I had this week the pleasure to discuss with Nicolas Rigaud, VP Marketing & Partners at Streamdata.io. Nicolas was very kind to share good insights into this interesting startup specialized in API streaming.
Stephane Castellani: Hi Nicolas, can you please present steamdata.io in a few words?
Nicolas Rigaud: Streamdata.io is a French software company that was created back in 2008. On the financial side, we started with a seed round in 2009 and achieved our last round a few months ago, for a total of $9M. That’s now 15 of us working there, with our R&D team located in Grenoble, in the French Alps, while the business team is now based in Stamford, Connecticut. We’re mainly seen as a fintech company for most of our clients are part of the financial industry, but we also work with industries related to logistics, industrial IoT or media. Anywhere data is time-sensitive, we can help and provide great value!
SC: What is your flagship product?
NR: Technically, our product is a proxy that turns API data into streams of data. If you wonder what this means, let me explain: let’s say that you want to have a look at stock market prices. You launch your app on your phone. The app uses APIs to retrieve data, in our case stock market prices, and display it on the screen. Ten seconds later, those prices have probably changed. You don’t know, but chances are at least some of them have changed. So you’re going to hit the refresh button to reload. By reloading the page, you’re going to ask again through the same API to get the new prices. With our solution, you would no longer have to hit the refresh button. You would receive new prices as soon as they are available, the interface would be updated in real-time with no effort required from you, and no frustration to be late on the market.
SC: What is your value proposition?
NR: For time-sensitive data, the way APIs work today makes them consume and waste a lot of resources without being accurate in all situations. With our solution, we deliver accurate and fresh data from APIs while reducing their costs by up to 90%.
SC: Why is API streaming so important today? Which issues are you addressing?
NR: The API economy is getting bigger and bigger every day; and lots of companies are taking advantage of it to grow their business. Keep in mind that a company like Expedia, for example, makes 90% of its revenue through APIs. In this economy, streaming is taken more and more seriously as it’s making the whole process more efficient for all stakeholders, whether they are data providers or data consumers. Still, a streaming backbone is a $1M. investment with a time-to-market of 6 to 12 months.
SC: How do you solve those issues?
NR: Our solution for streaming saves up to 90% of the cost for building a backbone. We’re also accelerating time to market as our solution can be in production in just a few hours versus several months to build everything by yourself. I know a few companies that can afford to lose several months nowadays.
SC: What are the benefits or your product? Is there any available ROI?
NR: There are two main benefits to our solution. First, by unleashing the power of real-time, our clients manage to increase users retention in their apps. Dwell time, the time spent on a page can be up to 3 times longer compared to static interfaces. Think about all the ways you could take advantage of all this extra time! Then, on the financial side, savings and ROI can easily be calculated. On top of providing a real-time feature, we reduce costs by at least 50% (through CPU usage and bandwidth optimizations), and this goes up to 90% compared to building your own streaming backbone, once again with a better time-to-market (ours being a few hours only)
SC: Which channels do you sell your product through? Online, via sales teams, via partners?
NR: Our solution is available as-a-service, online, on our website streamdata.io. It’s even available for free to allow people to prototype easily and test the solution before deploying on larger scales. Step by step, we ’re making it available on cloud providers’ marketplaces like AWS or Google Cloud Platform, so as to make it as easy as possible to integrate our solution to a new or an existing project.
For larger projects, we have our own sales team and we also work with a network of partners that go from integrators to complementary fintech startups.
SC: Which API streaming technology do you use (on both sides)?
NR: On the API provider side, to retrieve data, we’re using the classic polling method because that’s the way it works with REST APIs. To distribute data to the clients, we use a technology called SSE (short for Server Sent Events). It’s not very famous compared to other methods like WebSocket for example though it’s a lot easier to integrate and maintain (it uses HTTP and is natively supported by modern browsers).
As you can guess from its name, SSE provides a unidirectional communication stream going from our server to the clients. Every time we retrieve data, a client no longer has to ask for it, we automatically push it to him. This is the API streaming piece.
On top of SSE, we’re pushing incremental updates, meaning we just push new data when it’s available. Let’s take an example: you want to retrieve data from an API with a hundred fields. If only 10 of these fields are updated from one API call to another, instead of sending you 100 fields including 90% of data you already have, we just send you the 10 fields that have changed, using a technology called JSON patch. This allows us to send fewer data and as a consequence to make the whole process faster.
SC: Technically speaking, how do you protect your API key, as it has an impact on service usage and the pricing?
NR: If you think about the API key of a target private API for example, our tool allows one to make sure it’s not passed through the initial request. Once set up, our solution is going to push this information on the fly, as a query parameter or in headers. it’s pretty straightforward.
SC: Can you share with us a recent customer success story, indicating the challenges they faced and the outcomes they got with your product?
NR: When you work with people in the finance industry, it can be very hard to quote a client, so I won’t drop any name, but I can give you an example for sure. There’s this company we met with a few month ago. They have an investment app making more than two billion API hits every month. Their costs for servers and network were close to $200k every year and they were looking for a way to optimize this. We managed to lower their costs by 50%, which made them happy, but they were even happier to discover that not only did we save them money, but we also allowed them to enhance their interface with real-time data thanks to API streaming, and as a consequence enhance the experience they were offering to their customers.
SC: Can you share with us your product presentation video?
SC: Thank you, Nicolas, it was great talking to you and discovering Streamdata.io and their API streaming technology!
NR: Thank you, Stephane.