There were a number of interesting sessions at yesterday's Business of APIs Conference hosted by Mashery. Dave McClure, who previously oversaw the launch of the PayPal developer network, gave an engaging, to-the-point talk entitled "Successful Developer Programs". If you're running an API developer network or even thinking of running one, here's a summary of good ideas and important questions to ask yourself:
Who's your audience?
- What kind of developers? Indies, small co's, enterprises? They are not all the same.
- What makes them tick?
- What problems do they have?
- Are there geeks already solving your problems?
Your product better be cool
- Cool = new, innovative, latest tech
- If it ain't cool, make it cool
- Provide code examples
- Make them either rich or famous (or both)
Your team = more geeks
- Hire extroverted geeks (tough). Bloggers, writers; wiki, forum addicts; try conferences; find the alpha geek driving a crowd of geeks
- Credibility is important
- Recruit a geek advisory board: with target languages/platforms; customer verticals; should already be successful, making money, well known
- Examples: # new customers; # downlaods; # active developers; # transactoins, $ revenue from APIs
- Tip 1: make sure your non-geek boss signs-off
- Tip 2: assume
API biz model = biz model
- Bake your business model into your api; no free rides
- Hopefully your api is a business development deal
- If your api helps geeks make $, you win
Education = it's the only thing
- To win you must educate (product mktg)
- To educate you must speak (blog)
- To speak you must do/show (code)
- Tip: do not require registration or login to educate, ever.
- Perhaps require login to make money
- Your api should be invisible to the customer
Marketing = sell the geeks, not you
- What do geeks crave? respsect (always), attention (sometimes), money (sometimes)
- Help sell them: BFF
- Product directory of 3rd party app
- Preferred/certified dev program
- Affiliate/incentives for your geeks
- Send them a steady stream of customers