Using APIs to embed features into other companies’ websites is becoming increasingly popular among tech start-ups

1. Social discovery
2. Curation
3. Social commerce
4. Gamification
5. Crowdsourcing and categorisation
6. Freemium and subscription models
7. Niche social networks
8. Location-based apps
9. APIs
10. Customisation

An API (application programming interface) is a piece of code that enables others to integrate your service into their own site, or develop applications using your platform. Instead of starting from scratch with development, programmers can utilise existing tools and features that have already been built by others, such as news feeds or messaging systems, which can significantly reduce development time.

APIs are nothing new; they underpin the flourishing mobile apps market, and have been used by the likes of Google, Apple, Twitter and Facebook for years. However, tech start-ups are increasingly developing their own APIs, to make their own products and services more accessible to others.

For example, new online payments start-up GoCardless is using an API to enable businesses to collect payments directly from their customers’ bank accounts through a secure link, without having to store credit card details, pay credit card fees or set up a merchant account.

A slightly more established start-up, Songkick, which enables users to follow their favourite artists and bands, has developed an API which gives other sites easy access to their service – the largest live music database in the world. Here’s a look at the Songkick API in action, providing setlists for the BBC’s 2010 Glastonbury coverage.

As my fellow panellist Stefan Glaezner puts it: “If data is the new oil of the tech industry, then APIs are the sexual organs.”

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