I have been using Podio for the better part of 3 years now. Not only have I setup Apps and Globiflow automations to help my real estate business, I've even developed a full blown lead management tool using the Podio API called REIFLOW. It has been a great learning experience getting to know everything Podio has to offer.
The Crazy part is that there are still features of Podio that I have yet to touch. That just shows you how powerful Podio is. The best way I think I can relate my experiences with Podio will be to take you through my journey from the first app I ever created to my Podio CRM I built using the Podio API.
Before I get started with all the glorious details, I want to be as transparent as I can be and give you some context about myself and any advantage I may have had with the Podio Learning curve...because there is a big one!
I have 15 years experience as a software developer as part of my 9 to 5 job. This gives me a very big technical leg up when it comes to climbing the learning curve of software. Sure I've never used anything quite like Podio before but it was much like the database driven applications that I've developed.
You might now be thinking that my experience isn't going to be like your's, but...along with 15 years of developing applications, I have 15 years of working with users of my applications. So I'm pretty good at putting myself in the shoes of all kinds of users.
My First Taste of Podio
The reason why I first took a look at Podio was because I wanted to review all the current Lead Management systems out there. Excel was the first one and Podio was second. I had a list of about 10 different systems I wanted to get at, but as you can tell Podio stole my attention exclusively.
I'll admit that after creating my Podio account and logging in, I was a bit overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start! You know that uneasy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, yup I get that too when I don't know what to do next.
To read all about my first impressions of Podio back in 2015 take a look at this post... My First Look at Podio. You'll get all the details and my true impressions.
After experimenting, looking around and just messing around I figured out how to create some custom apps. Then I figured out that Reference Fields allow you to link related items from different apps and I was off and running.
At this point I was liking what I was seeing, but I wasn't quite hooked yet though, that is until I found out about Globiflow.
Yes, Yes I Do Want to Automate
After throwing together a few apps, it did not take me long to find out about Globiflow. It is this awesome tool that takes Podio to an entirely new level by allowing you to automate many many aspects of lead management. Think "If this happens...Then do this" type of process. I was hooked now!
The combination of Podio and Globiflow was incredible! And the best part was (in 2015) was that Globiflow was only $9/mo for the basic plan.
Now if you thought Podio had a steep learning curve, Globiflow was like looking up at the Empire State Building. This is where my 15 years of software development experience helped me out.
Have a look at the article I wrote back in May 2015 about my experience integrating Globiflow into my Podio setup. I even added in the use of Zapier. Creating Apps and Automating with GlobiFlow and Zapier
Podio and Globiflow have Merged!...uh oh
All good things must come to an end, or at least get more expensive. In the beginning of 2016, this came true for Globiflow. Podio entered into an agreement with Globiflow to become it's exclusive reseller. With this agreement, Podio announced that it was bundling Globiflow with it's Premium package with 5+ users only!
At first they allowed existing Globiflow users to be grandfathered into their old pricing model. So I was still only paying $9/mo. However this SUCKED for anyone just getting into Podio. They would have to pay a minimum of $127/mo. Take a look at this article I wrote about the Globiflow/Podio "merger" back then.
Hey You Paying only $9 a month...Yes You!
About 6 short months later, Podio officially bought Globiflow and gave all grandfathered GF users 1 month to move over to the current Podio Premium packages or lose the use of Globiflow. The only silver lining was they removed the 5+ users restriction and you could get GF for a mere $27/mo. So Triple what I was currently paying.
I begrudgingly upgraded my account.
Globiflow is just that powerful and important when it came to using Podio. It is honestly where all the "Magic" happens. Even at $27 a month it is well worth it.
The Podio API
Around the end of 2015, just about the time all that Globiflow/Podio crap was going on I discovered that Podio had an API and Webhooks. If you knew how to leverage these tools you could build in what ever features you wanted.
What that basically means is that they gave 3rd parties (you, me or any app) the ability to be notified of App Item Updates, New App Items being created or even deleted by way of Webhooks. Then you can write some code using the API to do something automatically in Podio. Such things as update a field value, send out an email, create other items and so on and so forth. Globiflow works exactly this way.
