Episode 4: Automate and streamline your business
Ryan is the owner and founder of 12five capital, a financial company that loans money to growing businesses. Their recipe for success is based on leveraging technology and software in a pen-and-paper industry. Ryan is a true expert in automation, and we take a deep dive into how can someone start streamlining their business with tools like Zapier, Glideapps and Integromat. Find out more about Ryan at 12five.com
Jesus Vargas: How can I answer? My other question about is this time well spent as a CEO? And I said, part of what makes I think a good CEO is, uh, removing roadblocks for people, and unlocking time for people. And when I framed it in that respect, I go, well, this is extremely important time spent, right? Because all these automations do are remove roadblocks, save time for people.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Hey guys, thanks for joining us today with another episode of Low Code Podcast today we have a great guest, Ryan Jaskiewicz, he's a good friend and he's a client of ours. We have worked with him in a couple of apps and a lot of automation related stuff. And, uh, so yeah, Brian, thanks for being
Jesus Vargas: today in the podcast.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah. Happy to be here. Excited to be a guest on the, on the Low Code Podcast.
Jesus Vargas: Thank you. So you are the founder, right? The founder and CEO of 12five?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Correct. Yeah, I, uh, I started it in 2006/7 was kind of when I first got started on it. Uh, and yeah, here we are almost 16 years later, 15 years later.
Jesus Vargas: Did you started this right after you came out of college or you worked somewhere else and then started your own?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah, that's fun. No, I did. I started pretty much just out of college, but, um, I was a year out of college. But I did work somewhere else. I worked at a place called howl at the moon, which was a piano bar in Chicago.
So I was, I was bartending at a piano bar and, uh, in trying to start up this business, uh, sort of on the side. So I was working at nights and then, uh, bankers hours during the day, uh, which, which, uh, didn't last too long. I had to certainly had to book some revenue for the company so I could, so I could quit the bar.
Jesus Vargas: Right, right. What does 12five do?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah, so we are, um, I've, I've probably over the last 15 years answered this a million different ways. Um, we provide working capital to various different sized businesses. Um, sometimes I call us a non-bank lender or a non-bank finance company. Uh, you know, we, you know, typically clients come to us when they don't qualify at a bank for financing.
So think startups that, uh, don't have three years in business, um, growing really fast and don't have the, don't have the capital to, um, uh, to grow that business, to take on new business. Um, you know, maybe they get a big order from target or Walmart and don't know how they're going to source the financing for it.
You know, as much as we hear about venture capital, seed money and all that kind of stuff, uh, in, in, in other podcasts, and then, uh, the wall street journal and all that, you know, it's actually really hard to find working capital for your business. Um, when you're, when you're brand new. So we focus on, on those kinds of businesses and specifically, cause people get confused at this, you know, we don't take any equity.
Um, we're not, uh, we're not, we, we don't just do simple lines of credit and things like that. You know, our, our financing is all collateral based. So think, uh, receivables, equipment inventory, you know, sometimes real estate, you know, so we always have something backing us. Right. And so very similar to a bank, a bank is going to want collateral as well.
Um, but we're able to take higher risks, uh, just because of the way we're, we're set up and some of our risk mitigation techniques. And so, you know, Our typical client is probably either, you know, anywhere from a startup with sales. So we have clients that, you know, they do $10,000 a month in revenue, um, up to companies that do 30, $40 million a year in revenue.
Right. And so we, we run a pretty big gamut of clients, but. But also not gigantic either, you know, in the grand scheme of businesses, even a $50 million business is not gigantic. So we, we kind of swim in that, in that lane there, um, yeah. Does that, does that help answer what we...
Jesus Vargas: How do clients... Yeah, absolutely. It's very clear.
How do clients find you or, or do you find clients?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah, that's a good question. So historically in our business and our industry, it's a very referral-based, uh, business and, and, and honestly giving you a little history on, you know, sometimes it's called factoring, uh, asset based lines of credit and historically, you know, our competitors or people in our industry before looked at themselves as sort of lenders of last resort or finance companies of last resort.
Uh, and so they treated their people like, people of last resort, their clients like clients of last resort, you know, generally speaking, they were financing companies that were being kicked out of banks.
And so if you're being kicked out of a bank, the banker all of a sudden becomes a good referral source. Um, and so we do, you know, our industry is primarily a referral source based industry, but I looked at that and I said, well, So I'm just going to do the same thing as everybody else. It's going to be pretty tough sledding for at the time I was 23 years old when I started the company.
So, you know, these people, these people have old school relationships that go back 20, 30 years, right. How am I going to compete with, you know, my competition and, or, you know, my colleagues who have these relationships. And so it was just very difficult. So early on, I said, I'm going to have to find these businesses directly somehow.
