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Startup Weekend Part I - The Idea

By Bryan Helmig · October 4, 2011
A yellow rectangle with dotted lines running through it.

First in a 4 part series about the birth of Zapier at Startup Weekend - Columbia.

The idea.

That’s what everyone talks about in anticipation of Startup Weekend. The week of my first Startup Weekend everyone at VA Mortgage Center (my place of employment) was asking me (Bryan Helmig) what I was going to pitch.

Like many entrepreneurs, I had no shortage of ideas. I wasn’t sure my best idea could be pulled off in a weekend, though.

Where did the idea come from? I first pitched the idea to my friend and now co-founder, Wade Foster, on September 8th which is detailed in the chat logs from nearly a month ago below.

zapier chats

As they say, ideas are one thing, but execution is another and the crazy thing is I almost didn’t pitch the idea because I didn’t know if we could:

  1. Make a demoable app in time

  2. Make it easy enough to understand for business and non-technical users

Building an internal API that maps to any API across the net is not easy and even more challenging is doing it in a way that customers can understand and use.

I love a good technical challenge though and the idea would be a ton of fun to build. As Wade and I talked about it more, I decided to pitch the idea and boy I’m glad I did.

If you’re unsure about an idea to pitch - stop over-thinking it and just do it. You’ll thank yourself later. Just ask my friends Matt McDonald and Rob Stretch over at Drunk Detective.

Next up: Find out how Wade Foster, Mike Knoop, Daniel Nill and I teamed up and won Columbia’s first ever Startup Weekend. We’ll have a post for each night covering the original pitch, building a team, finding users, late night coding, and the final demo.

Startup Weekend Part II - Friday Night, The Pitch

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'