How a race against time brought our company together

Two weeks. Four departments. Find out what happened when we dropped everything to build seven integrations.

Ever tried pulling lots of people together to get something done fast?

The intentions are always there. But Karen the designer is up to her eyeballs with business as usual. Leon from Product has that high-priority project he needs to finish. And copywriter Sandra is on vacation again next week. Seriously?

But when an intense email like this goes out to the entire company, you know it’s serious:

Typeform Connect is live, but it’s only the beginning. We must seed our new marketplace by injecting it with customer-requested integrations.
Sançar Sahin, VP of Marketing at Typeform

Or in non-startup speak: we needed to build more Typeform integrations and start shouting about them. Fast.

Success would rely on a coordinated effort across the entire company. So how did we make sure everyone stayed focused on the goal?

By making it a race.

Typeform Connect—where all our integrations live

The teams

Each team in the race took one integration, and included people from Product, Marketing, and Customer Success. Product had a week to build the integration, then Marketing had a week to get the campaign ready. At the end, we’d vote for a winner.

So which apps would we integrate with?

  • Box – files uploaded to typeforms get sent straight to Box

  • Drip – create contacts and trigger workflows in Drip

  • Slack – get real-time typeform responses in Slack

  • Dropbox – upload files to Dropbox from a typeform

  • Zoho – create or update contacts in Zoho

  • Infusionsoft – add new contacts into your customer journeys

  • Pipedrive – create new deals to get your sales pipeline moving

Apps assigned, the teams waited for the starter pistol.

Warm ups and false starts

The world record for the 100 metres is 9.58 seconds. But a race takes so much longer. Warming up. Eating the right breakfast. Getting a good night’s sleep the day before. Runners do everything in their power to avoid getting out the blocks cold.

But when Typeform’s Product and Engineering teams stumbled into work on day one, some were warmer than others.

Take team Pipedrive. They’d done a bit of initial research, but hadn’t actually experimented with Pipedrive until the week began. Result? The integration broke every time they tried to use it.

Other teams prepared more, but still had to pull up early.

Team Zendesk started planning a week in advance. They found out how the APIs work. They built a strong foundation. They smugly slapped each other on the back, and even had time to taunt the opposition with photos like this:

Team Zendesk getting cocky

But when the race began, they realized they couldn’t hook Zendesk to Typeform’s integration framework. All their prep work? Out the window.

So they pivoted to another app—Zoho:

We didn’t have a lot of tickets from customers about Zoho, so we were in a kind of fog trying to make sense of what we had.
Piotr Kaczmarczyk, Team Zoho

They also faced technical issues only Zoho could solve. You’d think us tech companies would have some kind of special members hotline we call each other on in these kinds of situations.

Nope. The team called Zoho customer support.

Once they got through, the help was great—and allowed them to deliver a working integration by the end of the week. They even had enough time left to focus on the really important stuff:

We spent an hour in a meeting room practicing different voice-overs for our video presentation.
Piotr Kaczmarczyk, Team Zoho

And a damn good voice-over it was, too.

Takeaway: Run tests and prepare before you start building. A big project begins before someone says “go.”

Fish in a barrel

But while some problems were hard to predict, others were more obvious. How can people who’ve never built integrations before tackle one in five days?

We turned to Mamones for help—the team named after the office dog that built the first ever Typeform integrations. They became everyone’s coach, physio, and cheerleader. Minus the pom-poms.

First, they simplified parts of the code they’d already written so other developers could build on top of it easily.

They also each picked a team to serve as a consultant. People could book them for things like mob coding sessions, or just light entertainment. And it worked like a charm.

I thought getting everything done in just four days would be difficult. But Mamones gave us a system that was very easy to work with. It was, as we say in Catalan, bufar i fer ampolles.
Carlos Sánchez, Team Infusionsoft

Rough translation: like shooting fish in a barrel.

Takeaway: Make specialist knowledge accessible. If you figure out ways to share expertise, it’ll extend beyond the few who have it.

Mamones did such a good job that even teams with only backend engineers could build new integrations.

Mamones created a polished frontend for us to work with, which meant we spend more time speaking to customers.
Anthony Sennett, Team Drip

Oh, yeah. The customers.

Integrations are serious business

First thought or afterthought?

Before launching themselves at their integration, some teams asked this simple question: what problem are we solving for our customers?

Team Drip set up eight interviews with people who use both Typeform and Drip.

Here’s Anthony again:

Building an integration is like making a big bet. You could go in blind with the odds stacked against you, or do as much work as possible to understand your customers.
Anthony Sennett, Team Drip

A common theme emerged from the interviews—Drip’s customers really care about their customers.

So the team knew what the integration had to do: let people learn more about their customers, so they can maintain better relationships.

Those that didn’t talk to customers soon regretted it:

Sitting in customer interviews helps you empathize. I missed out on really understanding the problems we’re solving.
Pol Narbona, Team Slack

The result? Everyone knew where the finish line was. But only some knew why they were running towards it.

Takeaway: Start with the customer. Understand what they want early on, then build around that.