I'm going to have to go to them directly. And so, uh, one of our differentiators as a company is, you know, probably if you you'll look at that 80-20, 70-30, uh, 70% of our prospecting team, you know, they spend their time on going direct to businesses. So we have technology systems and processes that allow us to figure out what kind of company probably needs our financing.
And we have systems that make it really easy for us to reach out to them and stay on top of those businesses and see if they need our capital. Now I will say, you know, we do have a lot of great clients that came from our referral network, but primarily we are trying to spend our time going direct to those businesses.
Um, cause that straight line is just so much easier than trying to deal with intermediaries, and, and, and candidly putting your success as a company in the hands of somebody else. Um, because if, if, if I'm waiting for a banker to call me, or I'm waiting for a referral source to call me, it's, it's him finding the deal or her finding the deal that allows me to finance those companies.
It's not myself. And I didn't like having that in somebody else's hand. Does that make sense?
Jesus Vargas: Yeah, I guess. It's either a very fragmented industry or there are a lot of very large players?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah, I think, um, there's, there's, there's a lot of, there's a few large players and then a lot of small players in our space.
So like a publicly traded company would be like CIT, they're they're super old and super large in our space. Um, a lot of the banks have their own finance. So not sort of non-bank finance arms, collateral arms. Um, there's been a ton of consolidation in our business over the last five years. So a lot of small businesses getting small finance companies, getting scooped up by banks and other, other, uh, strategics that want to come in and add to their portfolio.
And so, um, yeah, I would say, you know, we also try to keep that, we're a little different in that, you know, we don't follow the industry news as closely. I guess we kind of just try to keep, keep our head down and, and focus on what we're doing and what we can control. Yeah. I never understood, um, I mean, I guess it's marketing, but I just never understood advertising to your colleagues and competitors in a way, you know, just to kind of show off.
So, you know, we just try to keep, we have a very specific focus and mission as a company, you know, we're trying to help and we're trying to create a tailored, honest solution for our clients that helps their business make progress and whatever that means to them. Right. And so what my competitors are doing, I don't necessarily care.
Um, I will sell it, say from a, you know, given that this is sort of a technology podcast, you know, our industry was very archaic when I got into it from a technology perspective, it's made some, it's made some strides, but like, you know, very quickly just being a web-based business like we were, when I started, you know, we were the highest technology there was at the time, which is not saying much it's the lowest bar to jump over, but, and that's part of what my focus is as a company is to sort of always be on the bleeding edge of, of, of what that means while still giving that human touch to our, to our clients and to our partners, if that makes.
Jesus Vargas: Yeah. Cool. Great. So I, something that I admire from you is that you have a lot of systems in your business, and I had the opportunity to look a little bit into how your company works. I know you work with a sign of this project manager tool and you use it heavily.
I mean, you are like a true expert in the Senate. You use that bureau a lot, which is not automation tool that connects different softwares. Uh, how did you come up with those? I mean, you are a financial mind, right? How did you come up with, I mean, we built a couple of apps, you had a few glide apps filed and then we came in and did a couple as well.
Uh, why are you so inclined to technology and how do you figure out where can you use technology in your processes, or which tools can you accommodate to help your business grow or be automated?
Because a lot of people, let me, let me just finish this, a lot of people, a lot of business owners or founders know there are, or, or at least think there are tools out there that can help them. There's these gap, and most of our clients have that need right, there. They know there are tools, but they don't know which tools there are that can help them in their business. In your case, when we met, you already knew about the tools, about the technologies, about the softwares. So how, how does that happen?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Well, I can kind of work backwards there. So I give, I give talks in our industry all the time on this. Like it's, it's been like a, a running talk I've given or at a conference, or some sort of session about what tools are we using? What, how can you make yourself better as a company from a technology and process standpoint?
And I share everything. I tell everybody everything, but very few take up that, that, those ideas. Right? And so to your point, they, they do know, they do know it's out there. I think there is an aspect of, um, I don't know if it's the inertia of what they're already doing. Right that heavy weight of like, if I switch here, I have to switch a lot of things.
First of all, that's what they think that they have to switch a lot at once. Um, which sometimes depending on what you're deciding to do can be the case. Um, but we both know you can take baby steps all over the place to, to just kind of learn as you go. Um, but I think people are super used to, um, what they've done for so many years.
And you got to remember in my industry, like most of my competitors have been around for 20 years longer than I have. So I've been in business 15 years. They've been in business 35 years. So they started when it was, you know, when spreadsheets were a new thing. Right. Microsoft was a new thing and they were starting in paper right?
