[quote style=”boxed”]Anyone who says they’d not change a thing must be insane since why would you want to make the same mistakes twice when you now know the answer? [/quote]
Heddi has 19+ years of PR & Marketing experience – from travel and 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 all PR & Marketing for 13 individually branded restaurants & bars whilst creating a successful tourism sales division for Maxwell’s Group (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 and make environmental donations a mainstream objective. Photo credit: Eric Baker .
What are you working on right now?
Working on http://mytab.co/ (yes, .co) travel gift card. Where you can save travel cash and shout ‘put it on myTab’ so friends and family contribute towards your dream trip. Then use any or all funds towards travel, all within myTab. And with our Match myCash feature, we can negotiate exclusive deals with airlines/hotels so the more myTabbers funding trips, the better the deal we can broker, game changing the power of crowd funding towards a ‘demand and supply’ system (we believe that ‘supply and demand’ was always incorrect. The result: bringing back emotion to gift giving, a happier pre-travel and booking experience for myTabbers and stabilizing the economy.
Where did the idea for myTab.co travel gift card come from?
Big Cheese, Heddi Cundle realized in 2005 that there’s no loyalty in travel since price search is the deciding, frustrating factor. This was the biggest problem in travel, yet the $100b industry has always ignored it – using dire flash & daily deals instead that actually are damaging for the industry. From this, she merged egifting, travel and social media to create myTab.co She had to wait till 2010 for social media and online payments to become mainstream and in Summer 2011, myTab launched.
How do you make money?
Affiliate revenues from travel partners; email promotional space and affiliate revenues for Match myCash; licensing myTab’s API technology to Fortune 500’s, expansion in the future to introduce lifestyle gift, save, plan, share and purchase consumer vertical goods; a new style of geo-loco mobile app that strips away traditional travel recommendation content (i.e. strangers and friends); selling combined customer data (never individual) to the travel industry as myTab is the only site aggregating pre-travel patterns and trends; holding the myTab funds FDIC insured generating Interest as the value of myTab increases.
What does your typical day look like?
A controlled cyclone with a splash of tsunami! There’s no such thing, as we could be spending all day on customer service and bug testing new features, fixing site data to scale or marketing/PR/social media promoting. It’s all about addressing growth and talking with myTabbers who always have multitudes of questions. This is incredible for us as they’re amazing in how they perceive myTab, which helps us fine tune our message.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Very easily – if we have a great idea, then we just discuss it with the team, mentors and advisors. If everyone agrees and provides feedback for tweaks, we then run with it immediately. We’d rather have the new features and ideas come to life sooner than later but we’re really specific in controlling this. As myTab’s a whole new ball game in ecommerce, we have made a conscious point to not introduce ideas regularly. myTabbers need to understand the core foundation before we start adding regular feature bells and whistles. It’s all about growing with our customers and not trying to add features because we feel pressured to perform. We bang to the beat of our own drum and myTabbers appreciate this intentionally controlled growth.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The trend that myTab’s creating in changing ecommerce. We’re absolutely infatuated with it and completely see the future. We love that travel and ecommerce has not evolved from the original objectives of ‘we’re selling, you will buy’ concept. It’s stale and familiar but since it’s now saturated and run it’s course, myTab’s ‘demand & supply’ system is changing this. We always felt supply & demand was in the wrong order – the supplier supplying & demanding the customer buy? We flipped it on its head so now the customer is the demander and the supplier simply supplies – the way it should always have been. It benefits the myTabber, the gifter and the economy. The current trend outside of myTab needs a serious face lift and we’re excited to pioneer this.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
There have been multiple worst situations in jobs but never a real worst job in itself. The patterns of worst incidents for about 4 jobs were based on Heddi pushing the team past their limit and the team revolting because they didn’t really want to excel. Over time, Heddi and the team met down the middle and objectives boomed with incredible results. The learning curve was for Heddi to remember that not everyone works at the speed of light that she does and some people actually just like a basic 9-5 job. The worst scenario: Heddi getting stuck on a roof on her first day of work at CME (ticker CETV), having to climb in horizontally through the bathroom window while a board meeting with Ronald Lauder (Estee’s son) took place next door, and nearly bog washing herself in the process.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Anyone who says they’d not change a thing must be insane since why would you want to make the same mistakes twice when you now know the answer? The amount we’ve learned over the past 2 years with myTab.co is astounding. The only things we’d not change is the team we have today (99% have been on board since day one), the original idea, affiliate partners and our Kevin Bacon logo. We love our logo, he’s insanely cool.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing we do again and again is PR and marketing repetition. We may not have a ton of likes, comments and retweets socially, but 40% of our traffic comes from our social efforts. Consistency is key in promoting our message through various quirky approaches. This shows you actually care about your business, the stories and messages you want to promote. If you slack on daily social interaction, you’re showing you don’t care about the end user so why should they care about you? Precisely and exactly why daily reinforcement is key.