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Aytekin Tank - Automate Your Busywork

Automate Your Busywork: A Guide for Early-Stage SaaS Founders – with Aytekin Tank [354]

Automate Your Busywork: A Guide for Early-Stage SaaS Founders

Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of JotForm and author of the new book, “Automate Your Busywork: Do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff”.

Automate Your Busywork: Do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff

Aytekin has almost two decades of experience in the SaaS industry, and JotForm has helped millions of users worldwide eliminate paperwork and automate their workflows.

During our conversation, Aytekin shares his personal journey as a SaaS founder and how he discovered the power of automation to scale his business.

He explains how his “Automation Flywheel” can help SaaS founders and teams reclaim their time, increase their productivity, and shares some practical tips and strategies for getting started with automation.

We'll dive deep into the 6 steps of the Automation Flywheel and explore real-world examples of how Aytekin and his team have used automation to simplify their workflows and free up their time.

If you're tired of being bogged down by manual data collection and repetitive tasks, this episode is for you.

Aytekin's tips and strategies will help you automate your workflows and take your SaaS business to the next level.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

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This is a machine-generated transcript.

[00:00:00] Omer: Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host, Omer Khan, and this is a show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you build, launch, and grow your SaaS business. In this episode I talk to Aytekin Tank, the founder and CEO of JotForm and author of the new book, “Automate Your Busy Work, do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff”.

Aytekin has almost two decades of experience in the SaaS industry, and JotForm has helped millions of users worldwide eliminate paperwork and automate their workflows. In this interview I take in shares his personal journey as a SaaS founder and how he discovered the power of automation to scale his business.

He explains his automation flywheel and how it can help SaaS founders and their teams reclaim their time, increase their productivity, and he shares some practical tips and strategies for getting started with automation. We'll deep dive into the six steps of the Automation Flywheel and explore some real-world examples of how Aytekin and this team have used automation to simplify their workflows and free up their time.

So if you're tired of being bogged down by manual work and repetitive tasks, this episode is for you. Aytekin's tips and strategies will help you automate your workflows and hopefully help you take your SaaS business to the next level. I hope you enjoy it.

Aytekin, welcome to the show. Welcome back.

[00:01:38] Aytekin: Being, being back at the show is great. It's been five years.

[00:01:41] Omer: Yeah. Yeah, we were just talking about that. It's like amazing how time flies. So it was a hundred and episode 186 where we talked about the founding of JotForm and how you were working as a developer. Getting bored by creating manually all these forms that you were building on the job.

And I was looking through some of the notes and then you'd said, Hey, if I ever run a business, if I ever quit my job, I should go and build some kind of form building software. And we, we took the story through to 2018 when I think you had about 4 million users already, you know, multiple seven figure business in terms of ARR.

Where, where have you got to now? Like, how's the business doing? What's the size of the business today?

[00:02:30] Aytekin: It's going great. We have grown to like 500 employees now. We have offices in seven cities all around the world, and now we have like 20 million users at chat form. So we are doing great and we continue to grow at around 50% revenue growth rate.

[00:02:51] Omer: Wow. That, that is worlds apart from where you were when you came up with the idea and, and built the first version of that product. So congratulations on.

[00:03:03] Aytekin: It's been 17 years. It's been a long time.

[00:03:06] Omer: Yeah, it is. That's true. Yeah. So today we're gonna talk about your new book which is called “Automate Your Busy Work, do Less, Achieve More, and Save your Brain for the Big Stuff”. And you know, you and I were talking and we thought it would be a great idea. You are a founder. This show is, is mostly people you know in the SaaS space, early stage founders. And so what could we do to help them to take advantage of some of the things that you've been able to do in terms of the way you run your business?

And this, this book basically has a bunch of great ideas in terms of how people can use automation, no code tools to to, to unlock productivity, get rid of a lot of the repetitive tasks that many of us have to do day in, day out so we can focus more on, on the important things. So before we get into that, like what inspired you to, to write this book?