Yeah. I know a lot of folks in this industry that started doing paper. Right. So I'll back up a little bit to say that what I always, what I always tell people at these talks is, you know, candidly, it is a little bit harder for them to make some switches to tools, to automate, to, uh, further technology, to, um, make their systems better.
Because when I started it was out of necessity. So this is back in 2006, 2007. If you recall that timeframe. Some of these tools were coming out, but the idea of web-based software was not ubiquitous. It was not, and this is only 15 years ago. I mean, it was not, you should still back then, I remember my first QuickBooks, I still had to download QuickBooks.
Right. I still had to do all these things and it was
Jesus Vargas: A one-time purchase, you download the software...
Ryan Jaskiewicz: I gotta patch, all those things. Now, one of the, one of the interesting things that I guess would be accidental or just me being stubborn was when I started, I said at that point I had used, uh, apple computers for, Macs for a few years at this point, personally.
And even those weren't, I mean, the iPhone wasn't out yet when I started this. So apple was not the company it is today, it was getting there, but it wasn't the company it is today, certainly not. And I remember saying like, whatever I use, I need, it needs to work on my Mac. And if you remember back then not many things worked on Macs.
Right. And so if you don't have web-based software and you don't have tools that, that work on Macs, it kind of forces you into the ones that do. Right. And so there were a few decisions I had to make pretty early on. Um, one of them was accounting software, right? So luckily QuickBooks had a Mac-based version that did okay for what I needed it to do.
Um, and then there was, uh, our financing software. So our, in our industry, there's probably call it five or six major players in the, what I'll call financing software. So this is the software that tracks the financing, whether it's tracks the fees associated with it, tracks your collateral, tracks, the money you have out the door, um, tracks your client management on that side of it.
Um, and, and. Pretty expensive software, especially back then. So I remember, remember I'm 23, I don't have any money really, to my name, other than, you know, uh, one person that was willing to lend me a hundred grand to get started on putting money to work. And candidly, I couldn't spend any of that money on, on tools.
I needed to put it to work, to start earning revenue and earning a living. And so. When I was looking around, there was probably four finance softwares in our industry. And I remember to get started with one of them. This was the big one in our industry to get started with them. The minimum, like the minimum cost upfront, which wasn't the only cost, was 20 grand.
So a fifth of the money I had for the software, okay. And I was like, there is no way in hell I am paying for this. And everybody hated it too. Like they were the big guy in the industry. It was like this beautiful space for them. Everybody hated them, but everybody paid them. Like somehow they figured out this, this world that work.
And what it had to do is it had to do with legacy software. Right. You know, this you're, you work, I'm sure with legacy softwares all the time, once they get your, their claws in you, the ability to stick gets back to our ability to switch, their ability to switch becomes terribly difficult. So anyways, I lucked out by not having any money.
So I couldn't go to that software. Right. I mean, so lucky, it really is. I mean,
Jesus Vargas: That wouldn't worked in Mac.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: The software wouldn't work in Mac and I couldn't afford it. So both of them, they wouldn't have worked in Mac. Um, and so both of those things made it easy for me to go, well, I gotta figure out a different solution. And I'm looking around, looking around, looking around and somebody gives me the name of a guy who is very similar size company to what I was going to be in the short run who had built a web based software.
He also thought that the software in our industry for our size businesses was too expensive and he built a web based software, and I was like, okay, well, it's pretty crude, you know? And I, you know, getting back to your question, how did I get into it? I don't even think I'm a financial mind by any, by any sense.
I don't think, I'm many minds. I mean, there's a lot of crap going on up there, but you know, I don't think I'm a specialist really in anything. What I'm interested in though, is the, the building of a business. So from start to the building of it and the, what I'm really interested is the process and systems around it and how you figure out those systems, right.
Instead of just throwing spaghetti at a wall, really thinking through sort of that systems analysis and saying, why am I doing this here? And what effect does it have three or four steps down the road? And so even that I was, I was just scratching the surface on how interested I was in that. And, I think that's what led me to say, well, I, this web-based version of our finance software is not great, but I can make it work.
Oh, and by the way, I'm a young guy I'm interested in tech, I'm sort of a tech nerd, I can help this guy build better software. So that's what I did, I helped him, I just gave him advice. I'm like, this is what you need, this is where we're headed, and we, along the way, we built some really great tools for, for, uh, I won't get into the minutia of, there's many, like little things that our industry does that were very, very difficult when I started out.
And now everybody does them completely differently because of some of the things me and this guy were kind of doing at the time to, to, uh, make life easier on ourselves. So. Long, long...
Jesus Vargas: Are you still using that software?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: No. No. So we've, we've since gone out past that we built as, you know, built some of our own software with you guys.
