Postman's tight-knit community of developers, helping build a $5.2 billion empire

📈 The beginning of a $5.2Bn journey: From Basti (a small town in Uttar Pradesh) to San Francisco Bay Area
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Shalini Nair Tekwani
December 14, 2021

📈 The beginning of a $5.2Bn journey: From Basti (a small town in Uttar Pradesh) to San Francisco Bay Area

Abhinav Asthana grew up across multiple small cities in India. He was always interested in programming and was raised by parents who supported his love for programming. He was dabbling around with entrepreneurship stints since his school days. He joined multiple forums, learnt more about coding and networked with multiple people there. That's when a couple of them got together and offered hiring services for website development. He bagged a paycheque as well for that project - which came in dollars! His father framed it! This was the foundation of a multi-billion dollar company.

He continued with these side projects at went on to join BITS Pilani, his alma mater. Later, Abhinav pursued a coding internship at Yahoo Bangalore along with (to be Postman's future co-founder) Ankit Sobti. They were tasked with converting existing APIs into a shareable format that developers could use in their projects.

While working on this project, they identified a couple of problems:

  • Every piece of software we use today is an API or uses an API.
  • It's excessively difficult for the team to understand how different APIs worked. Debugging and testing them out was even more difficult.
  • Tooling at the time was difficult to work with and not optimised for their team’s workflow.

Later on, Abhinav faced the same problem at his startup - TeliportMe (founded in 2010) which launched Panorama360 on Android with a focus on capturing and sharing immersive content of a place using a smartphone. This is where he met his third co-founder Abhijit Kane. TeliportMe was successfully funded and was stable. Abhinav had different plans - he moved on from TeliportMe in 2013 and took up a couple of consultancy jobs to pay his bills.

In his mind, he had the solution to the problems he had identified with APIs. He ended up writing a code for the solution and an early version of Postman as a basic HTTP client for Chrome. After a couple of iterations, he put it up on the Chrome Web Store - where it picked up like hotcakes! In fact, Google loved it so much that they reached out and featured Postman on the home page of Chrome Store.

This visibility got them eyeballs from multiple developers. Soon they hit half a million users - that's when they realised it was more than just a side project. Postman was officially founded in September 2014.

Here's a timeline of Postman's journey to becoming a multi-billion dollar API platform. 👇

A timeline of Postman's journey to becoming a successful API platform. Source.

In this interview, Shradha Sharma talks with Abhinav Asthana on his humble beginning and the journey of Postman's success - the man that made it from Basti (a small town in Uttar Pradesh) to San Francisco Bay Area, while building Postman - now valued at $5.6Bn!

Now, that's some story! 🥳

✅ Solving real problems at the right time

The success of Postman comes in from two factors:

  1. Understanding the real problems faced by developers today while building APIs, and solving it through the product
  2. Building and nurturing a strong developer community around the product

The global API Management market accounted for USD 2493.9 Million in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 6263.0 Million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 11.3% from 2021 to 2028.

API global management market size. Source.
API global management market size, by region. Source.

These stats show Postman was building for an emerging market. APIs were used across all sectors and there was a high potential in developing a solution for the problems faced by a market this large-sized!

🫂 A tight-knit community of developers - The Postman Community

"I’ve always believed that communities don’t form around products, they form around unifying ideas, and the product should reflect those ideas." - Abhinav Asthana

Back when Postman was just a Chrome Web App, the founders focused on listening to the users, working closely with them to shape the product the way they wanted it. This helped them prioritise the needs of the market.

They used to have in-depth conversations with the developers and fine-tuned the roadmap to evolve the product basis the feedback they received. The small bunch they started with is now a community of 17M+ (as of date) developers!

The founders were always on top of nurturing this community. The communities were hosted on Github, StackOverflow, Twitter, and Reddit where they were growing organically. To begin with, the founders were managing the communities and developing relations hands on. Later on, they built out the community management team! Joyce Lin has been spearheading the developer relations since 2017.

As of date, Postman's Github page has 5.2K stars with 8K+ closed issues! And their StackOverflow has 10K+ questions addressed to postman! Since Postman was in the game to cater to multiple sectors using APIs, with multiple use-cases; it made sense to have an open community to address support issues and help developers build great APIs!

Postman also had a Slack community, but to be able to handle and answer the volume of support issues being raised, they migrated to a community forum on Discourse. Here's a sneak peek into their community forum! 👇

Postman's community forum hosted on Discourse.

🪴All about adding value to the developer community

For the core team at Postman, growth was always about taking in feedback from the developers and shaping it in the product to let developers drive more value out of the product. They were always working closely with the community. They also planned out a couple of things that would add value to the developers, helping them build better APIs. Let's take a look at a couple of initiatives: 👇

Addressing Support Issues

It was natural, there was going to be a huge inflow of questions and tickets raised around the product as the user base grew. While the team continues to address the issues on Github and StackOverflow, they also have created a questions repository on their forum - issues raised by users and answered by the team, in the past, are archived here. This made issue resolution (of issues addressed once in the past) faster.

The Postman API Network

Postman's API Network

Imagine this as the template gallery for developers - crowdsourced from the developer community. This makes it easier to pick and work on APIs developed in the past by community members.

There are two kinds of networks here - Public & Private.

