TABu provides a product that many people resonate with. TABu is an app that allows you to open, split, and pay a bar tab from your phone. The days of forgotten credit cards and waits to close a tab are over. There has yet to be an instance where I told a friend or stranger about TABu and they haven’t smiled or told me a bar story. Too many smiles and stories can become dangerous. They make you think you’ve already won.
In about 8 months, we built a polished version of TABu, integrated with leading point of sale systems, and launched some great pilots in NYC. We got very lucky with a lot of things, like getting selected for Apple’s new show, Planet of the Apps. At age 19, not even halfway through college, things were pretty great!
Four months after starting the pilots and launching on the app store, we were stuck. We had learned a ton, perfected the product, but the pilot venues were pretty underwhelmed. Because TABu integrates with a venue’s POS system, we have to sell to venues. Very few people were using the product. It wasn’t surprising, given 4 venues in NYC represents .2% of NYC bars. TABu looked great on paper (and on the app store), but the sales cycle was horrific and the adoption incredibly slow.
It was time to step back and do something I absolutely hate doing - pause execution. After speaking with 22 venues in 8 days, it was clear that we were going in circles, pitching venues and failing. Something was not right. To our team, our value proposition was crystal clear. TABu eliminates the time bartenders waste handling payment per customer, 3.5 minutes on average, so they can serve more customers per hour, decrease lines, and increase the rate of revenue generation. Right?
That value proposition only emerges at scale. Signing up for TABu and getting set up does not improve your efficiency at all. It does not save you time or money. What does is people actually using it. We had the value proposition completely wrong for our early adopter venues.
After speaking with dozens of venues, we learned first hand what they really want and respond well to. We have shifted our focus to developing specific features that leverage our current assets (POS integration and wireless payments) to fulfill value propositions that don’t require a mass amount of users. We have several exciting projects in the pipeline we look forward to sharing as soon as we begin testing them with our existing pilot merchants. As we develop these features, we are continuing to sell to venues and launch strategic distribution partnerships.
For TABu, it was so clear that people wanted our app. It took far too long and far too much luck to realize that the same could not be said about the other side of our market - the venues. The lesson learned is to put every customer first, especially in a two-sided market, and recognize the difference between an early- and late-stage value proposition.
Over the next few weeks we look forward to launching features that can provide immediate value to early adopters to use as leverage to continue growing from venue to venue, in NYC and beyond.