Um, as well as we use it, utilize a different software that I helped kinda, uh, get off the ground a little bit, uh, in our space. Um, but all that comes back. So this is a long winded answer and I apologize, you can cut all this if you want. Um, it's a long-winded way of saying, like I was, I didn't have any employees.
I, I, like I've said I was 23. I needed to be the sales guy. I needed to be the person who sent the money out the door. I need to be the accountant. I needed to change the garbage. I needed all those things. So I needed to be able to do it on the road. So when something like the iPhone comes out and I'm able to send wires from my phone, that was something nobody was doing at the time.
And. You know, I don't really send wires from my phone now, but back then I needed to, I needed to go to a meeting, be able to finance my customer because you know, in our space, it's very high touch, we're we're we're funding our clients on almost a daily basis or three times a week basis. This isn't like here's a loan.
Pay me back over the next three years. That's not what we do at all. And so anyways, long winded way of saying the reason I got into it was sort of by default and by accident. And then I just was able to build on it from there very early on I knew I need a project management software, and, and sort of when I was really scaling things up, that's when Asana came out and I just fell in love with it.
And now, I mean, it really is our proprietary tech stack is what I call it. Like we assign it as just a blank page, but we've built these systems on top of it that are just, for us or are crucial, and, you know, we we'd be lost without them.
Jesus Vargas: That is true. In your case, I mean, you use a project management software for your needs and I need to work straight. Is there a software specific software that does the same thing that he's built for financial companies like yours, or each, each company like 15five is looking very good at processes, they're trying to replicate what you have in the setup.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Yeah, I, that's a really good question because I think it's hard because of what our, like what any business does is you sort of silo your business units, right? You have sales, you have operations, you have marketing, you have finance, all those kinds of things. And most businesses, they all use separate systems. They all use separate software. You know, somebody might use Salesforce for the sales team, but then the accounting team only uses this software and they, none of these things sort of tie together and the way we looked at it.
So in our space, yes, I think there is a need for it. People talk to me about it all the time. They ask me how long I'll take them through our system. And I'll say, We'll take a look at it here. Let's walk through kind of how we work and they say, how long did it take? How long would this take to build, do you think?
And I said, well, it took us about 12 years to build, you know, ongoing, ongoing, so it's many years. So they, you know, if you dedicated one person to building all of it, maybe a year or two, you know, but they would have to know what they're, know what they're doing. So that's why there really is a proprietary nature to the software we have, even though it's just built on top of Asana, but really, as you know, any proprietary software is built on top of something else, it's never just out of, out of thin air.
So there are some tools, there have been some people that have tried and in our industry and what they try to do, is they try to, and this is like any software, and the reason we don't do it is because we do think we are unique in many ways, and I think every business is unique, but most businesses, most of these softwares try to fit everybody into a neat little box and say, this is what we'll, we'll say.
And so really where they focus their efforts, what I've seen, the ones that have done a decent job, trying to build something unique for our industry are trying to focus really on the sales side and things like, okay, uh, applications and management of documents and, and all that, but it's really, really kind of surface level stuff.
When I think about, and this isn't to toot our horn, but like the amount of communication and conversation that happens in our project management software relating to clients, prospects, um, deals, anything, like, I don't really think there's a software out there that does it out of the box now.
Jesus Vargas: The thing is with software. And I think, I mean, that's why we end up building like custom apps for our clients because they want something very specific. And the more boxed you build the software, it might work for a lot of people in the industry, but it's not specific at all because you want to cover so many bases. It has to be a good software for everybody.
Then it's like a very basic, very mild thing that doesn't do anything in a great way.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: It just doesn't do anything great. It doesn't do anything great or customized. It just does a couple of things well, and you know, I'll give you a, I'll give you a thought on, this is actually, um, it's the reverse example where like, we, we tried to get a customized thing and I understand why they didn't.
So the, the current, uh, uh, current portion of our tech stack we use now is a finance software, I don't know if they'll want me to name them now, so I'm not going to name them now, but, they've been great for us. And I got with them when they first started out. Um, candidly, we were building, trying to build our own finance software and then these guys were probably six months ahead of us, and I'm like, well, why don't we just work together?
You guys already have this going, let me, let me sort of give you my thoughts and ideas from a, from a CEO's perspective on what a, uh, a finance company is looking for, and you guys kinda add it to your systems and we'll be your first customer and all that kind of stuff.
So early on in that process, you can imagine, we got everything we wanted. We got, you know, anything we asked for, they built it for us, anything we asked for, they were building for us and then slowly but surely, and this is what they should have done as a, as a software company, they slowly started telling us no that you know, this, no one but you is going to use this feature.