The Public API Network:

This acts as the central hub for 17M+ developers to discover and share APIs.

  • There are more than 2,000 APIs (and more than 5,000 API templates that help you explore new uses of popular APIs) hosted on the Public API Network.
  • APIs and API templates are organized into categories for easy discovery. You can also use the network’s search functionality if you’re looking for something specific.
  • You can get started with an API with one click by using the Run in Postman button.

The Private API Network:

This is your team's central hub to publish, explore and discover APIs easily and build over existing ones. This allows the teams to be on top of the latest versions of the APIs which are approved, besides the obvious advantage of easy collaboration.

Community Events - 30 days of Postman Challenge

This month-long initiative was designed to help improve the skills of developers by tackling a new Postman challenge for 30 days in a row. 👇

Postman's Student Programs

Postman has designed great programs to promote API literacy amongst students and educators. They recently arranged a two-day summit for students to nurture and bring together the young developers community. Take a look at what went down in the summit. 👇

They also have facilitated networking and discussions for the student community specifically, through a Discord server that hosts 4.3K+ students passionate about exploring the API world! 🤯

A young developer showcases his recent project on the Discord student's community.

Postman Community Spotlight

The community team makes an effort towards recognising the top contributors of the community and putting them under the spotlight, for the rest of the users. They highlight and appreciate the contribution the individual made towards the community! Kudos to such spirit!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🤩In our first Community Spotlight of 2021, meet Praveen Mathew. This test automation engineer from Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪helps fellow Postman users on Stack Overflow and more. See why he eagerly answers community questions: <a href=""></a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Postman (@getpostman) <a href="">January 12, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Unlimited Collaboration for Small Teams

"When I built the first iteration of Postman in 2012, it was designed to help individual developers interact with APIs. But it soon became clear that that wasn’t enough: APIs are inherently collaborative, and the original Postman product did not explicitly facilitate that collaboration." - Abhinav Asthana

Early this year, Postman announced unlimited free collaborations for small teams. This allows up to three members to collaborate in Postman with unlimited shared workspaces and unlimited shared requests. Through this the team wanted the community to get a taste of the collaborative power of Postman.

AMAs with the founders

The team does a live stream with the founders and top team members to address any questions the community would have around the product, design and future scope of the brand. Here's the last AMA session with Abhijit Kane. (46.54: Abhijit talks about what's in store for the future)

The Postman community was nominated for 2022 in the User Group Program category by CMX! What a great validation for all the efforts put in by the team to build and scale the developers' community. 🤗

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Huge congrats to your entire community! Wishing you the best of luck this year :)</p>&mdash; CMX (@CMX) <a href="">October 25, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Fun Facts

"We want something cool and geeky which has nothing to do with a postman, envelopes or delivering mail”. This was the initial brief given to the designer for the logo!

Postman logo drawing board. Source.

After a few iterations, the team settled on a flying space hero, a fun, geeky and meaningful image that the young team loved and identified with.

Also, such swag! 😁

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I&#39;m kinda in love with my new <a href="">@getpostman</a> socks 😍 🧦🚀 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Danny Dainton (@DannyDainton) <a href="">March 4, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

March 4th 2021


Postman - The SaaS hero!

After the latest funding of $225M Postman went to become one of the most valuable SaaS businesses born on Indian soil! ❤️ We couldn't be any less proud!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Going by their logo, we knew these guys would jetpack to the Moon one day! 👨🚀🌝<a href="">@getpostman</a> becomes the most valued <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SaaS</a><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#startup</a> from <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#India</a>, after a $225 Million <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#funding</a>. 🥳<br><br>Our best wishes to the entire team! 🙌<br><br>Next up, Mars! 🚀😉<br><br>cc: <a href="">@a85</a>, <a href="">@abhijit_kane</a>, <a href="">@sobtiankit</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; SaaSBOOMi (@saasboomi) <a href="">August 18, 2021</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

To Summarize:

📈 The beginning of a $5.2Bn journey: From Basti (a small town in Uttar Pradesh) to San Francisco Bay Area

  • Postman was a side project launched on Chrome Web App to facilitate and make building APIs easier. It garnered many eyeballs and inbound interest from developers as well as investors.
  • Soon they hit half a million users - that's when they realised the potential of what Postman could be!
  • After their latest funding of $225M, they're now valued at $5.6Bn!

✅ Finding the right product-market fit

  • The global API market size is on a rise - it is expected to reach USD 6263.0 Million by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 11.3% from 2021 to 2028.
  • The team worked closely with the developer community to take in their feedback and understand what was the need of the market. They kept polishing the product accordingly.

🫂 A tight-knit community of developers -The Postman Community

  • The team spends significant time building relationships with the community and nurturing them through various initiatives.
  • They are on top of Support Issues raised by members on Github, StackOverflow and Discourse forum.
  • They shipped an API network - for a collaborative workspace to discover, explore and share APIs; for public and internal teams.
  • Community events - 30 days Postman challenge, AMAs with founders
  • The Postman Student Community - 4.3K+ members on Discord being nurtured to get them acquainted with the world on APIs through multiple initiatives.
  • Collaborative free feature: unlimited collaboration for smaller teams

🏆 The SaaS hero - building a multi-billion dollar SaaS business ground up, on Indian soil!

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