[00:04:05] Aytekin: So, as you remember this original story for JotForm, I was working for a company as a developer in New York. And I was like, I really loved my job, but one, there was one test that I really hated and that was like creating online forms and we had like a hundred websites and I had to like create so many forms, and I wanted to automate find a way to automate creation of these forms. That's actually how I started JotForm. I couldn't find a way to automate the forms, so I, I said, okay, I'm gonna do a product that automates the form. But once I started JotForm, I found out that, people actually needed more things like the forms are just the beginning of the journey.

There is this whole business process right after creation of the forms. They need a lot of other things, like people fill out forms so that they can register for stuff they can. Apply for things, request things like, it's just the first step in a journey. And I wanted to like hack them out in, in all the way on the journey.

So we added features like automating, like document creation, like PDF generation, like they, they are able to create custom emails, like we have an Airtable like, you know, product, like a spreadsheet product where they can actually do lots of different things with their data. And we have reporting and we have so many custom features like, but in the early days I was helping all these people with automation of their business.

I was helping them automate their business processes, but I was struggling myself, like I was spending all my day answering emails, like supporting customers, like, you know we don't, we weren't very big, like we had like three to five employees, but still like it was taking me time to manage them because, you know, before I started my company, I never managed anyone, so it just, I was just learning this management stuff as well.

And like, I was doing all the things like accounting, HR, like ordering snacks for the office. So it, it was just too much and I was like, overwhelmed. I was over my head and it was, you know, it wasn't easy. And then one day a friend of mine sent me an email and he said, Hey, did you see that Google actually came up with a competitive product? Now you are, you are competing with Google. And I was like, I was shocked. Like, okay, now I'm already spending all this time like just trying to you all the operations of the business and I have no time to actually think about anything else, like really grow the product. Really improve the quality of the product and, you know, come up with new feature ideas, things like that.

And now Google, I was competing with Google, so it was really bad news and I was like really shocked about it. And, you know, I started thinking about it. Okay. I thought that I'm helping all these people automating their businesses. But I'm doing everything manually. Like there's something wrong with, with this.

I wasn't even using our own product, you know, forms for many of the things I could use for, and I thought, okay, why don't I apply my own medicine to my own business? Why don't I start automating things? And that just started things. And I first started with my emails supporting customer, product development and like, you know, accounting, HR you know, I started automating as much as possible and this allowed me to.

Actually be able to spend more of my time on my business as opposed to like in my business, this is like, you know business one-on-one. But, you know, I was making this mistake in the first years. So, and it worked and we have grown to this much larger company now and Google didn't beat us and we are really big now and you know, we have 500 employees and people love our product and we continue to grow our product to new features and new ideas. And this worked out really well. So I thought I've been able to do this and I, I, I've been able to actually teach my company, teach my employees to also automate as much as possible like we have this. Really try to do everything with automation.

Why don't I also, and I, I, I was also, I have also been applying his automation principles to my own, like product as well. Like in, in the product we automate as much as possible how people automate things. So I thought, why don't I actually provide this information to the world? Like, why don't I share this?

Like, I, I developed this framework that I called the Automation Flywheel. Why don't I share it with the world? And I have, I have a blog. I write on like a fast company, entrepreneur medium, and JotForm blog. But this wasn't something I could just do with a blog, but this was this was long, but I didn't expect it to be this big, like it took me more than a year.

But it turned out really well. Like I really was able to write a great book and I'm very proud of it. And it's, it's gonna come out on May 16th. That's the story of my book. Yeah.

[00:09:16] Omer: That's great. That's great. You, you, you know, I think back then when you were doing a lot of this automation, I mean, you're a developer, you can code automation becomes easier.

You know, if you can, if you can spin up like a, a Python script to do something great, but for the majority of people who can't code, it's always been a difficult thing to do. And recently with, with, so you know, the prevalence of so many no code tools around now, it's becoming more and more easier and accessible for anybody to start automating so much of what they do.

So we're gonna dig into that and we're gonna, we're gonna talk about some real world examples of how you've used it and how you're using it in the company. But just give us an overview of the book, like what are the main themes in the book, and then you mentioned the Automation Flywheel. What I'd like to do is to dig into what exactly that flywheel is.

We'll talk about the specific, you know, the six steps of that flywheel and then we'll put it into practice. But maybe just start with like, what, what, what are the main themes in the book?

