The biggest come-from-behind startup story this year has to be Fab, which tried out a bunch of different services focused on the gay market before landing lightning in a bottle with a design focused flash sales site. The company just sent along a hilarious slide presentation summing up their year and revealing some new numbers on their rapid growth.
The way Fab CEO Jason Goldberg sees it, the company began as a sort of “gay Yelp.” When that didn’t work they tried to become a “gay Groupon.” Apparently somewhere along the way they also contemplated “gay Facebook” and “gay Foursquare,” as detailed in this handy chart.
The stench of burning gasoline hung in the air at the first-ever Pivot Party inside party promoter Todd P’s Old Firehouse on Lafeyette. It was 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night, and the engine room had been converted—or pivoted—into a event space. A lone couple danced on the floor to a Jackson 5 song. One half of the duo was Bartek Ringwelski, founder of SkillSlate, who wore a white T-shirt emblazoned with his company logo and was throwing this party.
SkillSlate, which raised $1.1 million in seed funding back in October 2010, had burned through more than half its capital before deciding its original idea—to be a user-generated review system, like Yelp, but for freelancers—wasn’t going to work. “It was a really tough discussion to have with our backers, but we just knew it was time to pivot,” said Mr. Ringwelski.
Fab.com has gone from a social network for gay men to a flash sales site for gay men to a flash sales site focused on design. The final iteration seems to have done the trick, as the company added the 150,000th user in its first 45 days and just raised a big $8 million round led by Menlo Ventures.
Fab founder Jason Goldberg is a big fan of the pivot, even when that means starting from scratch. There must be something in the water at the First Round Capital offices, which has seen two portfolio companies, Fabulis/Fab and Stickybits/Turntable.fm, pivot out of dead end businesses and into big rounds within the last month.