Building an API Company - A Series

Bridge Sketch

In this article series, I’m going to show you how to build an API company from the ground up, step-by-step.

I’ll be covering the entire process (in depth), so if you’re a programmer who’s always wanted to build their own company, now is your chance to stop thinking about it and start doing it! No more excuses!

Intended Audience

I really love web APIs. Unfortunately, due to the complexities involved in making web technologies, this article series isn’t for everyone.

To get the most out of this series, you’ll need to:

  • Be a programmer.
  • Be familiar with web technologies (primarily server-side stuff).
  • Want to build your own web company.
  • Be willing to follow along with the series and do a lot of work (no excuses).

Most importantly, this series is meant for people who want to do something awesome. If you’re looking for a new way to challenge yourself, expand your skill sets, and have fun along the way – you’ll enjoy the shit out of this program, and I promise you’ll be successful.


I’m writing this series for a few reasons. First off, I’ve built several API companies from the ground up. The information in this series is the sort of thing I wish I had back when I got started. It’s not marketing fluff, and it’s not purely technical talk: it’s a practical guide to building your own API company as a programmer, with little to no outside help.

Through my experience building web API companies, I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve done some things right, and some things wrong. I’ve also made a ton of mistakes along the way. By walking you through each step along the way, and explaining the reasoning behind decisions, you’ll see the good and the bad. This way you can learn from my successes and failures, and avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

The main goal for this series is to help you build a successful API company. By the end of this series you should have:

  • A solid understanding of what you need to do to build a successful API company.
  • A launched product.
  • Your first hundred or so users.
  • Ramen profitability.
  • Motivation to keep moving forward.

No matter what anyone tells you, building a company is hard work. If you want to be successful, you need help, motivation, and support. No matter what stage you’re at, I’m here to help you 100%. If you need advice, have questions, or just want someone to talk to, feel free to shoot me an email anytime, so I can help out.

Why API Companies Are Awesome

Why should you build an API company in the first place, anyhow? Why not make a social network? Why not make an e-commerce site? Why not do consulting?

You’re a Coder

One of the main reasons YOU should be building an API company is that you are a programmer! All businesses exist to serve customers – that means that if your company sells medical supplies, you should probably be very familiar with the medical businesses: you should know doctors, know how they work, know what they need, know what problems they have, know how much money they have to spend, etc.

One of the most important rules of business is to know your customer. If your customers enjoy and love your product, then they’ll be happy to keep giving you their business. It’s a win-win situation.

… Which leads me to my next point …

Since you are a programmer, and APIs are meant to be consumed by other programmers, then it leads to reason that by building an API company, you are building a product for people like yourself – which means you already know your customer.

This is a huge advantage to you because you already know and understand what your customers want, what they like, what they don’t like, and how to win them over.

This is especially important for us, as we’re going to be building this company ourselves (without outside help) – so every little advantage helps! By skipping the whole customer validation process, you’ll save lots of time and energy – and you’ll be able to make progress a lot quicker than you could otherwise.

You can Automate

Another reason API companies can be great is that you don’t need a big team. You don’t need a ton of employees, you don’t need a lot of marketers, you really only need yourself.

How is this possible? Automation.

There are lots of businesses where automation just won’t work: selling cars, selling refrigerators, doing laundry, etc. With an API company, you can automate almost 100% of your business, freeing up your time to work on other things.

This means that after you’ve built your initial product, you can automate time consuming tasks like:

  • Scaling your web service to support customer demand.
  • Billing.
  • Marketing (more on this later).
  • Handling discounts.
  • Recovery from problems (databases dying, servers disappearing).
  • Taxes.

This means that it’s possible to build, run, and grow your API company on your free time, while still being able to keep up with other commitments: work, family, friends, etc.

Despite what you may hear, you can build a successful web company without killing yourself by being smart and ruthlessly automating everything.

You’re Saving Time

Another (more motivational) reason to build an API company is that you’re doing something awesome: your core product is making people’s lives dramatically simpler.

Most APIs are great because they take something complicated (making phone calls, for instance), and transform it into into something elegant and simple (e.g. Twilio). This is amazing because you’re essentially abstracting away the ugly pieces of technology necessary to make something awesome happen, and condensing it down into a simplified form that people can make better use of.

Not only will building a simple API help your customers do complicated things that were hard (or impossible) before – but these are fun problems to solve! You get to build something that will save you (and many other people like you) a lot of collective time – you’re making the world a bit more efficient!

In the case of Twilio, before they came around how many developers were spending their time slaving away writing Asterisk and Freeswitch code? How much collective time was spent writing the same dull routines over and over again? By automating tasks like these, you’re saving people from a world of boredom and repetition.

What’s not to love about that?

You In?

So, what do you think? Want to build an API company, improve your skill set, and have some fun?

Over the next few months I’ll be publishing the next articles in the series – each piece will give you a lot to think about and work on, so you’ll have homework.

As we go along, try to get involved! Write about your experiences, get your friends to build their own API company as well, and talk to as many people as you can. I can tell you from experience that one of the most effective ways to get shit done is to stay motivated – so do whatever you need to do to keep yourself involved!

Lastly, if you’d like to get in touch with me, or would like to get announcements of when new articles in the series are added, you can keep up with me via:

Let’s do this!