How Fflap is Building a Business on APIs

Jeremy Glassenberg
Mar. 15 2011, 11:54AM EDT

Last month, Fflap, a social sharing service that enables users to leverage social networking services to sell their eBay items, announced a service re-launch. The new site design includes more social features such as profile pages for its users as they share content, and automated scheduling of posts to other services.

Fflap is an interesting case of building a business on top of APIs. Currently the service relies upon the eBay API for its content and utilizes Facebook and Twitter APIs to promote items to users' social networks. It's one of many new businesses that are built on top of other APIs, and as such, faces the common challenge of working with platforms that with strict rules of use that can often change. While in conversation with the CEO, James Yates, he acknowledged the risks involved in such dependencies, as well as the efforts required to keep up with these partner platforms. One clear way of alleviating risk is to diversify, by simply connecting to a variety of services in a similar space.

Going beyond Fflap and its eBay integration, Yates intends to connect to other marketplace and social networking services. More interestingly, Yates intends to open up his own API to developers, the SocialJet API, on which Fflap is actually built. The SocialJet API will include methods for searching and obtaining content from a variety of online marketplaces along with sharing functionality across social services. According to SocialJet's initial technical information, there will also be a commercial API that includes affiliate functionality.

Yates emphasizes that he is in constant communication with those services connected via API in order to provide both an ideal interface for his users, and to provide a positive experience for the connected services. For instance, Fflap's ability to automatically post content to Facebook and Twitter on a timed schedule not only provides convenience for customers, but ensures that content isn't posted too frequently to these services, remaining within the networks' Terms of Use.

Fflap is the latest startup by James Yates, a serial entrepreneur well-renown for starting companies without any funding, and author of the book "Freesourcing: How To Start a Business with No Money".

Jeremy Glassenberg

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