Reading Evolution

Early Days (5-10) : Comics + Kids Story Books like the Animal Farm, Kids Magazines called Misha ; anything with drawings 🙂

Next Few Years (10-13) : Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Famous Five, Other Enid Blyton, George Orwell, Steve Carrol Books. Lots of Political + Sports Magazines like Time, SportStar. I also started reading headlines, sports & film sections of Newspapers (English).

Next Higher School Days (14-18) : Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Sherlock, a few classics like O’Henry, Charles Dickens also.

Next College + MBA Days (19-23) : Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Philosophical & Motivational Books like The Alchemist, Fountainhead, Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Steve Jobs, 7 Habits, Sam Walton, Rich Dad Poor Dad, How to influence people amongst many others.

Early Professional Days (24 – 29) : Autobiographies of Leela Naidu, Leila Seth were my favourites, Travel + Photography Magazines & Journals, Books on Mahabharata (Palace of Illusions, Arjuna, Krishna Books), Bhagavad Gita, A Suitable Boy amongst others. Loved books around Buddhism, Greek Mythology as well.

Another notable mention is ‘Lords of Finance’. And Yes I did hate Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi – absolute bizarre cheap level writing spoiling generations. William Dalrymple & Devdutt Pattanaik books were great practical stuff to find some amazing insights from History & Mythology for practical work life.
I continued reading some of the autobiographies of  SportsPeople like “Open” by Andre Agassi & World Leaders like APJ Abdul Kalam, Bill Gates.

Digital & Spiritual Transformation Days (30- Ongoing) : While continuing my undue love for Agatha Christie, Sherlock, PG Wodehouse, Classics like Mockingbird – I started reading a lot of Product, Design, Cognitive Science, Strategy books around Habits + Psychology + Diplomacy + Spirituality.

Some of my all time favorite books shall be Sapiens, Art of War by Lao Tzu, Prince by Machiavelli, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, “Autobiography of a Yogi”, “Existentialism is a Humanism” exploring topics of different ideologies, human existence, space exploration, mysticism, etc.

I don’t yet read a lot of only History, Political, Socio-Economic Books (it’s more of documentaries & written records via agencies that I follow more here) but I might just change.


I like Honest, Investigative (in-depth)  writing with anecdotes, examples ; Balanced in overall tone, context ; Non Preachy ; Non Suggestive Books!

Did I also mention, the insane number of hours I spend reading Digitally – its crazy, how I can read anything & everything from social, cultural, political (Karl Marx, Linen), journalist, psychological,  classics, philosophical (Socrates, Aristotle) etc. anything – sports, theatre, literature, anything New & Unique that offers a well meaning perspective and an honest reading can brighten up my day.
I avoid glam sham, made up, repetitive, wannabe content!

I want to Fly & Succeed but not at any costs – these books help me remain sane.

My Idea of Heaven is a library full of all kinds of books! Also my answer to anyone asking what’s the one thing you will take with you to an island? – You know my answer.

ZingoGraphy #15 : My Key Projects & Efforts, Results [WIP]

It is important to share how I cracked my first few projects hence I will try to share the stories behind : (The ones in Bold are Long Term & High Impact Projects – about 70% of my projects).
Disclaimer : They are great from learning + networking POV but low on earning so be careful.

  1. Handicraft Website (Jul’14 – Mar’15) : It was run by a Family Friend & needed some support with his images, website setup, content, analytics, etc. So it happened without much effort. I enjoyed doing the photography in the natural spots + creating in house studios for the same.
  2. Australian Diamond E-commerce + Airport DutyFree Shopping Experience (Mar’15 – Jun’15) : Bijou Blanc – This one came to me because a Travel Friend heard I have joined the Snapdeal & he wanted some ideas on how to increase the digital footprints for his website & how to run them well with his offline Airport Shop!
  3. Delhi Photography Club Website (Apr15 – Jun’15) : This one came because the Founder (with whose company I had done a few Travel + Photo Excursions) heard that I left my job in Snapdeal & he can get an educated Jobless MBA at a low price 🙂 I worked on the roadmap strategy, key product offerings + their segments to target, investments, developing SKU portfolios for Ecommerce publications, payment integrations for their photos collection. It was fun but no earning 🙂
  4. GlueBomb (Jul15) – Done for one of my XL Juniors to do some interesting content + fashion ideas but didn’t continue for long
  5. Something Spicy (Jun15) : A friend wanted his brother’s website for Food Truck to be designed & photos to be clicked – so here I come setting up the entire theme, feel, UI, with no food of course 🙂
  6. Style O2 (Jul-Sep’15) : It was a job offer that turned into a short term consultancy project – one of its kind where Girls shall be given fashion tips on makeup, apparels, styling by consultants. I think they achieved 1Mn+ downloads of the app but shut down sometime in 2016.
  7. Nine Vice (Jan’17 – Ongoing) : Being run by my second cousin so quite organically I got involved in terms of pricing, design, photography, display, tieups, shops arrangments.
  8. CricFit (Jul’18 – Dec’18) : Another Fun one where the amalgamation of cricket & fitness came about. It was good because we worked on many aspects like how to select kids from schools & be trained with nutrition support to be selected for playing leagues.
  9. Sargaa (May’19) : Organic Clothing
  10. PurpleApple (May’19 – Ongoing) : This is one of my major successes where I am able to learn new things, connect, make a difference, add value so quite happy about it. Writing the Business Requirement Document for updating the new Feature for Adapting BOM for Industrial Design.
  11. Koel Music Marketplace (Nov’19 – Ongoing) : For Freelance indie artists, a collection of their songs, jingles, music pieces to be shared across platforms.
  12. SuperLemon SaaS (Jul’19 – Ongoing) : Vernacular SaaS platform support for WhatsApp Chat support for sellers in Latin America + South East Asia, Africa markets
  13. Nudge/GiveIndia/GetBasis Social (Sep’19 – Ongoing)
  14. RainForest VC For Thesis Prep on Gaming, Branding, Health sectors + VC Syndication for investing in common startups (May’19)
  15. Idiolize : Project Management for OCR, Vernacular Support (Oct’19 – Ongoing)
  16. LetsVenture/Angel List Syndicate & VC Investment (Jan’19 – Ongoing)
  17. XYZ [Name Hidden] UX Agency (Jul’19 – Aug’19)
  18. ZingoGraphy Blog & Social Media Pages, Presence + Comic Strip (2015 – Ongoing)
  19. Speaker/Organizer/Writer/Evangelist for Pragmatic Leaders, Product Tank, Product School (2017 – Ongoing) : Organically was approached by their teams to become a part of their setups & an influencer. I enjoy this when I am able to genuinely make a contribution.
  20. Papers on Cognitive Therapy for Consumer Behaviour Understanding to Design & Target them better (Mar’19 – Ongoing)
  21. Product Manager Mentorship to Young PMs – This has happened organically as well where people have approached me to seek a guidance in their PM Careers, I enjoy this alot as well 🙂

