Why Zapier thinks there’s a big (but hard) business in stitching together cloud services

Gmail, Asana, Basecamp, GitHub, Stripe, Twitter, Instagram. Just a few of the myriad cloud services many of us use personally and/or professionally. And yet, in terms of meaningful integrations among them, there isn’t a whole lot. A startup called Zapier is trying to change that by stitching together more than 300 popular services so interactions between them become automatic. It’s like If This Then That, only focused more on small businesses than on consumers.

Zapier Co-founder Bryan Helmig came on the Structure Show podcast this week to discuss how the company did it and what types of interactions they enable. It’s an entertaining interview and also informative. Helmig discusses not just what types of automations are possible (you can probably imagine some of them, very simple ones might include updating databases or CRM apps as mentions on Twitter happen) but also how to make money in this business. Hint: It requires great customer service, features people will be willing to pay for, and the willingness to wade through some tricky code.

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Update: This post was updated at 3:55 p.m. on Sept. 8 to correct Bryan Helmig’s title, he is not CEO as originally written, and to correct the company’s headquarters from St. Louis, Missouri, to Mountain View, California.