It's a real shame to see such a promising startup have to call it a day, Shawn Zvinis shares some wise words of wisdom and caution to other startups out there...
The mistakes an angel and accelerator-backed startup made and what we learned along the way.
Tab (previously Subscrib) was a web-based prepaid loyalty app that started in the basement of Campus London in late September 2012 by Shawn Zvinis, Christoph Sassenberg and Gary Luce.
The idea was simple: customers would open prepaid accounts at local shops and earn bonus credit by doing so. We would eliminate payment fragmentation and use the transactional data to automate retention and marketing for these shops. Best of all, customers did not need a smartphone, as we used their mobile number to create their account.
We raised seed money from a local angel investor early on, joined an accelerator and started to grow the team. We encountered a lot of issues that on their own we could have tackled, but together set us on a path to failure that we struggled with.
1. Building a Random Team My previous startup did not see the light of day, even though I spent almost six months working on it, because I did not build a team. I thought I was a master of my trade and that I could do everything myself. It turned out that I was wrong about that.
This time around, I was adamant that I would build a team from day one?�?and that is exactly what I did. I found someone that I could work with, that had similar experience as me and most importantly was able to commit all of their time right away. Not long after that, I persuaded a German developer I knew to stay in London and not return home (after working at another failed startup), but to join us on our journey, as we felt we were executing quickly.
It was not until we started talking to institutional investors several months later, that we realised they viewed us as having no credibility in the space we were attacking and that no early traction, innovative approach or growing metrics would save us.
Investors wanted to see former payments, daily deal and retail executives as the team behind Tab�not three random guys trying their hand at �disrupting a crowded space�. It was not that this was a deal breaker for investors, but because of some of the other mistakes we made, it played a major part in the slow demise of Tab.
Key learning: be from the space or build a team of experts in the space you are attacking; if you can not find anyone to join you, your vision and plan may need rethinking or you need metrics that just can not be ignored.