Presentation time loomed. After Friday morning blindsided everyone like the sun after an all-night rave, each team presented their five-minute pitch.

And all seven presented a finished, working integration.

Pol was on a plane to London when he checked his phone and found the first typeform response sent to a Slack channel:

It was like seeing your baby give birth to another baby.
Pol Narbona, Team Slack

High emotions indeed.

The Slack integration in action

Marketing grabs the baton

It was handoff time. Could Marketing and Creative come up with meaningful campaigns to promote the newborn integrations?

In four days, each needed designs for social media and email, an example typeform, a page for our app directory, two videos, a landing page, and a whole separate campaign for non-Typeform users. And they say marketers just sit around spending money.

The morning briefing ended. You could smell the caffeinated, dark-roasted energy around the office. Brainstorms thundered as people grabbed ideas and ran with them.

Brainstorming is my favorite part of the process because you’re not restricted yet. We could let our creativity run free.
Nasia Kudaibergen, Team Slack

By midday, team Box already had a video concept inspired by a famous Disney scene:

But for many, an intoxicating first few hours led to a sobering afternoon.

The teams had to nail down value propositions—a handful of inspirational words to tie a campaign together. Hard to think of, but eventually they make your life easier. “Make your life easier” was suggested so much it got banned.

So people turned to their Product and Customer Success colleagues for help. After hearing about some technical issues, Box was back to the drawing board. Mary Poppins flew out the window as fast as she’d flown in.

But for the folks working on Drip and Infusionsoft, this added focus was exactly what their campaigns needed.

Our integration was with a CRM, so it was a bit more complex than Slack, for example. But that meant there was a specific target audience.
Christel Augsburg, Team Infusionsoft

Takeaway: Talk to your colleagues in other teams to fully understand what you’re working with. Coming up with great ideas is great, until it isn’t.

But the biggest hurdles were still to come.

“Oh hey there Shit, meet my friend Fan”

Once value propositions were agreed, it was officially on as people started planning campaign materials. Cameras rolled. Google docs were shared. Value propositions changed.

Wait, what?

My favorite teams were the ones who didn’t change their value propositions last minute. This was a big issue for the video team. But it was great seeing people do their best to make concepts work.
Rubén Llorach, Video Producer
Seven videos in four days. Easy, right?

As with any marketing campaign, the challenge of turning concepts into reality hit teams hard.

Team Slack spent an afternoon having an existential conversation about pool tables and birthday parties. Infusionsoft struggled to pin down what it really meant to “bring life to your customer journeys.” Dropbox was still searching for a clear path forward:

Cabin fever kicked in towards the end of day two. We were trying to differentiate between Dropbox and Box, but actually that’s not really the point—it’s about what the integration provides for people.
Suzie Docherty, Team Dropbox

Even Drip dropped the ball. Until now they’d been coasting along with a solid proposition and a great customer story. A late-night 90-minute phone call to a Typeform + Drip user in rural Texas gave them the perfect voice-over for their video ad.

Until they realized the call stopped recording at the half-hour mark. Right before all the good stuff.

Of course, not everything was going that bad. Between minor mishaps, conceptual crises, and Zoho limping out of the race due to technical issues, campaigns were taking shape. People put on three or four different hats at once as they chipped away at unfamiliar tasks. And it felt good.

Seeing people who don’t often work together tirelessly persist towards a common goal—that was my favorite part.
Sancar Sahin, Team Pipedrive

The time limit seemed to be doing the trick. A fast-growing company of people with their own busy schedules was united in one direction. But most agreed that while the time limit was motivating, it was also a bit restricting.

Pressure to finish so many things this fast led to a few rash creative decisions. Fewer campaigns and a couple more days would’ve been perfect.

And for some, the crunch had only just begun.

Takeaway: Be realistic with the scope of a project. Time limits push teams to get more done faster—but if the scope is too big, they can also mean more mistakes.

The seven campaigns

Light at the end of the funnel

Teams shot videos on Thursday. Presentations were Friday afternoon. This meant a long night of editing for the video team. At least they had the Slack video footage to entertain them:

For everyone else, it was presentation time. Some rehearsed, others desperately added slides up to the dying seconds. Nerves jangled:

My team nominated me to present the night before, so I spent the whole morning shitting my pants. I was shouting so loud practicing that most people heard my presentation before I gave it.
Alvin Mafu, Team Infusionsoft

Everyone survived. In the end it was close, but there was one clear winner: the Drip campaign.

How’d they do it? Simple. They collaborated across departments the best, and they put the customer first.

We had a great hand-off from the other teams. Angela from Customer Success set us up with the users, then Product really connected with one. So we based our whole campaign around this one real customer.
Paul Campillo, Team Drip

Here’s their finished video, starring Drip and Typeform user Tim:

As the final stages of integrations fortnight came to a close, the feeling of achievement was universal. In two weeks, we’d built seven integrations with seven marketing campaigns.

It might not have all gone according to plan, and a few things still need tweaking. But next time we need to pull everyone together to get something done fast?

We’ll dust off those starting blocks.

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