[00:10:17] Aytekin: So, I mean, one of the reasons the book was really hard to write was because my publisher Wiley really wanted me to write a book for everyone, but not just for like, developers.

And, and every time I tried to write about those kind of like Python stuff that, you know, That's no, like, you know, this has to be, this has to be available to everyone. Anybody who gets this book should understand and be able to apply the ideas. And, and I put like so much examples and case studies in this book, but all these examples and case studies and you know, tools are, I think, temporary because it's just like the, the, the amount of changes like incredible, like this, all these AI tools are coming out every day. There are new sales products are coming out. So I mean, those examples are great, but really it's about understanding the fundamentals of the automation.

So I start the book with that. Like I try to explain the fundamentals of automation. I talk about something I call automation, first mindset where I talk about things like, you know, be the importance of laziness will get said like, I would give a hard job to a. Lazy person because the lazy person would find a way to solve it.

You know, there are things like that. You, it's important to be impatient. It's important to be lazy, so you don't, you don't put up with doing the same things again and again. It's also important to have the systems thinking so that you look at things as systems. Otherwise it's just everything is very you know, can become confusing.

So it's system thinking is an important part of that Automation first mindset as well. So I talk about automation first, myself. And I also talk about the, the framework that I developed the Automation Flywheel. And that's a process of continuous improvement and it allows you to kind of start from zero.

Like you, you, you have no automations. You, you are like, you are like me in 2008. Like completely all your heads. Like, it's just so much busy work. And where do, where do you go the, the automation flow framework actually. Takes you step by steps to to build a system where you have most of your stuff automated and you can continuously improve that.

And once I talk about these these fundamentals, then I go into more examples. Like I talk about like how to automate your creativity, how to automate your growth, like, and I give examples to to these kind of kinds of different ideas. And and rest of the big book is out of examples recipes.

But as I said, like those examples are not gonna be useful in five years. But more important is the, to get the idea about the importance of the automation and the how to apply in your business and the principles about how you apply those principles those ideas.

[00:13:23] Omer: Yeah. Yeah. That's great. I, I think I'm a lazy person because I, I think one of the things that really frustrates me is when I have to do something twice and I know I'm gonna have to do it a third time.

I know there's an, there's an opportunity to automate something, but being able to step away from the day-to-day work to think about it and to figure out a solution and implement a solution is where things fall apart. And it's like, yeah, I'll do that one day. So that's what I liked about the flywheel, that it, it kind of just gives you like a, a, a good framework just to think about, okay, when these things come up, or, you know, being a little bit more proactive in, in, in sort of the areas that you're spending your time, what you can start to do and actually follow through to implement some of these things?

So why don't we jump into that, like the flywheel, the six steps, and I think you kind of grouped them in pairs. So the first two were like divide and conquer. Second the three and four were like design and implement, and then refine and iterate. So let, let's talk through each one of those and if you can just explain to us what they mean, you know, why you think this is an important part of the process.

That would be great. May maybe even, we can kind of touch on some, some brief examples before we, we go into deep dive into some of the things that you're actually doing.

[00:14:47] Aytekin: So the Automation Flywheel is a process of continuous improvement. And but it's not, it's not just like one thing you do once and and it's not even like something you do, you know, for, for a while and then you stop.

It's, it's, it's a flywheel. It's it's a continuous process. You, you con you have to continue doing that and it's just, you know, you have to start somewhere and you keep doing that and it's, you get dividends as you get more and more automations. But it helps to build systems. So you start with nothing and then you, you have the systems and then you go from there and it, it keeps improving your productivity.

But with the automation flywheel, you kind of have to first decide like what you should do and what you shouldn't be doing. Like it's, it's not about just automating everything. I don't think it's, it makes sense to automate everything. I think it makes sense to, you know, look at what you are doing, prioritize what you do, what you are doing, and things that you don't care about that you should be automating.

And the, and the things that really helps you should, should stay not automated. For example, you know, like things like you know, growing yourself like, you know, reading books or researching stuff. You shouldn't be automating those things because it's just when you do those things, you are actually.