Overall, these are my suggestions to crack multiple projects in your areas of interest :

  • Develop a hobby/passion that becomes your recognition in the mind of people, remember it will start with your family, friends, social media first
  • Be Honest in terms of effort (after work hours + weekend hours)
  • If You are doing a Full Time role at the same time then make sure there are no confidentiality disagreements happening on either party side
  • Keep Your LinkedIn Profile updated & honest in terms of effort, be sure to put up some regular updates about your specific interests with right hashtags
  • Be Open to networking with fellow Professionals in similar fields or those of interests – show keenness to collaborate, share ideas

Zingography # 14 : Some Data Science Loaded Cognitive Case Studies [WIP]

I also call it “The Road of Data Science to Design Principles

Yes its a Tough Art to Balance + Manage!

Firstly let me try & explain my thought process around it and then next I will share some examples.

The Process am trying to indicate : How can we use customer behavioural data analysis to create a better design experience for them.
This ain’t that easy as it sounds, its basically about converting all the bits + bytes into Cognitive Decision making process. So basically Left Brain neurons making sense for Right Brain to be able to navigate 🙂

So let me try & make it structured :

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I don’t think its an easy task – (Ask Me :)) but these are specific tasks which a PM is expected to fulfill. Let me quote some of my own experiences :

Banking : Here, some of key initial metrics to be noted
– The no. of mobile logins are as many as the no. of customers + no. of of visits (which I thought was unique) & drop off is very less (<5%)
– The no. of logins/visits would not translate into no. of transactions
– The no. of logins/visits was following a seasonal trend cycles with no impact/growth of offers/new communication

The key deductions were :
– The set of customers are loyal & set (they are not majorly growing nor de-growing)
– The regular offers

FinTech :

Ecommerce :

Some Key Startups : 
– Photography & Travel Club :
– Jewellery Designing :
– Sports Content Website :
– Seller Platform :
– VR Future Tech Implementation :
– Organic Fashion/ Sustainable Clothing :
– UX Agency (Health + Education Tech) :

European Startups Success!

Have been closely following the Europe Tech Startup Scene closely for last 2 years & here are my few realisations.
The continent’s tech Hub scene can be easily divided into below regions :
– UK Tech Hub Scene
– Northern Europe Tech Hub Scene (Scandinivian, Netherlands, Estonia)
– Western Europe Tech Hub Scene (Berlin, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris)
– Central + Eastern Europe Scenes


Now coming to the list of companies – the ones which have succeeded by either crossing $1Bn revenue mark or being sold to another Business Giant can be listed below :

  • Spotify!
  • Booking
  • Nokia (Till it lasted)
  • Revolut/Transferwise/ N26
  • FarFetch
  • Zalando
  • Klarna
  • BlaBla Car
  • Avito.Ru
  • Meero
  • Delivery Hero/HelloFresh/Deliveroo/JustEat
  • Badoo
  • Wix
  • Skype

atomico unicorns

Some Key Observations are :

  • British continues to rule but interesting to see how Brexit changes the scene with UK Products will have limited audience in European markets & vis-a-vis
  • US,China are still BIG as compared to European Markets however very few US, Chinese products find acceptance in Europe Markets – WhatsApp, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are few I know
  • Few Europe Companies Go Global in terms of office setups & market acquisition

But in my understanding, European Startups are unique in terms of offering & are Long Term for following reasons :

  • IPO Target : They target IPO first rather than being a Unicorn along or raising multiple fundings. This shows a mature Approach – Spotify is one unique example of the same
  • Focus on specific customer offering more than marketing, scaling – I have interacted, worked with multiple Startups & their insistence on researching, experimenting, testing, Data Science Approach is VERY VERY HIGH (to the point of nagging at times :))
  • Data approach, experimentation/Testing approach : Another Mature Approach is that they insist on Data for making all Key Decisions
  • Not in a hurry to scale
  • Skill Focussed & Way Upward from Down
  • Doing Simple Thing But Very well!
  • Options to move around different countries in a small space
  • Social Safety Net & Wealth Equality (Social Democratic Setup)
  • Egalitarism

