Finding Your First Paying Customers with Wade Foster of Zapier

Episode #018

How did a company that nobody'd ever heard of find hundreds of beta users, and even convince them to pay for access? Wade Foster tells the story behind user acquisition at Zapier.

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    My Main Takeaways:

    • Wade and Mike worked on building Zappier in their spare time and around their day job for 9 months.

    • He found out that there was a problem to be solved by looking at forums of tech producs where users were looking for integrations (similar to that of the type Zapier enables).

    • Hanging out in forums where other (paid) products exist, is a good place to find business ideas

    • Wade enjoyed working hard, it was fun, like a hobby

    • Wade's first jobs at the company were to build landing pages, engage with users with problems on forums, and drive users to the product

    • Doing things that don't scale is a great way to START

    • Wade got Zapier's very first customer by a cold email to Andrew from Mixergy (Wade found Andrew Warner via a comment Andrew made on a forum!)

    • Wade "babysitted" his first dozen+ custoemrs (like he did to Andrew Warner), and documented what the product was doing wrong

    • If you're working on a problem that people WANT to get solved, they will HELP you improve your product.

    • Wade and his team charged for the beta, to weed out the tire-kickers, and only deal with serious users

    • Wade had an email list of about 10k users by the time he and his team went public

    • During YC, Wade and his team focused on nothing but Zapier

    • Now that Zapier is bigger and has a bigger team, Wade does not need to work so many hours to keep the business going.

    • Business is a Marathon, not a Sprint. You will need to find that balance

    • Wade's hiring plan was to hire talented people that he'd worked with in the past

    • Zapier pulled in $1 million in seed funding. This money helped them kick-start things faster (and afford to live in silicon valley)

    • The most expensive thing for a company is employee salaries

    • "If you're going to go the Bootstrapping lifestyle, you can't afford to live in a tech-hub" - Patric Mckenzie

    • Zapier took 6 years to get 20 million a year recurring revenue with 90 employees.

    • They also grew Zaiper by getting some of the apps that Zapier enabled integrations for, to mention Zapier

    • Wade considers email to be a great marketing channel. While social media he considers as "Spikey" - in that, if something cool is happing, you get a lot of traffic, then it goes away when the spike has gone. But if you're collecting emails, you have direct contact to leads on demand.

    • Their marketing efforts are to create content people can read to help their productivity, so when people feel the need to automate something, Zapier is at the top of their mind.

    • They started their blog by writing about their founder's journey, but over time they had to mature it and ensure that it has a purpose - and the purpose is to provide value that customers want, and also helps with SEO.

    • Write good content, and get it into the hands of people who want to read it.

    • Get the email address of people who read your article (the people who give you their email and read your articles, are likely to be the ones to share your article.

    • Identify what problem your app is solving, and perform Demand Harvesting, rather than Demand Generation

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    Oh my God, not Kenny G :)

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    This was a great interview. Really enjoyed the how to find ideas portion.

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