Or, uh, we have too many basic features, we need to get to everybody else to focus on your, on your software. And so that's when I realized I need to expand what we're doing now, because that's not a good enough answer for me, but I totally understand why they need to do that. So I said, how can I pull my information from there? Put it in our own system and our own software, and then further use it, you know, with whatever tools we have.
Jesus Vargas: Yeah. Something I've seen, something happened a lot with our clients, with their users, with the end user of the apps that we're building, is that when the clients don't, when our clients don't know or don't like saying no to their users, they're like, Hey, can we build these specific flow for these client or for these user?
And then the app becomes a mess, right? Because each user wants to have an specific behavior inside of the app, and it doesn't work, it doesn't scale. It's complicated.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Are you talking about us? I think you're talking about us, yeah I think you're talking, no, but truthfully, you know, we as a client of yours...
Jesus Vargas: Wait, now that I think of it, yeah sometimes [uninteligible]... I always tell people, apps are zeros and ones, like yes or no, it's binary. Right? So of course everything can be done, but it shouldn't.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: So well there's a balance, right. So I think there's, I think there's a balance. There's the, I need to push you to go, hey, I, I work in a gray world where it's nothing but gray.
There is no black and white, so I'm, we're, all of our clients are different to us. And you're working in a very black and white world ones and zeros. And so like me and my wife joke, like, yeah, I pull her this way, she, she pulls me this way and we end up somewhere nicely in the middle, and that's what makes us work.
Same thing with this marriage of LowCode and 15five, it's like, I'm going to ask you and I'm going to push for customization and let's think through, if we can make this work for everybody, you know, is there a tool, because there's been a lot of times where you and I will talk or, uh, me and one of your partners we'll talk and it's, it's, hey, this seems so basic to me.
Right in my head, it's really basic to me, but to you, it's very specific and it's very difficult to get done when you expand it out throughout the whole app. And so, there is this back and forth, right? And I hope that a company like ours is going to push you along to go, oh, there is a new tool that actually can make that work.
But also what you're doing for me is you're helping me to go, Hey, we need to put some guardrails on some things here. Not everything can be, and that only helps us in terms of when I build systems down the road, so thank you for giving us those guardrails.
Jesus Vargas: No, I mean, I wasn't talking about you, now that he mentioned that, yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah, it's a, it's a, trade-off, it's a trade-off, but it's important that at the end, the client knows how their app works and what their app does. And when you start going that granular for each end user, the app can become a mess because if you think of great apps in the market, Facebook, twitter, Uber, right?
None of them have specific use cases. Right. It's not like, oh, for driver Mohammad, then he can do something that nobody else can, I mean, that's not the way it works. Apps that scale, of course, maybe with low-code and no-code tools in general, or apps built for companies like yours, we do want that level of customization because that's why you didn't buy something out of the box.
That's why you have something built for yourself. Uh, but yeah, there's there's yeah, there's a, a fine line between doing much, and trying to get something out of the box.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: It's like anything there's, there's just such a, it seems silly, but there's just such a balanced, all that. And, and, and learning to, to sort of live on that edge of what, what is useful and what matters. And what's just kind of a shiny, cool little thing you want to do. Um, and, and that's what I've learned with all these automations is, you know, some of them seem so silly for me to build or for our team to build, and in the end, those are the ones that do really well. It's the, it's the ones that seem sort of sexy that it's just like, it's not worth it at the same worth.
It's it's the, it's the small little things that you need to look towards sort of automating or creating low-code tools for that, that I've found, at least in my, my experience go a long way.
Jesus Vargas: That's the next topic that I want to get into. You have, how many zaps do you have in your account? Like a hundred and many? Almost two hundred zaps?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Um, yeah, I think we're somewhere near 150, and I would imagine if you're listening to this podcast, you probably know what a zap is is, um, from Zapier. Um, but you know, obviously is, Jesus mentioned, it's a, it's a tool that, uh, ties different softwares together.
It's kind of like, what I've learned about is it's just, they've written the base code. So I don't need to learn to write the base code, you know, it, to tie these things together. So
Jesus Vargas: It connects different tools, different softwares. So yeah, you are the person that has the most amount of zaps I've ever seen. So there are a lot of things in your company that are automated. We have, I mean, we manage a lot of zaps or integromat, which is the other tool, uh, for our clients. But none has that many automations.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Could it be that I'm just not elegant? Could it just be sorry, could it be that I'm just not elegant at building them? So I have to build like extra ones all the time to make them work?
Jesus Vargas: No, I don't think that people spend the time figuring out what they can automate, how they can automate and then automating it or doing the work. Uh, we have some clients that are like, Hey, I have this issue, and then we come in and look at their process and figure out the automation in your case, you just build them.