You're not just doing something, you're actually learning more stuff. But to get to the actual automation flywheel, it's a, it's a circle. It's a, it starts with the divide and conquer and the, the, the wide pro step is about. Looking at what you are doing and deciding, you know, what should be automated.

And one of the techniques I describe in the book is something I call auditing your workday. So basically you can put triggers every hour and at, at the end of every hour, you can just write down. You know what you did during that hour and you do this for a week, and a week is usually enough that you can find out like how you are spending your time, and you can decide, okay, hey, I shouldn't be spending my time with this kind of stuff and I should be spending my time with this kind of stuff like, I should be spending my time with, you know coming up with great ideas for my product and, but I shouldn't be spending my time with really, you know answering these emails.

Like those are waste of time for me, like, you know. And so you first divide and and then the conqueror's step is about basically, you spot workflows from these work because the things you do the are are not just single things like they're not just single to-do items. When you, when you look at what you do, you'll find out that you are actually spending your time with things that are like series of tasks and, and we call them workflows and workflows can involve multiple people. So, you know, if HR related task is done, like you have to, you know, speak with the person, speak with the HR department, like there are lots of step involved and it's just, it's not just happening in a single moment. It can take a long time. So the conquer step is about actually understanding the workflows involved.

The next step is design and implement. And the design step, you actually decide what you should be automating, like which part of this these workflows can be automated and which, which part should be automated and in the implementation step. And there are like so many no-code products. You research all the products and you find the products that really works for you, for your case.

And in the book I described like how to pick products, like, you know, how to use GT for reviews, how to make sure that they have updates and they have a long history and they're trustable. So those kind of things. And and then you implement those automations and in the next step, in the refined step you create KPIs and you look at.

You know the numbers of your automations, how they are doing, and because when you do things manually, you can actually see if things break down or things are working out well. But when you start automating, you have to actually keep, keep, keep batch, and you have to monitor what's going on. And that requires like keeping an eye on the KPIs and that requires you to kind of refine.

The the automations you do, and the, the final step, the sixth step, is to iterate, which is about, you know, if you are doing automations in one way, changing them, innovating your automations, updating them. So it's basically all these automations you are building. Turn into systems. And these systems require kind of maintenance.

But the great thing is like you are actually spending most of your time with the stuff that you care about and only you know, you are only monitoring them so that you are making sure that nothing is breaking down. And the, and the great thing about this, the, the flywheel is you don't actually have to even automate things.

Like even if you just use the flywheels first two steps. You know, divide and conquer. Even, even if you create like workflow of diagrams and if you document your, your work when you are doing that, it's a great exercise. Like you can actually understand what you are spending your time on, on the divide step and in the conquer step, you can actually understand, like create the workflows, document what you are doing, and you can delegate stuff even if you.

Even if you don't automate it, you can delegate it to someone else in your company. So I think this is a great exercise, but I think in the end you'll find that there are really good automation tools. And, you know, there is just like, there's this no quote revolution. There is this SaaS revolution. Like there's just thousands of great products out there and many people are not even aware of them and they, they are actually struggling.

And there's a, there is an automation tool that's available for them, but they're not even aware of it. So the goal of this automation flywheel is to help people kind of find their way so that they can build their automation and systems.

[00:21:19] Omer: Got it. Great. So I, I think that's a good distinction that the first two, divide and conquer, it's like whether you're going to use automation, no code tools or not. That's a good process that everybody should go through to, to get better awareness of how they're spending their time how things could be systematized, automated, whatever. Right? And then the design and implement is when you're actually going and, and putting those things together into practice and then refine and iterate is about continue looking for, for improvements to do better and better. With that, how many, like, ballpark, like how many automations do you think you are using right now? One of the things, I mean, I've tried to do this and I, I do this in some areas, you know, using some NOCO tools or Zapier and whatever.

But I've also found that things get out of control very easily in the sense that maybe I didn't document something and so something breaks down the line and I'm, I can't remember where I set it up or which tools I used. I think it was Zapier, but was it something else? And, and what, what was triggering this?

