Impact Hackathon Learning Session on APIs and How They Can Help Your Business

Impact Hackathon Learning Session: APIs and How They Can Help Your Business

Impact Hub Manila is about empowering entrepreneurs through access and education. On May 25, 2021, leading up to the Impact Hackathon 5G, Impact Hub Manila hosted a virtual learning session. This was co-presented by StackLeague, the Philippines’ first year-round, competitive, programming league.


During the event, participants learned about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In today’s technology-driven age, APIs are vital to all industries. It underlies the connectivity of the world. Connectivity that many of us take for granted. And for our Impact Hackathon Online participants, APIs are an important tool to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.


Giving insight into this topic was resource speaker Ridvan Baluyon. Based in Tokyo, Baluyon is an application engineer at Kate of Tokyo, Co. Ltd with extensive experience with APIs, as well as hackathons.


For his talk, Baluyon started off with a reference to the popular Korean series Start-Up. In the show, young entrepreneurs tackle the South Korean start-up scene. They join hackathons and take part in incubation programs. They create business ideas and products that address real-world needs. It is not too far from the reality of Impact Hub entrepreneurs. And as Baluyon alluded to, all entrepreneurs, in the show and in actual life, leverage technologies like APIs as they find solutions and establish businesses.


What is an API?


An API acts like a messenger that connects a data request to a certain system. It tells the system certain parameters so that the system can do what it needs to do. Then, the API returns the system’s response to whoever or whatever requested. The API is the sole interface the requester has to interact with to gather, format, and have data delivered from an entire group of systems, programs, databases, and even other APIs. APIs simplify the work to do and shields users from intricacies that would bog them down.


When asked how he would explain APIs to a five-year-old, Baluyon answered: “It’s kind of like sending snail mail. So long as you have the letters inside, and as long as you put down the recipient and the destination, you don’t need to worry about how it is going to be delivered. You just have to have the correct parameters.”


What are the benefits of APIs for entrepreneurs?


For entrepreneurs, APIs can cut down the amount of initial work. Building everything from scratch is not working smart. Instead, entrepreneurs can incorporate and leverage pre-existing APIs that do the job. During his talk, Baluyon highlighted three major benefits of APIs for entrepreneurs.


First, it is modular. That means entrepreneurs can add features and functions in increments. This is important for participants of the Impact Hackathon Online 2021 to understand. They need to envision a minimum viable product (MVP). There is no need to put in all the potential features you envision at once. But it is great to know that you can add them in the future. And maybe you will think of another feature down the road. It is good to know you are not stuck with the initial features and functions.


Second, there is the application of the separation of concerns (SoC) design principle. Nobody, neither client nor business, is happy when a function goes down. But with APIs, if one goes down, all the other services could still go on running.


Third, APIs are client agnostic. That means they work interchangeably from the web and mobile applications. This is important today when more and more people are becoming mobile-first users, who prefer to download an app instead of going to a website.


What should entrepreneurs watch out for?


It is important for entrepreneurs to not just be aware of the power of technologies, but also of the potential pitfalls. Especially for those who are starting out.


There were four points Baluyon mentioned entrepreneurs should watch out for. First, the service level agreements (SLAs), which are the contracts over the use of API services, and rate-limiting. It is important to know right from the beginning the details: What is their uptime? How many requests per second can they handle? Any entrepreneur who wants to grow their business needs to know if the API can handle the growth as well.


Second, costs. When turning ideas into realities, take care of your budgeting and accounting. That includes your API costs. Somewhat related to the SLA point, figure out if the service charges per request. If so, you will need a business model that covers that cost.


Third, the changelog. Baluyon reminded participants to check how often the API they are using is changing. That is because that may mean your code and your parameters may need to change as well. A service with outdated code and parameters may not leverage the APIs to service its clients. What happens then? In an all too simple word, Baluyon described it as “disaster.”


What are some examples of useful APIs?


Some of this may have sounded technical and completely detached from everyday life. But APIs are everywhere. And they may our lives simple and convenient.


For example, payment APIs have allowed e-commerce to rise and MSMEs to thrive. Think of PayPal or PayMongo. Google Maps or Open Maps often provide the location services of various apps. That is thanks to APIs.


“There are many APIs you can use to build and assemble your own products,” added Baluyon. “And during the hackathon, just enjoy the process and encourage each other.”

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With the vision of providing a platform that will allow innovation to solve social challenges, Impact Hub Manila launched an annual code fest called Impact Hackathon in October 2019.

In the past 2 years, it has brought a combined number of 2,300 participants from all over the Philippines and attracted over 350 mentors and experts to the event.

The Impact Hackathon remains to be the largest hackathon in the Philippines.

25th Floor, Picadilly Star, 4th Avenue corner 27th Street, Bonifacio Global City

Headquarters Impact Hub GmbH Lindengasse 56 / 18-19 1070 Vienna, Austria UID : ATU66357747 FN : 358967v

25th Floor, Picadilly Star, 4th Avenue corner 27th Street, Bonifacio Global City

Headquarters Impact Hub GmbH Lindengasse 56 / 18-19 1070 Vienna, Austria UID : ATU66357747 FN : 358967v

With the vision of providing a platform that will allow innovation to solve social challenges, Impact Hub Manila launched an annual code fest called Impact Hackathon in October 2019.

In the past 2 years, it has brought a combined number of 2,300 participants from all over the Philippines and attracted over 350 mentors and experts to the event.

The Impact Hackathon remains to be the largest hackathon in the Philippines.

Impact Hub Manila logo

July 15-17, 2021

Good Governance 

    Youth involvement in promoting transparency, empowering citizens, fighting corruption, and harnessing new technologies to strengthen governance 

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