And that's great because you're like every time you build something, you start saving time. Right. But how do you figure it out what do you want to automate? I remember a few months ago you had these form in Asana where you asked your team members, your employees, what do they want to automate, right?
And then they fill out the form and then we built the automation. Is that still working? And how do you find so many things that you want to automate in your business?
Ryan Jaskiewicz: That's a really, really good question. Okay. And I'm going to be a hundred percent honest here in terms of like, the team and everything.
Right. So I did build that form and that for everyone listening, that was a form that just like Jesus said, asked my team, and I tried to ask it in the most, uh, layman's way possible. Like, what do you hate doing? What annoys you? What do you think is groundwork? What do you think is whatever? And truthfully, I only got to, like, I could count on one hand the amount of form submissions I got for that.
And that was, that was really, um, enlightening to me. Cause I thought, I thought my team would, here's something I've learned in business in general. No one looks at my business the way I look at my business. And I think, I just assume, because it's all in my head that people are thinking a similar way, whether it's how they care about the business, how they, and they shouldn't.
Right. I it's my business. Why would anybody care as much about my business than me? Um, but it's a similar to...
Jesus Vargas: By the way I did the same thing. I did the same thing and no one answers. So at least in your case, you had people fill out a form me, in my case, that's what we do every single day.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: You run a technology company. These are your, your team are, are people who are experts are experts at building this stuff, right? Like why would, why would that not work? And so, I mean, that was super enlightening. And I looked at that and I said, okay, well, there's the answer. They're not going to give me those answers. And so that kind of makes me chief automating officer, right?
Like I have to be the one to come up with these things. Now I have this weird, weird issue where like I'm CEO of this company. We're not gigantic, but we're not a small company either. And you sometimes look at it and you go, is this something the CEO should be doing? Right? Is this something is, this is not even should be, is this the time best spent, right?
And so I've asked my... should I spend time? Right, right. Or should I hire low code or should I, um, hire somebody or have somebody on my team do this kind of stuff. And I answered that for myself in a couple of ways. Number one, I love doing it. And we talked about, uh, a little bit ago, how I just love process and audit and systems.
And that's all automations are, figuring out process and systems right, and how to connect them. So that's number one. I just love doing it, I, I get such a high off of, of unlocking something like that, right. And I'm not, I'm not good like you, but like I'm learning. I love learning, like, that's one of, one of the things that sort of a personal core value is all in all the time for learning and growing.
Right. And this is something I'm interested in. So it's something that comes naturally, the desire to consume information about it. And so when I looked at that and I say, well, what's, uh, what's, uh, what's, what's important for a CEO to do, right? And how can I answer my other question about is this time well spent as a CEO?
And I said, part of what makes I think a good CEO is, uh, removing roadblocks for people and unlocking time for people. And when I framed it in that respect, I go, well, this is extremely important time spent, right? Because all these automations do are remove roadblocks, save time for people to, to not, not to have them work less, to have them work on the things that matter more.
So the knowledge, you know, the things that create more impact from a human's perspective, right? Like could be interfacing with our clients, could be thinking through a hard problem. Heaven forbid you turn off your alerts and you spend an hour just thinking, how do I solve this problem? If you, if you're constantly doing manual entry and, uh, and, and things of that nature that, that automations fixed, if you're doing that, you don't have time to spend there.
So I sort of answered that question for myself and then just kind of dove in and, and I've, I've been using Zapier for a long time. And then when, when I met you, when we met online or whatever, you know, we built an app together or you built the app and, you know, I gave my thoughts on it and then it, it, it scratched an itch, right.
And so it was, I saw how you built something and I was like, oh, I get that. Okay. All right. How do I, I can take that principal and apply it to this? And then I just started going down a rabbit hole and then it was, I was reading articles, I was learning what an API meant and how like literally what those things meant I was and the concepts around how, you know, even though you don't need to understand an API to use Zapier or to work with a company like yours, the concept around how does software work and how do they talk to one another was important for me to learn. And then, I mean, it's just funny. Like I, I'll take a couple of weeks at a time, so I'll set up automations that I think we need.
And some of those come from necessity. Like we, we, um, we're always iterating on our, on our process, especially on our process for funding new clients, right? So our clients come in the door from our sales channel, they get into our pipeline and then if they make it to a certain stage, they get into what we call the funding process.
And this is our proven process for vetting our clients and seeing if we can help them make progress, or if we want to help them make progress, right. We gotta make sure they're not frauding us or doing anything nefarious like that. And so that's part of that process, right? And so there's this big project that goes into hurting all that information and, and decisioning on it, right?
