One integration isn’t enough
Avenue’s Zendesk integration was ‘good enough’, but wouldn’t scale.
It came from an inbound request. This meant Jeff Barg, Avenue’s co-founder, and his team did what they do best: they built the integration without much thought to close the deal.
“We took the path of least resistance, which was just to dive into the API docs,” Jeff says.
What they found were unexpected difficulties. Minor issues, like types being incorrect in documentation, built up and meant that the integration build took longer than it should have. That ultimately distracted from Avenue’s core roadmap.
“We definitely didn't want to do that again if we got another request.”
Why? Avenue is an observability platform for operations teams. Founded by Jeff and his high school best friend Justin Bleuel, the Uber and Amazon alums' goal is to bring observability infrastructure enjoyed by larger enterprises to small and medium businesses.
Avenue’s customers, who range in profile from AngelList Ventures to Rappi, can set up alerts for business conditions that they want to monitor. Avenue then sends those alerts to Slack, SMS, and (now!) project management destinations.
Interconnectivity is key to the platform’s value prop: ops teams form the “backbone” of most organizations. Being able to meet their users in the many places that they’re at is important.
Even though their Zendesk integration came out ‘good enough,’ future project management integrations were in a nebulous space. They had clear value, but were painful for a team with limited resources.
“The idea was like hey, let’s figure out a more sustainable way to do this for our company, where it's not a core competency for us to have all these integrations. But it's still something that people ask for.”
“Merge lets us build a new integration in 1-2 days instead of 2 weeks”
With Merge, Avenue has been able to launch Project Management integrations with Asana, Linear, Trello, and more by connecting to a single API. More importantly, they’re able to confidently prove their value and sell to more companies.
“We’re able to field a lot more inbound requests, by just being able to support them through Merge,” says Jeff.
Merge can support Avenue’s use case because it supports bi-directional data for each of its project management platforms:
“When the monitor creates a signal or an alert, it will create a ticket in the ticketing system, and all of the comments and status get updated bidirectionally between that ticket and the Avenue alert.”
Moreover, Merge’s support for real-time data with Webhooks along with regular data syncs provide a one-two punch for reliable data.
This is a 10x improvement over their in-house build. Previously, “Zendesk didn’t always reliably send those webhooks. We've had instances [where] someone will comment something, we're expecting a webhook, and we don't get that webhook.” When dealing with customers, that unreliability can be a major issue.
Merge solves this by providing a steady source of truth with regular data syncs, and adds in webhooks on top. “You get the… best of both worlds: you get the instant update with a webhook, and if the webhook like from the end destination fails, you’ll still get the data [with periodic syncs].”
Overall, Avenue was able to go to market with dozens of major integrations in days, not weeks.
"100% of our prospects ask if we have integrations. Thanks to Merge, we can say we do."
With Merge, Avenue has been able to find an integration partner that will scale with them.
Knowing they’ll have access to reliable documentation and data with project management platforms is a relief as Avenue continues to build and sell to more customers. “It’s just helpful to get everything in a package, as a single integration.”
Even while the market downturn has made companies rethink the software they purchase, Jeff is confident in his decision to partner with Merge for their integrations strategy.
“Engineering time is still really expensive. I don't think that has changed in the down market. We thought about it as ‘how long would it take us to build all these in-house versus partnering with Merge?’... This is an important part of our roadmap and customer acquisition strategy, so we should figure out the most cost-effective way to do it.”
Just as Avenue’s goal is to be the backbone of its operations team, Merge is now the trusted partner for their integrations team.