The only downside of the API is that I needed to learn how to program in PHP (or ruby on rails). My experience is in C# and VB.net, but I've always wanted to learn PHP so I jumped right in.
I won't go into the details but for the next 2 years I developed REIFLOW. Here is a quick demo of the system.
There are many more features as well in REIFLOW, but this is not an advertisement for my app so I'll stop here. I just wanted to demonstrate my knowledge of Podio and my experience with it.
This brings us to right now. It has been a fun process learning Podio and I wanted to share that with you. I know a lot of people have been helped by my video tutorials and that makes me extremely happy.
Now for those still using Podio and for those looking to start using Podio here is my list of Pros and Cons for Podio...
My Podio Likes and Dislikes
You can create an App to collect any type of data you want. Being able to create multiple apps and relate them together is incredibly useful as well.
Ease of Use
Once you have an understanding of how Podio works, setting up the Apps and fields is extremely simple. I can create one in less then 5 minutes.
Automation (through Globiflow)
Being able to run processes automatically when certain actions (i.e. new lead gets created) occur is a game changer. I've setup multiple processes that literally have saved me 100's of hours of labor.
Connecting with 3rd Party Apps
Being able to use Zapier to auto pull in leads from my Investor Carrot Website is incredible. Then being able to match up leads to my buyers list using Globiflow..THEN auto sending out an email to those buyers just gives me goosebumps!
Google Maps (Map/Location Field)
I Love Love Love the Map field where it will automatically show you a google map location of the property.
Sharing App Items with non Workspace users
I use this feature all the time to share a lead with one of my buyers or referral wholesalers. They can see and interact with the Lead. We can even talk about the lead in the comments section. Great team work tool
I thought Podio was powerful before I even knew about the API, after developing REIFLOW and using it I can LITERALLY do anything I want with Podio. I've hooked up things like Twilio, Investor Carrot, Postmarks, LOB, Zillow and so much more.
There are so many Podio users that it's easy to find help if you really get stuck. Plenty of great people in Facebook groups that will give you advice and help solve problems.
Make Changes on the Fly
The ability to add Fields and Apps as you need them is very underrated. Need another field for contact information? Add it! Want to start keeping track of your growing Buyers list? Just add a new App and get to it.
Flexibility goes two ways, it's great once you get going but it is intimidating as hell in the beginning. Since Podio is not a done for you service, it takes a few months of constant effort to really hit your stride.
No Way to Divide an App's Fields into Sections
A Header (or Label) Field would be AWESOME! Sometimes an App calls for collecting lots of information. What this leaves you with is one looooooong list of fields. Go ahead and try to find a specific field in a list of 50...needle in a haystack. There is no real way to separate fields into sections. I did create a couple work arounds that are great but I shouldn't have to do that. Making Headings
Slow Downs and Down Time
Over the past year I've had many times where Calculation fields did not get recalculated for up to 10 minutes or Webhooks not firing for 30 minutes or more. This causes my Globiflow Flows to not get triggered right away. Also as I'm writing this post Podio has been down for over 24 hours because of server load issues. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!
Needing Premium Account to get Globiflow
This is more to the fact that I was able to have Globiflow for $9/mo before Podio bought out Glofiblow. If I never knew about that I probably wouldn't have a problem with the current price. BUT....I now have to pay 3 times as much and I don't get any increased service. Not good customer care if you ask me!
No Button Field
I would love for Podio to have a Button field so I can just trigger the execution of a Flow. Sure you can re-purpose the Category Field to do this, it's just not the same.
My Final Thoughts
I'm beginning to develop a Love/Hate relationship with Podio. I LOVE all the things you can do with it, and how easy it is to bend it to your needs. Whether it is through an App, Globiflow or using the API, Podio seemingly can do everything I want it to do.
What has been really frustrating me this year is how many slowdowns and disruptions of service that seems to occur. Most of the issues revolve around Webhooks and Calculation fields. Podio seems to deem these features as secondary features and will throttle their execution at any sign of server slow down.