I do think that where they differ is that Americans tend to be a lot better at sales and marketing from day one. They don’t even have a product and they are shouting about how good they are and really selling the product before it is even built. But Europeans will wait three years until the product is completely finished, or at least up to their standards, and say, hey, we exist. It is really bad from both sides. As a reporter, you are kind of fed up with people shouting before it is ready, because it is nonsense. But I really wish the European entrepreneurs would be a little be a little bit more proactive and shouting about their publicity and making noise and selling. They are very bad at selling.” —- Robin Wauters, Founder

risks chart

Ref :

How European and U.S. startups go global: A look at the numbers

27 European startups that have reached unicorn status

Zingography # 13 : Cognitive Behaviour + Data Science ; AB Test Validation Tool

I have been really fascinated by the capability of AB Testing Tool to make Designing Decisions using Data Science.
If you combine Machine Learning & Statistical Science to the same – then Previous Combo becomes more Potent & Effective.

AB Testing can be a tough Art to Master, even the most experienced ones go wrong all the time with their hypothesis & metrics selection.
Hence accepting your own & your colleagues varying opinions + navigating through the same to get most effective Long Term Impacts is they Key for Success.
But one should be honest to the science of AB Testing & how it is designed even if results are not favourable – it’s like a daily routine that should be practiced as it is.

What am here to discuss is the New Art of combining “Cognitive Design Behaviour with Data Science Algorithms” and especially use Spotify’s Playlist Recommendation for the same.

My Current Research Analysis says that Spotify’s Recommendation Engine is one of the best in this space!

Yeah better than Apple‘s iTunes, Alibaba‘s + Amazon’s Return HomePage Pages Recommendations or Similar SKU suggestions, Google‘s Search Engine or Google News Feed, Netflix‘s Similar Shows Features. What makes Spotify shine here is how it has used the Music Preferences Attributes along with Human Emotion Capture Calculations ! They use a unique score assigned to each song preferences & suggest them if your attributes matches the range of moods/preferences! Also their Engine is constantly improving & updating based on bigger cluster preferences. What I appreciate is that they are not using Other Platforms similar data but trusting self engines to contribute. Secondly, it empowers the customers to play with the algorithm to change preferences.

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As per further search, AB Testing plays a very important role in making below decisions:

  • UI Decisions : Button Shape, Contrast colour, Position, Text, Headline, Icons (+ vs Heart), Widget Decisions, Hamburger Menu
  • Page Format – list view vs card view, the information architecture, number of information shared in a single page view
  • Metrics selection & Order Prioritisation for Making recommendations of Playlist
  • Deciding the Weightage of different Key Factors for engine’s Logic – which is the Highlight of Spotify’s Success!

  • Localising + Personalising the Site :
  • Optimising the Keywords Search : When users in Germany searched for “audiobook” and clicked on one of Spotify’s ads, they were either brought to the custom page or to the original page.
  • Creating Culture of Experimentation & Real Time AB Testing Result platform which is most crucial. (They were earlier using Google’s Optimizely for a long time)

Did I ever share the perfect method of conducting an AB Test Experiment :

  1. Define the Problem – To increase conversion, to increase revenue
  2. Come up with a series of ideas to work around the same basis historical data, recent findings, industry insights – This should be a collective + collaborative process wherein everyone should be heard & allowed to explain their logic. Also while prospecting, one has to think about the impact % on success metrics with what confidence, duration, sample size.  Do not hesitate to use AB Testing calculator for same.
  3. Finally one has to prioritise these ideas basis their impact, time + effort + cost and decide on the order of these tests
  4. While designing the test – decide the Hypothesis that by doing so & so the impact shall increase. What is important to note is that while choosing these tests – they have to be such that can be proven only by data results. Also for tests with drastically different options – it can be a short duration test while for closer options, sample size hence duration has to be longer.
  5. So Hypothesis, success metric, options selection are very crucial aspects of the test
  6. Keep observing the performance of key metrics (Primary, Secondary at least) during the tests – no need to take sudden decisions basis this but observe the pattern.
  7. Let the test complete & observe the results – if results are drastically different, you have a clear winner. If test results are negative (do not worry), try with a different hypothesis & options. If test results are closer then decide whether to increase sample size or to discard the test or to go ahead with partial winner (last one not recommended but call can be taken depending on experience/circumstance/influence of other tests).
  8. Keep doing the same for different cases

Zingography #12 : It’s All About Loving Your APIs

Total Surrender to the API Culture is the New Thing especially in the space of payments for easier merchant integration, easier SME solutions of businesses (Invoicing, Salary Payout, Disbursements), easier Future Tech adaptations (SaaS Tools Integrations), more convenient Payment Use Cases Integration.

The quality & quantity of efforts being dedicated towards Payments APIs shall decide the success of that Payments Platform.

The Stages across which an API Development goes through comprises of below :

