API List / Utilities / Costa Rica

Get started, ship something, make mistakes - Story of API List

Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?

HI!, I'm Adam Hadar. I've been working on API List for the last 2 years, API List is a public and free directory of APIs (Application Programming Interface) for programmers.

What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?

I sold a video production agency in 2015 and decided to take some time off to travel and learn how to code. As I was learning to code, I quickly noticed how helpful most of the dev community is, for example: as a new programmer, you can ask any questions in Stack Overflow when you get stuck and you’ll get help right away (for free), or open source developers donate hours upon hours of their time to create and maintain tools that are helpful for other developers.

As I got more comfortable with coding, I wanted to create something helpful for the dev community, at the time I didn’t have many ideas but I was a huge fan of what Nomad List was doing. I copied the model of Nomad List but for a different industry, API Lis was born.

Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?

It took about a month to build the basic functionality for API List. At the time, users couldn’t even add their API to the site, I had a public spreadsheet for users to submit their APIs there, as more and more users where adding APIs, the site started to grow organically on Google.

What has been your biggest failure or struggle?

My biggest struggle not working every day on the site due to lost motivation, from the middle of 2018 up until a few months ago I basically worked on the site a couple of hours a week, it was not enough.

The good thing is that I was writing down all the ideas I was having during this time and ended up doing a sprint the last few months and released API List 2.0 with a ton of new features.

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

The biggest success is to know people are using the site and finding the information helpful, the average user is 3.5 mins on the site, this gives me motivation to keep releasing features.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

At the beginning Product Hunt was huge for initial hype, because API List is targeted towards developers it means PH’s audience is a very relevant audience, that led to several other site owners and news publication that lurk on PH to write also about the site.

When the PH hype died, users kept adding APIs, all the user generated content slowly translated into 1000s of pageviews a day from Google organically.

Describe the process of launching the business.

API List started as a side project to do something related to programming, I didn’t plan it to much at first but just coded it and launched it without much thinking. It involved me coding for a month straight and launching in PH to get initial traction, 

Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?

I launched on PH and reached #1 for that day.

The experience with PH was great!, couldn’t ask for more from a free service and it is a great way to get some initial eyes on a new project.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

In the first 2 years API List grew organically and I didn’t monetize it, starting this month I added the options for companies to sponsor the site, so far 0 company sponsored us (in the 2 weeks we’ve been offering the sponsorship options), I am starting to send emails to relevant prospects.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?

The biggest challenge was to stay motivated and keep releasing features despite knowing the site wasn’t going to be monetized for the first few years. 

My goal in the next 12 months is to add at least 400 more APIs to the site and make $3000 per month.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Last month I launched API List 2.0 with a complete redesign and many new features, already started to show positive signs in the traffic.

I think in the next 12 months we will see if API List can become a stable source of income, or just stay as a free informative tool for developers (which is also great)

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I learned that it is best to work to release something small every day than expecting to do a huge launch (in Product Hunt for example), or going viral on social media.

Most of the good and productive work is done in silence and released to your private users, not on Twitter or Social Media. Consistency is key for the long term health of a project, searching for viralit/hype just for the sake of it can be counter productive..

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I use Mailchimp for email subscribers, Ghost for blogging, Digital Ocean for hosting, I built a custom Telegram bot for notifications (for example when a new API is added), and WIP and Todoist to stay productive. 

Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?

Derek Sivers is the one that comes to mind although he hasn’t been a founder for 10 years, I like his outlook on life, how he managed CD Baby back in the day, and he is following his own path. 

Also Jason Fried from Basecamp and Andew Wilkinson from Metalab, huge fan of their work.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and the Tropical MBA Podcasts from back in 2012-2014, they talked about different styles of self employment (location independent entrepreneurs they called it), and different ways of achieving freedom way before everyone else. 

What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?

Get started, ship something, make mistakes and see where it takes you, embrace the uncertainty.

About The Author : Binu Mathew

Binu Mathew is the CEO of itmarkerz technologies. It has been catering to the custom software needs of SMEs in India and abroad since March 2011. Binu started his programming and freelance carrier at the age of 17. over around 13 years of experience in startups, startup visas around the globe, and Blogging. You can reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn