Unfiltered: The Cazoomi Story from the Early Days to Present

Clint is a marketing entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience and has successfully grown several 7 to 8-figure businesses. He is also skilled in using NetSuite and Salesforce. Currently, running Cazoomi for over 15 years and based in the Philippines. 11 minute read

Lessons on Why Running a Startup is Never a Straight Growth Arrow

17 years. Looking back, I can’t believe it’s been almost two decades since Cazoomi has been my main focus.

What was supposed to be a short-term side gig turned into one of the top iPaaS innovators punching above its weight globally. I might type this once or twice again, just because it sounds incredible — even to me.

Before you dig into our saga, let me be perfectly honest: I wrote this for myself and to myself

As things change at Cazoomi right now, I felt the need to go beyond the dates and major milestones and add some of my own reflections on how my business transformed throughout the years and how it transformed me.

My team thought it should go public, but that was never my intention in the beginning. They’re right, though. 

We pride ourselves on being transparent and on building in public. So here it is, the Cazoomi journey as seen through my (obviously subjective) eyes, with very light edits to make it intelligible to anyone who doesn’t live in my head. 

Unfiltered.

The Inspiration (2007-2008): Why Being in the Right Place at the Right Time Matters

Back in 2007, I was in the Philippines on what I thought was a short nomad stay — yeah, I was doing the whole digital nomad thing before it was cool. 

A few years earlier, I was working at Actuate Corporate in the Bay Area, where I met Jason Gray. I had no idea that Jason would change my life later on.

Fast-forward to 2007, when Jason recruited me to work with him for NetSuite. It was a great gig, and I got along well with the team.

More importantly, it was when I started to get inspired. During the hundreds of demos we did, one thing kept popping up again and again: people loved NetSuite, but what they really wanted was a way to link it to Constant Contact or Mailchimp.

Lightbulb moment! 

I contracted Clemen Canaria, and other Philippine JAVA experts, who worked in NetSuite’s Manila office, to do these integrations for the clients. Then, in 2008, I left NetSuite to work at their largest West Coast partner, Sererra Consulting, where I tried to implement it as a service in our projects. 

However, by 2009, the CEO said they would pass as there was not enough margin in it like there was for Dell Boomi and other similar companies.

I’m stubborn, though. I was convinced there was a market outside large corporations that could afford to shed hundreds of thousands of dollars on integration.

So, I pushed through. I decided to build Cazoomi myself. Boy, was that bad timing — or so it seemed.

Service businesses were being hit on all sides, with large-scale projects being canceled left and right,  so I churned through 3-4 Agency deals for NetSuite and Salesforce before finally deciding I had six months of cash runway to start Cazoomi.

Initially, I just wanted to do a couple of projects a month to cover my expenses. But things took off despite the economic crisis.

The Inception (2009): Cazoomi Becomes an Official Business

Cazoomi was founded to empower businesses through seamless integration solutions based on the idea that integration should not be so expensive. The initial website was centered on our proprietary SaaS configurator called the “Automated Engineer,” and the software product was Sync Apps.

What I’m most proud of to this day is the fact that we stayed true to that initial mission. Our integration solutions are still affordable without being crap. And yes, we have human support, too.

But I digress.

We managed to validate the idea early on by securing the first significant NetSuite and Salesforce enterprise clients.

Our key focus at the time was gathering feedback as much as possible. Those early clients told us everything we did right and especially what we were doing wrong or lacking altogether. 

We religiously implemented their feedback, which added new features to SyncApps in a matter of months. We were driven! 

In 2009, we also got our first software partner, Get Satisfaction. Scott and Wendy were the team leads, and they trusted Cazoomi to help their customers integrate their software solutions. 

The big break came swiftly: simply placing their widget on Cazoomi.com led to 10,000+ visits a month, and we had 65+ integration experts answering questions on the support site for our customers.

The Funding & Expansion Era (2010): Cazoomi Takes Off

Smack in the middle of the economic crisis, we managed to scrape enough self-funding from our enterprise projects with SnapLogic, Boomi, and others. Looking back on it, I’m fairly convinced this happened precisely because we were an affordable yet good alternative to all the other iPaaS companies. And everyone was looking for affordable.

We scraped together about $250,000, which allowed us to accelerate our product development and expand our team.

With new team members, we were also able to add new integrations very fast. 

The highlights:

  • NetSuite, Salesforce, and Zoho integrations that run on Shopify eCommerce
  • Snaplogic Partnership: We created the first 12 “Snaps” for the Snaplogic Snap Store, which cemented our skills as Java-based integration experts.

Frankly, I don’t remember that time very well. I was overworked and exhausted most days.

If I look at where we are today, I’d say it was worth it. Then again, that rhythm can break you if you don’t have the right mindset and the right partners. I know I was lucky it didn’t break me.

What I do remember clearly is that, by then, I was 100% certain I had something good — a good idea and a good business. So I gave it my all.

SyncApps® by Cazoomi Is Born (2011) and So Is Our Global Reach

Perhaps this is the actual launch of the company. 

SyncApps® by Cazoomi, the platform, was born in 2011. It’s the same platform we use today — with a lot of enhancements, obviously. 

The launch of the simplified platform helped us gain global traction. We had a growing customer base, serving companies in multiple countries across continents.

