HackFwd Build 0.8 - Berlin December 2011

Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of Fab.com is passionate about design, and he made the decision to shutdown a prior startup and retooled to follow his passion in Fab.com. In this talk he explains why this bold move was the path to success. Fab.com recently raised a $40 million venture round.

Jason spent 2010 building his latest startup, Fabulous. By early 2011 he realised it wasn’t getting the traction he’d expected. “In the current internet climate if you haven’t gained traction in a year’s time, the advice I give folks is to try something else. You can only iterate so far,” he explains. “And you can’t iterate your way to a business model.” He shut down the company over night and started again.

It sounds like a tough decision but to Jason and his team it was self-evident. They asked themselves three questions about their business: was it something that could be really big? Was it something they were passionate about? And was it something they could be the best at? They decided that Fabulous didn’t fill those criteria and, that if they could pick one thing and be the best at it, it would have to be design.

“It wasn’t a pivot, it was a restart,” says Jason. They walked their investors through their reasoning and those investors wisely chose to stay on board. In February 2011, Jason decided to focus exclusively on Fab.com. They spent three months building the product and launched on the 9th of June.

The strategy paid off. From launching in June 2011 the site now has over 1.3 million users and generated over $20million in revenue last year. Jason ascribes the success to the fact that they focused exclusively on building a product that they were passionate about, that there was a market for, and that they could be the best at.

That passion transmits itself to the customers. Over 50% of Fab.com’s users come from social sharing. “That’s not something you can force,” says Jason. “It has to be because your users love your product and tell other people about it.”

In the talk, Jason offers 21 lessons they’ve learned over the first nine months of Fab.com’s existence. The advice ranges from the managerial (“Measure everything”, “Focus on your core”) to the philosophical (“Maintain perspective”, “Make mistakes”).

There are some surprising insights along the way, such as why Fab.com stocks products that they never thought they’d sell (but did anyway), and why Fab.com isn’t in the design sales business. Watch the video to find out how Fab.com went from zero to hero in nine passionate months.

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