And, and yes, you can go and look at the Zap to see how you set that up, but just to, to me that's the one thing is like, as you have more and more of these automations, it just feels like there's a whole bunch of stuff that you could potentially break and you need to track. So what, what does that look like for you and, and how do you stay sane with, with all of that going on around you?

[00:22:53] Aytekin: There's no way to tell like how many automations I, I have like it's pretty, pretty high. Even on Gmail I have like 3000 filters. Wow. So it, I mean, but that, I created that for over the years, like probably in like 10 years. So it's, it's not something like I spend like ton of time you know, in a single day.

So there's just a lot of automations, but that's why actually the, the, the last step refine and iterate is required so that all these systems are kind of being monitored. So you are aware of what's going on when and when things break down. You are aware of that. So you kind of have to have like that, that mindset that, you know when something breaks down. You know, you get notified about it and you have to catch those things and keep following them.

[00:23:44] Omer: Okay. Wait, well, you, you mentioned Gmail and filters, and we're gonna go into that. So you and I talked about like, hey, let's, let's pick out like three real world examples of, of how you are automating your busy work and in your company.

So it can help other people, other founders, you know, are trying to apply some of, some of these lessons with, you know, with these examples. And so we picked, as a starting point was the automation of email with Gmail and filters, because that's something, it's kind of like the first step to doing automation and, and anybody can start to do that fairly easily.

The second one we picked was how to, how you are automating your product development. In terms of continuous testing, deployment, bug tracking, and so we're gonna talk about that. And then the third one is how you've automated your HR onboarding. So those I think are three good scenarios that we can talk about.

Let's get started with the Gmail one first, because I think that's the one that most people will understand fairly easily.

[00:24:38] Aytekin: Yeah. As I mentioned, like in the first day, even during the first days, like I was. Received a lot of emails and I was struggling with this incoming number of emails. And there are in emails that are really important and there are emails that are not that important, but you have to check them all.

So in the, in the, in the beginning I started with inbox zero. Inbox Zero is really good because if you apply Inbox Zero, you don't miss any emails. Like you never, you know, have someone. You know, saying, oh, you missed my email, you know you never returned to me or something like that. It's great, but at some point, inbox zero, even doesn't start not working because the amount of emails is increasing and then you are spending so much time like trying to clean them up. So my second step was to actually build this automation solution using G using only Gmails like labels and filters. That's it. There's nothing else. I mean, I actually looked at all the products available and I couldn't find one that really worked for me.

So after searching for so many solutions, okay, I decide, okay. Hey, Gmail actually has a lot of these features, so why don't I, I was on, our company's already using Gmail. So why don't I try to do this on Gmail? And I was thinking if, if I can't get this done with labels and filters, I could use the, you know, Gmails app script.

But I never needed I never needed to use that. Just it was enough to use the labels filters. So here, here's, it works. So the biggest problem for me was the the amount of emails I received. And the prior to of the emails and you know, it's just there's some important emails. That's that's sitting there.

And then in, when I process the Inbox Zero, I will start from the oldest email. It'll take me a long time. And during, I have like many meetings. So between the meetings, I only have too much time. So, you know, these, these emails would wait multiple days. So what I did was I created three labels. Just three labels level one, level two, and level three.

So level one is for the really high priority urgent stuff. And for example, if our VP of HR sends a direct email to me, that goes to my level one my publisher is Wiley. If they send me an email, like if, if it's coming from the domain violet.com, it's gonna go to my level one email inbox. So it's only a few emails are coming through.

So to label one level one. So this way it's not like becoming large, it's staying small, and I'm always like updating my filters to make sure that if something important, if I'm waiting for an important email or something, it's gonna go to L one. So this worked great. Even when I'm on vacation, I have like, let's say I have like half an hour every day to check my emails.

I will start with level one. Let's say I have like 10 emails. I will just process all those emails, clean up my level one. And, you know, I'm not gonna look even the other emails at all because they can't wait. So the level, level two is from emails, from the people I know, like people I communicate with.

If they sent me a direct email, like someone sent me an email and in the two fields, it's just written to me. That cost me my level two. And level three is for all the other emails that I care about, like reports like email trace, where I'm included that I should probably be reading the thread, but it's okay if I read it a week later and like newsletter, things like that.

