8 Questions with Heddi Cundle, Founder of MyTab – A Travel Gift Card Service
Heddi, please introduce yourself…
I’m Heddi Cundle and the Big Cheese (Founder/CEO) of online travel gift card, myTab. I have 20 years experience as a C’level PR/Marketing exec working with travel and consumer lifestyle brands around the globe.
Originally from Northern England, I’ve lived and worked in London, New York, Los Angeles and now San Francisco. Residing in California for 12 years, I still can’t speak with an American accent. I’m just horrible at even attempting it!
What’s the story behind creating myTab and can you explain how it works?
myTab is a site to save travel cash and shout ‘put it on myTab’ so friends and family contribute towards your celebrations (birthday, study abroad, holiday season, graduation etc) or celebration trips. Then you can use all or any of your funds towards travel, choosing from thousands of flights and hotels all within myTab.
Once your trip’s booked, you can socially thank everyone for chipping in and any funds left over can be used for future trips. The kicker feature is Match myCash:– the more that myTabbers fund trips, we can negotiate exclusive deals with airlines and hotels, taking the power of crowd funding to a whole new level.
I created the concept behind myTab in 2005 when I realized there’s no loyalty in travel and erratic price frustration was a pain for travelers, spending 9 hours ($243 in time wasted) searching multi sites trying to find a deal $5 cheaper than one they thought they saw a few days earlier.
When they book the trip, they never know if they got the best bang for their buck and the $700b travel industry doesn’t either. That’s insane! I then researched gift card statistics and saw that 30% of $100b gift cards are not redeemed a year alongside minimal interaction between gifter, recipient and retailer.
Combining these two factors together, I formulated myTab as a way to budget and be gifted cash for trips. Three years since launch, we’re seeing myTabbers spending 15 minutes on search-to-book as they’re now cash rich so price isn’t paramount, and over 98% of gifted cash is being used towards travel, bringing emotion and a full life cycle back to egift giving.
As we scale, we will then implement Match myCash so the more myTabbers funding trips, we can stabilize travel prices as suppliers will generate revenues at slow and long lead times, to a cash rich demographic at a fraction of traditional marketing costs.
How’s traction working out so far?
We’ve generated over 180 major press articles about myTab and all have been extremely positive. In addition, we won the first Start Up Icon Competition, beating 80+ start ups over 5 weeks of pitch rounds to judges. Last December, myTab launched in the UK as we realized the US are more egift friendly yet the UK has a stronger ‘saving’ ethic.
We’ve also been talking with Fortune 500’s about licensing our API so they can use the same feature sets in ecommerce as we do for travel (gift, save, plan, share and purchase online).
After extensive interest from Amazon.com, they used our concept for their birthday group gift feature that launched last Summer so when our patent’s approved, we’ll recoup past and future earnings, which is something our team & advisors are excited about. We also have a few future, groundbreaking milestones up our sleeve but we’re not ready to talk about that yet.
What strategies are you using to market myTab?
As we’re running a unique business and changing the way people budget and gift for travel, we’ve had to push really hard, consistently on making the concept incredibly easy to understand.
People like familiarity, even if they know it’s not a time or cost effective option. With that in mind, we’ve upgraded the landing page to reflect the simplicity of how myTab works and constantly promote to media and socially through user examples.
This has worked really well to spread the word virally by myTabbers. What’s taking more time to embed is the repetition and continuity approach once myTabbers has spent their travel fund.
When you’re running a business that’s making customers think differently, it doesn’t happen overnight so we’re in it for the long haul.
If you were to start over again, what would you do differently, and why?
There are many things I’d do differently but on the other hand, the team and I have learned so much from this steep curve that we most likely needed to go through this process, naturally.
I absolutely would have ‘thought’ differently now knowing what I knew three years on. This includes not presuming that customers will just ‘get it’ from the launch but would need coaxing into the extreme benefits myTab provides.
Assuming that everyone seeing the original site would have an ‘aha’ moment was something I realized quickly needed attention to and a powerful, repetitive push from all marketing and customer service angles.
It wasn’t a case that we lapsed in this area by any means. It was more related to simply thinking how the customer thinks. So over time, we simplified the site, included funnels and flow systems to ease myTabbers into the UI/UX flow.
What is the biggest mistake (in terms of time) do you see first time entrepreneurs make?
I believe every entrepreneur is different and with my experiences as a first time founder, I’ve found some commonalities with my peers. These include thinking the hard work is over once you’ve spent months building your app/site and then it’s free sailing once you launch.
That’s not the case. The moment you launch, the real work begins. So I’ve seen many entrepreneurs burn out post-launch and don’t have the tenacity or energy to continue, especially if they’re experiencing issues scaling.
I exercise Krav Maga (level 4), TRX and boxing three times a week to not only press my default button but this also builds up my energy reserves so I can go back into start up battle with a clearer head.
Most entrepreneurs I know are so knee deep in the business, as I am, but fail to take care of themselves which affects the business in the long run. They just run out of steam, thinking if it’s not an instant hit, they need to give it up.
Besides travel, what industries are you currently getting excited about right now?
Obviously I’m infatuated and knee deep in travel as a focus but I’m liking the peer to peer app scene. I know it’s been around a few years, especially since the Airbnb boom, but it’s just growing better each year.
I recently received a peer to peer mailshot at my home about renting storage space between neighbors. This industry completely makes sense and the logic behind it benefits everyone, it’s useful and just helps locals be more connected. I use my neighbors car through Getaround, have used Taskrabbit many times and just like the energy around these apps.
What’s next for you and myTab?
Well, we’ve already changed the world and waiting for the world to catch up fast, so that’s a thumbs up. In addition, our patent application is looking really solid so when it’s approved, we’ll own the ecommerce domain to heavily modernize by Fortune 500’s licensing our API.
This will not only benefit users and eretailers, but also our Match myCash feature will abolish unstable flash, daily and seasonal deals such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc as eretailers will be gaining revenues from cash rich users at off peak times.
So there will be more sales and revenues at slower seasons that gives customers an incredible deal while suppliers meet their sales margins more with higher margins. We’ll also be introducing our mobile app that will touch on certain web features but have a whole new element to geoloco.
This will address the issues related to travel recommendations that anonymous and social friends review platforms have not addressed, with a whole different twist. We’re not elaborating more on this as it’s a serious gem and will spill the beans nearer towards launch.
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