How We Work - Filestack

Julie McCollough

Interview with Bethany Stachenfeld, Marketing Manager at Filestack

Originally on the scene as Filepicker, Filestack has matured from a simple file picker widget into the #1 API for file uploads, image transformations and content delivery.

For web developers this means saying sayonara to the old days of uploading files by downloading others, failed files, lack of integrations and lack of cloud support. And let’s not forget all the time wasted on simply “timing out.” 

What makes Filestack even more remarkable is that they haven’t just redefined the meaning of powerful file uploading, but they’ve done so in a way that blazes the path for simple bulk-transformation for images and videos, while delivering responsive content - all at lightning speed. In other words, Filestack is the Superman of file uploading - and they’re just getting started!

Filestack’s Marketing Manager, Bethany Stachenfeld gave us the sneak peak into what their superhero team is building next, how they’re taking on web domination one integration at a time and why becoming synonymous with “file uploading” is a lofty goal that Filestack is sure to hit sooner than later.

Q - How did you get involved in this industry?

Bethany - I have a behavioral economics background, so I’m a huge UX geek. It kills me when things aren’t intuitive or efficient. And as any web user knows, file uploaders across the web are rarely intuitive and efficient. To upload a file, you often have to first download a file from somewhere else, and then the upload often times out, or gets rejected because the file is too large or the wrong format, or the file upload lords just aren’t feeling it at the moment.

Filestack just makes file uploading easy. Any developer can implement a file uploader through our JavaScript library or SDKs that has an awesome UI and connects the user directly to cloud sources (Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive, etc.).  And the infrastructure works really well so you never have to worry about files failing for any reason (we have a 0.01% failure rate).

Of course, since I’ve been at Filestack, we’ve expanded past our initial file picker widget into end-to-end content management (with an image processing engine and a CDN integration), but it is still the easiness of how Filestack “just works” for all kinds of applications that I love.

Q - When you start a new project, what process do you follow?

Bethany - It definitely depends on the project. I spend a lot of time working on our website - creating new content and optimizing what we have, and I work very closely with our designer and web developer. Usually, once we’ve dug into our data and figured out what our goals are, our designer and I will sketch out a wireframe with some rough content, and send it around for feedback. We then finalize the content and design, and send it out to our developer to code. She’ll show us the staging version, and we’ll get more feedback, and keep iterating until it’s ready to deploy. CloudApp is a huge component of our feedback process, as we’re always taking screenshots of portions of the design or page to fix. We are also heavy Slack users, so we love CloudApp's Slack integration.

Recently, we have been working on a new page to show how Filestack customers in different verticals (Educational technology, printing, eCommerce, etc.) use us. We finished the content and design earlier this week and today, our developer sent around the page on our staging site.

We use a UX channel in Slack to give feedback and test suggestions, all using CloudApp screenshots. For example:

Q - How much is your work focused on user experience and content?

Bethany - As a marketer, my work is HUGELY focused on user experience and content. I spend a lot of time on developing website content and optimization based on how our customers are engaging with the site. CloudApp is a huge asset here for collaborating with my designer and developer.

Q - Where do you look for inspiration in your day-to-day work?

Bethany - I love helping our users create cool products. I’m so proud of what our customers (like CloudApp!) build with us. We have companies like American Greetings that use us to share cards to brighten people’s days, TED to share thoughts and knowledge from research and life experience, Slideshare and other ed-tech companies that share information, and of course, CloudApp, to improve productivity and collaboration. I love interviewing our customers and learning how they implement Filestack, and how Filestack makes it easier for them to create awesome platforms for the world.

Q- What does the future of product look like?

Bethany - When Filestack started out, we were originally just a file picker widget, that connected users to upload directly from 20+ social sources, like Facebook, Instagram, and Google Drive and store directly to Amazon Web Services or other. Since then, we have built an image processing engine and integrated CDN, as well as super fast, powerful uploading through our own Content Ingestion Network (CIN). We are currently in the process of releasing SDKs for popular languages (Ruby, PHP, Python, iOS, Android, and React), to make it even easier for developers to get started using us.

Filestack's team at work

Q - What are the workflows at Filestack where you see teams using CloudApp?

Bethany - Marketing/Design uses CloudApp to share feedback on website designs and our staging site.

Q - What's the tech used at Filestack?

Bethany - Github for our own dev work and for sharing code with our customers.

Sketch for design.

Zendesk for support. for emails (who also uses Filestack to upload images to emails).

Slack for communication (we LOVE CloudApp's Slack integration!!).

Google Drive, Zoom, Stripe… We have lots of tools.

Q - What are the top 5 songs in your Spotify/music queue right now?

Bethany - I’ve been on a Glass Animals kick lately, so I have Gooey, Youth, Poplar St, Life Itself, and Season 2 Episode 3.

Q - What’s your favorite book? And your favorite film?

Bethany - It’s hard to pick an “all time” favorite, but I just reread Jonathan Livingston Seagull last weekend, which is a great one.

Q - What hangs on your living room wall right now?

Bethany - I have some photo collages with pictures of my friends and family from home in NJ and at college at WashU.

Q - Links to a favorite project you’ve worked on that most people may not know about?

Bethany - Filestack just released a Content Ingestion Network (CIN), which is our reverse CDN for uploading files. We built a globally distributed network of Filestack Ingestion points-of-presence (POPs) to be able to upload files nearly instantaneously anywhere in the world. So far, our tests have showed that we are able to increase our users’ upload speed up to 10x. This is a huge advancement for the world of file uploading, and accessible to anyone through our infrastructure.

Also, for anyone new to Filestack, we’ve been amping up the tutorials section of our blog, and have a lot of awesome content on how to build apps with Filestack - like how to create photo collages in React, how to use PyTorch for realtime machine learning, how to create your own YouTube App with React, and more.

Q - As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Have you fulfilled your hopes?

Bethany - Wow, getting personal here. As a child, I always wanted to eat tons of candy all the time. And right now, as I’m writing this out, I’m chewing on a delicious Japanese kiwi gummy, so I would have to say yes….

Okay, for real. I grew up watching my dad start his own law firm and grow it into a successful, well established company, and my mom travel all over the world doing international marketing. I always knew that I wanted to build a company from the ground up and grow it into something important. I feel like Filestack is on the right track. We’re a huge asset to the development community, we have a global base of 50,000 developers, and we’re constantly developing and improving our products and launching new ones. But we’re not there yet. We still have a lot of work to do before we’re completely synonymous with “file uploading,” and a fundamental component of every web app. I know we’ll get there eventually, but until then, we have to keep improving!

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