I mean, I, I still read these emails, but it take me a longer time. Maybe I will process them, you know, it'll take me a week to read them, but that's okay. And everything else, like all this marketing spam, everything else goes to my default default inbox, and I will clean that up time to time because, you know one in a hundred, one in a thousand, there's gonna be like an important email that didn't go to one of the filters.

So I'm gonna create a filter for that. That's why I have like 3000 filters because over time I created all these filters. So basically by default, every email goes to my inbox. And the, the important emails go to my prior to inboxes that I created. But here's the most important part. I never go directly to my inbox. What I have is I have bookmarks in my browser and I will just click on the bookmark that says like L one, level one. And then the first thing I do when I wanna check my emails, I will go to that bookmark and go to L one emails and I will process that. And after I process that, I go to L two or L three.

And so this way, you know, I'm prioritizing emails and even though I receive hundreds of emails every day, I'm keeping it safe. So it just, this saved amount of time and it also, you know, keeps me on top of important and urgent information. Does that work for you on, on, on mobile? Because I think most mobile apps tend to default to the inbox and, yeah.

I mean, I have to search for L one, so it's not as working as well as the. Desktop, but the bookmarks still work on mobile. If I'm using like an iPad or iPhone, like I could use stuff for it. But as you said, like Gmail I couldn't find a way to, on the Gmail app to directly go like, you know, select L one emails in inbox.

[00:30:16] Omer: Great. So I think that's, that's a great starting point. And if if, if someone's listening to this and they're not doing that, that's a great place that you could get started. Today, right? Like even just looking through your inbox and, and seeing the, the kinds of things that, you know, are, are most important, but they're, they're kind of almost, you know, hidden because you've got so much other, you know, low priority stuff seeing in your inbox that you could start tackling.

Let, let's move on to the next one cuz now we are, we are, we are moving up a little bit and getting a more complicated with, with automation and I think this one will be very relevant for people. Listening to this as well is how you automate product development, and there's a lot of moving parts with.

With you know, building a product tell us specifically about, you know, what, what this automation is about.

[00:31:06] Aytekin: This is actually used by many companies, so this is not like unique to me or my company. And it's continuous integration and deployment and it's, you know, very popular among you know, companies that, that follow the lean development methods.

But, you know, in the beginning the first years of chat form, we didn't have that. Like we would, it would take us like six months to release our products and it would be a big event and like, customers would reward because like we would have like so many bucks because, and we would change so many things that they wouldn't like.

And so from, from moving from there to continuing integration and deployment made a huge difference for us. For us because now we, we are only releasing gradual like small changes. And if something breaks, you know, we are quickly aware of it and we can fix it quickly. And so we are using things like Jenkins.

So anytime a developer actually makes a commit and then it's getting reviewed by the, you know, there is, it's getting reviewed, but right after that it's gonna be released on our app. And we have, you know, we have all these automated testing that checks for everything like unit tests and the, you know, all these other tests are being applied and it's, it goes automatically and becomes live automatically.

And we also do the same for the enterprise as well. Enterprise goes a little bit. Later the, the regular version actually, you know, becomes live pretty quickly and we had that since, probably since like 20, 20 10. So it's been a long time more than a decade, and it's been great. And and automating things as much as possible allowed our team to become really developed our product much much more easily.

Much more, you know, when joins on the first day we ask that person to actually, you know, write some code and, you know, change something on JotForm and that's like great. And it also makes sure that we actually. Are, you know, handling everything else. Like they're getting their computer on their first day.

They have their accounts so you know, they can, like everything is in order. And then on top of that, that developer actually makes a commit. And then, You know, updates the just phone product. Like, it could be like a smell spelling change or like something like that. They make a change and, you know, and they, they see that it's not a big deal.

Like they can also how we develop quickly and how we, how we, you know, care about automating everything as much as possible. And so we also apply the similar principles. To like testing for example we use Testo, which is like a crowd. Testing platform. And then when we, when we want something to be tested we send it to them and then, you know, all this crowd goes and, you know, finds all these problems on different browser types and then sends to us.

