Wade Foster is the co-founder and CEO of Zapier, a productivity tool that integrates over 1,300 apps to improve workplace efficiency. He never imagined that he would be running a company valued at $ 5 billion; all he wanted was to be his own boss and provide for his family. The company has grown from a side project that could not afford an office to operating in over 15 countries. Here are ten facts to help you understand how he has achieved this milestone.
1. His First Skill to Earn Him Money
As revealed on Wade Foster's website, he started playing the saxophone while in middle school. It took a while to become good at it, but he could play along to Ray Charles and other legendary artists when he grasped the skills. He even performed with other jazz musicians, but the first time he got paid for his musical skills was in 9th grade. Foster played at the Missouri Governor's Mansion and earned $50 for three hours only, and that was the encouragement he needed to get him thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship.
2. He Was Not Sure What to Pursue after High School
Despite being so good at music and having a strong passion for it, Foster was unsure about the career path he wanted to take. Therefore, after graduating from Jefferson City High School in 2005, he decided to join the University of Missouri. He took up a degree in industrial engineering, being motivated by his love for creating new things.
3. Why He Chose a Career in the Software Development Industry
Although with a degree in industrial engineering, Foster was equipped to venture into manufacturing, he was not interested in going down that path. Consequently, as his fellow graduates went into manufacturing, he thought of doing something else. Unfortunately, when the country was hit by the financial crisis in 2008, landing an internship was challenging. After countless applications, he finally got one at Idea Works in Colombia, which was the turning point for Foster. Foster changed his perception of formal employment because he could wear shorts and work in a relaxed atmosphere. What motivated him to pursue software development was that while they made software in Colombia, customers who were miles away could still buy it.
4. His Degree in Engineering was out of Pressure
Foster had always been a good student who excelled at math and sciences and did what was expected of him. Consequently, those who knew him well pushed him to study engineering. However, Foster had no idea what engineering entailed despite agreeing to pursue it. He knew that it involved efficiency, but he bowed to the pressure since he had no idea what else he wanted to do.
5. His Hate for Corporate Life Motivated Him to Become an Entrepreneur
His summer internship at Idea Works, though well-paying, was not how he wanted to spend his time. For a man who believed in efficiency, spending eight hours a day doing something that could be done in an hour was wasting his life away. Therefore, after that internship, he knew entrepreneurship was the only solution for him, but according to Jefferson City Magazine, Foster was not sure if he had the necessary skills at 24. Luckily in his final year in school, he got another internship at Veterans United Homes Loans, where he reunited with a former co-worker, and they started pitching ideas.
6. Nothing Can Stop Foster Once His Mind is Made Up
When Foster applied for the marketing intern position at Veterans United Homes Loans, he did not have the required skills. However, he did not let that stop him from getting the job; therefore, he prepared himself by reading a Seth Godin book. It came in handy because he passed the interview but then working meant learning on the job. Foster tried his hand at everything to see what worked and what didn't; within a year, he was an expert in all aspects of marketing.
7. How He Came up With the Idea for Zapier
At Veterans United Homes Loans, Foster reunited with Bryan Helmig, whom he had met at the University of Missouri through the jazz program. The two spent their days working at the tech company but free-lanced during their free time. According to Hackernoon, they realized a pattern among their clients who wanted more integration from one app to another. As a result, Foster and Helmig saw that as the opportunity they had been waiting for and began working on a software prototype that connected all the apps to make their clients' lives easier.
8. How He Decided to Call the Software "Zapier"
In an interview with Mixergy, Foster explains that "Zapier" is pronounced as "happier." He added that "zap" to him means taking data from one app to another. They still wanted to have "API" in the name because APIs power the tool; thus, "Zapier" made sense.
9. He Charged $100 for People to Access Their Beta
When most tech companies are looking for people to sign up for their beta, they are interested in getting feedback to improve their product. Therefore, the companies usually encourage free signing up. Although Foster and his co-founders were looking for such feedback, customers had to pay $100 to access the beta. They later changed it to $1 and finally to $10 and $5. Foster explained it was not about making money off the beta but only attracting people who thought it was important enough to pay for it.
10. The Y Combinator Application was Rejected
When Foster and his partners applied to Y Combinator, they were rejected. According to Groove HQ, he attributed the rejection to the three of them not having impressive resumes. They did not give up and returned after a year with commendable results of their hard work, which got them accepted into the Y Combinator.
Written by Allen Lee
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