Back in April this year, we wrote about a startup called GrabGas. GrabGas is a Malaysian based startup that connects their users with cooking gas delivery drivers. You can check out the article here.
Just about an hour ago (from the time of this writing), we were made aware of a blog post that claims GrabGas gave us wrong facts and figures that were included in our article.
The blog post was written by Julian Ee who used to work in GrabGas as their developer.
In that blog post, he called out the co-founders for misleading him to believe that he was a shareholder and an “equal” in the team. He then exposes the team for also misleading the media with made-up figures of their sales and orders. He also apologises to lying to a DiGi exec about “the number of daily orders [they] had” because he had to “stick with the team”.
Here are the 2 details that Julian mentioned were in our article:
1. “with nearly 500 orders so far”. – At the time, there were only about 200 orders total, with more than 50% being unfulfilled.
2. “They have a 5-year plan…”. – This would be more accurate if it was called a “5-year dream”. We did not even have a roadmap for the next week.
We want to clarify that the article on GrabGas was written in good faith with data produced by the team themselves from an email interview with them.
We are picky in which startups we choose to feature, ignoring many of the press releases that we receive via email. For each write-up, we personally reach out to the startup with questions so as to better understand their business model, their team members, their strategy, and of course, their numbers—because facts and figures are something that we want to include in our write-ups.
Also because we rather hear it from the horse’s mouth than through a well written statement from their PR agency.
However, what’s stopping the startup from giving us the wrong facts and figures?
We do try our best to validate the information that we receive, and most of the time we cut out the fluffs and fancies that are in their interview responses.
Because although we want to show support the local startup community and inform the public about their services, we also don’t want to over-exaggerate achievements and lie to our readers.
There’s no point in over-glamourising these startups and the industry—let’s be honest, it’s a pretty shitty industry to be in unless you really love your job and believe in what you do. Giving the public any false impressions about it will only bring about trouble.
We won’t lie. It’s not that easy to fact check every single detail provided to us by these startups. Whether it’s their user base, profits earned thus far, whether they’ve broken even, or number of subscribers, and more.
This goes the same for any interview, whether it be in an article or on live video. The interviewer will pose a question and then he will have to depend on the interviewee to provide him with the details.
There is a certain level of trust involved.
Today, many people feel that the trust has been broken, based on another article written by someone else.
This has now turned into a case of “he said she said”, which is really frustrating because we (the media) are left helpless by them.
It’s not easy to run a startup from the ground zero; however, stooping to lies and misleading information is not the way to make it easier. On the other hand, is this a disgruntled employee who is using his influence to get back at his now ex-team (although we have to say it’s quite a detailed account of the whole ordeal)?
Who do we believe?
(We’ve reached out to the founder of the GrabGas for his response to Julian’s claims and to re-verify the validity of figures given by them back then. The team has yet to respond.)
Update 30th of August 2016:
The founder and GrabGas team has yet to respond to Vulcan Post’s queries.
On their Facebook page, their last post addresses the viral blog post and Julian’s claims, but they have yet to say anything to refute Julian’s allegations.