API-First Opportunities

API-First Opportunities

If API-First doesn't ring a bell, don't worry, it's not widely adopted yet. You might have heard of Mobile-First, which has gone through similar changes as we believe API-First will go through.

What is API-first? 5 opportunities to create business value

Ever-Changing Requirements

Back in the days, when designers and developers started to talk about Mobile-First, it happened because new requirements came up. The smartphone business started to grow fast; more and more users accessed the internet with smaller screens. In some countries, a smartphone was (and still is) the only way to access the internet.

Mobile use is growing faster than all of Google's internal predictions.

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

The API-First approach is in a similar spot as Mobile-First was back then. A new type of consumer is coming up: everyone. We know that API consumption of products like Stripe, Auth0, or Twilio is becoming a standard. With tools like Zapier or IFTTT, it's becoming easier than ever to connect these APIs to build a fully functioning product.

New Type of Consumer

Not only is the way we think about building API changing, but also the type of consumer. In the past, mostly developers consumed and internal API, but there will be different kinds of consumers in the future. The best approach is to build your API as everyone out there is going to be your customer.

API Economy - How APIs can break up your company's ball of mud

No-Code Movement

To build your idea, you don't have to be a developer anymore. There are already nicely build services for payment, file, and data storage. But all these services wouldn't be that useful if you couldn't connect them with their APIs. With automation tools like Zapier you can now build a fully functioning product without writing a single line of code.

Smart assistant

Smart assistants like Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are also a new type of consumer. If you want your product to be successful in the future, you'll need to have an API ready for smart assistants so that they can access your product, and your customer will be accessing it through them.

Value Exchange

Many companies have improved their core product for years, but they aren't easy to access. Resulting in slower product development and even slower feedback cycles for their core product.

The Business Value of API-First Design


Banks, for example, have improved their core product for decades to make it stable and secure. The challenge they face is that their different internal product teams have a problem discovering and develop the features.

We need banking,
but we don't need banks anymore.

Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO

With the API-First approach, banks could improve their internal products' output and offer the same APIs for external consumers. By opening up their powerful core product with APIs, they don't just have a new income source but also a new source of feedback with entirely different requirements. This leads to even better and more stable products, which in return benefit their teams and products.

Another brilliant example is Revolut. By using the existing banking API for transfers and exchanges, they could focus entirely on improving the user experience.

Hyper Scaling

Companies like Uber and Airbnb could hyper-scale because they used existing APIs like Google Maps and Twilio. They could iterate fast by relying on stable APIs without hiring experts to build these products internally.

APIs are the next big SaaS wave – TechCrunch

At Helio

We believe that API-First is the way to democratize computing: economically and from an engineering perspective. Read more in the next post of this series.