Last week Cameron and I attended a TechCocktail event that was keynoted by Startup America CEO Scott Case. We challenged ourselves to get more involved so we decided to start featuring Startup America startups as part of our interview/feature series. If you’re a Startup America member at any of their now 22 partnerships across the country email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can get you into our coverage schedule. (Hint it’s one of the only ways we’ll cover a Valley startup)
For our first Startup America member spotlight we talk with Heddi Cundle the founder of woman owned startup mytab.co. Mytab.co is a unique travel gift card.
The card serves two purposes, it allows you to crowdsource funds for your trip. Take a honeymoon for instance, your friends and family can add to your mytab.co account and you’ll have money for your travels.
The second purpose of the card is discounts and rewards from travel partners. Cundle is working with travel partners all over the world to offer mytab.co members exclusive discounts and deals on travel related costs.
Check out our interview with Cundle after the break
myTab.co is a travel gift card, a unique way to save for your trip and also shout ‘put it on myTab’ so friends & family can contribute towards your travels. Then you can simply redeem the funds towards that dream trip, all within our website! And since we’re running a gift card platform, we can negotiate exclusive deals with travel suppliers who want to target you, a cash rich travel-savvy customer. We call this ‘Match myCash.’ For the first time, the customer is now empowered and the industry can achieve slow & long lead revenues. myTab’s ideal for anyone who wants to save travel cash and/or ask for contributions, maybe for your birthday, wedding/honeymoon registry, celebration occasion, family reunion, philanthropy trip or study abroad travels.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Heddi Cundle is the single founder of myTab (yes, no co-founder by choice!). Heddi has 18 years of PR & Marketing experience – from travel & hospitality to TV, consumer retail, technology and music. Her credentials include co-launching the global phenomenon London Roadhouse Flair Bartending competitions (now in its 10th year); one of the youngest Conference Managers at Marriott Hotels; PR & Marketing Manager with Ronald Lauder’s CME(Nasdaq: CETV) in the embryonic years, a leading vertically integrated media company in Central and Eastern Europe; Consort Partners boutique PR & Creative Agency; single handedly managed the full PR & Marketing mix for 13 individually branded restaurants & bars whilst creating a successful tourism sales division for Maxwell’s Group (the UK’s largest independent restaurant group) which included a UK’wide exclusive Virgin Atlantic Vacation deal. She’s lived and worked in London, New York, Los Angeles & San Francisco. Her coverage includes MTV, VH1, USA Today, New York Times, BBC, LA Times, CNN, Maxim, Cosmopolitan and a ton of other major names. Heddi created myTab’s concept in 2005 yet had to wait for PayPal & Facebook to become household names before she could launch! Her vision for myTab is to ensure travel dreams come true through inspiration & make environmental donations a mainstream objective.
What problem does mytab.co solve?
There’s no loyalty in travel because we spend weeks scrambling around, frustratingly trying to find the best price and when we booked, did we really get the best bang for our buck? With all the planning, booking and recommendation sites out there, no one’s ever actually addressed this problem until now. And it’s the biggest problem in travel because it not only drives the customer nuts but the industry is too erratic as a result. Yet, if you have funds in your myTab account through gifting and/or saving, the focus in booking no shifts to a happier experience since you can justify the cash. It’s the same emotion you have when someone gives you a gift car – free cash yet simultaneously offering value from the gifter. Put this together and myTab not only reduces magnifying the price factor yet the gifted cash is now also valuable vs a standard gift card that usually gets discarded (1/3 of the $100b gift cards are year are unused).
What is your secret sauce?
Our Match myCash feature is the game changer. Since we’re holding the customer funds FDIC Insured, this not only increases the value of myTab as a company but gives us the power to negotiate exclusive deals with travel suppliers, on behalf of our customers. For example, Air France, we have 3k students heading to study abroad in September for three months, median funds of $800 each, your published rates are $950 so let’s negotiate an exclusive deal for $850 to our customers. This benefits Air France who can gain revenues quickly and easily to an audience they want to target, knowing the audience has the funds & dates already secured. Over time, myTab then helps stabilize the industry since we can match our cash-rich demographics to suppliers slow & long leads, which ultimately smoothes out the price wrinkle. It’s never been done before and we’re doing it!
What hurdles have you overcome launching a startup as a woman?
Oh, lots of hurdles from mostly women who keep telling me I should really get a male co-founder, preferably ex Facebook or Google tech. I’ve been told by interested investors that they really like myTab, it’s well thought out, they can see an incredible exit strategy and it’ll be an ecommerce game changer yet they’d rather hold out from investing. I truly believe it’s because I’m a female single founder. On the other hand, someone has to break the rules and be different. We have to remember that technology start ups are the only ones that have this insane theory of demanding cofounders. Can Richard Branson fly a plane? I rest my case J
What is next for mytab.co
We’re introducing a ‘hotel only’ booking feature shortly and also a fantastic rewards points program with an amazing start up. The points will be very simple that for each feature our customer utilizes, they’ll receive points and these points convert to cash on myTab for the customer to use. Then we’re aiming to have a great mobile web app underway this year that will complement our website but will include a goloso twist that again, addresses another huge problem in travel yet has also been fluffed over. Exciting times!
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
Yes, we’re absolutely bootstrapped and actively looking for funding. The reason we’ve not been funded so far is a: the female single founder element and b: because we’re doing something so new that it’s attracting many amazing potential investors who just want to see us take off. On the other hand, we are taking off and doing really well so we’re more inclined to attract a long-range unique visionary investor that breaks the rules and lives by ‘true disruption’
Who are some of your mentors?
We have an amazing advisory board who are so supportive and incredible in advising us on ecommerce and travel. Ken Swanton is one of the original online/offline travel pioneers in the industry; Tom Foremski’s new media and extensive journalism gives us grounding in branding analysis; Nathan Beckord continuously chips away to the core of each problem for a solid solution; Sam Rehman & Alvin Wang are undisputed geniuses at technology venturing into territory that again, has never been done before in engineering; Virender Ahluwalia is the original backbone of the team who’s operational challenges keep us on edge, constantly!
Where can people find out more about it?
They can go to www.mytab.co (yes, .co) to save travel cash and/or gift their friends towards celebration trips. Customers can also go to out Facebook Web App which is so cool. It’s a fantastic way to check in your current & live to/from travel dates, destination and trip purpose. Then you and your friends can see who’s in the same city at the same time, and connect. What this App feature does is combat that status updates just do not cut it for connecting friends during trips. Sometimes we miss the status update, the status isn’t clear enough so we can’t get the right information about our traveling friend and ultimately, the opportunity to meet with friends spontaneously during travels, is totally lost. Yet with our App, just check in, see which pals are in the same city and off you go, creating amazing trip memories!
Find out more about Mytab.co here at Mytab.co
Find out more about Startup America here
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