Mani Kumar is the co-founder of The Mind Clan. He has been using n8n for both personal and professional purposes, and has been advocating for process automation for companies. In this interview, he shares with us his experience with workflow automation (at scale).
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Mani, and I’m a product management consultant from Mumbai, India. My day job involves me leading strategy at a design studio called Risevertise and product consulting at a management consultancy for social impact ventures called Helm of Eight.
My venture is The Mind Clan, which curates effective tools for mental health care in India. We break through the cookie-cutter approach of the current mental health care system and restore the agency of choice of care to people seeking support through our platform. We also run corporate training, workshops, and policy interventions. We have a few SMEs and MNCs in our clientele. As a tech platform, we rely heavily on many tools, and have recently adopted n8n into many parts of our workflow.
I work as a product management consultant to multiple ventures, projects, and initiatives in India and try to act as their (unofficial) EIR, enabling them to solve challenges and scale.
I’m also into design, website development, and automation. I’ve now started helping my clients across sectors leverage n8n for their automation requirements across the board.
What made you decide that n8n would be the most suitable tool for you?
I hate mundane tasks. If I see myself doing the same task multiple times, I automate as much of it as possible. I’ve automated many things from email auto-responders to image compressors, ever since I recognized how much time (and energy) I could save.
I never had a favorite automation tool before n8n. Zapier/Automate.io and IFTTT were great, but while the former had questionable pricing models, the latter got me worried about data privacy (which as an enterprise you need to take into account). My go-to for any automation work was relying on the APIs of the platform directly using Python and cronjobs. That works beautifully as a local solution but not so much when you are looking to include more stakeholders.
n8n filled out that void entirely. It helped me not only spend less time worrying about the security and scalability of my API endpoints, but also helped me loop in any stakeholders into the process to hand over responsibilities.
What kind of workflows are you building with n8n?
One of my favorite workflows (for the pure simplicity with which it worked), apart from the ones mentioned in my next answer, would be the ability to execute shell commands. I have now automated the mundane process of migrating/backing up WordPress sites (database + wp-content) by using the Execute Command node with the Cron node.
With another project, I am piloting n8n + my experimental python script to see what the additional possibilities here could be. Bonus is to email the admin each week to download their backup. It can optionally send the file to Google Drive too. Sounds too simple to work, right?
Which integrations have you been using the most?
The hardest part about a microservices architecture is trying to find ways to bring data together seamlessly. This is why I’ve been relying on webhooks, cronjobs, if/then logic, shell script commands, and so many other integrations. I’ve also relied on the Redis, Airtable, and Google Drive integration for a few tasks.
What’s the most useful feature of n8n for you?
The option to seamlessly install n8n using a single line of npm, or Docker. Though I must admit, authentication took me a while to figure out.
Have you automated things with n8n for personal use as well?
Yes! The biggest of them has to be email alerts for my personal expenses tracker. It tracks a Google Sheet with a dump of all my expenses, and shoots me an email each time a subscription is due. I’m also going to expand it soon to include more nodes and eventually replace my local Python script.
What advice do you have for people looking to incorporate n8n in their teams or projects?
Though authentication for n8n itself may be tricky to figure out at first, don’t let it stop you from integrating n8n into at least a small part of your daily life. If this is your first time with the tool, it may have a slight learning curve especially with the platform’s nomenclature and workflow triggers but it’s nothing that you can’t overcome.
Refer to their workflows page to get a clearer idea of how their integrations work. Start small. Eventually, they’ll win you over. Their team members and community are also very kind and responsive if you’re facing any hiccups.
How do you envision using n8n in the near future?
I firmly believe that n8n as a hosted option (competing directly with the big players in the market) and a desktop/mobile installable app would be a HUGE sell for anyone who’s getting into the automation ecosystem without a tech background.
I see everyone from marketing executives at MNCs automating their entire campaign workflows to project coordinators at NGOs and even governments being able to integrate n8n into their daily workflows. I also see many financial and legal compliance teams being able to leverage n8n as well.
What’s a feature that you are looking forward to or would love to see in n8n?
Apart from more interactive documentation (not a feature, I know), I think the only thing n8n is missing right now is integration with all top social media platforms. The team did tell me it’s on its way though, so I’m very excited to see this come in soon. One of my favorite uses of Zapier was to automate my social media calendar through a single Excel sheet. Cannot wait to port that into n8n.
n8n users come from a wide range of backgrounds, experience levels, and interests. We have been looking to highlight different users and their projects in our blog posts. If you’re working with n8n and would like to inspire the community, email me at [email protected] to tell your story 💌