Jeremy Glassenberg, Product Consultant and former Platform Manager at Box, shares how to launch a successful API, including his best advice for growing a developer ecosystem and integrating with app marketplaces.
Jeremy has spent 9 years as a product manager focused on APIs and developer platforms. He started at Box as the company’s first hire for its developer platform team and has since worked as Head of Platform Product at Edmodo, served as a Mentor at Techstars and consulted for both startups and large companies.
APIs are becoming an increasingly popular and effective means for companies to grow, so I was thrilled to interview someone with such impressive and extensive knowledge and experience in this field.
API is an acronym for application programing interface. “APIs are the most basic core functionality you need to enable other developers to work with you service. APIs are a way for other companies to interact with the functionality that you have. While the core functionality is going to be user facing, APIs are developer facing and partner facing,” Jeremy says.
An API can be a standalone product and business, as it is for Twilio and Stripe, but more often, an API provides additional benefit to a company’s core product. Jeremy shared the three most common business objectives that APIs can help companies achieve:
- Provide functionality to customers that you can’t provide yourself
- Gain access to new customers
- Build your brand through partnerships
Jeremy goes on to share his best advice for designing and product managing APIs, developer relations, and app marketplace integrations.
What you need to do, from a product standpoint, is understand what is the purpose of your platform? Is it to satisfy certain needs of your customers? Is it to be a distribution channel, and bring you new customers? What kind of partners do you want on your platform? What kind of applications do you expect? And then, design your APIs to make it as easy as possible for those partners to write applications on your APIs.”
He emphasizes the importance of communication:
API design is very important. You want to get your APIs right the first time. You do want to design those APIs to work well for your developer community, but believe it or not, when developers get frustrated with a platform, it’s not about the structure of the APIs too often. It’s certainly a factor, but I actually like to cite John Musser here. He’s the founder of Programmable Web. Years ago he had a presentation on this where he he highlighted a lot of unknown secrets to what makes a developer platform successful. He had this top 10 list of what really frustrates developers from working on new platforms. API design was there, but they were really around eight, nine, and 10. They were at the bottom of this top 10 list. One, two, and three was all about communication. You had just being very responsive and developer support, providing good clear documentation, and that is something that is commonly missed.”
If you’re considering launching an API at your company, there’s no better person to learn from than Jeremy, and in this interview, he goes deep on everything you need to know to be successful.
Here are the highlights:
- Jeremy describes what business objectives APIs can help companies achieve (5:50)
- The most common mistakes companies make when launching APIs (12:35)
- The most effective strategies for growing a developer ecosystem (21:40)
- How product managers can reap the benefits of app marketplaces (32:30)
- The next big opportunities in building APIs (35:30)