  1. Brainstorm – First, it is necessary to identify key services your business offers and capabilities of the business. Figure out the kinds of APIs that should be built and which services should be offered via APIs. Also, figure out and write down the use cases for each API. Write down potential endpoints based on those use cases.
  2. Establish API stakeholders – Who are the stakeholders within your organisation? As many people as possible should be involved in your API initiative – you need company-wide buy-in and a vision that is shared by teams within your organisation. Also, allow stakeholders to weigh in on the design of the API. Stakeholders can then agree on interactions across the organisation so that APIs remain consistent.
  3. Design an API contract – The contract establishes a set of standards and best practices for designing APIs. Be sure to describe and document all APIs. Ensure that all APIs work the same, from endpoint names and URLs to error codes and versioning. Consistency is key.
  4. Create a style guide – A comprehensive, cohesive style guide ensures consistency across the teams of an organisation who are building services. API status codes, versioning, error handling, and more will be standardised ensuring that APIs are designed the same way. Use a tool like SwaggerHub to create a style guide for all APIs across your organisation.
  5. Implement API governance – An API governance process can help enforce established standards and reinforce desired outcomes. We discuss API governance in an upcoming blog article. Conducting peer code reviews can also help ensure that API design standards are followed and that developers are producing quality code.
  6. Automate processes – Use tools like SwaggerHub to automate processes like generating API documentation, style validation, API mocking, and versioning. Also, make APIs self-service so that developers can get started building apps with your APIs right away. Provide interactive documentation or a sandbox so that developers can try out API endpoints.
  7. Track and manage your API portfolio – Avoid duplicating code and building redundant APIs by tracking and managing your API portfolio. Implement a system that helps you track and manage your APIs. The larger your organization and platform becomes, the harder it gets to track APIs and their dependencies.
  8. Create a portal for internal developers – Create a central place for internal developers, a place where everything for all your APIs is stored- API specification, documentation, contracts, etc. For example, PayPal has built a portal for its developers and it’s “one of the most visited internal apps in PayPal,” according to an InfoQ article. PayPal’s portal includes an inventory of all APIs, documentation, dashboards, and more.


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Key Takeaways

  • Implementing an API-first transformation in a large organization is as much a people problem as a technical one
  • Organizational chutzpah will strongly influence your API-first success strategy
  • Treating the transformation itself as a product promotes long term success
  • Process and governance are necessary, but keep it light and make it work for your customers
  • Don’t underestimate the investment in tools, infrastructure, and people required to make it work

Getting Your API Strategy on

It wasn’t that long ago the idea of exposing your core plumbing externally was verboten. The real products were the apps and experiences you built on top of that internal stuff. Most product investments resulted in vertically integrated solutions that served a relatively limited set of functionality. Leveraging that investment for a totally different set of use cases or a different product line was often somewhere between difficult and impossible. In that context, it was natural to think of the underlying infrastructure as sunk cost or internal-only plumbing. It was hard to imagine it differently.

That’s changed. More or less every company now has an API strategy that strives to leverage a much larger portion of its technology investment by exposing the outcome in the form of reusable services. The high-level goal is to accelerate business agility by making core business capabilities easily accessible and reusable. Reducing the cost of integration not only has a positive impact on internal velocity, it also provides for increased flexibility and speed incorporating customers, partners, and acquisitions. The days of monolithic, vertically aligned mudballs are rapidly coming to the end. What’s now generically referred to as “microservices,” exposed via nicely designed and documented APIs, with a clear bounded context and semantically distinct business value are where we’re going.

The API Economy

Why the change? The emergence of the API economy has changed the rules.

Some of the highest value companies in the world – Facebook, Google, Amazon – all figured out a while ago that opening the kimono and providing external developer access to more of the plumbing of their core products was a great way to leverage their tech investment, reinforce their product portfolio, and expand partnership opportunities. They built cultures that reinforced share and re-use principles, which were key to making this possible. This catalyzed the API economy and enabled many, many new products to be built and market-tested faster and more cheaply than before. API providers reaped the benefits of more customers, more traffic, deeper integration, and, at least for some, the seeds of new, multi-billion dollar businesses. Even Twitter owes much of its early success to an API strategy even if they subsequently pulled back from it.

The second wave – companies like Twilio and Stripe – skipped the traditional “product” part altogether. They made the APIs themselves their core product and focused on providing great developer experiences as their primary mission. Their customers quickly integrated and got the benefit of essential, needed capabilities without having to build and maintain a lot of non-differentiating functionality themselves. Agility improved. Hackathons happened. Apps and start-ups exploded. It became the default way to build new experiences, iterate, and verify product-market fit.

To remain competitive as an established player your organisation also needs to adopt an API-first approach.  It is a nontrivial change to how you look and think about your tech portfolio.

Actualising Your Future

For newer companies, this approach is already second nature. They’ve likely grown up inside the new reality. But what if you are a large, established company with a lot of existing infrastructure and customers? How do you go about making this transition while still running your business?

First, your tech landscape probably looks quite different. Your legacy code base – probably influenced by SOA, but developed before “microservices” was even a word – is likely sub-optimal. You may have built a lot of tech debt over the years and you may not have a culture that natively reinforces the principles of clear componentization and reuse. Testing may be spotty and there are likely skeletons left over from various re-orgs and abandoned projects. Documentation may leave a lot to be desired. This is not a nice, level foundation on which to start a major microservices transformation. There are, as we say, a lot of “challenges”.

The other major consideration is organizational chutzpah. Executives may be sold on the need for an API-first strategy, but their understanding of the commitment required to get there may vary. Understanding where you are on this spectrum is very important to your success.

On one end, you get the Manhattan project. The bus stops, everybody gets 100% with the program, it’s the top priority, and almost everything else is put on hold. This is rare. If you find yourself in this situation, run with it. Treat it as a massive project and move quickly. You’re not likely to get a second chance.

More likely, practical reality puts you somewhere in the middle. There may be a commitment to slow the bus a little, but it’s definitely going to keep moving and the wheels will need to be changed along the way. As a leader of the transformation, this feels a lot messier. It raises a lot of difficult and important questions that don’t have obvious answers. How is it going to be prioritized? Which teams are going to do it? How is it going to be coordinated? When will it be done? Your job just got a lot more complex. It’s no longer a project. It’s now a complex transformation that may continue for years and it’s as much about organizational change as it is about a technology transformation.

