One of the key reasons that startup ecosystem continues to thrive in India is that they address a painpoint that many face. In solving these issues, startups find new paths forward and a new cycle of innovation is possible. Postman is a startup that does exactly that- by streamlining the way developers build and test APIs. The company, founded by Abhinav Asthana, Ankit Sobti and Abhijit Kane now has a community of more than 2.5 million people where developers can explore, test, and build APIs using a powerful collaborative testing and development suite. We chat with Abhinav about the venture. An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
Postman started off as a simple side project. I had been working with APIs since early 2010. I was at Yahoo as an intern with my co-founder, Ankit, who had just joined as an employee. We were working on a front end for a service that managed data for Yahoo properties through an API. I was not very happy with the tools that were available for testing APIs then; curl commands were scary and there was a lot of back and forth between us and the API developers about how the API works. This was a rapidly changing API and mistakes were quite frequent. After my Yahoo experience, I started another company where I worked on the front end as well as the back end. When our team started expanding, we faced problems such as sharing API documentation and testing APIs. I started looking for existing tools to make our lives easier but did not like anything in particular. The key feature in the first version of Postman was the request history that let you go back in time and replay a request. Postman Collections came in soon later. Since then, Postman has grown through word of mouth with great support from the developer community. The feedback was very strong. Ankit and I then got together to add authentication features like Basic Auth, OAuth 1.0. The use cases that Postman solved kept exploding even without us knowing it. We were amazed by the response and then started looking deeper into the underlying problems with API development and that led to the founding of the company when Abhijit joined us in August 2014.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
Being developers ourselves, we believe we understand the problem domain really well. We realized the importance of APIs in the world early on. We focus on our users and their needs and try to glean as much as we can through email, Twitter, meetings and interviews. We try to be brutally honest with ourselves. If there is something wrong and our users don’t like it, we try to fix it quickly.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
APIs are the backbone of every business and there are hundreds of options available to developers. Postman’s unique focus on the developer experience and building beautiful interfaces has helped us in becoming a must-have product that developers use every day.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
We are backed by an awesome team at Nexus Venture Partners who have been very helpful. We have mentors helping us out too. Abinash Tripathy CEO of Helpshift Anand Babu Perisamy, CEO of Minio Vijay Sharma, CEO of Belong.co
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
We have a passionate user base that cares a lot about our product. We offer free support to all users of our product. We talk to them over several channels and try to stay in touch as much as possible. We communicate clearly and transparently to the extent of over-communicating at times. We are honest about what works and what doesn’t.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Bias towards action (with incomplete data at times)