How Nigerian startup Frain is helping developers ship APIs more quickly

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Nigerian startup Frain is building an open-source webhooks service – Convoy – that enables developers and companies to build and release APIs more quickly and securely.

Traditionally, developers have to build and maintain these infrastructures in-house and pay the cost forward with engineering time and resources. Frain’s solution, Convoy, allows companies to ship APIs faster and have one less infrastructure component to worry about.

Frain started in February 2021, when co-founder and CEO Subomi Oluwalana quit his job as a backend developer at Nigerian fintech Tangerine Life to build APIs for fintech. Alongside co-founder and COO Emmanuel Aina, the team tried to sell APIs to startups for several months, without much success. 

While tweaking their solution to be more commercially viable, the team realised that webhooks were a ubiquitous problem faced by most startups looking to build APIs. Webhooks, a core infrastructure component for most API businesses (like Stripe, Twillo or Paystack), are essentially the glue that makes APIs work. 

“Essentially, a failed webhooks event has a direct customer impact. A failed event from Paystack means a customer won’t receive value for their purchase on Domino’s while the customer has received a debit alert,” Aina said.

This realisation pushed the pair to create Convoy – a cloud-native webhook service that allows developers to push webhook events to their users in a matter of minutes. Uptake was swift.

“The reception for Convoy has been massive. It is currently being used by Termii, BuyCoins, Dojah, Getwallets and a few others. The developer community has also commented that it is indeed an essential tool,” said Aina.

In January, Frain raised a US$473,000 pre-seed funding round led by Rally Cap Ventures, and also includes Musha Ventures, Future Africa, Eric Idiah, Tomiwa Lasebikan, Prosper Otemuyiwa, Odunayo Eweniyi, Timi Ajiboye, Opeyemi Awoyemi, and several other angels.

“We are currently operating in the African market with a particular focus on Nigeria. Our product is open to developers across the world. This funding will enable us to invest in our community locally and globally as well as build more products,” said Aina.

Frain makes money from its Cloud Platform, for companies not willing to maintain Convoy infrastructure in-house. 

“With this, they can offload all their webhooks infrastructure burden on us to provide reliability and security out-of-the box,” said Aina.

“For the most part, most companies have an implementation of webhooks in-house. So for many, they wonder why they needed to swap out what they currently have to usher in Convoy. But we’re confident we’ve built a product that is 10 times better than most in-house implementations and we’re still in the very early stages of fulfilling our mission. We think with time, the difference will be clear and more people will be willing to switch their current implementations as our current customers did.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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