Build Your Own Personal Robot Army: Part 1

I never set out to build a robot army. But today, there are at least a dozen little robots who do my bidding on a daily basis. Between managing my personal life and running my Micro-SaaS Business (Storemapper), my robot army does drudgery while I sleep and makes my life a little easier and more productive. Here’s how you can build one yourself. In Part 1 I’m just going to look at the robots that required no coding to set up, later I’ll do a post about all the little custom scripts I’ve got running on Heroku Scheduler.

If This Then That (IFTTT)

IFTTT is a great tool for automating interactions between various apps. I use it to automatically re-post my Instagram photos to Twitter. I know Instagram has a native “share to Twitter” option but it sucks. It doesn’t include the actual image (just a link back to Instagram). This IFTTT recipe will automatically copy your Instagram photos, re-post the native image to Twitter and include a link back to convert some of your Twitter following to Instagram. This little photo robot is the only reason I actually started using Instagram back in the day when I otherwise couldn’t be bothered to post photos to multiple social feeds.

A much more powerful use IFTTT is to use the RSS feed trigger to automatically date mine Craigslist. This is how I’ve found all my apartments and it saves a mountain of time. First you set up your exact search. Then add “&format=rss” to the end of the URL. This converts the search into an RSS feed. Use that RSS feed as a trigger in IFTTT and set it up to email you whenever a new item is in the feed. This way you will automatically get an email notification whenever a new posting matches your search. You can create a response template and respond to tons of postings in a few minutes per day. Works like a charm.

Zapier

Zapier is a lot like IFTTT but its robots are a little more focused on business-y things. ZapBots help me automate all kinds of little tasks like copying new customers from Stripe (our payment processor) to Mailchimp. I often use Zapier to test out new features that I later write code for and to sync data between various apps that I use to run my business.

Zapier can be an incredibly powerful tool when you are just starting a new business. You can build an entire first version of a service, including collecting payments, by string together a few of the 500+ apps Zapier supports. I’m currently helping a friend setup a no-coding-required online side business and will be posting the case study for that in the near future.

FileThis

FileThis is a simple useful app that can automatically log in to your bank accounts (an mobile phone and utilities, etc) and download your statements. I use it to download my business bank statements to Dropbox. Then I have Zapier automatically forward new statements to my bookkeeper at Bench. This essentially fully automates bookkeeping for my business. I tried messing around with Quickbooks and alternatives but I just hate the actual act of bookkeeping so much that I never could get good at it. Now I just get an email once a month telling me my books are done and to please review them. Magic!

Stunning

Speaking of handy business robots. Stunning is an app that automates dunning which is a fancy word for following up on failed payments. Our customers credit cards are constantly failing for various reasons (expired cards, fraud events, etc) and Stunning sends automated emails and in-app reminders to our customers until they update their card on file. Saves me hours a month.

Amy, my meeting scheduler

Amy is a great little robot that I just added to the team. Amy, from X.ai, is an AI email robot that schedules meetings. Just CC amy@x.ai on an email and she will follow up, negotiate a meeting time/location and put it on your calendar. Works like magic.

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  • SolarConstant

    So that’s where you went. Not that it is out of character for you to be so fleet of foot and flight, but good to know where you landed for now.

  • TedHesser

    Sweet, living the dream Tyler, good on ya. Hey, a close friend of mine lives down there now as well. He’s here in New York for the next few weeks, but I’ll ask him to get in touch with ya. Ryan Willemsen is his name, and he’s super rad. A great climber, a former hedge fund guy, but not at all type-cast. Very warm-hearted person, who wants to work in clean energy, but was tied into the hedge fund mafia (Julian Robertson’s tiger cubs). best,