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If you have an idea, quickly take the plunge – Interview with Micha Mazaheri

[BSD Magazine]: Hello Micha, how have you been doing? Thank you for agreeing on the interview. Would you like to tell us something about yourself?

unnamed[Micha Mazaheri]: Hi! Thank you for having me. I started Paw almost 3 years ago as a side project. The idea was to build the tool I was wishing to have for myself when I was an iOS developer at an early stage [of a] San Francisco startup. Interestingly, I was not much focused on the business side for a long time, and I was spending time on probably unnecessary details in order to build the app that made me happy myself.

[BSD Mag]: You are a Founder of Paw. Can you tell our Readers something more about the company?

[MM]: We are tool builders. Not Iron Age tools nor machine tools, but productivity software for developers. While I started Paw with the goal of creating one specific Mac app, we are now aiming to build a complete workflow for teams working with APIs.

[BSD Mag]: Your product is also called Paw? What does it do?

[MM]: Paw is a developer tool for Mac that lets web API developers and consumers test and inter- act with HTTP servers: what is now commonly known an HTTP client. Soon, it will become s SaaS service for team collaboration with a web frontend to test APIs and build their documentation seamlessly.

[BSD Mag]: What is the huge update you have been working on recently?

[MM]: Fun fact, it is our first update with a codename: Keep it secret, keep it safe. The name describes perfectly what it does; finally bringing privacy control and local encryption to our API testing tool. We are very excited about this update as Paw now becomes the only truly secure HTTP client, while our competitors are still sending their customers API credentials in clear to their serv- ers.

[BSD Mag]: What is the strongest feature of Paw? Am I right it is security?

[MM]: Security has been our focused recently, but our secret sauce is clearly what we call dynamic values. This mechanism allows users to quickly parametrize the HTTP calls they compose in a very visual way; in some cases, one needs to fetch a particular field from another API, and compute a hash of it, combined along with a few headers of the current request. That is possible in Paw, without writing a single line of code.

[BSD Mag]: Are you an Open Source Software enthusiast?

[MM]: Enthusiasts we are! But not active enough yet to make us truly proud. We have many pub- lic projects on GitHub and are publishing all the JavaScript-based extensions we write for Paw un- der the MIT license. We have for example a bash script command line parser written in JavaScript ES6; though, many other projects are planned such as a browserless syntax highlighting library (based on Highlight.js) and a React component to go with it.

[BSD Mag]: How much Open Source is in Paw? What are you based on?

[MM]: The number of OSS projects we use is massive. Our Mac app uses the awesome CocoaAsyncSocket networking library, our backend is in Django, and our web frontend in React!

[BSD Mag]: Your company is a start-up. But you have some big clients already! How did you do this?

[MM]: To be honest, we have not done much marketing. I guess Paw is in a niche market, and our obsession with detail seems to have paid off.

[BSD Mag]: You are still working for another company, is that right? Do you have any tips for our Readers on how to make a start-up company successful?

[MM]: No, I am full time with Paw for about 18 months now, and we are now a team of 4. I consider ourselves still far away from being entitled to give any meaningful advice, but I would risk saying that if you have an idea, quickly take the plunge. Do not mind the legal aspects of creating a company at first – just do it. Learn from your mistakes, abandon a project quickly if your guts say it is the wrong one, and jump into another one. Carefully balance quick iteration and care of the details.

[BSD Mag]: Is there any story behind the company? Or a philosophy that drives you to success?

[MM]: We follow our instincts, and listen to users. I guess it is again the idea of balancing the hard truth of user feedback and analytics data with your own gut feeling.

[BSD Mag]: Any piece of advice for our readers?

[MM]: As users and consumers, continue to be nice to young companies and entrepreneurs. Their life is tough and they often are the ones who build the products we all love! At Paw, we were lucky enough to mostly have only positive feedback and always dealt with friendly and un- derstanding users – I am so thankful to them. But I can tell how much it hurts when someone di- rectly criticizes your product.


About Micha:

Micha has always had a passion for technology and was a self-learning programmer before he studied science, math and CS. He founded Paw to change the way developers test, discover and build web APIs. He has a deep pas- sion for detail, and his dream is to build a company where the team goes on beach or ski retreats and with an office that looks like a playground.

Paw

Paw is a Paris based startup with a small team and great challenges to solve. Our mission is to build the tools we wish were already existing.

The interview comes from BSD Mag Vol. 10 No.02 (78)

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