It ran into trouble when CTO Julian Ee quit the team in a huff over salary and equity disagreements, taking the tech he had developed with him. The incident brought to the surface allegations of the startup presenting false data to media as well as potential investors.
Subsequently, telco Digi Telecommunications decided not to go forward with a planned investment in the startup.
It’s been quiet from the GrabGas side since then, until now. Last night, co-founders Jeson Lee and Sean Hoo published an update on their Facebook page, announcing the startup is back and trying to pick up the pieces. And to start things off, it’s changed its name from GrabGas to HaloGas (after receiving “a legal letter from a private company demanding us to change our name”).
The duo outline what happened from that point onward, and it’s not pretty.
The duo outline what happened from that point onward, and it’s not pretty. They lost their website and tech platform, a funding deal, and an upcoming partnership – not to mention their reputation. The team withered – by the end, only Jeson and Sean remained on board.
“For a young team [that] consists of a 19- and a 25-year-old, it was definitely a hard thing to face,” the co-founders write. “During that time, we were in a very stressful period and we remembered telling ourselves that if GrabGas survived, it would be quite a miracle as we did not have the experience to solve such things.”
On the plus side, the startup’s search rankings shot through the roof, which they say seemed to help with traction.
The company continued to take orders through its Facebook page and the two co-founders struggled to find a solution. At the start of 2017, they relaunched their system and began courting delivery drivers again. The post describes how, without any marketing budget, the team just printed stickers with their logo on it to stick on gas delivery trucks.
According to the duo, drivers were willing to continue working with the startup.
HaloGas’ next steps will be to redesign its website and upgrade its tech. It also plans to serve more regions in Malaysia (currently it serves the Klang valley), as it claims to have “built the pathway” there.
It will be an uphill struggle as the startup tries to regain credibility with investors. The team says it has learned from its mistakes and even hopes to welcome back the team members it lost when things are back on track.