In 2011, Marc Andreesen stated that “software is eating the world”. A decade later, that claim not only still stands but the rise of APIs, both in terms of availability and quality are accelerating the creation and adoption of software.
APIs enable startups to simply use out-of-the-box capabilities rather than having to build everything from scratch. As a result, startups can focus on their core product and utilize APIs from companies like Stripe to add online payments processing capabilities or Vonage for Communications APIs to safely and effectively build your customers' journey.
In this blog post we will dive deeper into Communications APIs specifically and how early stage startups can leverage them to:
- Focus on what matters, your differentiated value
- Keep burn low
- Achieve superior Customer Experience (CX)
- Create a scalable product
- Build fast, fail fast.
Communications APIs enable startups to expand their communications capabilities, helping you quickly and cost-effectively scale certain aspects of your business. Features like Voice, Messages, Video, and Authentication among others, can be added to your product out of the box, utilizing a global network and fully compliant practices.
Companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Aramex, utilize Communications APIs to create two-step verifications that authenticate sign-ins, enable conversations, SMS campaigns, chatbots, track delivery status, and much more.
Early stage startups are usually extremely busy raising funding, achieving product-market fit, hiring a team, building out operations, designing go-to-market strategies, and a million other things.
Ultimately, if startups and their developers had to focus on one single thing, it should be on building something that is solving a real problem with a solution that people really want. This means that having a laser focus on their development priorities is extremely important to avoid straying too far from the main mission.
While building everything from scratch may seem like a romantic and exciting opportunity to showcase your skills as a developer it can potentially hinder your startup's efficiency. Startup developers need to be able to focus their time on building their unique selling point and the differentiators that help them achieve product market fit.
By utilizing out-of-the-box Communications APIs startups are able to include additional functionality and communication touchpoints with their customers without wasting time, resources, and money to build these capabilities from scratch.
Communications APIs are like building blocks that can be added to your product in many different ways without shifting focus from the vision of what you are building.
One of the major headaches that more or less every early-stage startup has is effectively managing its runway (how many months a startup can operate before it runs out of money). Therefore, financial considerations have colossal implications in every decision founders and their teams make.
A key advantage of using a Communications API stack over developing everything in-house is that it can help you save money. The cost of hiring developers with specialized experience in communications technology to develop these tools and immensely powerful functionality from the ground up is extremely high in terms of time and money.
Communications APIs have advanced features, making them powerful communications tools whilst also offering a cheaper, more flexible, option for early stage startups wanting to build their communications infrastructure.
Regardless of the audience, a startup is trying to reach as a company a superior customer experience should be at its core. As explained in the Harvard Business Review customer experience is “the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”
Customer perceptions are affected by the interactions your startup has with them and therefore all these touchpoints need careful consideration.
Let’s look at how Communications APIs can transform the customer experience using an online doctor consultation app as an example.
- A customer downloads your application and creates an account, through an Authentication API they receive a One Time Passcode via SMS to verify their identity (benefits include increased safety and security)
- A VoiceBot can then be used to gather initial information (benefits include efficiency for the doctor and added comfort for the patient),
- The app then provides options to book the appointment and once booked the patient receives an SMS or Whatsapp reminder (benefits include time savings)
- The patient then joins the consultation from the comfort of their home through the app powered by a Video API
- Once the appointment is completed the patient receives the next steps on his phone (SMS or Social Messages API).
The patient has now seamlessly received his consultation while receiving secure and up-to-date information throughout his journey using your application. This is just one example of how APIs can be used to manage customer touchpoints and design customer-facing products customers can benefit from.
The typical startup journey begins by having a few users test your MVP (Minimum Viable Product), interacting with the users, iterating your product, and ideally achieving product-market fit where the product satisfies strong market demand. While this usually doesn’t happen overnight, startups should be aiming to create a product that provides the same functionality and experience whether it has 10 users or 1,000,000 users.
For consistency, let’s continue with the example of the Online Doctor Consultation app. As the product adoption grows, the application needs to be able to handle exponentially more verifications, more in-app Voice conversations, additional scheduling messages, and more Video consultations.
A huge benefit of Communications APIs is that with the same ease you can communicate with 1 customer or 1000 customers, or 100,000 customers, with almost no changes in the technology implementation. Therefore, investing early in your communication infrastructure can allow your startup to scale and reach more customers without any hassle (of course other considerations come into play such as your cloud infrastructure but that's a different conversation). Also, as your product adoption increases, economies of scale may be enjoyed i.e. cost per unit decreases as unit sales increase.
From new feature releases to hiring, and much more, startups should be able to act with great speed and efficiency. Various product iterations and constant feedback loops with users are the bread and butter of effective startup teams. Only, through iterating, speaking with users, and repeating you will be able to identify what to build next.
Out-of-the-box Communications APIs can help you add, test, and remove communications channels seamlessly until you find the right mix of communications touchpoints. This enables startups to build fast rather than having to reinvent the wheel, which means your products and services can reach the market that much more quickly. All of these benefits allow you to transform your products with greater speed and efficiency, maintaining a competitive position even at early stages.
All in all, Communications APIs can help a startup build products faster, scale easier, save money, build a great customer experience and ultimately focus on what matters to them most.
At Vonage for startups, we want to help early-stage startups better understand the power of Communications APIs and enable them to better utilize these tools. We provide the necessary educational resources and a supportive environment in order for the startup community to benefit from Communications APIs, whatever their individual needs are.
The program has been built with a founder-first approach. We recognize that each startup has different needs and can benefit from Communications APIs in a variety of ways. The program has been designed based on 4-pillars:
Startups will gain access to Vonage technical resources and curated startup content to learn how to use our APIs. This way startups will not only save time by learning directly from experts but they will also be able to learn firsthand about how other companies have built successful CX that scales using our APIs.
Startups will utilize our products through a credits package and tailored technical sessions to build their MVP, reach more customers and grow their business. By receiving a credits package, onboarded startups will keep burn even lower while having access to products faster.
Selected startups can leverage Vonage resources tailored to their needs to solve challenges they are facing. This aims to help startups focus on their unique selling point by being able to utilize Communications APIs more effectively.
Startups will join our community and have the opportunity to engage with other founders, developers, and advocates. Finally, at Vonage, community is especially important to us, so by joining our program you will be part of an environment where everyone can connect and help each other.
You can find out more about how to get involved at Vonage for Startups.