My systems all highly depend on Calculation fields and Webhooks firing in a timely manner. Globiflow is built off of this and so is my REIFLOW. I've had times where Calculation fields didn't update for 30 minutes and Webhooks didn't fire at all!
In 2017 Podio seemed more interested in building revenue streams then building and maintaining their systems. I hear that in 2018 they are going to make it a priority to improve the speed, reliability and uptime of Podio...That would be great, but we shall see if they can pull it off.
This past year, and in particular the past 4 months have been extremely frustrating. The outage that went on the last 24 or so hours was because they were attempting to solve the slowdown issues, so hopefully it works. I really want to believe and trust that Podio will figure out their issues.
The platform is just so good and the possibilities are even better (if they continue to improve) that I can't see myself using any other system. So for me I'm happy to continue to use Podio.
Do I Still Recommend Podio for You?
This is not a straight forward answer. There are so many features and it is such a great tool when setup correctly for your business model that I really want to say everyone should use it...but...I can not.
If you are someone who likes to tinker, someone who enjoys creating and has some technical background then i HIGHLY RECOMMEND Podio to you. You will be able to overcome the learning curve and will love creating processes and systems that exactly match your business. Heck, you'll probably end up spending more time then you thought adding new feature after new feature and really enjoy it...like me 🙂
For those not technically inclined and have no interest in learning I can't recommend Podio to you. You will have a hard time grasping how to build out your system and design it in such a way that it will be useful. You would benefit from a Done-For-You software that is ready to go as soon as you sign up.
Are there any Alternatives?
The good news is there are options out there, even if you are a non-techie and still want to use Podio. I don't have any experience with any of these just yet, but wanted to give some place to at least look into.
Pay a Podio Developer
There are plenty of people out there who can help you setup a customized Podio system (w/globiflow). The upfront cost might be high but your month to month cost could be as little as $27/mo just for Podio/GF. Many other systems can go up to $200/mo. Plus you'll get exactly what you need.
Sign up for Pre-Built Podio System
There are services such as Investor Fuse and REI Automation Squad (Beast Mode Podio CRM) that are Full Blown Podio systems for Investors. I have not used either so I'll refrain from giving my opinion.
Non Podio Systems
There are probably a TON out there, but the one that has stayed on my radar has been REIMobile. It's a Done-For-You system that is easy to use.
Are there any Alternatives?
Now that you know my thoughts and experiences with Podio, tell me what you like and dislike in the comments below. Also if there is anything you can't figure out with Podio please let me know and I'll try and help.
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Great overview Scott! Thanks for sharing your opinions. I was not aware of the server throttling, hope that changes in 2018.
I’m still climbing the learning curve and loving it so far. The feeling of firing off an API call that successfully fetches fresh data is the best.
Keep up the great work
Thanks Robert! The throttling is one thing I’m going to be keeping my eye on for sure. Seeing a Google Maps streetview image of the property pop up in a calc field and data from Zillow coming in is really a cool feeling.
Just wanted to add a “dislike” that a reader (Reid) reminded me of…Emailing from the system. There is no great way to send and receive emails from Podio. GlobiMail is limited and according to Reid, not very good.
I’ve experimented with Postmarks with some success. Though you need to know how to communicate with Podio with the API. Perhaps Zillow can be used as a middle man, but I’m not sure.
I am a free Podio subscriber and used the API/web hooks heavily for automating sending texts, making phone calls, generating merged contracts, etc. However, I have had similar experiences as you. In addition, with the free subscription, I was limited to 500 webhooks per day (Don’t recall if that’s the actual number).
I feel that it is only a matter of time before I am pushed into being a subscriber (and I don’t like to pay if I don’t have to :-))
So I ditched Podio and built my own MS Access DB.
– COMPLETE CONTROL!
Some features I can do from within the DB
– Make calls
– Send pre-formatted or custom text
– Send pre-formatted or custom email
– Drop Voice Mails
– Merge batch mail
– Merge single letter
– Merge contracts, other documents
– Seller scripts, pre-formatted FB posts
– Update County info, taxes, check for liens, ownership changes, etc. with a click
– Quick searches – by name, phone, email, etc
– Open GoogleMap, Zillow
– Attach docs, pics, etc to a record
– Add tasks/reminders
– Track activities
– plus more
– Not cloud base (but can be. Maybe I will try that next)
– Requires programming knowledge
I can now do all I want/need without worrying that Podio will change in the future.