And so that's where the most of our time is spent and where we get slowed down the most in, in our business. And so, sorry for this long winded answer, but what it comes from is sort of that necessity. So we lost the person, um, she got another great job somewhere else and, um, it, it became a chance for us to look at our process and say, do we want to just input somebody in there, the way we had it before, or are there things we can automate now that we're forced to automate them?
And so we did that, right. And so what I did was I took, I took a solid month. I mean, obviously I was doing many other things, but I took a couple hours each day for a month and I had a list of automations that I wanted to try to figure out. And I started with the easy ones and those work, and I'm like, oh, that's cool.
You know, you get, you get excited about that. And then you try a little harder one and you're stuck on it for four days. And then somehow you crack the code, um, because I'm too, I'm too stubborn to call, Jesus, right? I'm just like, I'm going to figure this out. And I would have saved a ton of time. You know, the PSA here is just call Jesus and he'll help you figure this stuff out.
But for me, for me, as you talked about, our business is so complex in a lot of ways that it would've been having to ask you or having to ask you and then teach you about it only to then have you build it. So it was like, maybe I can figure this out myself. And so I kept cracking the code and then there was this like, there is this growth curve over the last few months.
And not only from the amount of automations we do, but, um, from my knowledge in those automations. And it's, it hasn't been linear. It's been like really ramped up. And I'm not saying, I'm not nowhere at your level or your team's level, but it just, it compounds on itself.
And all of a sudden you're like, well, if I can do that, I can do this. If I can do that, I can do this. And we just keep, we just keep throwing automations at things to where our team is like, holy crap. Like you've just taken, you know, a full-time equivalent away from our, from our team. We don't, we don't need.
And so now we can put that person somewhere else or we can focus their energies somewhere else. And so we're constantly doing it, you know, and it's not, it's not completely easy, you know, um, like this week I'm working through, uh, all the bugs that came from those automations, right. Because you don't build them perfectly and you don't think through every use case.
And so, um, but it's been a lot of fun in our, our team seems to like it and the resp... I keep talking here, but what I wanted, what I wanted to say was, um, my team struggles the same way all of your clients struggle with is thinking through what should I automate? Right. And so I think there's two things, I think people's identity sometimes are tied in the things they do.
And so if they're giving up those things, even if it's subconsciously they're thinking I'm giving up part of my identity. As silly as that sounds with an automation, if that's their job day in and day out, that's what they're used to it. I think it's hard for them to trust that, hey, there's something else I will do.
It just won't be this manual thing that just got automated. And so I think people default to not thinking about it. And so not thinking through it. So I end up having to be like, this is silly that you're doing this kind of work. I'm going to fix this. You're going to like it, and then you'll find something else to do with that time.
Jesus Vargas: Right, right, right, right, right. Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. What will you tell another CEO to start? Like, let's say, let's say they just sign Zapier, right? They're like, okay, I don't know how many apps does Zapier connect. Thousands, 4,000, whatever, 12,000 apps and your business, you know, normal business. I dunno. We use 10, 15 different apps.
Where will you tell someone where to start? Like what would be the most obvious way for someone? Because when you started, you were like, oh, these make sense. Now I'll build the next automation. What would you suggest that would be the first thing that someone, cEO and founder can kind of look at and say, I'll start with this, and then that will open the doors to this whole many other things.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Well, it's such a good question. I guess it depends on where they're at in the... I'll ask, what, what are you doing now? Like, and why are you doing the things you're doing now? Because, I mean, again, there's a lot of people that aren't set up on collaborative tools like Google docs or Google drive or, uh, you know, anything like that.
So, I mean, there's so many low stakes things that they can do that will already speed up their, their business. Cause you and I both know, unless you're using collaborative tools that are online, you can't use that beer. You know, if you're, if you're not, if you haven't thought through your process a little bit to say, why do we do the things we do?
There's no, don't start with Zapier. It's not going to help you at all. Um, you know, I mean, literally it comes down to like
Jesus Vargas: Sit down. You have to sit down, sit down on your processes and then...
Ryan Jaskiewicz: How many businesses do you know, literally manage their business from their email client? You know, there's just so many where every discussion, every conversation, um, uh, every document review every, uh, uh, red line, everything it's all email.
And, and I will say I would be very interested to see, uh, meeting with people, at least in my industry, and I'd be curious what you think, but I obviously think that the pandemic accelerated much of this, you know, so I, I do know a couple of colleagues that said, all right, it's time we have to switch and they'll switch to something like Microsoft teams or they'll upgrade to Google workspace, or they'll jump onto slack or zoom chat.
And they all have their merits and their demerits and all those kinds of things. But, um, It's really interesting to see how that has accelerated that. And I hope for the better for everybody. And so there, there are a lot of folks who probably could get started. Um, but really, unless you've thought through, you know, to, to me, if you don't have a project management system, or, our software even to build on top of, it's really hard to get started on any of these things.
