A Q&A with Zapier co-founder Bryan Helmig. The Mountain View–based company was founded in 2011 and closed a $1.2 million Seed funding round in late October. Investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
SUB: Please describe Zapier and your value proposition.
Helmig: Zapier makes it easy to connect APIs without needing to hire a developer or learn to code.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Helmig: Anyone that uses a web based application can benefit from Zapier, though we focus on the applications that can add value to small and medium businesses.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Helmig: Our competition is fairly multi-faceted, from startups that are doing similar things, to larger enterprises that sell bundle solutions.
SUB: What differentiates Zapier from the competition?
Helmig: We focus on business apps and simplicity. That combination is increasingly rare.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Helmig: The company was founded after a Startup Weekend. The first steps are always the most important—they involve writing code and talking to users.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Zapier? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Helmig: We’ve done lots of integration work for clients, plus, when we were running our own SaaS apps, there were always customers asking for unique integrations. Obviously, we couldn’t take time away from our core products and build integrations, but wouldn’t it be nice if some company could do that for us.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Helmig: It started as Snapier after about five minutes of brainstorming, Wade swooped up the dot-com and that was that. We renamed to Zapier because lots of cloud companies were ‘snap’ based.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Helmig: The tech challenges are fairly large, so that is a constant challenge. But at the same time, getting the proper message to prospective customers is also extremely difficult. When you are working on a product that few people have seen in any form, the questions are usually ‘What is this?’ and ‘How can I use this?’. So education is a massive part of our marketing.
SUB: You just raised $1.2 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Helmig: Grow the team.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Helmig: We had a product that was clearly useful, so it was time to double down.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Helmig: We sell subscriptions for constant integration.
SUB: What are your goals for Zapier over the next year or so?
Helmig: Grow revenue and user numbers by making the product even better.
Zapier – www.zapier.com