However, rather than dwelling on the past, these are some steps we think GrabGas should be taking to move forward and hopefully, put this behind them.
1. Analyse the problem objectively.
Despite some animosity or criticism from the public, the GrabGas team should take a step back and try to see it from a larger perspective. Being defensive or pushing the blame away is not the best course of action, especially while emotions are running high.
Belittling the issues at hand also serves no benefit since that only shows irresponsibility and ignorance.
Whether it be reflecting on how they could have made expectations with Julian clear from the get-go, or drafting a black-and-white contract for future hires to avoid other misalignment amongst team members, listing all the errors and mishaps that happened and addressing each one methodically (and without bias) will certainly help to clear their heads.
2. Deal with the issue head on.
One common criticism of GrabGas so far is that they have yet to address misleading the media and investors regarding their data and numbers. Based on an interview we had with them, GrabGas is not planning on addressing this any time in the near future.
However, that is probably a tactical error. Acting the victim’s role and saying they did nothing wrong (as per Sean Hoo’s Facebook post here) is not the best card to play at this time. Standing up and taking responsibility would be a better way to increase their credibility among naysayers.
Our society is built on stories of redemption. Much as we like crying for blood and witch hunting, we also cannot resist the tale of the prodigal son or the repentant sinner.
Simple put, people love apologies—if they are sincere.
There are many reasons for their users and investors (and even other members of the local startup community) to be angry and upset. All GrabGas has to do is give them a good reason not to be.
To this day, GrabGas still doesn’t seem to want to leverage on that basic fact.
In time people will forgive and forget, but if there is no apology or clarification and hence, closure, this process will be a lot more difficult to achieve.
3. Go public with a game plan with how they intend to move forward in the future.
Another step they should consider now is transparency.
Disclosing a simple two-step plan, e.g. 1) We’re going to be honest with all our disclosed data from now on, and 2) We are going to restructure out team, and be very clear from the start with potential hires about expectations and roles, could do a lot to help build up the confidence in them that has been lost.
Instead, when asked, they’ve been rather vague about what they want to do next. This gives an impression that they have more things they wish to hide away, which is not an image they should be pursuing at the moment.
4. Don’t hide away.
Finally, they should keep showing up at networking events or anything related to the startup scene.
By showing their faces, it shows the investors that they are still in the game, still trying to grow and hustle for more.
However, if they do this without the other steps mentioned above, this could also backfire, because this could be seen as them trying to brazen this out and not accept the reality of what is happening to them.
Everyone makes mistakes and we would like to hope that this narrative ends well. After all, being a startup is all about overcoming obstacles and becoming stronger once the experience ends. It will all depend on what the team at GrabGas decides to do, when they choose to finally disclose it.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the funding or customers they’ve lost—a startup can fail, but if the founders and the team’s personal characters are put in question, this could follow them into whatever venture they choose to go into next. It’s a loss of integrity and this is more damaging than anything else that has been alleged about them.
Feature Image Credit: bigstockphoto.com