API or Die: AccountingSuite Positions Itself Based on its API Strategy

As the API Strategy and Practice conference prepares to see API developers, providers and related services descend on San Francisco later this week, the independent startup backed by 1C, AccountingSuite, is still riding the benefits of their participation in API World three weeks ago.

AccountingSuite is an all-in-one cloud-based accounting software aimed at businesses from startups to mid-size companies. Their AccountingSuite API gives access to objects including customer records, invoices, cash sales and receipts, via a RESTful interface.

Kurt Kunselman, Sales and Marketing Director at AccountingSuite, told ProgrammableWeb that "Going to API World was very beneficial. Hearing a lot of feedback from our peers, it really solidified our business plan. We found that they really love our interface, they love our API, we got feedback about our competitors. We are still receiving requests for meetings, we still have some new partnership opportunities to follow up on."

It was also the startup's first opportunity to really push the availability of their API, which was initially released about three months ago. To help with getting noticed, AccountingSuite was an API World hackathon sponsor, and provided prize money for competitors who successfully used their API in creating new products.

Konstantin Zuzik, Lead Developer and Creator of the API, said: "Now, Powerlytics are a partner." [Powerlytics created a solution that takes AccountingSuite balance sheet data and mashes it with IRS comparative data for benchmarking.] What they showed at the hackathon is an amazing product and we are now working to bring it to market as well as winning a scholarship from us."

Kunselman agreed: "There is no doubt about it, the hackathon helped raise the profile of our API. Not only was it held at Rackspace, but the other cool thing was we got to be up on stage, so there's a lot of built-in promotion and branding from sponsoring a hackathon. And the other really cool thing is that it helps out [our developer team] a lot to get feedback and ideas."

Zuzik and Kunselman encouraged other API providers to take a similar model. "Being involved in the hackathon is absolutely recommended. During the expo you are mostly talking to customers from your booth, and in a hackathon you are talking about your API, and for us, it helped solidify our need to use libraries, and we moved as a direct result to using unrest."

AccountingSuite's roadmap from here is predominantly focused on a B2D agenda. "Next is probably more developer outreach. API World was our first big push in hackathons, what is important with our API is that we have a solid advantage over competitors with using Webhooks."

"On our team we have 4 developers and 2 sales/marketing guys, we are really developer-oriented. Developers are not just the provider, they are the market, and us being able to speak with them in the same language is crucial."

To appeal to developers, AccountingSuite is focusing on best-in-breed integrations, and for them that means offering realtime Integration. After a successful Zoho CRM integration that updates sales outcomes from the fast-growing cloud CRM directly into order records in AccountingSuite, the API team is now focused on realtime e-commerce integrations.

"We are looking at that as a gamechanger," said Kunselman. "Some people may be using an all-in-one solution like Netsuite but that is pretty expensive. If you are using something like Zoho CRM, now you can hit a button and boom, it is in Accountingsuite. It is pretty instantaneous, it's not one of those wait-for-15-minutes integrations.

"It's not like we are pioneers of integration, but that process right there can save companies a lot of time, that's a real pain point for a lot of small companies. It is a pain point that the CRM needs to then email an order to Quickbooks, for example. There's no CSV importing, it's realtime, it changes a lot of business processes."

To ensure a quality developer experience amongst those looking to use their APIs, AccountingSuite sets a realtime bar to decide what API products to offer:

"We are very selective, we only pick vendors that are able to work in realtime. For example, AccountingSuite is the only accounting package in Zapier that works in realtime.

"We have a realtime integration with ecommerce and that completes our best-of-breed solutions package, it allows end custiomers to choose what they want while still supporting them to use a single accounting package.

"For example, our API has the best integration with Stripe, it is automatically updated in Accountingsuite. When Stripe transfers money from a bank account it is immediately updated in AccountingSuite. We only work with Stripe, so we don't have to appeal to the lowest common denominator, we can do one thing but we can do it really well."

In all areas of the startup's business model, APIs are core to the future success of the business. Especially in how AccountingSuite seeks to position itself in the overall accounting software market, APIs are seen as a key ingredient in their secret sauce.

"We are at entry level accounting, you can enter as a one-person company and you won't need to convert to anything during that critical first five years of growth. The last thing you want to do when you are growing during the first three years, you don't want to get stuck.

"So you can start with AccountingSuite and grow to that 10 million or 30 million or whatever without having to switch accounting software when you get to 750,000.

"So an API was one of the first things in our strategy. One of our ideas is that we are going to offer an all-in-one solution from invoices and ordering to inventory. For AccountingSuite to move upstream and gain marketshare, we need to be able to integrate.

"For us it's API or die, integrate or die. In the 2013-15 business environment, it's all about integrating with others."

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