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Discover how API first companies are redefining business growth

The Contentstack TeamJan 24, 20247 min read

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Discover how API first companies can transform your business growth. These companies prioritize APIs and drive innovation, agility, and collaboration. To understand how an API first company can provide your development team with flexibility and ensure versatile content presentation, schedule a demo today.


You’ll learn about: 

  • The transformative power of commercializing APIs is crucial for an API economy.
  • API first companies' unique traits include robust API strategy, collaboration, extensive documentation, and focus on integration and scalability.
  • API-first companies drive innovation and agility in their operations.

API-first companies will shape the future of digital transformation.

Keep reading to learn more!

Did you know that API first companies raised $50 million in funding in 2022?

Interest and investment in these companies show a shift towards an API-first approach, which is likely to increase in the coming years. According to research, there will be 1.7 billion active APIs by 2030.

These statistics reveal that APIs dominate the software industry and provide value to companies in every industry. As the number of companies interested in API first approach to building products increases, understanding what API first companies are and their unique traits can help you create one.

What is an API first company?

An application programming interface or API is a set of defined rules that allows two or more different applications to communicate and interface. They are the building blocks and help software developers use various APIs to simplify their systems. An API receives a request from a user, sends it to the service provider, and returns the result generated from the service provider to the user.

API first companies use the same principle. These are companies that give priority to API development in their business models. An API first company like Contentstack views them as a primary product or service rather than considering them as an afterthought or add-on.

Such companies help developers, companies, and individuals create a unique API platform and build new and innovative software applications.

Now that we understand API first companies, let’s learn about the API first development model.

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Understanding the API first development model

The API first development model uses the design and construction of public and internal APIs even before the development of the actual product. Companies implementing such a model reap numerous benefits, such as:

Scalable systems

API is the foundation for integration and collaboration between different system components. As a result, you create scalable systems by providing the ability to accommodate growing demands and handle increased workloads easily. Using APIs, you can easily handle increased user demand and accommodate future growth. 

Headless CMS

Higher flexibility

Well-designed APIs and their ability to promote interactions without dependency help you create component-based architecture. Such an approach allows companies to adapt and evolve their products more effectively. In an API first approach, developers promote modular development, where you can develop different features, enabling faster iteration and deployment. 

Lower development cost

Using APIs as the foundation of software development, these models help you reuse code components and make your systems more scalable. Such a model reduces the time and resources required for development, helping you save money. When you adopt an API first approach, you deliver high-quality software solutions while keeping an eye on your development budget.

The role of API first companies in the API economy

While companies use APIs to provide efficient, scalable, and flexible software systems, the way developers use these APIs within and outside the company forms the API economy. This refers to the controlled digital data and services exchange through internal, public, and web APIs. The API economy is neither technical nor financial because it primarily represents a mutually beneficial exchange of digital services and data. 

API first companies contribute to the development of the API economy by creating a basis for ecosystems and partnerships. These companies understand that API management provides a way to grow beyond existing offerings and enter new markets.

Offering APIs that expose their core functionalities allows third-party developers and companies to create innovative solutions that build upon their underlying capabilities.

Examples of successful API commercialization

API commercializing is one of the most important concepts of a successful API economy. It refers to transforming an API into a product or service that you can sell commercially based on its functionality and capabilities. This helps you to develop value-added products.

Companies and developers can access these APIs through subscription plans offering services such as support and customization. Also, API commercialization increases revenue and promotes innovation and collaboration, empowering you to develop new applications and solutions.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud (GCP), and Microsoft Azure are successful API commercialization platforms. These industry-leading platforms are helping companies adopt APIs across various sectors, increasing the growth of the API Economy.

Most of these platforms provide an array of APIs, which you can use for developing scalable apps. Both internal and public APIs offer various tools to support your changing company needs, including storage, computing capabilities, machine learning, and data analytics services.

Unique traits of API first companies

Here are some unique traits of API first companies:

  • Uses a robust API strategy: These companies have a strong, comprehensive, planned, and shared API documentation and strategy that captures the essence of their operations.
  • Offers a unique workflow and organizational structure: Their unique workflow and organization structure promotes success in the digital environment. By paying attention to the needs of developers in product design strategies, they create an innovative and collaborative atmosphere.
  • Ensures collaboration and openness: Companies promote sharing ideas and knowledge among team members. API first companies actively engage third-party developers to use their APIs to develop new and advance existing products and services.
  • Provides extensive documentation: API first companies provide extensive documentation, developer support, and useful resources. As a result, developers can use their APIs to the best of their ability and drive continuous improvements. 
  • Focuses on integration and scalability: These companies focus on integration and scalability. They help developers work on innovative solutions by ensuring the APIs can easily integrate with existing applications and systems. This helps them meet growing company needs. 

