Round 19 - Jan 28, 2020

Showing Luhhu

Founding a Zapier agency before no-code was cool

This week I asked a few questions to Andrew Davison, founder of Luhhu. He was among the first people joining Frenl, back in… 4 months ago.

He successfully started by himself an agency helping businesses automate their processes using Zapier, even before no-code was cool.

Hello Andrew! What is your background? Your current situation?

Right now I’m the founder of Luhhu and we’ve just celebrated our first birthday.

I grew up in the south of England and way back in another life I dropped out of a Computer Science degree and moved to London to work in media sales.

A few jobs later I decided to go travelling in Asia and Europe and eventually settled as an expat in Budapest where I’ve now been living for 6 years.

What is Luhhu?

We’re a Zapier-certified agency (“What is Zapier?” on the Luhhu blog) and we help businesses of all types and sizes automate their processes using Zapier.

If you were looking for our elevator pitch I’d probably tell you that if you’re tired of the silly amount of time you waste on boring, repetitive admin, then get in contact, because we can definitely help with that.

One example: you are selling stuff using Shopify. Right now, you’re probably copying those details, by hand, into a Google Sheet, then sending the customer a thank you SMS and creating an order card for your suppliers in Trello.

What if I told you that it could all be done instantly and automatically using Zapier?

How did you start? What motivated you?

Like many other founders I’m sure, things came about by accident. As an expat living in Budapest I’d taken up writing guides for some local publications (guides on the best places to eat in Budapest, reviews of the different neighbourhoods, event reviews and shoutouts - all quite interesting stuff that really helped me get to know the city).

In search of more work I signed up to Upwork but my application was declined because they had too many writers. This encouraged me to think about anything else I could potentially freelance in.

I’d learned to use Zapier while running a previous business and thought I probably knew it well enough to help others - so I went for it.

The demand surprised me and I found my first project the next day. Within a month I was already finding enough work to occupy myself a few hours each day and things grew from there.

I freelanced for 18 months before I took the plunge on Luhhu, by which time Zapier had essentially become my full time job.

Why specialising in Zapier? Zapier better than IFTTT? :)

I started with Zapier and I guess because it’s always been my focus it’s the tool I’m most confident working with. I’ve experimented a little with IFTTT but it seems there is very little demand for it from business - I guess it’s more of a personal automation tool.

The other tool with lots of buzz right now is Integromat. It’s similar to Zapier but has some extra features and tools that make it the right pick for certain jobs. Indeed, I’ve been training myself to use it for the last year or so and I now use it in client projects quite regularly - sometimes alongside Zapier.

When to yes-code and when to no-code? When to move from one to the other?

It really depends on the specifics of the project and I certainly don’t subscribe to the one or the other mentality that some have.

I’m thankful for my background in computer science here as it’s helped me learn to analyse IT problems on an abstract level and pick tools to solve them in a considered way.

While I haven’t (and probably won’t ever) learn to code myself, I’m confident in spotting a project where Zapier won’t be the best solution and turning down a client accordingly.

How did you attract your first users? How are you growing Luhhu?

All my early work came from Upwork and Fiverr and I’m grateful for the boost they gave me. I’m now part of the Zapier Experts program who actively refer customers that need help to us.

2020 is the year that I’ll be investing heavily in Luhhu’s blog and promoting our work through guest posts and interviews like this.

One surprising source of clients has been Twitter and to a lesser extent, Reddit. I make a point to be as helpful as possible on both platforms, giving advice and answering questions about Zapier frequently. I’ve won several big clients this way.

What is your target audience and business model?

Luckily it’s quite broad and essentially any SME could benefit from working with us to automate their processes.

We have a typical agency business model and charge an hourly fee.

While some agencies tend to specialise in a specific set of apps, with Zapier being the glue they use to tie it all together, I prefer to think of us as a generalist agency. Taking any process or problem a business might have and finding a way to solve it with Zapier (if it makes sense to).

What are the biggest obstacles that you’ve overcome?

As an agency, we have to charge quite a high hourly fee to maintain a viable, profitable business. Our rate is currently $150/hour and some clients see that and balk.

The problem with Zapier, being a nocode tool that runs in the background, is that it’s hard for some clients to visualise what they’re actually paying for.

We’re getting better at, but still need to work on finding ways to communicate the value of process automation to clients, with the angle that freeing up staff from manual, menial admin works enables companies to save money and/or invest into innovation.

What are your current challenges? Your next steps?

So far I’ve been doing the bulk of work for clients with help from two part-time contractors.

We’re swamped with work and while that’s a nice problem to have I’ll be putting my energy into getting more people on the team.

The plan at the moment is to build a loose team of other freelancers to avoid the costs associated with employing people full time.

Any magic trick to share with us? The one piece of advice that you would give.

If you’re thinking of starting a business, spend some time learning the basics. Learn about economics, business theory, accounting and project management. Then, start small.

Find real problems people or businesses have and build the simplest solution you can find for them. So long as you can do that cheaper than what you can charge for it, you’re on your way.

What is the achievement that you’re the most proud of?

Making a profit in our first year, helping 100+ companies do some cool stuff with Zapier and getting to interact with cool people in the nocode industry along the way.

Any side projects you’ve been working on?

A few, actually. I’ve always enjoyed setting up passive income businesses and getting the chance to play with other nocode tools. I’ve got:

Get Self Employed - Helping expats and nomads register as self-employed and pay the right taxes. Built using Landen (and Zapier of course).

Teacher Finder - Helping people find a language teacher in their city. Built using Wordpress, Bubble, Zapier and Integromat.

SaaS Money - A curated list of SaaS apps with really good affiliate programs. Build using Table2Site and Airtable.

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by Andrew Davison
Founder at Luhhu
👋 Get in touch with Andrew

Welcome!

I know how valuable networking is yet I never find the energy to go to Meetups. That's why Frenl :)