Exploring A New Way To Fund API Life Cycle Tooling By Open Sourcing The API Garage

The news out of Runscope makes today a good day to kick off discussion around a project that I've been helping push forward with the API Garage team, assisting them find the healthiest path forward for their API client tooling. As Runscope demonstrates, it is a tough time for API startups, something that adds fuel to my personal mission to do what I can to help startups find success. 

First, what is API Garage? It is one of the HTTP / Web API Client tools available today, including Postman, Paw, DHC, and Stoplight. API Garage is an Electron based solution, you can download and put to work in helping you integrate with web APIs, allowing you to make calls, see the requests / response, all without having to write code. This approach to working with APIs has evolved beyond use by just API consumers, and is quickly becoming the tool of choice for API development teams, and being applied at almost every stop along the API life cycle.

The API Garage team approached me a couple months back to discuss the roadmap, and figure out how we can evolve it beyond just being a web API client, and help it emerge as an "garage environment" where individuals and teams can work on APIs, at any stage of the API life cycle. Inevitably this discussion led us to the talking about how the API Garage would be licensed, and generate revenue to sustain their vision. At this point, the API Garage team expressed interest in open sourcing the solution, and focusing on alternative approaches to generating the money they needed to sustain the solution, and keep them working on meaningful API projects.

After a number of conversation, they settled in on open sourcing the API Garage, and begain focusing on revenue being focused on several key areas:

  • Sponsorship - The API Garage website, and the open source download will have a handful of sponsorship spots, ranging from the default home page, to a well placed banner location, which they will be filling with quality, complementing services and tooling providers.
  • Default APIs - When you download the API Garage, there will be a handful of default APIs available. The team will be carefully considering a small group of valuable, relevant, and usable API partners to fill these slots.
  • API Services - The current solution provides API testing and mocking services, and the new open source solution will offer opportunities for a diverse range of API services, that serve almost every stop of the API life cycle. There will be a handful of default slots available for quality API services to sponsor.
  • Private Label - With the focus on the API Garage being open source, the team is committed to helping deploy it as custom, and private label solutions for companies who would like to establish an API Garage within their local organizational environment. 
  • Consulting - The team is also opening up to API consulting services, helping companies of all shapes and sizes with their API design, development, management, testing, strategy, and educational needs.

These are just a handful of the approaches we've sketched out to help the team make ends meet. The team has a short runway to focus on transforming the current API Garage, into the open source version (until summer 2016 target), and will need to bring in additional revenue by the time they launch, if they are going to make all of this work. 

There are two things that attracted me to this project. 1) The opportunity for an open source API life cycle solution to help be a window for managing all stops. 2) The opportunity in helping cultivate alternative, collaborative approaches to funding this window to the API life cycle, as well as potentially the APIs, and API services that need to exist within any thriving API Garage. As demonstrated by Runscope's announcement, delivering the valuable API services we need is challenging, and we need to be pushing forward open source software, and open community revenue models, alongside the VC funded vision that is dominating the sector right now.

I have a notebook full of stories to publish, from weeks of conversations with the API Garage team, and lots of work to help flush out what exactly is an API Garage. Think about the tech startup myth stories of the HP garage, and imagine how we can create an API focused environment where API engineers can craft their solutions. If you would like to know more about what the API Garage team is up to, head over to their website and contact them directly, or feel free to ping me directly, and I'll get you plugged in. 

I'm curious to see what the community can do with an open, collaborative API Garage, where we can share our API designs, and put to use the best of breed API services and tooling, in the service of a modern API life cycle.