You, you need a home base and, you know, we call it our source of truth. So Asana is our source of truth and, and we do so many things in there that aren't related to. You know, finding new business, they're not necessarily even related to client management. There's just so many things we're doing in there.
And I think once you have that home base, you can then build outside of it. And I'm not saying it has to be Asana there. You know, you get your base camps of the world, you've got Trello, you've got...
Jesus Vargas: No, that's right. I always, I always say that we build the octopuses, right? So the brain is the app that we build, and then the legs are the zaps for the automations and we started talking with the different softwares.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Correct. But as a, as a, to answer your actual question though, so like, let's say somebody already has those things. What I found was the easiest, um, entry point into Zapier or into automation was automating emails going out. So certain types of emails. So if this thing happens and email goes out, you know, one of the first zaps I built, um, so I'll, uh, this, this might get a little boring, but I'll go as fast as I can.
So one of the first apps I built was for Asana. So one of the things we do culture-wise here at 12five is every day we ask, in Asana, you can, you set up a message it's called, and the message goes to the whole team, and in Asana we ask what's your daily dose of positivity. And so it's kind of like a one-line gratitude for everybody that everybody does, or most people do every single day of the week for the last 10 years.
And just a nice way to start your day. You know, it could be, I'm grateful for my cup of coffee this morning. Um, my positive is my, my kid is doing well in school or, yeah, it could be surface level, it could be really deep, right. But everyone shares and it kind of first off, we're a remote based company and it, it gets us sort of bonding together and thinking about something other than work.
But also it just starts the day off on the right foot. Anyways, long winded way of saying for many years, I would go in personally every single day and I would, I would type in what's your daily dose of positivity, send. At 8:00 AM every single day for many years, many years, just, and I forget sometimes, and then I, I, uh, not do it one day and all that kind of stuff.
And so one day when, once we started using Zapier, I realized, oh, in Asana, they have a way where you can email messages into Asana, so that triggered in my head, oh, I can use Zapier to send out a daily email at the same time, every single day that says what's your daily dose of positivity. And so now at 8:00 AM weekdays, an email goes from us from Zapier to Asana and it automatically does it.
I don't have to log in there and do anything for it. So that was like such a low stakes barrier to entry, and now we do a ton of email automation where, where a client fills out an application, they immediately get sent a video with instructions from me, right, that I recorded long time ago, but it's got instructions of what's coming next.
And then, you know, once they fill out the application and, you know, we send them a pre-approval letter, another thing happens. And so I think, I think email is something people can get their heads around. And so that's a place for them to, uh, start if that makes sense.
Jesus Vargas: That is a great suggestion. No, yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
I think probably the first zap I set up was also emailed related. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Probably something related to sales. Like people will come by calendar and they get an email with examples or testimonials or something like that. Probably something related to that.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: I love that stuff honestly.
Jesus Vargas: Now they're return in investment, because an automation like that is massive.
'cause I actually, I don't know, like people book on my calendar, they get a bunch of emails. They get texts with examples, with links, screenshots, videos. I don't even remember how many things we have set up. And then when they come to the call, they have seen my face, heard my voice, seen my aunt, right. So I've already done a bunch of things, even though I haven't done anything.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Exactly. And, and I find from sales that works really well, right. Staying on top of people, um, to. To even operations. So now we're teaching our clients, you record a video one time of how to do something in our, in our finance software, and then, let's say they're uploading invoices, right? You record it one time, that email teaches them how to do it.
Now, my, now my person on my team doesn't have to walk that person through that necessarily, that person can, and they don't have to, they don't have to schedule a time on a calendar. They don't have to, you know, they can still do that, but there can be a higher touch thing, right. A higher impact conversation can be had about like, you know, tell me about your business.
I want to learn how it works. Um, I want to figure out how we can help it. Are there any other things we have or any other partners we have that can help your business? If you're not having to worry about how to teach somebody, how to use this app...
Jesus Vargas: It's a more valuable form than just teaching themselves.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Bingo, bingo.
Jesus Vargas: That's great. Ryan. Thanks so much for coming to the podcast.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: That was too fast!
Jesus Vargas: And I hope people start automating more.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: That was too fast. I could have done that for, I could have done that for another couple hours. We'll, round two. We'll do like a deep dive. We'll walk through my flock through each other Zapier.
Jesus Vargas: Right. Will show up a few examples.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Thanks for having me. Uh, you're going to be looked on our podcast soon. So we'll, we'll share that with all the guests as well. Cool. Good chatting with you. Always fun.
Jesus Vargas: Thanks everybody.
Ryan Jaskiewicz: Bye-bye .