After the startup recently raised $1.1m funding, we caught up with the Founder of Sup, Rich Pleeth, to hear more about his fascinating journey
Many of my friends and family are envious that I quit my executive job to follow my dream and launch my first startup, it is pretty exciting but it definitely is a case of the grass is always greener. They hear the positive side and imagine us sitting around on beanbags, playing table tennis while we think what we’ll do on our next offsite. That we’re on a guaranteed trajectory to the coveted ‘Unicorn Status.’ The reality is rather different but it is still awesome.
It started when I resigned from my job at Google in 2013 to join GetTaxi as Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, I had a fantastic time but something was missing and I decided I really needed to resign and follow my dream of launching my own startup. I built up the courage and resigned in March 2015, with nothing to go to, from a very decent salary to zero incomings per month, and not really knowing what I’d get up for on Monday morning. My calendar went from a multicoloured mixture of overbookings to a clear schedule.
So what do you do on day one? Luckily I had an idea for the startup and two co-founders, so I set to work on a deck to present our idea of Sup. We were finding that when checking in on Facebook or posting a picture on Instagram, you’d see the next day that one of our friends was at the same event or at the next bar. We know that when people come together, magic happens. And so Sup was born, we didn’t want an app like Find My Friends where you can track people and see exactly where people are anywhere in the world, this works for some families but for the majority they don’t want their exact location broadcasted to their friends 24/7. Sup doesn’t have maps instead you see a radar with a maximum range of 2000m that shows you if your friends are nearby but not their direction or exact location. We had an MVP ready to go and an elevated pitch deck that had been reworked, reworked and reworked.
I was excited, I was hungry and we had a pretty basic MVP and a deck. I then went out and networked, emailed people I’d met in the past, attended countless events and dinners, some of which were brilliant, some of which weren’t (anyone can go to these, they are mostly public). Some people you meet introduce you to that one person who might make the entire difference and put in that initial funding to get everything else to fall into place.
Take knocks and get up again, ignore haters
Some people will hate your idea, some people will accidentally send you an email they meant to send to someone else telling them that “the founder is cool but the idea is shit” (at least they thought I was cool :)) But you need to take the hits and truly believe: believe in your idea, believe in your team and knock down anything that gets in your way. No one will believe in your idea as much as you.
We met a lot of funds and angels, I would go out everyday for breakfast meetings straight through to networking drinks late at night, meeting as many people as possible. My social life was put on hold, I broke up with my girlfriend and had boundless energy to network everyday. Having Google on my resume really opened up a lot of doors but there was no substitute to going to working a room.
We got commitments from angels and then JamJar, (the fund set up by the Innocent Co-Founders) which was fantastic, totally aligned to what we wanted to do and they understood our vision. I kept on the roadshow and by June we were in the final stages of closing with our law firm, Joelson Wilson; hand holding us through the complexities of term sheets, shareholders agreements and the various disputes that inevitably come along. We officially closed our round on 3rd July which was great but the real work was about to begin. We need to hire a team and actually produce what our MVP is doing.
Sup are now hiring two key team members: