Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with founder Ash Davies from Tablo.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Tablo is a place where you can create, share and discover new books. It's a publishing community in the cloud that lets authors connect with readers while they write their books. Tablo has made publishing a book to major bookstores as easy as publishing a blog. Authors can simply drop in a document or write in the cloud and reach the iBookstore and Amazon with a simple click. The core of Tablo though is the social network that helps an emerging author build a following for their upcoming work.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Applying for AngelCube's 90-day intensive startup accelerator program was an immediate goal to kick start the company. AngelCube selected Tablo as one of seven startups to coach and mentor in 2013, and the program proved to be key to the growth of the idea behind our company. In terms of financing the idea, Tablo secured $400,000 in seed funding from investors just recently. The seed fund round was led by Paul Reining, former CEO of Catch Group (Catch of the Day), who also joined Tablo as a director and advisor. Other investors included Kevin Hale, a partner at Y Combinator, and one of Tablo's first authors who reinvested his book's earnings into the business.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
We're building a two sided marketplace. We'll attract more great authors if we attract a bigger community of readers, but we'll only attract those readers if there are great new books to discover. It's causing us to split our focus on products for readers and products for authors, and invest in strategies to grow both sides of the platform simultaneously.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
The key point of differentiation behind Tablo is the underlying social network; the profiles, groups and online communities that help authors build a following for their work. The next bestseller can now be discovered before it has been published. This interactive feature not only increases authors' chances of getting discovered but also makes writing a less lonely pursuit. Authors can share their work on Tablo with selected groups of editors and friends and receive feedback as they write. Another competitive streak is that Tablo's authors receive 100% of royalties and have complete control over who has access to view their work.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Swipes for iPhone. I've tried every to-do list app out there, and within a week the to-do list would turn into a backlog of petty tasks that I secretly know I'll never get around to. Swipes is the only one I keep up to date. It's like Mailbox — if a task isn't relevant now, swipe it to the left and schedule it to return later. If you finish it, swipe it to the right. It helps me achieve 'inbox zero' with tasks.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"Focus on your product, focus on your users, and everything else will come naturally". This advice was shared by our investor Kevin Hale and has formed our company's approach to business. It's so easy to become distracted by fundraising and focus more on meetings than creating a great experience for your users. There are a lot of distractions in the startup world. We place our users first. Our top priority is building the best product with the best design, backed by the best customer support. Our users love us and our user experience has been the lynchpin for our funding and growth.
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