Freshbooks announced today that they are releasing a mature API. From what I understand, this is a direct result of their hiring of Ben Vinegar some time ago.
Why does this matter?
Freshbooks is demonstrating a very mature approach to growing their available market by opening an API as mature as they have. Typical approaches, often forced under the gun of results-hungry investors (ok, that’s a broad assumption), is to ramp up marketing and to put time, money and energy in to branding in order to develop a wider appeal.
Offering an API says 2 things:
We trust our users
Some of the best application builders for APIs are the users themselves. Allowing users, application developers and others to build applications that use your platform might seem bold to some, but for a healthy company with as many users as Freshbooks boasts, it is a critical first step towards longer term relevance and sustainability.
How does it do this? Too many startups spend their time trying to either see, create or define the future. This is fine early on, but it is almost impossible in the long run (believe me, I know!). By taking a validated and accepted product like Freshbooks and opening it up to whatever the future is going to be, you are mixing solid current economics with the opportunity for risk-less future innovation.
We can’t partner with everyone, so we will partner with everyone
When your startup is successful and stable, partnering offers are a dime a dozen. Most end up in a graveyard of blog posts and press releases but amount to very little. By having a solid API, Freshbooks can tell potential partners to “come back and show us what you can do” and they can also attach their own app to other partner-ready platforms such as Salesforce.
Now the test. Will people build the apps that will make Freshbooks the center of the online invoicing world? We’ll be watching.
More analysis here by one of my co-writers on FastForward.