When a solution to a personal issue becomes a solution for the whole community: Postman’s journey


Listen to the audio

The idea to the problem


Abhinav Asthana worked as a programmer intern at Yahoo Bangalore in 2012, with future Postman co-founder Ankit Sobti. It was their duty to take APIs and turn them into a format that developers could use in their applications. They were having the same issues over and over again along the road. Abhinav said learning how the APIs operated was difficult for them (i.e., to make a simple API call and verify the response). Testing and debugging APIs was also a burden for the development team. They had to start again every time an API was changed. To make matters worse, their technology was difficult to use and not suited for their team’s workflow at the time.

Later, at his first company, TeliportMe, where he met Postman’s other future co-founder, Abhijit Kane, he ran across the same issue. They were a small team working on a complicated API and wanted to transmit ideas throughout the process. The API management tooling was still primitive, and in his head, Abhinav could picture how the answer to these problems would appear, but he couldn’t locate anything similar anyplace.

Version 1 launch

That’s when they got the idea to create an initial version of Postman for Chrome as a basic HTTP client. It addressed their issue, and many more of Abhinav’s coworkers wanted to utilize it as well. After some tweaking, he published it on the Chrome Web Store, where it quickly gained traction. Google contacted them to express their enthusiasm for the Postman tool, and they even highlighted Postman on the front page of the Chrome store at one time, giving the platform tremendous exposure.

As a result, comments from developers, including some high-profile advocates, flooded in every week (a few of their earliest supporters have since become engineers at Postman). They began to receive significant investment enquiries as well. The fast adoption of their new tool made them consider the scope of the problem—everyone, from small startups to large corporations, must be dealing with similar issues with their APIs. This, is what Abhinav reasoned, was essentially a global issue, not exclusive to the Indian development community.

The Postman team had reached an inflection moment when they had almost half a million users, which felt fantastic at the time. This wasn’t simply a fun side project for us; it was a legitimate commercial potential. Ankit, Abhijit, and Abhinav, the core team had discussed launching a business before, but the burgeoning interest in their Chrome app expedited things. They swiftly progressed from an early stage to a Series A financed business in 2014. Many technological projects begin in Silicon Valley, but Postman began in India, and it was very thrilling for the postman team to have worldwide support from the start.

Postman v1

Customer relations in the beginning

The core team agreed on a key premise as the three of them got started on pushing this tool to the next level. Above all, they would pay close attention to their users and concentrate on obtaining feedback. After all, they thought we had some solid ideas but also realized that they didn’t know everything. They were reluctant that consumers could help them design the product that the consumers required, and it was critical that Postman approached their issues and use cases with openness and empathy.

They started tracking every single feedback piece that came their way. They were constantly looking for ways to improve the platform and make it more useful for developers.

Most startups get overwhelmed with too much feedback, focusing on the big picture instead of the next feature needed. This is a common mistake many startups make. They tend to get stuck in the middle of a problem instead of focusing on the next one.

Data-driven approach

They knew that they had a good product, but they needed to learn more about how their users were using it. This would help the team identify areas where they could focus their attention.

To avoid making mistakes and avoid making hasty decisions, Abhinav and his team decided to build Postman’s infrastructure early to enable them to collect and use data in all their major decisions.

As part of their efforts to improve the user experience, the Postman developers started analyzing data to see what types of users are using Postman and what opportunities it has.

These insights have strengthened their understanding of Postman’s potential to solve even more problems than initially thought. The startup is now focused on helping organizations solve their most critical business-to-business problems. This is when you know that the market is pulling in a particular direction.

Postman’s growth

As Postman continued to grow, they moved away from Chrome to build a full-featured PHP platform that was run on Linode servers. One of the reasons that they did this was due to the challenges of using cross-Origin Resource sharing (CORS).

When building Postman v1, Abhinav avoided using fancy frameworks and built it on the bare minimum technology he could understand. This approach helped them deliver high-quality products quickly and consistently.

After their business started to expand, they decided to move to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This was a huge step for them as they were already prepared to invest in a more powerful technology stack.


Postman API network

The Postman Community

Abhinav believes that communities are formed around ideas, and products should reflect those ideas. As the demand for software that can easily work with API has grown significantly, Postman’s community has become more organic. Some of Postman’s most popular activities started as offshoots of its community engagement. These include product support and community events.

The most recent example of this community focus was the public workspaces, which were first introduced in general availability in Q3 2018. These spaces are a place for people to share knowledge about APIs and build stronger communities.

The principles and approaches mentioned above are also what Postman has been working on since its inception. It’s how they live their lives every day, as per Abhinav.

Investments and changes

For several years, the company’s engineers worked on a project to create a breakthrough solution that would allow them to provide a full Postman web experience. This achievement was eventually achieved through the creation of the Postman agent.

Through the incredible response from their users, investors, and team, Postman has been able to reach significant achievements and milestones. In June 2020, the company secured a $150 million Series C funding.

This investment was a watershed event for Postman, and they didn’t take it lightly. This current round of investment validates all they have attempted to achieve since the beginning. They regard venture money as a catalyst; it will enable the team to achieve precisely what they were doing before, but much more quickly.

Ankit, Abhijit, and Abhinav were willing to bootstrap the company themselves in the early days, intending to just become “ramen profitable.” And it was OK with them. They were committed to the purpose they had laid forth, and they only wanted to collaborate with partners that shared their long-term vision. Today, Postman has found those partners in the teams at Insight Partners, CRV, and Nexus Venture Partners that led their Series C investment