An API first company's unique workflow and traits prioritize developers’ needs, helping them deliver desired solutions. These companies are different from others because they create a culture where everyone can share their ideas and knowledge, acting as the drivers of the API first economy. 

Top API first companies

Here are some prominent API first companies and what they do differently:


Sitecore is a digital experience management software that uses API first architecture to ensure greater control over the customer’s commerce experience. The API first approach by Sitecore helps create and deliver digital transformations across multiple channels, including websites, apps, and other digital platforms.

Acquia Drupal

Acquia Drupal decouples the front end and uses another technology for the theming layer and presentation. This allows for a more flexible architecture that can adapt to modern application development needs. Drupal develops API first CMS architecture with RESTful APIs covering all CMS services. is another company using the API first approach. It enables developers to use their preferred technologies, platforms, and programming languages to provide better software solutions. Developers using can build applications that interact with content management systems.


Contentstack pioneered API first strategy working with the MACH alliance. As pioneers, Contentstack's headless CMS provides a consistent digital content experience across channels and devices. It’s agile and adaptive due to its API first approach. Developers can provide customized and personalized interactions. Through a complete suite of functionalities and its API first approach, Contentstack enables companies to adapt quickly to market changes.

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API first: A powerful business accelerant

Being API first is not just about the development process but being a business accelerant. If companies place APIs at the center of their business, they can create a culture of innovation and agility while discovering new markets. This provides a multi-device and system collaboration and scalability paradigm. It also helps companies streamline processes and improve customer satisfaction rates.

Let’s understand how with a case study:

How did Photobox use Contentstack’s API first CMS to streamline content management?

PhotoBox, an e-commerce site, faced the challenge of managing a large content volume with an inefficient in-house CMS. To find a more efficient solution, PhotoBox turned to Contentstack. This user-friendly, API first, and headless CMS allowed content publishing across various platforms. It also provided tools that helped team members with limited CMS experience avoid errors and code-breaking.

Contentstack offers a seamless user experience that helps users operate the tool without technical support. With its headless capabilities, developers could code in any language, which allowed codes to deploy faster and the team to work on important features.

Through migration to Contentstack, PhotoBox reduced page load times by 50% and boosted customer retention.

After using Contentstack, Darren Beukes, Software Architect at Photobox, said, “Right now our focus is on our web and mobile platforms, but the fact that Contentstack is a headless CMS means that if we wanted to break into TV or even IoT, we can scale up quickly and easily to deliver to those channels. We don’t have to worry because we already have a solution that doesn't need to be retrofitted to work for new platforms.”

Read the complete case study here


What does it mean to be an API first company?

An API first approach introduces the process of developing APIs as its primary products or services into a company’s business model.

How does an API first company contribute to the API economy?

Companies driven by the API first company model contribute to the API economy by monetizing their APIs. This allows other companies to benefit from their features, promoting innovation and generating new sources of wealth.

What sets API first companies apart from traditional companies?

API first companies are different from traditional companies because they focus on the needs of developers in product design and marketing efforts.

Who are some notable API first companies?

Some industry-leading API first companies include Contentstack,, Acquia Drupal, AWS, GCP, Stripe, and Microsoft Azure.

Why is the API first development model considered a powerful business accelerant?

The API first development model is a powerful business accelerant because it fosters innovation, increases agility, and opens new avenues for growth.

Learn more

API first companies drive innovation and transform industries with unique business models. The future of these companies will continue to shape the digital-first API economy. To learn how Contentstack, the premiere API first company, can help your business realize faster growth, schedule a demo today.

About Contentstack

The Contentstack team comprises highly skilled professionals specializing in product marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and digital marketing strategy. With extensive experience holding senior positions in notable technology companies across various sectors, they bring diverse backgrounds and deep industry knowledge to deliver impactful solutions.  

Contentstack stands out in the composable DXP and Headless CMS markets with an impressive track record of 87 G2 user awards, 6 analyst recognitions, and 3 industry accolades, showcasing its robust market presence and user satisfaction.

Check out our case studies to see why industry-leading companies trust Contentstack.

Experience the power of Contentstack's award-winning platform by scheduling a demo, starting a free trial, or joining a small group demo today.

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