And so we are aware of all the problems and you know, we do user testing.com. Also, we use a lot that we, we get feedback from people about the changes we make. And we, we try to apply automation to every part of our product development as well. And that resulted in much, it's not just about you know, making it faster. It's also about the developer productivity and happiness, like preventing burnout. And when you have to wait like three months or six months for a release, it's just it's, it's kind of stressful. The launch is a big event, but when you're continuously deploying your product, it's not a event.

The new version is not a big event. So it's been working so well, so far for us, and we continue to automate everything as much as possible.

[00:35:00] Omer: So the, the product development piece and, you know, the this, the continuous integration, the, the CICD and, and all of this stuff, this, this sounds very kind of dev focused obviously.

Is, is there kind of like no code components to that or like, or, or is this mostly just about, you know, the kind of day-to-day stuff that developers would tend to do anyway in using tools like Jenkins in terms of getting. More, more efficient with, with the way they, they, you know, build and ship products.

[00:35:32] Aytekin: I think at JotForm we kind of have, you know, we, we build our own tools. Like we just love to build our own tools. Like we have our own own backtracking system that we developed like supports. Our support system is also we something we developed. So it's we, we kind of use our own tools here and it's just, We are so much developer oriented because when I started JotForm I was a developer.

So it's just from the first day, like we were doing our own tools. So in terms of the product development, we are pretty much mostly using our own tools.

[00:36:09] Omer: That's really interesting. That's really interesting. I, I, you know, I think at this point of, of size of a company, like I, I would've, I would've expected you to say, You know, no, we don't want to be building this stuff.

We, we will just buy the best of breed out there. But that's a very different kind of culture to have. I'd, I'd love to talk about that, but that's gonna take us down a completely different rabbit hole. So we'll have to save that for another day. So let, let's get onto the third one. The, you know, how you've automated your HR onboarding. So may maybe kind of just tell us like what was, what was the challenge that the team was facing and then how did you go about figuring out how to implement the solution?

[00:36:44] Aytekin: Yeah, I mean this was before the pandemic so we were still like sending people papers and they were signing it, candidates sending us back to and we were doing everything manually.

It was taking us so much time and we were making mistakes and. You know someone on HR department is on vacation and someone, you know, doesn't sign an NDA. We forget to get their computer or things like that. So when you do things manually, that's that creates a lot of you know, it's easy to miss stuff.

It's easy to make mistakes. So we started kind of using JotForm for this automated as much as possible as but, but then we, we actually switched to Bamboo HR because we were actually in the process of getting SAC two compliant and we, we needed to use the SAC two compliant HR product.

But now that we are SAC two compliant, we got the compliance we are actually switching back to JotForm to do everything but. The great thing is like in the past, like we would spend like so many things, like we would be late, someone would start at the job and then they would get their computer late.

It was very easy to miss stuff, and it was just so much time consuming. And once we streamlined this with kind of automating every step, like creating the forms and creating automated emails with instructions, with collecting signatures electronically and asking, you know, approvals being done also online j from also as a approved pro product.

And so doing all these things In a way that's streamlined and automated actually made it much better. And we were able to do it much faster. And when we started doing things like, you know, we had, when we started having like a bigger internship program and when we started having the the part-time program for students, like having an existing automated solution really made it very easy for us to also, you know, add the automations for them as well.

And this like onboarding is something, you know, you don't wanna make a mistake because someone is starting at your company and you wanna spend your time like talking to them, you know, being nice to them and getting them excited about the company. You don't wanna, you know, miss documents or like, you know, forget stuff and start, you know, start your relationship with a mistake.

[00:39:11] Omer: So just may maybe kinda gimme a little bit more details on how that works. So you, you know, the onboarding, somebody's using JotForm. We, we know that if you're using a Zapier type integration or automation, there's a trigger. There's, you know, something that happens and then you, you know you're integrating with some other app to, to get some kind of result or outcome.

With using JotForm, how does it start? Does it start with somebody going in and filling in a form that there's a new hire and then that does something like where where does this, how does it actually work.