The partnerships with Hootsuite (building five or more apps for them to launch their marketplace) and with Pervasive Software helped us bring more revenue in a hybrid model of sorts. We had our own platform, but we also did custom integrations for our partners. My technical founder was in Indonesia, and I was in San Francisco with all projects going through our teams in the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka.  We lived on the “Follow the Sun” model for our business.

It’s very interesting to look at our calendar from 2011. We lived on Gantt charts and Basecamp. Believe it or not, even the graphics were advanced for that time.

Partnerships, Prizes, and the Recognition that Kept Us Going (2012)

Bullet points here because a lot happened in 2012, more than we were expecting:

  • App Marketplace Partnerships: we launched a free tier for Constant Contact customers to meet the needs of small businesses. Kevin Obrien, Dave Berard and Alec Stern, cemented the partnership for Constant Contact, which led to the product-led growth acceleration of SyncApps by Cazoomi. 
  • Drag and Drop for Salesforce: Cazoomi Wins the AppExchange Checkout Developer Challenge to create the world’s first Drag and Drop product for Salesforce. (Still #1 on AppExchange in 2024, how cool is that?)
  • Mailchimp for Salesforce: we expanded to accommodate more enterprise Mailchimp clients using custom Mailchimp API features.
  • Talent Rover: Building upon our success with Drag & Drop from our Indian Teams, we partnered with Brandon Metcalf to develop integrations for the next two years. I learned a lot from Brandon during that time, which would help me years down the road. Six years later, Bullhorn acquired Talent Rover. 

Rapid Growth and My Return to the Philippines (2013-2019)

2013 was an incredible year for us. We grew more than anyone had imagined (including us!), and by 2014, we were on track for new partnerships.

Our early growth was mainly fueled by enterprise clients. As I had suspected, the era of custom integrations for high-paying customers was over, and even enterprise customers wanted to leverage affordable, out-of-the-box integration.

In 2014, more than 55 billion-dollar companies were using SyncApps.

This allowed us to expand the oDesk Teams to more than 300 people working on dozens of SaaS projects.

We were still acting in the “grow or perish” mindset, so grow we did. We never stopped back then.

In 2015, we built new strategic partnerships:

  • Constant Contact for Franchises (CentralSend.com) (acquired by ClearLake Investments in 2021) used the SyncApps technology to help Constant Contact customers like Bloomnet (1-800-Flowers), UPS, Cartridge World, and more use Constant Contact to expand their business through highly-targeted marketing.
  • Handshake.com with NetSuite and Xero (acquired by Shopify 2021) deal structured to lease SyncApps technology to expand Handshake’s eCommerce customer base through deep integrations with each of these solutions.

And a personal note: the Constant Contact buyout by Endurance International led to my coming to the Philippines in November 2015 to improve support for our free plan for Constant Contact.

I’ve been living full-time in the Philippines since then. 

In 2019, we cemented our global presence even further. We have customers in almost all the countries on Earth, but most of them come from the EU, UK, Australia, USA, and Canada.

The Pandemic (2020)

This black swan event forced us to make many changes to the way we worked — and to do them fast.

We had an unprecedented growth. That was somewhat predictable: with everything moving online, companies of all sizes needed to level up their digital sales and marketing game. 

So everyone was busy: the development team got more suggestions for features than ever, the marketing team worked hard to keep the momentum going, and the support team was dealing with dozens of requests every day.

We shuffled, changed, adapted, and worked A LOT.

Still, I honored my promise to my team: no matter what, we’d keep our 4-day work week. And we managed to do that despite 2020 being our busiest year yet.

The Contemporary Era (2021 – Present Day): The Streamlining Phase

Since 2021, things have gotten more predictable. We haven’t experienced a similar growth spike since the pandemic but we haven’t gone looking for it either.

The “grow or perish” days are behind us.

We’ve received a large number of customer onboardings and reviews from Salesforce and NetSuite partners and reached a significant milestone in 2023: a record 5:1 Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) to Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) ratio and a monthly churn rate of 1.44% on the SyncApps platform.

However, none of us are so keen to grow. You might think we lost our “edge,” and we’ve mellowed out.

Perhaps.

I would argue that it’s essential to know when to slow down. These days, most of our team works ±20 hours a week outside of our 24/7 support team, and we operate with a skeleton crew of just five people. AI software has played a significant role in transitioning from a large team to a much smaller one running SyncApps.

If you had told me back in 2011 that it was possible to run a multi-million-dollar business with five people, I would have called you insane. Yet, here we are.

Better yet, things are running more smoothly than they ever did.

2025 and Beyond

I don’t know what the future holds in store for Cazoomi. Maybe another black swan event? Maybe nothing exciting will ever happen again?

My only goal for the future is to never betray our core mission: offering affordable integration without compromising on quality.

Other than that, I’m open to suggestions and challenges.

Got This Far? Congratulations!

If you got this far, you’re going to be happy when I tell you this is the first post in our behind-the-scenes series. It’s an overview of sorts, just to anchor you, our readers, into the history of SyncApps.

We’ll tackle more topics, including how exactly we grew, what tactics we tried (I’ll list both the successful ones and the money pits), and more.

Thank you for reading along! It means the world to me that you’re interested in our history.

I’m sorry if this stream-of-consciousness-style saga has holes here and there. I promise you they’re not intentional. 

If you’re curious about anything in the history of Cazoomi, reach out! I’m an open book and always happy to chat about this business.