Artificial Intelligence

Teenage Entrepreneurs Secure $500,000 for API Startup

By Business OutstandersPUBLISHED: June 24, 21:01
Startup
Image Credits: APIGen

Just a few weeks ago, 18-year-old best friends Christopher Fitzgerald and Nicholas Van Landschoot graduated from high school. While most teens their age would be enjoying their last summer before college or entering the workforce, Fitzgerald and Van Landschoot are busy working on their startup, APIGen, from a venture capital office in Denver, Colorado. 

They recently raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding from Varana Capital, enabling them to dedicate their summer to developing their innovative platform. Fitzgerald plans to attend Duke University in the fall, while Van Landschoot will move near the university but put his college plans on hold to focus on the startup full-time.

APIGen aims to revolutionize the creation of APIs by allowing users to generate custom APIs from natural language prompts. This platform can enable, for example, an e-commerce business to request an API that connects its web front end to its database, and the platform will deliver it. 

Unlike standard APIs that perform simple data exchange tasks, APIGen aspires to create complex custom APIs capable of executing multiple or serial tasks. Van Landschoot elaborates, “We’re actually generating the code for the APIs so that you can have business logic, actual custom functionalities within those APIs as well.” Fitzgerald adds that their target areas include web apps, databases, and IoT devices. He provides examples like an API instructing a drone to capture perimeter images or one using facial recognition for building security.

The journey of these young entrepreneurs began on their school’s debate team, where they bonded over a shared passion for coding. Their initial project, a chatbot for data interaction, pivoted to focus on APIs after realizing the difficulty in designing them. This realization led to the conception of APIGen. 

Their prototype garnered significant interest within Boulder’s tech community, prompting them to reach out to VCs. Their persistence paid off when they connected with Philip Broenniman of Varana Capital. Broenniman was impressed by their presentation, noting, “We walked out after two hours thinking this was the best presentation we had heard in the last five years.”

Dressed in their best, Fitzgerald and Van Landschoot leaned into their debate training to pitch their company, vision, and market potential. Their pitch was so compelling that Varana Capital offered $250,000 in pre-seed money and another $250,000 in a SAFE note. The VC also provided office space for the summer.

The local tech community in Boulder, known for its close-knit and supportive nature, has rallied behind the young founders. APIGen's demo at the Boulder AI Meetup garnered further interest and support, highlighting the potential of their platform.

APIGen is still in its early stages, with a beta version of their product set to be released this month. Despite the competition from giants like Salesforce’s MuleSoft and RapidAPI, the enthusiasm and support from their community and investors are strong indicators of their potential. 

Broenniman is excited about the partnership with these young entrepreneurs, noting, “This is a $7 billion-plus market. They are entering with some elements of competition but are carving out their own space. The opportunity for return is significant.”

With their drive and innovative approach, Fitzgerald and Van Landschoot are set to make a significant impact on the API market. Their journey from high school debate team to startup founders is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance.