Business Lessons From Fab’s Jason Goldberg


Fab is an e-commerce company focused on everyday design across all price points and all verticals. It is one of the fastest growing e-commerce site, having grown from 175,000 members at launch in June 2011, to over 10 million as of December 2012.

Fab was founded by serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg, Bradford Shellhammer, Nishith Shah and Deepa Shah on February 2011 and launched on June 9, 2011.

Fab now serves more than 11 million members across 26 countries. Fab grew sales by more than 500% in 2012, one-third of which comes from users of the Fab mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. In February 2013 Fab was named the #5 most innovative company in the World by Fast Company. Less than two months after launching in June of 2011 Fab secured an $8 million funding round led by Menlo Ventures. Fab’s largest round of funding, $105 million, occurred shortly after its 1 year anniversary in July 2012. The Series C round was led by Atomico.

Fab’s founder and CEO Jason Goldberg has shared the company’s focus, vision, goals and how they took Fab to where it is now in various interviews. These are a few of his interview quotes on how Fab is growing into a great e-commerce company. For an extensive list of his business lessons, read-90 things I’ve learned founding four tech companies.

Launch: Fab is a viral success, in part because of a clever invite scheme. When Fab.com launched, users could request an invite, then gain different levels of access based on how many of their friends joined.

Vision: I always say we’re not building a company, we’re building a brand. We think there’s an opportunity for Fab to be the one of the next great brands on the scale of an IKEA, a Google, a Facebook, an eBay. A brand that people know all around the world.

Focus: We’re going to do $150 million in sales this year, but, frankly, I don’t give a shit if our sales are $130 million or $170 million. I care about the brand we’re building and the emotional bond we have with our customers.” Those are both critical–and fragile. Right now, I’m focused on how to scale to $1 billion. The best way to get there is to stick to our business goal: If we make people smile, lots and lots of money will follow over time.

Strategy: Over 90 percent of the products that you find on Fab, you can’t buy on Amazon or on other online retailers. And that’s because we’ve got this awesome team of design scouts, who literally scour the earth looking for great design finds, and based on how excited we make users.

Strategy: We’ve gone from 100 to 650 [employees] and most people in the company are just focused on finding great products. We’re constantly looking at is how do we keep it fresh, keep it new, keep it exciting. Every day on Fab we have a thousands of new arrivals.

Growth: We invest our cash in building the teams, and investing in teams and the resources the teams need to succeed. But we will look at a build versus buy based on the team. if we feel there is a good team in a market that could become Fab then we will look at it. But we’re not just looking to buy our way in. We’re just as comfortable with building teams as well.

Culture: The biggest thing for us is, Fab is Fab is Fab, everywhere we operate. That’s the culture, the team, the products on the website, the look and feel, the operations, the customer service.…Getting this culture right is key to getting the brand right. Our number one thing at Fab is, it’s gotta be real, it’s gotta be authentic. What we say is what we do.”

Marketing: Goldberg ran a batch of Facebook ads to gain initial traction. The ads targeted people who follow design blogs.Email invites have been particularly successful, resulting in four times the revenue of any other social-sharing sources.

Marketing: Goldberg believes that social sharing is a powerful tool, something he learned as the founder of Socialmedian and Jobster and the chief product officer at XING. Fab heavily invested in social media as a method of marketing. And social linkage leads to sales, at least on Fab, says Goldberg. If people use the social features on Fab, they buy twice as often as people who don’t.

Mobile App: Building mobile-first forces us to think about how Fab will be used by people on the go first, and people at their desks second. The company’s mobile apps contribute 33% of Fab’s daily visits and 33% of Fab’s daily sales. CEO and co-founder Jason Goldberg envisions a time soon where mobile will be 50% of Fab’s revenue.

Lesson: It’s all about the product. Always has been. Always will be. The only thing that matters is how good your product is. All the rest is noise.

Lesson: Spend the majority of your time figuring out how to cultivate pockets of traction amongst your early adopters and optimize around that traction. Traction begets more traction if you are able to jump on it.

Lesson: Make sure your personal business goals are aligned with the goals of your investors. The business will only succeed if you are motivated. Investors can’t force the business to succeed. And they certainly can’t force a CEO to care.

Lesson: Raise as little money as possible when you first start. Force yourself to be budget constrained as it will cause you to carefully spend each dollar like it is your last.

Interview quotes courtesy Techcrunch.com, Inc.com. Mashable.com