API first startups

2014-09-01 2 min read

    When building a SAAS product geared towards developers the quickest way to start is to build an API. One can even make the argument that the MVP should just be the API documentation. This benefits both sides. Potential users of the API will know exactly what to expect and have a clear understanding of the functionality and limitations and you can quickly see if there are any issues or inconsistencies in what you’re building. Some non-fiction authors will share a table of contents with potential readers in order to get feedback and this extends that idea to companies and their products. Especially when your primary users are developers this is a simple way to share your idea and approach without resorting to buzzwords or even relying on a beautiful site design.

    The best example of this approach is Stripe. At launch, they had a beautiful API that you were able to use without creating an account. After seeing how it well it worked it was an easy decision to register for a full account. Tons of companies adopt an API-first approach for their internal systems and it’s not a lot of work to extend this to the external world. There’s definitely a risk in doing it since you’re exposing more of your internals but if you claim to be developer friendly it’s the best way to actually prove it.