MarketCheck: Accelerating to new developer markets with API management

About MarketCheck

MarketCheck is an online aggregator bringing unprecedented access to data with a focus on select industries including automotive, real estate, and heavy equipment. The company fosters innovation and maximizes exposure for the development community, while placing entire markets within consumers' reach.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

MarketCheck aggregates car pricing data through advanced web crawling techniques, providing access through the Apigee API Management Platform to real-time data for automotive platforms and consumers.

Google Cloud Results

  • Expands customer base from large enterprises to include SMB and startups
  • Eliminates need for customers to perform ETL on massive flat files
  • Enables product development through immediate user feedback

Grew from 100 data file clients to 1,000+ with Apigee

Sometimes the best ideas come from realizing that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. MarketCheck's founders, brothers Dan & Troy Campbell, were experts in web crawling technology and car sales respectively, and founded the company with the goal of building an auto pricing tool that would provide real market data rather than relying on book values. They believed that if they could build a tool that would let dealers know more accurately what cars were actually worth, it would be immensely useful; it would help dealers price cars better both for sale and trade-in.

Differentiating with data

The brothers soon realized that despite their winning idea, there was a lot of competition in the pricing platform space, and that MarketCheck's real advantage lay in the value of the data that it could sell to would-be competitors.

"Anyone who's done an internet startup can probably tell a similar tale," says Dan Campbell. "You think your idea is original until you start to build it, and somehow almost magically all these other companies start appearing. We recognized that we were going to be facing a lot of competition from companies that were, in some cases, much further along with similar projects. We had to ask ourselves 'What are we good at, and what do we have to work with?'. The answer was that we're really good at the web crawling data extraction part, so that became our core business."

"Our old business model required a lot of interaction, and we could only talk to a few prospects at a time. With Apigee, it's like a vending machine. Users sign up, start consuming data, and for the most part we only know about it when we look at the stats."

Dan Campbell, Co-founder, MarketCheck

Pivoting toward becoming a data company was the tipping point for MarketCheck's growth. The company started selling its data to all of the companies in the automotive space that were building tools like the ones it had been working on, turning competitors into customers. Initially the model was to go after the biggest customers who could pay the most for data. These customers also had in-house IT expertise that could set up FTP transfers to ingest the huge flat files that MarketCheck was providing, and then transform and load them into their internal systems.

Expanding horizons with APIs

After many of the biggest players in the automotive pricing space had become MarketCheck customers, the company realized it was missing opportunities to sell to smaller startups with interesting ideas. They recognized a challenge for potential niche uses of the data in that these companies often didn't have a lot of development background or budget. Receiving flat files and building an extraction layer to call the database that they would have to set up was a significant barrier to entry for startups.

MarketCheck viewed Google's Apigee API Management Platform as an opportunity to offer a robust, powerful suite of APIs to a wider range of developers. Rather than having to go through the lengthy process of onboarding flat file customers for each new deal, the new API-first model and the simple onboarding enabled by the Apigee platform enables MarketCheck to democratize data availability with self-service access to APIs. Now all new customers, from large enterprises to small startups, get credentialed through the Apigee platform.

"Apigee allows us to offer a really powerful suite of APIs to developers without having to constantly ask ourselves what we might be missing. We publish a couple of APIs, and then our user base is there to ask us for what else is needed."

Dan Campbell, Co-founder, MarketCheck

"Our old business model required a lot of interaction, and we could only talk to a few prospects at a time. With Apigee, it's like a vending machine. Users sign up, start consuming data, and for the most part we only know about it when we look at the stats," Dan explains.

Market-led product development

Exposing APIs through the Apigee developer portal provides MarketCheck with the added benefit of being able to adapt its product roadmap in response to user demand. The company's APIs keep getting more robust because it's simple to add functionality, enabling clients to do more with the data. The process of incorporating market feedback into product development has been a boon to MarketCheck's growth.

The company built and published its original set of APIs based on what they knew developers wanted, but it quickly turned to the users for contributions to ongoing development. The Apigee API management platform, with its rich analytics capabilities, provides a way for product developers to find out what their user base wants by gauging response to existing APIs. When a critical mass of customers starts to ask for a specific endpoint or data call, it gets added to the product. The platform has helped engender a true outside-in approach to product development.

"Apigee has really shifted our growth strategy from a top-down, 'Here's our idea, now let's present it to the marketplace' standpoint to a much more agile approach where we present an early take on a product and see what the market thinks."

Dan Campbell, Co-founder, MarketCheck

Says Dan, "Apigee allows us to offer a powerful suite of APIs to developers without having to constantly ask ourselves what we might be missing. We publish a couple of APIs, and then our user base is there to ask us for what else is needed."

"Apigee has really shifted our growth strategy from a top-down, 'Here's our idea, now let's present it to the marketplace' standpoint to a much more agile approach where we present an early take on a product and see what the market thinks. We get the benefit of a much larger user base that can start to play with our APIs and give us feedback on the direction that they'd like to see the products go," Dan adds.

Web crawling toward the future

"The combination of MarketCheck's advanced web crawling capabilities and the agility gained from the new API-centric model has enabled the company to branch out into other data-rich markets like real estate and heavy equipment. The ease of onboarding and access provided by the Apigee platform has helped transform the company into something like a data storefront, where customers have the freedom to come and get as many items as they want," Dan concludes.

About MarketCheck

MarketCheck is an online aggregator bringing unprecedented access to data with a focus on select industries including automotive, real estate, and heavy equipment. The company fosters innovation and maximizes exposure for the development community, while placing entire markets within consumers' reach.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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