The Story Behind Tapir
Alia Lamaadar, Co-founder
What inspired Tapir?
My boyfriend is an incredibly talented software engineer. A brilliant programmer he is, a brilliant gift-giver he is not. Several years ago — recognizing that shopping was not one of his core-competencies — he began the tradition of building me software for my birthday.
He started out building products with a market of one (me), like an app to keep my online recipes in order. Then he expanded to products with small public audiences, like an app to print my Instagram collection as business cards and stickers.
For my last birthday, I requested that he build Tapir.
Originally, I wanted a tool to allow anyone to easily create an API. Working in the travel industry at the time, I couldn’t believe how few companies that so obviously needed APIs, actually had them. Or instead, had janky APIs with totally useless documentation. These absent or crappy APIs slowed partnership progress, cost everyone development time, and stymied revenue growth.
How did you get started?
We set off to build a tool to solve this API problem. With the coding taken care of, I looked after the rest of the usual MVP stuff (research, landing pages, social networking etc).
Meanwhile, in our day-jobs, both of us were trying to build customer referral programs and discovering that they’re a lot harder than you’d think. Customer referrals, was a problem that both of us had experienced ourselves, the value of a properly executed solution could be high, and it’s a product that ties into something both of us care quite deeply about: early startup growth.
So that was that. Our website content was changed the next day and we kept the same domain (seemed silly to waste what small SEO gains had been made).
I noticed an immediate difference in the qualitative experience of building the ‘new’ Tapir. Most strikingly, when I explained the problem that we were solving to people they immediately understood it.
My top tip for startup founders is a bit cliché, but it’s so critical. I’m a big fan of the ‘Do Things That Don’t Scale’ mantra.
As a startup, there’s a competitive advantage to being statistically insignificant.
It means that you can talk to every customer, care about every detail, and spend the time with the product that I image many founders of successfully scaled startups would kill for. I luxuriate in every inquiry I get from a customer and in every product detail that I contribute to. Being small isn’t a weakness unless you make it one.