Startup StepZen Steps Into an $8 Million Round of Funding

By Elijah Labby Sunday, January 10, 2021

If our technology-centered world has taught web developers and businesses anything, it’s that consumers appreciate ease of use, and will largely patronize companies that prioritize it over those who don’t.

Much of this ease of use happens behind the scenes, where customers will never see it. But just because they cannot see it does not mean it’s not important — in fact, the exact opposite is true.

StepZen is a startup working to optimize just one of these crucial behind the scenes website components. They’re called application programming interfaces, or APIs, facilitating technological “conversations” between apps.

StepZen is creating a streamlined API that the startup hopes will enable businesses to communicate between applications more effectively, and ultimately create a more favorable customer experience for the companies they serve.

StepZen CEO and co-founder Anant Jhingra told TechCrunch that the company’s focus is on efficiency — something he hopes will let its users spend more time on innovation.

“Developers spend an enormous amount of time deploying and managing code that accesses the backend, and what StepZen wants to do is to give them that time back,” he said.

StepZen’s Recent Funding Gains

StepZen is on the track to success in the market. The startup recently captured $8 million in seed funding to continue its mission. The funding came from venture capital (VC) firms Neotribe Ventures and Wing Venture Capital.

The previous success of those behind StepZen undoubtedly served to put these VC firms at ease about where their money was going. The StepZen team previously sold their API management tool Apigee to Google for $625 million. Back then, Google praised the functionality of Apigee — and if an endorsement from one of the world’s most successful tech companies isn’t enough to put one’s mind at ease, what is?

Chief business officer and co-founder of StepZen Helen Whelan said the funding will enable the startup to work effectively within their level of expertise.

“We know how to do the hard things on the back end. We’ve got the database technologies and the API technologies down, and it’s now about finding how to make all of that simple on the outside and easy for developers to use, ” she said.

StepZen’s Focus on Ethnic Diversity

StepZen doesn’t merely want to want to innovate in the arena of APIs. The startup also aims to build an ethnically inclusive company that reflects its leadership.

“For the first 10 or so employees, we tapped into the networks of the people who we’ve worked with, people who you know can do a great job. Then I think it’s about deliberately expanding from there and deliberately taking the time that you need to explore and expand your pipeline of candidates,” said Whelan.

To many, this diversity in the workplace is something to seek out. Surveys show that young workers value this factor and feel it is crucial to their sense of belonging at work. However, those same surveys suggest that many workers have not seen any change in the ethnic makeup of their fellow employees, so StepZen’s focus in this regard will serve to set them apart.

The Growing Market for API Management Systems

Another factor StepZen has going for it is the growth of the market in which it sits. The global API management market is expected to more than double in value from 2020 to 2025 — ultimately hitting a valuation of over $6.8 billion, according to market research firm Market Data Forecast.

The market growth comes as key players like Microsoft and IBM announced innovations in API development.

While StepZen is in the company of such large corporations like these, this fact is more of a benefit than a downside for the startup. The market for APIs is rigorous and thriving, and StepZen is poised to be a successful new contender in the industry. The recently-acquired funding for the startup will only assist them in reaching their goals.

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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