After the Signature

After the Signature


For APIs, time is, quite literally, money.

API-first companies are often scrutinized by investors, executive teams, and the public markets for their ability to quickly and efficiently start generating revenue from new customers. The faster an API platform can onboard and educate a net new customer, the quicker it can recognize the first dollar from that customer.

Customers are also materially impacted.

Customers also have a mutually aligned interest in launching programs as fast as possible. Embedding an API product within its core application might mean acquiring new users, achieving greater market share, opening up a new addressable market, and generally expanding its product suite. The incentives for customers to accelerate API product launches is abundantly clear.

The single biggest hurdle to overcome, though, is customer education.

APIs are complex by nature and require significant effort, time, and training for a customer to truly reach true understanding of the platform, especially during the early sales discovery and implementation stages.

To an API-first company, the speed at which a customer's key stakeholders get ramped up to speed is invaluable. On the surface, the duration of time between first engagement and first executed production API call appears to be easily influenced. However, every API-first company struggles on a daily basis with this subtle yet pervasive challenge.

Strategically collapsing the time during this vital stage of the sales process equals faster revenue recognition.

Time Horizon

Accelerating product understanding is definitely not a new concept. A commonly used milestone in technology organizations is "TTFHW" (Time to First Hello World).

For purposes of tailoring this more to API-first company milestones, let's outline the two fundamental milestones for a new customer launch:

  • TTP (Time to Production): the time it takes from first customer touchpoint to the first executed production API request.
  • TTS (Time to Scale): the time it takes from first customer touchpoint to a predetermined average API usage metric.

Accelerating launches is not just about time to first executed API request, but also time to API maturity. What good is a customer that executes one API request and never scales with your platform? But we can't talk about scale before we tackle getting to production.

As such, let's focus on TTP.

This is the metric typically inspected on a daily basis by revenue operations leaders within API companies and for good reason. Especially when there is immense market competition within a particular API product, where price and product are almost indistinguishable, how does an organization stand out from its competitors?

Speed to market.

The ability to offer a premium product at an affordable cost AND with the guarantee of an expedited time to market is the gold standard in the world of increased competition.

It's also a controllable indicator. Meaning, the organization can actually influence this metric. Companies can financially incentivize customers with launch milestones, throw excess headcount towards a particularly important customer launch, or simply provide white glove service throughout the implementation process.

So it can be influenced and it's the key to differentiating from the market, but how do you practically improve TTP on a daily basis?

Clock Wise

To understand time to production (TTP), we need to break it down further into 3 core components:

  • Discovery
  • Solution
  • Implementation

Although all three of these are integral to the success of TTP, there's a common denominator hidden beneath the surface of each: education.

In order to properly understand the customer problems (discovery), adequately outline the possibilities of the API for addressing those challenges (solution), and designing a complete statement of work to achieve that solution (implementation), there needs to be constant customer education and preparation for launching with the API platform.

This all sounds great on the surface, but what happens when you need to educate a customer on a product that is simply lines of code?

How can you expect to educate & prepare your customer for launching on your API platform if you can't truly visualize it?

Behind the Bevel

APIs by nature are complex.

As mentioned, simplifying this puzzle for a customer is the key to education & preparation for implementation, which in turn yields faster revenue recognition.

API education takes a multitude of approaches, from sending your customers to your API documentation, drawing up schematics for each customers, using engineering tools to run API calls, or building out slide presentations.

These work to a certain extent, but are all limited in one critical function - they do not enable the customer to feel and see the APIs in action.

The reason why this is so critical to customer education is that before working in API documentation, buyers need to truly understand the possibilities of the platform.

Most API-first companies have felt the shortcomings of each of these approaches.

  • The dreaded "API doc-dump" that makes a customer feel like they have a homework assignment.
  • The API schematic drawing that takes hours just to comprehend the basic structure.
  • The word doc SOW that describes in painstaking detail every endpoint, webhook, and front end component. Less of a homework assignment and more of a torture chamber.

There must be a better way.

How do you get customers to that “aha” moment faster, where they can fully understand the API platform and prepare for implementation more effectively?

From Analog to Digital

We know the importance of speed.

If an API organization can collapse the time it takes to get customers educated and prepared for implementation, the reward is sizable: shorter sales cycles, faster contract executions, quicker implementations, and ultimately, accelerated revenue recognition.

The key to unlocking this seems simple - API visualization.

But easier said than done.

Enabling your customers to actually experience, feel and see the APIs in action is not an easy task on your own.

When evaluating options to help visualize the power of your API suite, look for something that can simultaneously demonstrate the following features during the 3 critical phases of TTP:

  • Discovery Phase: Hyper personalized API demonstrations of your complete platform for your prospective customers to help with discovery. Give every prospect you interact with the chance to actually feel the product live.
  • Solution Phase: Live monitoring & processing actions of your platform as the customer interacts with your demo, surfacing live requests, responses, webhook events, external SDK callbacks, and background requests that help explain what's happening behind the scenes during the demo.
  • Implementation Phase: Your full API request & response code block, with the ability to surface specific data to the end user interface. Pre-built UI templates & easy customization of new UIs that fully represent all of the use cases powered by your API, all while being positioned alongside the full API code block.

The time to production (TTP) for an API company is vital to the success of the underlying business and for its customer's success. Education and preparation are the levers that influence the timing from that first touchpoint all the way through to the first executed API request.

An API can be complex to integrate, challenging to understand, and frustrating at times to convey.

Time to Production (TTP), Time to Scale (TTS), and Time to First Hello World (TTFHW) are commonplace today in most technology organizations.

However, there's a new milestone responsible for driving step change improvements in the black box of customer education that all API companies need to consider:

Time To "Aha"


Ross Brookshire

Ross Brookshire

I lead growth at Coast (, the first platform built for API firms to showcase their software. I previously led solutions engineering at Marqeta.