Put on Your Product Hat

At PayPal, we’ve been on this journey for over three years. We’ve used a customer-oriented approach to go from a very monolithic, siloed architecture to a much more loosely coupled set of over 150 services with well designed, modern APIs.

There is a tendency to treat programs like this as engineering projects. We didn’t. Instead, we framed this as a larger, organizational change problem with the “product” being a fundamental shift in how we design and build APIs. Viewed that way, we were forced to identify and serve all key “customers” – developers who build and consume APIs as well as the executives that support them. It shaped our strategy, the tooling we built, how we communicated, and how we measured success. Identifying your customers and focusing on their satisfaction is a fundamental product principle. This mindset has been key to our success and it continues to shape how we manage the program today.

While no two companies are the same, many of the lessons we’ve learned and approaches we’ve used are applicable to other organizations on the same path.

To break this down, we’ve organized the effort using a framework we call the “3P’s”.

  • Product – the infrastructure, standards, and tools used to manage the portfolio of APIs and underlying service implementations
  • Portfolio – the catalog of business capabilities, represented as APIs and underlying services
  • Program – the metrics, training, and levers used to incent changes in organisational behaviour and technology investment

This article is the first of three that explores these dimensions in more detail.


In a small company of a few dozen to maybe 50 or 60 developers, it’s not that hard for the key stakeholders to get in a room, hash out a plan on a whiteboard, divide responsibility, and get to work. There will be a pretty good, shared understanding of the plan and goals, and, after some iteration and course correction, you’ll likely end up with a nicely integrated and cohesive set of APIs and underlying services representing your platform. Your timeline is probably represented in months, or maybe quarters.

In a large organization, things are different. You may have hundreds or thousands of developers spread across multiple business units and geographies, all with differing objectives and, often, different tech stacks. For many reasons, not the least of which is Dunbar’s number – you will not have a Kumbaya moment where everybody holds hands, agrees on the goal, and gets to work. What you need is something more distributed, more scalable, something that reinforces your objectives without depending upon the frailty of social contracts or large scale project coordination. In this context, the “Product” is actually the infrastructure that supports the transformation (not the APIs themselves). This is a significant investment in and of itself. At a minimum, it should probably include the following:

  • A playbook defining common principles and standards for APIs
  • An engagement process to ensure compliance when developing APIs
  • A means of governance including clear and objective measurement
  • Some kind of centralized portal to consolidate APIs and manage the process and metrics

Principles and Standards

At PayPal, we started off thinking about what common ideas would guide us towards our goal of nicely encapsulated services that exposed well-designed, reusable APIs. These became our core principles and they framed much our subsequent standards documentation.

  • Loose Coupling – Services and consumers must be loosely coupled from each other.
  • Encapsulation – A domain service can access data and functionality it does not own through other service contracts only.
  • Stability – Service contracts must be long-lived with a predictable lifecycle.
  • Reusable – Services must be developed to be reusable across multiple contexts and by multiple consumers.
  • Contract-Based – Functionality and data must only be exposed through standardized service contracts.
  • Consistency – Services must follow a common set of rules, interaction styles, vocabulary and shared types.
  • Ease-of-Use – Services must be easy to use and composable by consumers.
  • Externalizable – Services must be designed so that the functionality they provide is easily externalizable.

Setting The API Structure within Organisation :

Step 1: Understand Your API’s purpose

What problem does your API offering promise to solve? Having an outcome-driven approach to API development can help you define better metrics of success, build a sustainable and scalable development strategy, and facilitate faster stakeholder buy-in. Some famous use-cases for APIs include:

  • Facilitating faster development and creating an adaptable architecture by exposing all internal services via APIs – Amazon
  • Creating a successful platform to drive higher engagement of users – Facebook
  • Grow traffic to main website by incentivizing sending users through a partner API model – eBay

It’s important to fully understand the purpose of your API to see how it maps into your business taxonomy. This taxonomy is composed of smaller building blocks of your business from a functional stance. Identifying this, and defining the problem space of your API, helps provide a more focused approach to conceptualizing the exact purpose of your API, and how it maps into your existing business.

Step 2: Understand Your API’s Audience

It’s easy to throw the word “developer” around. What’s important to understand is what outcome the end developer is trying to achieve, and what domain they are in. There can be two consumers for your APIs:

  • Consumers in your direct vertical: This type of API consumer builds services that directly benefit the main consumer of your core product.

For example, Slack’s end users are people within a company trying to communicate better with each other. To better facilitate collaboration and communication, Slack’s API can easily integrate with many popular third party tools that companies use and centralize notifications received from these tools. This way, Slack’s API can directly benefit the same people who use their tools and drive higher engagement and value.

  • Consumers in tangential verticals: This type of API consumer would build services that may not necessarily help the direct consumer of the product, but solves the need of another vertical.

For example, ride sharing companies like Uber could integrate with the Yelp API to give suggestions for good restaurants depending on the location their passengers are driving through. This is a classic example where Yelp’s API is benefitting the consumers of Uber, a company that can’t necessarily be considered as Yelp’s direct consumer. In general, this allows you to have the vision of your full API value chain, made up of your API’s direct and indirect consumers.

Step 3: Align your Team

A successful, scalable API program first needs a solid team behind it that’s fully aware of the API’s objectives and purpose. A great team starts with alignment. The belief that APIs are products, that they solve problems, and they have customers who care about quality, is a mindset that needs to be instilled among all of your teams. A culture of digital transformation involves full buy-in on the power of APIs to be the foundation of a successful platform.