[00:39:46] Aytekin: Exactly. I mean, it's, it starts with, so after the interview process, if, when we decide someone when we decide to hire someone it starts with a trigger with the, with the filling out the form and when the form is filled out, this actually goes approval and using JotForm's workflow and approval features, this is approved and, and someone approves in the, in the higher management.

And then once the approval is, and this is very fast because it's just, it sends an email and you see the email and approve it. And, and then this will trigger, you know, all the required like, you know, documents like we need to call, like they need to sign some documents. And, you know, different teams actually receive information about the incoming person.

So like the, you know, our office, office managers. You know, they need to prepare the hardware, like the computer and monitor and other things for this person. So they need, they receive notification and the start date and so they can start preparing for those things. Sometimes people are remote, so they need to ship out those things and on time.

And so on the, like, we, we. We give someone a buddy and that person, you know, from the first day that person works with the, with their buddy and you know, they, they get to know each other and help out with, you know, learning the culture and the company. So there are trainings, like there is, there's a security training that needs to be completed during the first week.

So all those things are actually automated using JotForm workflow features. And like we also have signed product JotForm sign. And as I said, like forms are the first point and there's a journey. And over the years, like we added all these steps needed during the journey, but we also have integrations with all kinds of products.

Like, for example, in, in our sales, like we collect leads with a leads form. But then that form, actually the data is actually sent to HubSpot because we, we keep track of our, you know, customers there. So that's, there is an integration with this. So, you know, Zapier and we, we also have some native integrations.

So yeah, we, you know, we handle all those things during onboarding and and then we also send a survey to make sure that we didn't miss anything. And we also keep track of the, you know the times and how long it took to, and if there were any errors, any mistakes about it. We keep track of them.

[00:42:19] Omer: So if someone's listening to this, let's say you know, somebody, a founder, CEO, listening to this and thinking. Okay. Sounds great. But I take, and you've been doing this for years and so it's, it's probably second nature to you. I can see a bunch of things that, you know, me personally could, could improve.

But this person maybe is also thinking, I've also got a team and I can see a whole bunch of opportunities there, you know, and I've gotta run my business so, what would be some parting advice that you could give them other than reading the book and we'll tell people where they can get the, the book in a minute.

What, what advice would you give them to get started on this journey? So it's, it's an easier transition for them to, to make if, if they're not already doing these types of automations?

[00:43:07] Aytekin: I would recommend doing it. Audit of their workday and answering two questions, what should I be spending my time with and what I shouldn't be doing?

And the, the, the second question is more important, what you shouldn't spend your time on, like what, what kind of task that, that's taking your time. And you shouldn't, they shouldn't be taking your time because you are a business owner, like you have a SaaS business. And the most important thing for you is to grow your business and grow your product.

Make your product better and bring more people to your product. So you should be spending your time with those things. So I would start with an audit and that would help them, you know, even if they don't automate them. And automation is also a delegation. Like when you automate things, you, you delegate.

Your work to the machine so that that's gonna help them with, with their time and you know, help them discover how they're spending their time.

[00:44:12] Omer: Awesome. Great. So the book is called “Automate your Busy Work, Do Less, Achieve More, and Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff”. If people you want to check it out you can go to saasclub.io/automatebook and the book is being published you said May 16th.

Great. So, and again, you know, congratulations on what you've been able to do with this business from, from the, you know, the early days of just the idea. And, and, and I love this whole, this whole concept that, you know, we often talk about follow your passion, and this was a passion in the sense that you passionately hated building forms and it kind of led you on this journey to where you are in this business today. And clearly I think you know, this, this, this, this automation stuff is not something that you, you've just started doing. It's been something that for a long time you've been, you've been trying and implementing in your own own day-to-day life and, and with the business as it has grown. So, you know, we can see the results and, and hopefully this will be helpful for, for other founders as well to, to free up some time and, and start focusing on, on the things that are really gonna drive their business forward. So I appreciate you making the time to do this and, and congratulations on where you're taking the business.

And I wish you and the team the best of success for the, for the future.

[00:45:33] Aytekin: Thank you Omer, for having me on on this show. It was great. Thank you.

[00:45:37] Omer: My pleasure. All the best. Cheers.

[00:45:39] Aytekin: Bye.

The Show Notes