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The one failure (only to date though) is funding. myTab’s been claimed as the epitome of innovation, truly disruptive, a gem and genius by top industry experts and investors. Why we’ve not been funded is that the industry favors tech entrepreneurs over creative and if you have a new concept (like ours), they won’t invest off the bat. They prefer a safe risk which opposes the epitome of the Valley’s ethics of innovation. How we overcame this was truly using the lean scaling objective and being relentless as myTab has changed the world already, we’re just waiting for the world to catch up. Having no traditional Seed or Series A doesn’t remotely deter us in changing ecommerce. If anything, it makes us more determined. Some of the biggest companies took a while to scale and then they boomed overnight. We’re in that elite group with myTab, so this is exciting for us.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One business idea that has nothing to do with myTab is a cover for shoes! Heddi created this idea a while back. Consider that your favorite shoes are wearing out and look old. Or that you want to change from day to night shoes but don’t want to carry a second set around with you at work. Shoe-shapes are a design cover that fit over your current shoes, in various colors and patterns. Just slip them over your regular shoes and no one knows your shabby or daily shoes are underneath them. They’ll come in a pack of three or five and you can choose plain colors and fabrics or pattern! Can someone please do this already?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
We’re doing it already with myTab.co and changing ecommerce, stabilizing the current fluctuating prices in travel and lifestyle e-goods to create a stronger environment for businesses and a happier, seamless, full life cycle experience for myTabbers. It’s powerful stuff and the type of business that infiltrates in every e-lifestyle brand and business.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Heddi is Level 4 Krav Maga (green belt), has a chronic case of synesthesia and has nightly lucid dreams that she posts on Facebook to stop them repeating. She’s also going to use her personal wealth from myTab’s success to abolish Puppy Mills. Every home should have a dog and every dog should have a home. Heddi is level 6 piano and plonks around at Exploring Music store (San Francisco) a couple of times a month in their piano rental rooms. She also is level 4 guitar but keeps losing the plectrum (pic) in the guitar hole so gave up.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
We love using Olark at myTab for Instant Messaging with customers. Another favorite is Rackspace cloud for our server hosting. A third online tool is Browserstack so we can test multi browsers and smart phones for design bug testing. All three make our lives at myTab so much easier, productive and cost effective. The teams at all three companies are outstanding in ongoing support, above and beyond the average.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Tao of Pooh & Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. It simply explains the basics of our interactive lives and that when we feel we can’t achieve, we underestimate ourselves continuously. I’m certainly the Piglet figure!
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@TomForemski, one of myTab’s advisors who is the only old-school journalist I know with incredible foresight into media and technology intersections.
@levie is hysterical in the way he interprets real time news into comedic analogies that are visually barking mad yet insanely accurate.
@jack who’s Vines have a really cool, romantic stance and speaks volumes about his personality in under 6 seconds with a less is more, approach.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I make myself laugh out loud all the time. The last time was a week ago when I was driven home by Richard Titus after dinner with friends (Richard, Wilma and Victor). Richard has a new electric car, there are only 3 in the planet of this type and he didn’t tell me it drove 0-60 in 3 seconds. I nearly threw up my schnitzel and couldn’t stop laughing in shock. It took me a day to readjust my vital organs back into their rightful place and lower my blood pressure.
Who is your hero?
My mum, dad, sister Debra and my spaniel @muppetbundle. Individually, they are heroes, collectively they save the world with their combined super powers of humor, intuition, support and loaning me a spare backbone when I need extra resilience ammunition.
Who is Heddi disappointed with?
Heddi’s greatly disappointed with Amazon.com who expressed interest in licensing myTab’s API. Since October 2012, we pursued Amazon through email. In January, Scott Bishop (egift card lead) wanted a phone meeting. He found myTab’s vision and technology so unique, he requested a customized presentation following the call. We emailed this early February 2013. After pursuing for feedback, Scott emailed in April that ‘Group gifting is not a scenario that we believe in investing in at this time.’ We were miffed over this response as it came out a left field. In June 2013, Amazon introduced the exact replica of our presentation on Amazon.com/birthdaygift We’re now pursuing this with Amazon’s infringement/legal department. We’re flattered they like our invention so much they used it. They now need to pay up for the privilege and learn to employ developer ethics in as default as their learning curve of morals. We’ll absolutely recoup costs and future earnings, and Amazon will receive a swift ethical kick in return, never to repeat such dire business practice again.
Why does Heddi talk and act so quickly?
Heddi didn’t speak till she was 5 years old and had to take elocution lessons. She expressed herself in color (synesthesia) and had dyslexia saying things like Ceddi Hundle, flutterbies, flick & tea treatment for dogs, and getting words mixed up such as echinacea and euthanasia (quite embarrassing in the herbal store). As she was ridiculed for her way of talking and thinking in color, along with analyzing her nightly lucid dreams and left brain mentality to anyone who would listen, she just decided to not talk. After elocution lessons opened the door to verbalization, she never really got the grasp of a filter. So she talks quickly to explain herself and subconsciously make up for lost years of being mute which her dad states, elocution was now the worst investment he ever made! She also speaks rapidly to confuse and distort people intentionally, as a personal ongoing analysis to test people’s brain patterns and understand what make s them tick under extreme, high speed pressure.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.