Alignment can come when you clearly articulate the current and future state of your APIs, and how they tie into your entire business strategy. After this, figure out how you tie all of your development, operations, and marketing teams together though well-defined processes.

The way you choose the right people, and define processes that keep them and their workflow intact, can be a determining factor in the success of your API programs. You should also implement tooling that supports a collaborative approach to API development.

Step 4: Develop your API Incrementally

Having a product driven approach involves building APIs that provide immense value to your consumers. A proven tactic to delivering APIs that people love is the build-measure-learn philosophy. This is taken directly from the Lean Startup methodology of having a set of assumptions around the validity of your offering, and iteratively proving and disproving these assumptions. APIs are built incrementally, with regular stakeholder and customer feedback in every iteration, to eventually deliver a great API.

We can divide development into all of its individual life-cycle phases. It’s to be noted that all of these phases should be supported by good tooling infrastructure that align with your company’s culture, methodologies and practices. Tools like SwaggerHubApiary and Reprezen can help development teams design and build APIs in a collaborative environment.

Designing the API

At the end of the day, your API is just a contract between a server and client, with the request-response cycle acting as the terms of the contact. If your end consumers are the ones finding value from your API, this contract needs to be designed with their needs in mind. Designing an API means providing an effective interface that helps your internal stakeholders aligned on the API’s request-response cycles, and external consumers better understand, use, and integrate with the API.

Design is the step before you develop your technological artifacts and business logic. The design of the API acts as the forcing function to really put your API objectives and persona targeting into a human and machine-readable document for your executives and technical teams to consume. As a product management technique, this is an easy way to also focus on the consumer, designing an experience that caters to the type of audience your API is marketed towards.

In the REST ecosystem, the OpenAPI Specification (OAS) has emerged as the world’s standard for designing the interface. The OAS is a human and machine readable specification that’s language agnostic. It’s currently in its third version, with rich expressive capabilities for new security definitions, call backs, linking and more. The API’s definition in the OAS also opens up a world of possibilities in the form of mocking, generating server stubs, SDKs, test cases, and more.

For more visit our API Design Insights page

Virtualising the API’s Dependencies

Your API is built for interoperability. As applications become increasingly complex with many dependencies and components, both internal and external, it becomes challenging to navigate all of these dependencies. This is where API virtualisation comes into the picture. API virtualisation is the process of creating a virtual called copy of your dependencies and mirrors specifications of your intended API. By creating a virtualised back-end off your API design, as well as mocking your dependencies, you can –

  • Allow your frontend and backend teams to work in parallel
  • Create a mock API with dummy data, and distribute that to a few stakeholders both internal and external and get that early feedback and deliver API greatness

API virtualization and mocking is is fast catching on due to its many advantages. This article can help you better understand the concept and benefits of API virtualisation.

Building the API’s Business Logic

This is the phase where you take your machine and human-readable API design layer and convert that into actual code and business logic. Choosing the right technology framework is really important in this phase and luckily they open API design layer being language-agnostic can allow different developers in teams to do API business logic in different languages. Of course there are many different ways to choose the right programming languages, so here’s an article that can help. Tools like the Swagger Codegen project allow you to prototype APIs faster in the programming language of your choice by auto-generating boilerplate code from your API design. The code generator takes care of all the scaffolding in the API’s code, so your development seems to focus on what truly matters – the APIs business logic.

Testing the API

The testing phase is intended to reveal bugs, inconsistencies or any sort of deviation from what the expected behavior of the API was. depending on the mission criticality off your APIs you can perform different types of tests to ensure they function as intended. There are many different types of tests you can do like functional testing, reliability testing, load testing, and security testing, all of which can be prioritized based on your API’s objectives and target audience.

Creating API Documentation

Your API documentation is the face of your API. Think of it as a technical content deliverable that contains instructions about how to effectively use and integrate with your API. It’s a concise reference manual with all the information required to work with the API, supported by tutorials and examples.

Developers can auto-generate documentation from the OpenAPI definition layer through various API documentation tools. Documentation has a direct impact on adoption and growth of your APIs. The level of sophistication of your documentation can vary depending on the APIs use case. If it’s internal APIs, then maybe just reference documentation can suffice. External APIs tend to require higher levels of investment, with SDKs, tutorials, and a getting started guide.

Step 5: Define KPIs

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively your API is achieving its business objectives. While your API is being developed, it’s valuable to understand exactly what are some quantifiable measures of success for your API program. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of potential KPIs you can measure yourself against, so tying your measurable outcomes back to your API’s purpose and audience, defined in steps 1 and 2, can help. There’s two types of metrics you should measure yourself against.

Audience Journey Metrics

This is characterised by measuring the various steps it takes for your end user to reach and consume your API. Here’s a classic example of KPIs for a traditional API model.

Stage Consumer Action KPI
Interest for using API Registering for API key Time to register and obtain key
Desire for using API Understanding how to use the API Time to first 200 response from API
Desire for using API Integrating with API Number of API calls made over time
Advocating for the API Sharing APIs among social and professional circles Number of shares made over time

The importance of measuring yourself against quantifiable metrics could decrease when building a private API, which may not necessarily require the same amount of rigor. That said, In case of private APIs, qualitative feedback and anecdotes can serve as good yardsticks to measure yours API against too.

Business Goal Metrics

These metrics are tied more closely to your API’s purpose. If it’s a public or partner based API model, then pricing and growth are good indicators of your API success. If your API is for private, internal use, then the number of applications and processes integrating with the API is a good measure of success. Here’s a few examples of business-centric KPIs.

