Written by: McKenzy Diehl; Concordia Student and SWF volunteer

The featured keynote speaker at this year’s Startup Weekend Fargo will be none other than, Wade Foster. Wade is a co-founder and CEO of Zapier a workflow automation app founded at a Startup Weekend in Columbia, Missouri. The app allows users to automate work by connecting over 750 apps. Since starting in 2011, Zapier has grown from just a few users to over 600,000 in a short five years. In our interview, Wade shares some of his personal story and how his startup is still so successful.

Throughout college, Wade discovered that he had a knack for science, math and, ultimately, entrepreneurship. As a senior, he realized that entrepreneurship was the right path and started working as a marketing intern at a small, local tech company. Wade quickly learned the ropes of marketing and started brainstorming ideas for his own company.

Wade and his two friends, Bryan and Mike, attended Startup Weekend in Columbia with a prototype of Zapier in late October, 2011. The three clicked, and throughout the weekend they fine-tuned the idea. After a flawless presentation on Sunday night, they decided as a team to turn Zapier into a business and their full-time jobs. They quickly learned that three nobodies, with no money, could do something remarkable when they put their minds to it.

Since then, Zapier has grown to serve over 600,000 users. They have done a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong too. The approach that helped them get from nothing to where they are today is to default to action. They looked for the simplest one or two things they could do in one day. This would then make them better than the day before and ultimately make them more successful.

A unique feature about Zapier is that their employees are 100% distributed. This gives employees the freedom to live wherever they want, and it helps Zapier recruit and retain the type of employee they want in their company. But how does Zapier keep track of what goes on in the non-existent office? They are diligent about documenting their tasks throughout the day. Just taking a few minutes a day to reflect on the tasks they completed prevents a lot of duplicating work.

In the future, Wade sees Zapier helping offices all over the world to automate the tedious aspects of different jobs. This means that Zapier is currently working on getting involved with more office workers to enable them to do the best work they can.  On the Zapier website, you can currently find information on Wade’s “The Ultimate Guide To Remote Working”.

Wade is excited to visit the “fine folk” of Fargo! Before he comes he has a bit of advice of Startup Weekend participants: have fun!

“Startup Weekend is a great learning experience. Come in with an open mind. Meet some new people. Work hard on your project. You may not have a business at the end of the weekend, but you certainly can come out with friends and professional contacts that will help you throughout your career,” said Wade.

Register for Startup Weekend Fargo, March 3-5 at Barry Hall, NDSU. For details and tickets, visit www.up.co/communities/usa/fargo/startup-weekend/9626

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Lindsay Breuler