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Zapier brings simplified, drag and drop APIs to non-coders

Mix and matching web APIs can be an absolute pain for the non-coder crowd, but one Y-Combinator-backed startup is hoping to make sure that you can make them work hard for you with a web solution called Zapier.

With Zapier, businesses are able to combine web services like AIM, AngelList, Asana, Box, and many others to function together in unique and beneficial ways. You upload a new file into Asana, but you want it to message all of your colleagues in the company’s AIM group -- you can program Zapier to do just that. The web service enables users to create workflows with over 170 of the most popular web services, designed around with the same kind of drag and drop interface that you might expect from Apple.

We held a lightning round interview with Zapier co-founder Wade Foster to chat about the company’s big move from Missouri to Silicon Valley, and the importance of utilizing your unique skill set whenever possible.

What was the inspiration behind Zapier?

Before Zapier I freelanced and consulted with a variety of companies. Many of them had problems creating workflows with the cloud software they were using. Sales as a Service vendors had time to build the integrations needed so customers ended up losing a lot.

We hypothesized that an easy way to integrate any web service would be of great use to lots of people. So far we’ve been right.

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

In college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I got a boring internship at MegaCorp. I did about 15 minutes of work every day, was bored out of my mind and my bosses still loved me. It was ridiculous.

After that summer I vowed to find something different. I fell in love with small business and set out to be an entrepreneur.

What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to do as an entrepreneur?

Moving the company. In May 2012 we were accepted into Y-Combinator and moved the company from Missouri to Silicon Valley. I love Missouri. My wife loves Missouri. It was very hard to make that decision.

Ultimately it was the right choice. The bay area has a huge density of tech entrepreneurs and we can lean on them for experience and mentorship more so than we could in Missouri. 

What do you like to do for fun?

I'm a jazz musician. I love pulling out my tenor sax and pretending I'm Dexter Gordon. 

What was the first job you ever had?

The first thing I ever got paid for was playing in a jazz quartet in 9th grade. I got $50 for three hours of work. It was amazing. My friends would slave away all day for $5 per hour and I could put in a few hours and make the same as them. That taught me the value of a skill set and not to undersell myself.

Who are some people that inspire you?

This is always a tough question because there are so many. But I've always been inspired by astronauts. They go through intense training and put their life on the line all for the purpose of finding something new, for exploring something great.

What does 2013 have in store for Zapier?

We've brought on two people at the end of last year. This year we'll bring on more. I'm excited to see how the team grows and what were able to achieve together.

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Corey Cummings