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Caren Kelleher loves music. She helped launch Google Play and Google Music, and worked in music app partnerships for the tech giant. At the same time, she was also a band manager and saw what a powerful source of revenue vinyl records could be for musicians—and how difficult it was to get those records pressed and in the hands of fans.
“There was such demand for vinyl and so little capacity in factories around the world. It was really difficult for independent artists, in particular, to get vinyl made,” she recalls.
Caren decided it was time to change that—and Gold Rush Vinyl was born.
Gold Rush Vinyl is a high-quality record-pressing company that works with indie musicians and Grammy winners alike. They’re committed to helping musicians build sustainable incomes by crafting a deluxe product that puts music in the hands of their fans with a bigger cut of the profit heading back to the creators.
Building a business on automation
Caren’s vinyl dreams felt analog, but she knew she’d need to rely on digital technology to bring them to life.
“Finding ways to tie technology into what we’re doing has been hugely important to the company,” she says.
She knew that automation, in particular, would help her scale her business on a budget—but she struggled to find a solution that could fit her team’s way of working.
“I felt so frustrated that I was trying so many different kinds of automation products and just stopping short of moving past the free trial,” she says. “The products weren’t flexible enough for the individual things that we needed to do here at Gold Rush Vinyl.”
Then she find Zapier.
When it worked, it felt like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve just saved myself so much time by creating this. What else can we do with Zapier?”
Caren Kelleher, finder of Gold Rush Vinyl
“The way I describe Zapier to other business owners is that it connects work apps that otherwise don’t like to talk to each other or that might have a difficult time doing so,” she explains. “Zapier allows those apps, through their APIs, to work together and makes all of those software services a lot more powerful as a result.”
But Zapier does more than just connect her work apps, Caren says. It also allows her to reformat critical data so that it’s exactly how her team needs it. “It’s that extra step that a lot of services just don’t go quite the distance on,” she says.
Caren’s team started small, with a single automated workflow (or Zap) that streamlined the process of saving customer quotes to Google Drive. That single Zap saved the Gold Rush team so much time that they immediately looked for other ways to harness the power of automation.
“When it worked, it felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve just saved myself so much time by creating this. What else can we do with Zapier?'” Caren recalls.
From “I wish we could” to “Oh my gosh, we can!”
Without Zapier, I don’t think we would have the ability to scale as quickly as we’ve had to, particularly as vinyl continues to grow.
Like any new business, Gold Rush Vinyl wanted to grow without blowing its budget. And when it comes to scaling sustainably, automation is a necessity—not a nice-to-have.
“Without Zapier, I don’t think we would have the ability to scale as quickly as we’ve had to, particularly as vinyl continues to grow,” Caren says. “It’s allowed us to keep a really lean team and be thoughtful about budget but also have the ambition of becoming a much bigger company than we are.”
Today, Gold Rush Vinyl relies on over 100 Zaps to automate processes from customer communication to team collaboration.
“Especially since we run 24-hour-a-day shifts, it’s important to have so much communication, and Zapier allows us to do that at all hours of the day,” she remarks. “When I look and see how many Zaps we run, it blows my mind because I forget that we have so many things running in the background. Zapier really is kind of a silent member of our team, and it connects so many pieces of our business to make us more effective.”
Caren says that Zapier is a key part of Gold Rush Vinyl’s plans for the future, too, as they plan to double their capacity.
“It’s a scary thing to think about. How are all of our systems going to work?” she says. But she’s confident that Zapier will keep pace with Gold Rush’s growth.
“I’ve seen over the past two years that Zapier can scale with our business, and it enables us to move a lot faster than we could have otherwise. Zapier took us from ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could?’ to ‘Oh my gosh, we can!'”
Putting the naysayers to bed
Beyond just helping her business grow, Zapier has empowered Caren’s team to focus their energy on what really matters, instead of keeping up with small tasks.
“I realized that Zapier was going to help us achieve more when I saw the relief that my team was feeling and the smiles on their faces at how much stress was taken away,” she recalls. “It’s opened up more time for my team to be creative and think about how we continue pushing this company to the forefront of innovation in vinyl.”
And most importantly, it’s turned her side hustle into a success story for the ages.
“People thought I was nuts when I said I was going to leave Silicon Valley to start a vinyl record factory, but owning my own business is just so rewarding. To come into work every day and see what we’re doing, and how it’s come to life, has just brought me so much joy—and also put the naysayers to bed.”
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