By Wade Foster, Co-Founder of Zapier
Launching a business is easy.
1. Go to your Secretary of State's website.
2. Fill out a form.
3. Pay a filing fee.
4. You're in business.
But launching and committing to grow a business is also terrifying.
It's even scarier when you don't have any resources to lean on and you have to explain to your friends and family that you aren't crazy and that yes, launching this business is the best path forward for making a living. In October 2011, that's exactly where I was. Scared to death about launching a business, but I knew in my heart it was the right path for me.
Taking the leap of faith
Enter stage left - the first annual Startup Weekend in Columbia, MO. Startup Weekend is a 54 hour sprint that brings web developers, designers, and marketers together to build businesses over a weekend.
Startup Weekend was just the spark I needed. It was enough to get past all the terrifying parts of starting a business and give me and my two co-founders, Bryan and Mike, enough gusto to build a prototype and get Zapier off the ground.
After the weekend we were determined to build something.
Growing the Business for Ourselves
Most businesses don't take off with a rocket-like trajectory. They aren't overnight sensations. Raising large amounts of capital isn't an option. Launching on "Shark Tank" isn't an option. What is an option is slow, steady work to pick the business up off the ground and get something started.
So for the next nine months Bryan, Mike and I slaved away building the prototype to Zapier. We focused on finding early customers, we went over and above to communicate and deliver on what they wanted, and eventually we moved from MVP to Version 1.0. And Zapier grew. Customer by customer. Line of code by line of code.
The growth spurred questions: How can we make this bigger? How can we accelerate growth? How can we build something that isn't just for us, but can also make a lasting impact?
Growing the Business for Others and Creating Jobs
It's pretty hard to grow a business faster than what the market will allow and faster than the money you have on hand. This led us to pursue alternative growth vehicles. And in May of 2012 we applied and were accepted into Y Combinator - one of the best startup accelerators in the world. With the mentorship of Y Combinator, we launched Zapier out of private beta and unleashed it for the whole world to see.
Launching doesn't guarantee anything. So we went back and did what we've done from day one: slow, steady work. This led to more customers, more growth, and more funding. Then in October of 2011, one year after getting started at Startup Weekend, the Zapier team grows by one by bringing on our first employee. The story doesn't end there. Zapier now has two employees, a team of five, and by the end of 2013 plans on reaching double digits in job growth.
Starting a company can be scary. But remember, all you need is a spark to get you started. For us it was Startup Weekend, but for you it could be something else. Then work hard, find good teammates, and build something people want and nothing will slow you down.
Interested in reading more about Zapier? Read the story of struggles and triumph of our first year.