Startup Interview with Christine Bottagaro, Resurface Labs Co-founderby@resurface

Startup Interview with Christine Bottagaro, Resurface Labs Co-founder

by Resurface LabsAugust 19th, 2021
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Resurface is an API system of record, for triage and root cause, and threat identification. The startup wants people to have all the API data without tradeoffs (cost, time, storage) People shouldn't have to guess about how API user actions are being used or abused. We want to democratize actionable API user information. We want people to be informed about what they do and what they want to do with their API data. We’re not interested in traditional solutions masquerading as API-centric, but in this case, buyers should be informed.

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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

Fell in love with Tech from an early job working for a company that developed C++ class libraries. Always dynamic with lots to learn. My naturally curious mind is never bored. But what really hooked me were the people. Smart, funny, self-deprecating, talented. Running customer programs for a large ISV gave me a deep appreciation for what customers can teach us about our tech. And APIs?? The coolest.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Resurface is an API system of record, making each and every API call a durable transaction for failure triage and root cause, threat and risk identification, and simply just knowing how APIs are being used. It'a a whole new world of rich, runtime API data.

What is the origin story?

Years ago, there was a significant drop in revenue from an online store for a fruit-flavored hardware manufacturer. With the release of a new version of the store, there was a 6 percent drop in sales with no discernible cause. Weeks go by, and still nothing. But, by capturing all API calls and pinpointing where they failed and for whom, the root cause was identified: an error that dropped the trailing zero on zip codes (which, BTW, occur in 6 percent of all U.S. zip codes). Better yet, once found, the team reached out to every affected customer to come back and complete their transaction. This pointed to the underlying need to understand API user actions in real-time via complete data capture, exploration, and remediation.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

The Resurface team is everything. We’re all wired to be customer-centric (yes, even our lumberjacks, er, devs), problem-solve (sometimes even before the meeting is over), and laugh our rear-ends off. A talented, quirky, funny group all focused on delivering sweet API data insights.

We want to democratize actionable API user information. Yeah, we know, it sounds lofty. But we really want people to have all the API data without tradeoffs (cost, time, storage). People shouldn't have to guess about how APIs are being used or abused. By creating an API system-of-record, teams have a shared tool to troubleshoot problems, can understand & prevent API attacks, and optimize APIs for users.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

Selling shoes at Nordstrom, or helping other startups build a solid go-to-market foundation.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

Gaining traction with early customers is critical, but not just for revenue. Having smart opinions on the product features and functionality is a core tenet for us. We learn from every discussion, demo, and installation. “How can we make this better?” “How can we remove friction from API data access?”

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

Absolutely, it’s the uptake with the problem that we solve. One person said “This is the problem I’ve been chasing my entire career.” Even those folks who start a discussion saying they’ve solved for API observability often admit they’ve fallen short by the end of the call. The need is real, and solutions that are not purpose-built for API data (either via vendors or DIY) don’t meet the need. We’re out to change that, and make it easy to get the answers to the API questions everyone should be asking.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

We ❤️ open source. And specifically Trino (fka PrestoSQL). It’s the engine behind Resurface’s ability to be query-first. We built a custom connector in an innovative way to have Trino be our data store and provide blazing query speed and stay SQL-based for data sharing and query-building. No more guessing, ask any question of your API data (no predefined models or data limits).

Lots of folks are camping on API security recently. And that’s good. Everyone needs to wake up to the fact that web-based or perimeter security isn’t getting it done when it comes to protecting APIs and understanding API traffic risk. But that also means that there are a number of traditional solutions masquerading as API-centric. We’re not interested in throwing shade here, but want buyers to be informed about what they do vs. what a purpose-built API system of record like Resurface does.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

Well, shucks, you asked. Also, we appreciate any platform where devs can be devs. Lots of API content and dark mode by default. What’s not to love about HackerNoon?

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Trust your gut. Harder to do when you’re younger, but you’ll know when a job or career is right. Boil it down to the essentials. For me: 1. Finding the people you want to work with; 2. Plenty of challenges; 3. The ability to bring value. What may look good on paper, or what works for someone else may not be the right decision for you (younger me).

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

It’s been surprising to hear from seasoned API practitioners that they often don’t know what to look for in API data. Because they haven’t been able to. It’s cool that there’s lots of open space for us to educate on APIs, but no one (even big tech) really has this dialed. Yet.

Resurface Labs was nominated as one of the best startups in Boulder in Startups of the Year hosted by HackerNoon.