Spencer Levitt and Austin Pager met early on as classmates at Northwestern University and spent the next several years building apps powered by a wide variety of APIs. After developers continued to reach out to them to help with API integrations, they began building a tool for “API-first” companies to provide easier integration experiences.
“During Y Combinator, which we joined after graduating from Northwestern a year earlier, an early adopter started using our tool to support their sales process,” Levitt and Pager told AapkaDost via email. “He realized it was a great way to explain the value of his software to potential buyers. This was our ‘aha’ moment.”
Levitt and Pager co-founded Coast, a platform that allows a sales team to demonstrate their company’s APIs through a dashboard that executes live requests visually and in the browser. Using Coast, sales teams can showcase what prospects can build on top of APIs – personalized to a particular prospect’s brand and use case.
Sure, there are other software demo platforms on the market – many with substantial VC support. Demostack, a startup developing a service that allows SaaS companies to quickly create product demos, raised $34 million last April. Meanwhile, Consensus, a company developing an automation platform for SaaS product demos, recently raised $110 million. Other notable vendors include Arcade, Demodesk, and CloudShare.
But Coast is unlike most other demo tools in that it doesn’t rely on a front-end. Instead, it generates UIs from lines of code, using a company’s publicly accessible APIs or sandbox APIs to create an interactive customer experience.
“The API-first space is growing rapidly, but the tools enabling their sales teams have not kept up,” said Levitt and Pager. “Coast [helps by] auto-generating visual interfaces pre-configured for the API based on the underlying technical specifications. [Salespeople] use Coast to provide tailored and interactive demos throughout the sales cycle: for egress, live demos, follow-ups and even to implementation.”
Coast’s rise comes at a time when APIs are becoming increasingly important to software companies, in terms of revenue – especially those in the enterprise. According to a study by RapidAPI, nearly 65% of developers said they will rely on APIs more in 2022 than in 2021. And these APIs are monetized somewhat aggressively. The same study found that in the financial sector alone, the number of APIs brought to market has increased by 16%.
In a separate poll from Forrester, commissioned by API management company Axway, 72% of respondents – all of them business decision makers – said they believed increasing adoption of APIs could lead to a roughly 26.4% increase in growth of their digital business.
“We’ve noticed that C-suite level executives are always looking for a better way to show off the power of their software. Executives also care about making sure their customer-facing teams get the best resources when talking to partners,” said Levitt and Pager. “With Coast, we’re helping put the technical skills in the hands of frontline customer-facing teams so they can easily show off the power of their APIs without the need for additional technical support.”
Coast claims to have early adoption from clients including Unit, Finch, Oso, Sardine, Column Tax, and Enode. It has raised $2.1 million in seed funding to date Y CombinatorLiquid2 Ventures, GTMfund and Brickyard, as well as individual investors such as Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi and Segment co-founder Calvin French-Owen.
“Coast solves a major, current problem for API sellers and buyers alike,” Ferdowsi said in a decidedly complimentary email. “I saw the need firsthand with Dropbox. Buying an API touched many parts of the organization and effectively marketing an API is expensive and challenging. Coast is attacking a market that is growing rapidly with new software that elegantly demonstrates the power of an API.”