When you think about the online flash sales phenomenon, the first company you think of is Gilt Groupe. It has raised $236M in funding and provides access to deals on anything from luxury cookware to clothing. It’s a private sales site and it looks like Gilt is ready to spread its seed by launching its first publicly available API.

In a blog post on Gilt’s site, the reasoning for launching the API, which will let developers create apps around the deals going on within the site, was explained like this:

I’m really excited to tell you that we’ve launched our Public API today, providing programmatic access to a constantly-updating collection of flash sales full of the usual kind of awesome stuff we offer on Gilt’s stores.

We held an internal hackathon two weeks ago and saw some really interesting projects come out of just a day’s work and the brainpower of one room of (admittedly super-smart and obviously very handsome) Gilt engineers, but I can only imagine where things can go now that we’ve got the whole developer community armed and ready.

Just the other day we told you about ProgrammableWeb’s prediction that in the future, every company will have an API. Gilt appears to be kicking off that trend for 2012 with today’s release.

In an effort to build an ecosystem of developers around the new public data, Gilt has launched a developer portal which provides access to its APIs along with suggestions on how to get started and a forum for developers to ask the company questions and help each other out:

Welcome to the Gilt Groupe Developer Portal Gilt Groupe Developer Center 520x236 Shopping site Gilt Groupe launches its first API and a developer portal to go with it

Currently, the Gilt API gives developers access to build apps using the sales and products of its four stores: Women, Men, Baby & Kids, and Home. The company promises that there will be more data available in the future, and this first release is more than enough to get ideas going.

Having an API is obviously a smart move for Gilt, and now that it’s available we’ll probably see a slew of new web and mobile apps bringing you deals from the site. Keep an eye on this space and if you’re developing something on top of Gilt, feel free to send it to us for review!