Stamplay is basically lego blocks for developers. Essentially, it allows developers to connect disparate API endpoints together to build a functioning backend, all through an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. I first came across the tool during my office hours at 500 Startups and I immediately saw a lot of value in it.
In addition to connecting endpoints seamlessly, it also allows a developer to trigger workflows based on certain criteria. For example, you can send out automated Slack invites over email. Stamplay connects with several services (including SendGrid) to add a layer of abstraction, allowing developers, and even non-developers, to quickly put together a backend for their projects. Most recently, there were two major updates to the service which have made it a great fit for the Accelerate program here at SendGrid: running custom code blocks and new integrations.
What the Accelerate program does
I work on the Community Development team at SendGrid, and we have a singular mission to help developers and founders excel at what they do. In order to further this mission, we run the Accelerate program, which provides founders opportunities for mentorship by giving them access to the collective knowledge of the Community Development team to help them through whatever problems they may have, be it technical, business, or where to find the best tacos in San Francisco. In addition, they gain access to our strong and ever-growing network of investors, experts, and thought leaders, as well as the benefits of using our services at a discounted rate.
This program extends into the office hours we hold at accelerators such as 500 Startups and TechStars. While companies that are part of these accelerators are automatically enrolled into our Accelerate program, the program itself is open to all eligible startups.
The application for startups that are not part of these accelerators involves submitting an application through our web page, and a somewhat cumbersome workflow. We first research each company that applies, trying to figure out what they do, and any pertinent questions relevant to their business. We then set up a phone call or hangout with the founder, to ask some questions and collect as much information as we can.
After this vetting process is complete, we either approve or deny an application. There are quite a few manual steps involved, and after a few conversations with Giuliano, the founder of Stamplay, we realized that a lot of this process could be automated pretty easily using Stamplay.
Automate all the things!
Now that we’ve covered the actual use case, I want to return back to the two new features, and how these will help with the problem we’re trying to tackle. First, running custom code blocks allows developers to write custom code snippets to extend the functionality of their service. Secondly, Stamplay has integrated with several of our marketing API endpoints, allowing users to create and manage marketing lists, amongst other things. These two features combined allow us to create an app that automates a lot of the vetting process we currently do manually.
The app will use AngelList to provide us the relevant data for the founder and their company, and pass that information along through an email to our community team alias, removing the manual process of researching the company. Along with this, we also send a welcome email to the founder, asking them to set up a time for the phone call or hangout. Through AngelList, we can also get insights into the space that the company is in (i.e. adtech, finance, etc.) which helps us craft an efficient means to separate these companies by vertical as well.
We decided to replace the Google form on the website with an AngelList login, instead. This allows founders to apply with essentially one click, and gives us all the necessary information we need regarding their company directly through AngelList’s APIs. The specific workflow looks something like this:
- A user can sign up with AngelList
- Using the AngelList data, we find what company that user is the founder of
- Extract the vertical or space the company operates in (adtech, finance, etc.)
- Create a SendGrid marketing list for that vertical if it has not already been created
- Add new user to said list
- Send a welcome email
The ability to hook up our Stamplay app to create and manage marketing lists on SendGrid is extremely useful. This allows us to segment the companies that apply to the program by vertical and then send those companies more useful information about any new products or features that may be useful to them.
Companies that are in a consumer-driven space could, for example, be notified of new products SendGrid launches. The ability to automate all of these tasks through a simple interface relieves us of a lot of the heavy lifting needed to onboard new startups to the program. This frees-up time for the team to work on onboarding more companies, as well as focus our efforts on the various other platforms we use to reach, educate, and (most importantly) hang out with developers and founders.
This is just the first part in a two part series. In the second part, we will cover all the technical aspects to building out this workflow, as well as the final app.
-Tushar Bhushan @imit8me