#06: Wade Foster, CEO of Zapier, on flywheels, early user acquisition, and self-improvement on the way to $35MM ARR
By Dave Rogenmoser
Have you ever tried to save an email to Evernote? Fire a Google Calendar from a Slack message? Getting programs to talk to each other without direct APIs used to be a nightmare. And then came Zapier. Zapier is the solution to help companies set up powerful workflows and make nearly any software program integrate. With their service, you can connect over 1300 apps (and growing) without a custom built hook. The service originated during a hackathon weekend, and it has quickly grown into one of the largest software companies of the decade. In just over 7 years, Zapier graduated YCombinator, has grown to $35 million in ARR, and recently they were named #53 on The Forbes Cloud 100. It’s also notable to mention that Zapier is structured a bit differently than most businesses. Zapier is a 100% distributed team of 170 individuals scattered around the globe — and they are strong through leaders around remote work culture. In this episode, Wade Foster, CEO & founder of Zapier, talks with Dave about the strategies he has used to achieve massive revenue and user growth. Their conversation covers early user acquisition, finding ideal customers through forums, building growth flywheels, the split between Growth vs Marketing, failed strategies, and much more! 0:01 — Introduction 1:47 — Why accolades mean the most for family members; Zapier's #53 spot on the coveted Forbes Cloud 100 3:33 — The startup weekend that birthed zAPIer 4:10 — What is Zapier? Where is the business at right now? 5:15 — When people think tech founder — they don’t often think the Midwest. Has being from Missouri shaped Wade's success? 6:39 — How Wade used online forums to spark growth at Zapier 8:56 — “It was the right amount of traffic" — how low volume but high intent users in the early days changed the game for the business 11:22 — Breaking down the Zapier flywheel 12:05 — Growth strategies and risks that haven’t panned out well 14:34 — What do the growth and marketing teams look like at Zapier? Wade explains his thought process while building that part of the organization 15:32 — “Growth has to be a core competency from the get-go” 17:02 — Chief growth officer vs chief marketing officer 18:52 — What’s a counterintuitive thing you believe about growing a startup? 20:58 — The best things Wade has done to improve as a CEO 23:44 — The salty six; rapid-fire questions to know Wade better This is an actionable episode — we hope you enjoy! Get ready to #ScaleOrDie... We're excited to have you along for Season 1 of #ScaleOrDie. Before you leave, be sure to leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review, post a comment, or share with your friends! Tune into more episodes at useproof.com/scaleordie and read more stories at blog.useproof.com. Follow Dave & Proof on Twitter — @DaveRogemoser and @UseProof. We publish episodes every week so be sure to check back often for more interviews with the internet’s best minds in growth!