Thanks for the great comments. I love the idea of a completely custom solution developed on a platform you have full control over. I built a desktop app like that in the past, but with my business model I needed a cloud based system first and foremost. What I liked about Podio was that I didn’t need to spend countless hours building the core of the system (interface, middle tier and database), i just had to “add on”.
After years with Podio though I can see your point about not being beholden to Podio and hope it stays up all the time and what if they change something. At this point I’m willing to deal with all that because it allows me to not have to maintain my data. Just being able to add a new field in seconds and a new app in minutes is worth the downsides.
To each there own though and your system sounds great!
Just wanted to add my two-penneth to the posts:
We’ve been using Podio since late 2015, initially it was a great platform with the original team at Podio willing to help resolve issues quickly, or at least send our idea’s to the dev team for consideration. Since Podio has been taken over by Citrix however, we’ve found the support lacking, sometimes taking days (& in some cases weeks) to get a response to resolve issues (causing downtime).
My daughter is the tech “guy”, and has built what she refers to as her “Lead Robot” machine within Podio, it’s very easy to use and brings us in more leads than we can handle . . . but now more updates and changes are on the horizon, and we’re wondering if she’s going to be spending more time resolving problems than working on our Real Estate business.
We’ve also had issues with Globiflow and other add-ons/plug-in’s in the past, and generally it’s because Podio have updated something or other, or their server backup has gone down and caused issues somewhere. Back in 2015, the team refunded us on several occasions for down time, and helped us get back online when we crashed our own system, but after a recent situation, their support team (albeit apologetically) refused to make any consideration for a similar incident caused by them. We don’t consider their response to be supportive.
We too are now looking to build our own system using Filemaker Pro, and are considering using Active Campaign as our template.
For us, and mainly because of politics, Podio has a limited lifespan – it most certainly got us started and to where we are today and for that I’d recommend it to new investors as a way to get started, but we need much better reliability and support – and we don’t feel that has been something we’ve had for almost 2 years with Podio.
Building our own system will provide us with a higher level of control and the ability to build in almost anything we need.
Thanks for sharing your opinion! It’s valuable for anyone who is thinking about using Podio or someone who has already committed. I have heard many reports about their support just being terrible since Citrix took over. Hopefully that improves as this year goes on as well as their reliability and performance. They have said on numerous occasions that that was their main focus for 2018. We are at about the half way point in the year now, so I’m expecting things to start improving. I sincerely hope it does.
I agree Scott, in the meantime (until we get the Filemaker Pro system up and running) we’re still using Podio effectively, and it’s serving a purpose as it has for the past 3 years (I seem to recall we started our journey about the same time you started yours Scott).
Happy investing and keep up the great work with the website and blog.
Thank you Scott. I am just getting started as an investor and heard about Podio on BiggerPockets. Hearing your perspective as an experienced Podio user is a great help. I am a little intimidated by the learning curve but suspect a tool like Podio is the right move to really develop my business. I sure hope Citrix does their part.
Give it a try and see if you take to it. Podio isn’t the answer for everyone, but it has been for many people. I love it if you can’t tell 🙂
Hi there Scott,
Thanks for your sharing your journey. I have been doing due diligence on the software and technology that is available for newbies like me who are starting in the Real Estate industry but would like to take advantage of the technology and software available.
There are dozens of CRMs out there but I’m leaning towards “Podio for Real Estate”. And after searching Google, I ran across your article. I was intrigued by your API discovery and specifically how you are using it to pull in data. I’m particularly interested in pulling in Zillow/Trulia such as FSBO, etc.
I thought REI Flow was affiliated with REI Pro so I initially had some confusion. But when I go to the REI Flow website, there is no pricing info.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough interest in REI Flow to make it worth continuing. Thank you for your interest however!
Thanks, great info