Engineering Management

A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching an API Product

How to refine and validate an API product idea, design and build the prototype, successfully launch and grow it.

Andrei Gridnev
The Startup
Published in
13 min readSep 7, 2020
Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash

Aspiring startup founders often think of building a web or a mobile app. However, launching such products requires lots of efforts and collaboration from people with various skill sets: engineering, infrastructure, design, PR, marketing, sales, product management, support, analytics, industry expertise, etc. If you are bootstrapping, it is not easy to find co-founders with required skills. If you are working with investors — finding talent is still time-consuming and expensive.

Unlike web and mobile apps, API products require less effort to build, launch, and maintain. APIs have well-defined use cases, so less customer support is required. API products don’t need complicated UIs, so don’t require much design and front-end development. API customers are technical and curious people, so marketing and PR efforts can be more focused, efficient, and less costly. A team of 2–4 people can deliver an API prototype into the hands of potential customers in a few weeks or months.

This guide is a walkthrough for the process of developing a new API product. It is based on a generic approach to product development, includes best practices in API design, and shares some ideas specifically for launching and marketing APIs, such as where to look for customers and how to provide good developer experience.

In other words, this guide’s goal is to give API product founders some ideas on how they can achieve the dream of having their own tech startup sooner and with less effort.

Refining and Validating an API Product Idea

Let’s assume that the founders already have an idea of what API product they would like to build. However, before jumping on implementing their plans, they may want to search for existing APIs that offer similar functionality.

Knowing more about similar product offerings, they would be able to understand what functionality their future customers may expect, what customer problems they will be solving, and to confirm…



Andrei Gridnev
The Startup

Software engineer, manager since 2002. Engineering management, leadership, software architecture, high-performing teams, professional growth.