If one were to choose an Indian startup for the company of the year for 2020, there is a good chance that Bangalore-based API API Application programming interfaces, or APIs, are ways in which software products can “talk” to one another. They communicate by exchanging information or instructions platform company Postman would figure in the shortlist. The company has largely stayed out of the limelight but has steadily and quietly built a big business, and an even bigger reputation. This culminated in a $150 million funding round mid-2020 at a valuation of $2 billion valuation of $2 billion The Ken How Postman delivered a US$2 billion valuation Read more —probably the fastest SaaS company to hit a unicorn milestone in India.
More importantly, Postman is a brand that is known and loved in the developer community the world over. It is also only one of three Indian startups to figure in the Forbes Cloud 100 list of the most influential SaaS companies in the world (Freshworks and Icertis are the other two).
In today’s interview, The Ken speaks with Postman co-founder and chief technology officer Ankit Sobti on the company’s journey so far and just why it could be a company to watch out for in the future.
Q. Ankit, “Make something that people want” is a startup truism of sorts. But in your case, the origin of Postman was directly related to a problem that you wanted to first solve for yourself.
My partner Abhinav Asthana and I met when we were both working at Yahoo!. We were working on building a front-end application on top of one of Yahoo!’s internal code platform groups. We struggled to get this application to communicate with other internal Yahoo! apps. I think that was the first time we got formally introduced to the idea of APIs and what it means in an organisation of Yahoo!’s scale.
Q. Can you break that down for us?
One of the things that we realised at that point was that APIs form a core part of the entire development workflow. If every software application is a bundle of features, APIs are touchpoints between these applications. They allow one application to communicate with another and pass information or commands. But what was surprising for us was that using these APIs was very cumbersome—the tools were hard to use and quite primitive, resulting in a lot of wasted time and effort. Abhinav and I moved on from Yahoo!, but even in different organisations and roles, we continued facing this challenge.
Q. Is that how the idea of Postman originated?
When we first tried to solve this problem, it was basically to scratch our own itch.