Business Goal of API KPI Example
Direct Monetisation Increase in MRR Twilio
Indirect Monetisation New customers referred through API eBay
Package Monetisation Customer lifetime value of customers using apps built through API SalesForce

Step 6: Collecting and Acting on Feedback

The metrics you define above can help you set benchmarks when collecting feedback on the quality and business value of your API. Once you’re done with the above phases, deliver the APIs on a basic portal to enable consumption by the right stakeholders, and get feedback. This step is all about getting some valuable feedback from an initial sample size of potential users. There are two parts to this step –

  1. Identifying early adopters who can provide you with feedback. You can leverage relationships with some of your existing customers, or scour for early adopters in channels where they usually hang out. This article from Lean Startup can be beneficial in understanding how to obtain early adopters
  2. Collecting and consolidating the feedback, and iterating on it.

This feedback needs to be processed and acted upon quickly, as part of the build-measure-learn philosophy. New feedback is again incorporated into the API design and development process, releasing new updates constantly.

Step 7: Marketing the API

Marketing your API is about educating your consumers on its benefits, and advocating for why it can be an integral part of the developer’s toolchain. At the end of the day, you want to make sure your APIs are being discovered and consumed, both internally and externally. In general, marketing is a combination of inbound content, including (includes inbound messaging and documentation) and outbound evangelism. This Nordic API ebook explains in detail the various stages to build a successful marketing program around your API, including various stages like establishing and maintaining developer relations, creating tutorials, and creating an advocacy program around your APIs.


Women IPL 2019

Had to write about it as had been following it closely & enjoyed it thoroughly too – all the matches went down to the wire so one has to appreciate the efforts of all organizers, players, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters!

Popularity of Women Cricket not just in India but across the world is on the rise, no two hoots about it. India being the largest country playing the game & because of the mass following plays the fulcrum role.
Post WC 2017 Success, Women cricketers have become household names & this is only going to increase with time. There have been milestones achieved like Launch of Historical Biography book, Magazines, Training facilities, WC T20 Semi Final berth, talks of mixed gender T20 Match, One Leg WIPL 2019, Exclusive Sponsorships, Women Commentators, etc.
These were not thinkable 2 years back but have happened & continue to evolve as a fresh source of involving more people in the game at the same time giving girls an equal opportunity as boys.

Now it’s time for IPL Teams (all 8) to start Women’s teams and give them a platform to perform by playing co-sponsors as Men’s teams. It should not be very difficult as the facilities, infra, trainers, coaches, grounds, etc. just need to be shared and not newly created.

How it has to be executed with Men’s IPL being a 55 day affair with hardly any scope of double games is to be seen.
Some efforts on part of sports administrators to show their creativity.

And as I conclude – may I please ask people to stop bashing Mithali Raj, the lady has been at the helm of so unnecessary criticism from the adrenaline junkies who don’t understand or wish to understand the nuances of games.
People should stop comparing Women players or try to create rifts amongst them, they all have their own strengths which is amazing given where they have reached almost single handedly with only parents & at times board supporting them.

I might be known as a Mithali Fan but am equally happy to see Smriti or Harman or Veda or Jemi or now Shafali, Harleen, etc. perform. They are faces that are girls in hinterlands of India shall look upto and seek inspiration from especially in times of doubts. So they all & many more need to be encouraged.
I do agree that I do not appreciate or like to see overtly high aggression in body language, words or expressions. Am most for aggression but through your performance like waiting for your turn & when you get it – make the most of the situation. But in doing that do not cause the natural turn of events get harmed.

 I do urge Mithali if she’s reading or listening to the +Ves around to stick around till WC2021 & get India the trophy. Build a team for that stage that can handle pressure & look to beat the best in the world like Aussies, England. I do think India is in Top 3 of the world in terms of ODI, its just a matter of being able to hold nerves & accelerate whenever necessary.
Mithali, herself can be a good weapon for India in WC2020 as there is no better (wo)man manger as a leader, who has seen it all & knows the opposition in all conditions, can be a reliable batswoman at any stage of the game. She just needs to focus on some solid power hitting – then there is nothing stopping her. She needs to hold on!


Post #MeToo Effects

I have been Travelling a lot in the last 2 years – exploring history, architecture, culture, people from Central Europe, North Africa, Eastern Europe, India, South East Asia, China regarding how origin of Life happened in Pre – Medieval Times & then travelled during Medieval Times resulting into establishments of different Civilisations : Indus Valley, Roman, Persian, Ancient Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, Mesopotamia + Babylon & Latin Civilisations (Haven’t discovered much about Last one).

Along with travel, I have tried to relate to their situations & research + read about how it was 5000 years back and most importantly how things moved resulting into today’s Modern times and what are the impacts we carry. Here are few things which struck me the most as a learning for today :

  • Constant Evolution – Slow in days but very fast in years/ages
  • Role of Women
  • Dominance of Power : Physical, Financial, Collusion
  • Innovation is always appreciated
  • Faith vs Logic Struggle
  • Abuse of Nature & Natural Powers/Resources
  • Time/Nature are BIGGEST POWERS
  • Sticking to one’s Beliefs + Values has always been tough but rewarding sooner or Later! Silent Warrior Heroes have always existed and History has been Kind to them

Coming back to the topic, I felt that #MeToo Movement has been one of the most powerful social empowering revolutions (driven by media majorly) to have happened in recent times which spoke RIGHT after LONG LONG abuse of Women as Weaker Sex! I felt great & empowered about the same and made sure my female friends, colleagues, relatives+family are well aware about the intrinsic detailed insights so to not repeat the mistakes of the past!

