The 2018 Cloud 100 list is loaded with applications that help businesses collaborate better and work faster. But for one newcomer to this year’s ranks, success means connecting them all together — with yet another app.
No. 57 on the 2018 Cloud 100 list, Zapier looks to help users build their own personalized, code-less workflow automations, serving as a digital super glue to combine a variety of web and mobile apps with its connectors called “zaps.” “The only limit to what you’re able to streamline with Zapier is your own imagination,” says CEO Wade Foster, who cofounded the company with Mike Knoop and Bryan Helmig in 2011.
If recent IPO darlings like DocuSign and Dropbox have helped create a gold rush of money and attention flowing to enterprise software and business apps in the cloud, Zapier provides the picks and shovels. The platform hosts over 1,300 applications, Foster says, with more added on a constant basis as more get created and startups solve new problems. Whether a customer is working in fellow Cloud 100 companies MailChimp and Slack, or one of the big public tech players like Google or Microsoft’s office tools, Zapier reduces what would be multiple, manual steps to connect data from a variety of apps into a single action. “The ultimate goal is to help folks be productive,” Foster says.
Zapier has an impressive rolodex of big-name customers including teams at Netflix and Nasa, but the startup still mostly caters to individuals and SMBs. One such customer is Vanessa Prothe, an owner of an online tutoring course, who uses Zapier to automate her primary business processes. For Prothe, that means connecting Cloud 100 Rising Star Teachable to ActiveCampaign and Slack in order to enroll new students faster, add them to a mailing list, then process their payments seamlessly.
At startup SaveMySales, cofounder and CEO Tivan Amour used Zapier to extract contacts from a Google spreadsheet, send them text messages and connect any replies to Gmail all using a single automated “zap.” He credits Zapier for helping him get SaveMySales, which provides text message sales for ecommerce brands, on its way to its first $1 million in revenue even before he’d hired developers. “I credit the entire formation of our business to the integrations we were able to build with Zapier,” says Amour. “There’s no way we would’ve grown the way we did without them.”
That’s the type of response that first inspired Foster, Knoop and Helmig to commit full-time to Zapier almost seven years ago. The three were attending a Startup Weekend event in Columbia, Missouri when they built the first prototype. Overwhelmed by the positive feedback, the three decided to continue the product in their spare time. Foster and Helmig, now Zapier’s chief product officer, were working full time at Veterans United Home Loan at the time. Knoop, Zapier’s chief technology officer, was finishing up graduate research at the University of Missouri.
When the trio got accepted into prestigious startup accelerator Y Combinator to pursue their project in 2012, they committed to Zapier full-time. The founders were able to raise an initial seed round of $1.3 million that year and haven’t needed to raise additional funds since.
Many of even the largest cloud companies grow fast at the expense of profits. That’s not the case at Zapier. The company reached profitability in 2014 and has doubled in sales every year since then, posting annual recurring revenue of $35 million this year. Zapier has managed to achieve that coveted triple-digit sales progress all while operating under a freemium model that only charges for larger professional and team-based plans.
The hope is that customers will dip their toes in the water with Zapier, then want to do more and more with its handy zaps. At BARK, maker of the popular subscription service BarkBox, the customer experience team now uses Zapier at scale after a small start, with more than 150 customer experience agents using Zapier to help with at least 100 different workflows, no coding skills required.
Despite two million registered users today, Zapier does it all without a physical office or sales team. Its 170 staffers are based in 17 countries and 25 states; even the company’s executives are spread across the U.S. “We don’t need day-to-day, in-person collaboration to be successful,” says Foster. All the in the power of the zap.