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The Ouroboros is dead.

The Ouroboros is an ancient mythical symbol of a snake eating its own tail. It’s often taken to symbolise the eternal cycle, especially in the sense of something constantly destroying and re-creating itself. It also represents the infinite cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction; life and death.

As we had written earlier, Tapzo, self-billed as “India’s first all in one app”, is the one Indian startup that epitomises the Ouroboros—displaying a constant, incessant urge to reinvent itself, pivoting from one avatar to another inconditely. The head eating the tail.

However, unlike the mythical creature that could reinvent itself infinitely, Tapzo’s days of reinventing itself are seemingly over. In an email to its users, the Sequoia-backed company announced that it would cease operations by the end of October this year. “Tapzo app will be shutting down from 31 October 2018. Starting 1 September 2018, we will be switching off all the transactional categories,” read the email. It also detailed how users can close their accounts and redeem any unused balance left in their wallets and accounts.

The email goes on to say, “Since we launched the app 3 years ago, we’ve been fortunate to serve over 5 million customers. Your feedback and reviews (200,000+ on PlayStore alone) and the 4.5 rating kept us motivated and always learning. It’s been a pleasure listening to you all and continuously shipping an app update every few weeks consistently. But all good things must come to an end.”

All good things must come to an end? I suppose this is true in a broad philosophical sense. But if you are an eight-year-old startup that has raised more than $30 million in VC funding and believe that you have a “good thing” going, you don’t come to an end by way of a summary email to your customers. You don’t shut down your service overnight and move on.

So, did Tapzo really have a good thing?

A flawed value proposition

Tapzo’s all-in-one app premise was that mobile users in India need not download multiple apps for cabs, food-ordering and other services. Instead, Tapzo provided access to all these services within a single app. The value proposition was that users could save space on their phones. In addition, they would be able to compare services to choose the cheapest/best offering at any point in time.

Ankur Singla, the company’s CEO and founder, had claimed in November 2016 that “close to 140,000 users use our app daily and we do close to 55,000 transactions a day with an annual run rate (ARR) of Rs 210 crore (~$30 million) in GMV/bookings. And we plan on growing 2X in the next six months.” The company also claimed to have more than five million app downloads—a metric that was touted in the farewell email as well.


Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

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