Bryan Helmig

Co-founder of Zapier, speaker, musician and builder of things.

Building a startup is hard work. Things go wrong all the time, customers get (rightfully) upset, and it can be a draining experience. Those are the lows. On the flip side, when features are big wins, customers are happy and things are going well, it can be a wonderful experience. Those are the highs.

It may not come as a surprise, but as a customer of a startup, you can directly affect where on the spectrum of low to high they are with a simple gesture: say thanks. Seriously, just type up an email that looks something like…


Love the service, we’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it has helped us do X. I’m just happy you exist and I wish you the best. If there is any way that I can help you, just let me know. I owe you one.

Thanks again! Happy Customer

PS: Whoever built feature Y, thank them profusely for me. It rocks!

…and hit send. Drop a few names of people you’ve interacted with, I promise you it will make their day. The more specific you can be on why you love them helps is an emotional multiplier. Especially to those in the trenches on the support line (often times founders in the ultra early stages), they experience a disproportionate amount of negative interactions because of the simple truism:

Happy customers tend to be quiet customers.

So break the cycle and be a happy and loud customer. So take a minute right now, choose a startup that means a lot to you, and share the love.

Posted July 13, 2013 @ 9:21 pm under Startups.

This post is adapted from a talk I gave at APIdays SF, view slides here. At Zapier, we sit at a unique crossroads between APIs and lots of users. Because of our position, we’re noticing a shift in API consumption. While many of our users have no idea that everything they do on Zapier is […]


Posted June 24, 2013 @ 1:24 pm under Startups, Tech.

As developers, we all have little nuggets of ideas. We want to build something people use and we want to build something people will pay for. But the path from idea to paid product is treacherous. At Zapier, we tried something just a bit different in the beginning: a paid beta. At its core, a […]


Posted April 12, 2013 @ 7:59 pm under Startups.

There’s an elephant in the startup room, it’s that one of the defining aspects of work-life balance at an early-stage startup is that it doesn’t exist. There is more work to do in a startup than there is time to complete it, which means every second you’re not working increases your chance of failure. This […]


Posted March 26, 2013 @ 10:00 am under Startups.

I see soft-launches all the time on Hacker News and Reddit’s programming/startup communities and the feedback seems to follow a pattern. Some feedback is just plain negative (Why would anyone use this?), some feedback is strictly positive (This looks awesome!) and then, of course, some feedback meant to be encouraging masks defiance or dissappointment: This […]


Posted March 23, 2013 @ 4:45 pm under Startups.

This one has been nagging at me for a while, so it was nice to finally get two it working the way I like. It ended up being really easy, you’ll need a spectacular little app called watchdog to go with gunicorn: pip install watchdog -U # now there is a command called "watchmedo", you’ll […]


Posted December 14, 2012 @ 6:12 pm under Tech, Uncategorized.

Working on a fun side project at HackComo, I needed a finite state machine. Well, this is a simple decorator for limiting when a method can be ran: def fsm(target, whence=’*’, attr=’state’): """ `target` -> (str): REQUIRED should be the target state.   `whence` -> (list): ‘*’ should be a *list* of states that you […]


Posted March 29, 2012 @ 11:18 am under Tech, Uncategorized.

Let me preface this post by saying South is awesome. It greatly simplifies schema changes when working with databases with Django. However, if you’ve ever had to do a large data migration, you likely will see South bite the dust. It’s not really made for that. At that point you really need something a little […]


Posted March 5, 2012 @ 7:19 pm under Work.

Don’t feel like setting up Jenkins you lazy bum? Fine. Try this on for size: use a Github service hook to ping a Django view which runs a bash script out of process. Sound like a bad idea? Probably, but bad is a relative thing you see… here’s how: Gonna need the at command. Do […]


Posted December 20, 2011 @ 4:32 pm under Work.

SOAP is a bit foreign to me (JSON + good documentation seems so much easier), but I finally managed to authenticate DocuSign with a SOAP client in Python. The code below assumes you have a developer account all set up and have suds, the Python SOAP library, installed: from suds.client import Client   class DocuSign(Client): […]


Posted November 4, 2011 @ 10:36 am under Work.