But I feel, it rose like a HIGH TIDE WAVE during 2017 + 2018 and has settled for now though it has enhanced the awareness about the concerns & issues. I do wish to avoid the opportunistic cases which (if) came up, my expectations are clear :

  • Women Should speak Up & express themselves in the Best possible manner & Most effective way possible
  • Women need to standup more for other Women basis right values as that creates a lot of confidence for all
  • Everyone (Male & Female) must act respectfully towards everyone without any prejudice for Gender. Acting respectfully involves giving space & opportunity in terms of every aspects – conversation, growth opportunities, household responsibilities, roles & responsibilities. Basically remove Biases.
  • Enhance Women Representation in responsibility oriented roles from Village Organisations -> Senates -> Sports -> Engineering Colleges -> Corporate -> World Organisations. Families, Friends, Organisations will have to play an important role.
  • Remove Slave mentality & Despondency attitude and have a more independent, relaxed + confident, informed approach For Women. Stop associating weakness with Gender, Caste!


My Moroccan Diaries…

I chose Morocco coz I wanted to experience the different offerings of Middle Eastern World Zone – The blue, white & Brown Arabic Architecture in between the inter-twining streets against the Blue Sky & Blue Sea with Quiet & Conventional People Folks really appealed to me as a place I really wanted to see.

I had been to Mountains a lot, European destinations, South East Asian Beaches, Cape Town’s valley streets but never to Middle Eastern World & that appealed to me as something I have to see with my eyes to experience. And surely, overall I was not disappointed.

Here are the things I loved :

  • The Medina walks with amazingly interesting architecture, culture, people, markets, practices (one of the most fascinating was how pretty houses were hidden inside non revealing brown walls), lives insights, handicraft industries (though my new friend Gracia mentioned that its not possible to make so much of stuff by hand alone – I agree).
  • The Hasan Mosque in Casablanca was breath-taking with its architecture & grandness – Pure Grandness of location & design – WOW!
  • The landscape were varying from Mountains (Green, Brown) to small villages to loads of markets to wide open spaces. Morocco has apparently everything from seas, deserts, mountains, modernism & medina lives to offer.
  • How the infrastructure is so much in place – very similar to Europe & a developed Islamic Country – very impressive.
  • The hotels we stayed in were majorly 4 star with lovely swimming pool views
  • Some Interesting travel places thrown in form of Roman Remains, French ski resort amongst many others.
  • I was amazed with what Progressive Islamic nation with Monarchy Dictatorship focussed on public spends at infrastructure, education, tourism, agriculture (oranges, indigo, handicrafts) can go on to achieve – my regards for this small (in geographical area) has gone up many times.
  • Though I did not expect the group I got – was able to make friends with two Italian ladies which worked out rather well & also got to see how Italians & Spanish families travel which was quite interesting
  • Morocco was filled with visitors at this point & hence one could see all age groups & nationalities floating around with so many Japanese thrown in with their selfie sticks!
  • I got some time to do self evaluation which is MOST CRITICAL for me while travelling
  • The weather was mostly pleasant with some times becoming too hot or cold
  • Also very few Indian tourists thankfully.. and no extra charge for camera..

For my next travel, here are my thoughts :

  • I would like to be more involved in the planning & probably do it on my own totally & see how it goes
  • I would want to know the itinerary more in detail so I can plan what to buy, what to wear, what to carry a bit more in advance
  • I think 4 days is enough for me to get a flavour of the place & I would like to explore something more new next quickly

Will share the pictures & some more insights in some days.

New Interests Findings & Relevance

  • Russian Philosophy – How Capitalism & Socialism Thoughts evolved during Cold War & shaped the world. How China kept its Communism intact

Leninism vs Marxism vs Stalinism vs Communism and its after impacts.
My PM Learnings : How the limit of human thought-processes was explored way back & even put into practice – resulting in new ideologies. How different ideas might create excitement & perspectives at the particular time but ultimately the one which is most resilient & inclusive of people with self absorption & growth scope results into longevity.

  • Quantum Physics linked to Spiritualism – Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein

How the infinity unites one & that leads to the discovery of yourself w.r.t. the universe is Beautiful!
My PM Learnings : To have a LARGER THAN LIFE VIEW TOWARDS our daily usage of Products.

  • Ancient Scriptures linked to Neuroscience & Psychology – 

My PM Learnings : How it is possible to explore the amazing transient models plus it has already been explored in depth of research. If one can be a good student & learn to adapt to different times as a customised solution – it can result into something Great!

  • Cognitive Science Linked to Design Models & Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning involving Cryptography/Coding/Rubiks Cube

My PM Learnings : How different perspectives can lead to some unique models for consumer thought process mapping using basic thoughts. Here’s one list of such principles :

  • Animation : There are different types like 2D, 3D (which is most popular with CUG, etc.), Whiteboard, Stop Motion (My Fav), Cutout, Sand, FlipBook, 

My PM Learnings : How to use different perspectives of people into creating different illusions & visualisations

  • Drone Photography : Different places where it has been used to shoot a completely new perspective!

My PM Learnings : To think out of box & how same stuff can look so different!

  • Luxury Behavioural science with Globalisation playing an important Role

My PM Learnings : It’s important to understand how people from a different Geo-Political- Social Background can have a completely different take on expectation of services & offerings.

  • Origin of Human Race (Sapiens) – Initiated to Central Asia & how spread to Eurasia regions! How Civilisations Kicked Off? How GOT is linked 

My PM Learnings : Its so important to know the history behind your product & idea so as to do complete justice to the same.