-marketing to your leads via e-mail. You can really tap into that if you can use creative ways to get leads into Infusionsoft. That’s the trigger that sparks this beautiful re-marketing engine that you built in Infusionsoft with the campaign builder and all that stuff.
If you take a service like, say Eventbright, whether you’re running a local event or an on-line event, you can use Eventbright really easy to spin up a free event, a paid event, whatever. It’s a great way to market to a new set of people or maybe an existing set of people. Then through a simple Zap you can set it up so that either, one it adds those attendees to Infusionsoft which kicks off a nurturing campaign or you can have it tag them with a specific Infusionsoft tag so that it kicks off a different campaign. Now you have these folks you just sent to the top of your funnel getting consistent nurturing from you instead of just dropping off the face of the planet. “Thanks for coming to the event. We may never talk again.” Infusionsoft is the magic under the hood that makes sure these people don’t … That you do have some reason to stay in touch with them and are able to market with them.
This Eventbright case can be applied to all sort of other surfaces. We just mentioned Typeform. Typeform is a great form builder, Wuffoo, Gravityforms even Google forms has a form builder that you could use. If want to just put a form on your website and start collecting leads, start collecting contact information and just get that into Infusionsoft, that’s probably the single easiest things that you can do today. It requires next to no work but the benefits that you’re going to get from getting those leads into Infusionsoft it’s going to be pretty big.
Joshua: Absolutely. I love that too. You’re capturing the lead through another service, like Eventbright, so it feels a little different but you can still have that really personal human touch followup experience from the engine that you built in Infusionsoft. That’s a beautiful use case. Thank you for sharing that.
I want to dial back to your marketing journey. One of the things I’ve picked up is that you seem to be able to pick up some really key marketing strategies in the trenches. Is there any book or thing … How have you learned what you learned and what would you share with the community. I have a feeling it’s probably through a lot of war stories but I’m curious because it seems that you’ve rapidly picked up on some really key marketing ideas over the years.
Wade: The best stuff that I’ve always learned has not been from a book or from a blog post. Blog posts you can sometimes get it. The best stuff that I’ve learned has been from talking to other entrepreneurs and other marketers. Whether it is having a drink with them at a conference or a meet up group. You really want to corner a one-on-one. That way you can talk to them in a place that’s a little bit more private, a place where they’ll be a little bit more comfortable sharing the details with you. And just ask them “Hey I saw that your product did A, B and C. How did that work? Tell me the numbers. Where the conversion rates good? Did the top of the funnel fill up like you thought it would? Was the partnership a success or not?” You can start to pick and prod and get kind of honest answers of them.
Really what’s been so helpful about those types of conversations for me is now I can look at other campaigns that people are doing and I can take a guess at how successful they are. I can run the back of the envelope math and know is this BS or not. Is this going to be super successful, what’s the order of magnitude. I won’t be able to pinpoint it exactly but I can know “Okay, if you invest X you’ll probably get Y in return.” Most of this is just from discussions with other entrepreneurs and marketers.
Joshua: You’re totally right. I studied, in school, I studies knowledge management and that was the thing that all the research pointed to. You need to just talk to people. It’s the fastest and best way to get the most. To internalize information too because we learn from stories. That’s the way that humans are, we’re tribal people. I think that’s a brilliant piece of advice.
Wade we’re coming to the end of the interview and this has been fantastic but I’m always curious. What are some of the things you do to get yourself either ready for the day or the week? Do you have any success rituals or books that you can recommend to the audience?
Wade: The things that I always … I had a mentor right out of college that encouraged … It was a very simple phrase but he always said “Be better the next day than you are today.” It wasn’t be a lot better but just be a little bit better. That’s how I’ve always approached the business and also life. Today what’s the one thing that I can do that’s going to make us a little better than we were yesterday. Not a lot but just a little bit. If I do that thing we’re going to make progress because you repeat that 365 days a year it’s going to add up to be a lot. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in just a year or just five years. Zapier didn’t even existed five years ago. It’s pretty impressive, if you take those small steps each day, what you can eventually build.
Joshua: Do you do that in your personal life too? That’s a great idea, like eat a little bit better or, exercise a little bit more.
Wade: Exactly. Right now for me, the place I do it in my personal life is definitely exercise. Trying to get a little bit better in shape because when we started Zapier, for the first three years or so of Zapier, I definitely left that slide a little bit. Now I’m starting to try and get back on the fitness bandwagon and get myself into a little bit better shape.
Joshua: I know how that is. People joke about freshmen 15 in college and I think there is the startup 30. When you’re building a business exercise can go right out the door.
Wade: I think the 30 is about right. 25 was what I did.
Joshua: That’s about where I’m at so I feel your pain there. That’s awesome
Wade this has been a fantastic interview. Thank you so much for coming on Infusioncasting. If someone wants to get in contact with you or your team, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Wade: If they want to get in contact with anyone at Zapier in general, email@example.com is a great e-mail address. Everyone on the team manages and pays attention to that. If they want to get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m a lot slower on e-mail but I will get back to you, I promise. If you just want to hang out with me on-line I’m on Twitter @wadefoster and I love chatting back and forth with folks there.
Joshua: Right on! I’m going to put all of those links and more at infusioncas.co/zapier.
Wade thanks so much for coming on the show.
Wade: Thanks for having me.
Announcer: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Infusioncat.
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Thanks again for listening and we’ll talk to you in the next episode.