Sometimes a failed venture can lead you down a winning path.
At least that was the case for Tyler Tringas, a software developer and investor who happened upon the idea for Storemapper while he was doggedly working on a different venture.
In 2012, Tringas was working as a freelance developer to make ends meet while he was focused on building SolarList, the “Craigslist for solar,” according to an interview with podcast host Nathan Latka. To keep SolarList afloat — which he ultimately shut down in 2013 — Tringas served as a contract developer for clients that used Shopify.
A client asked him to create a tool that allowed them to map store locations. That set off Tringas’ business idea light bulb. But rather than create a one-off tool, he opted to productize the software and soon crafted the first version of Storemapper on a flight from San Francisco to Buenos Aires.
Storemapper is a platform that enables businesses to list where their stores and products are located on a map, helping customers quickly find locations where they can buy the product they seek.
“I said ‘OK, I don’t have a lot of time, but I think this is a good business idea and I’m going to try to build the leanest, most revenue-focused version of this that I possibly can,’” Tringas told Nathan Latka of his inspired flight. “I just built the most terrible, barely-does-what-it-says version and sent it out to everyone that I ever worked with in the e-commerce world. … I said, ‘It costs five bucks a month’ and low and behold we had five people sign up.”
Tringas dedicated about 10 hours per week to Storemapper as he and his then-girlfriend traveled the world. And as they wandered through Asia, Africa, and Europe, the company continued to grow with minimal effort.
On selling Storemapper to SureSwift Capital
By the end of 2016, when the company became a higher priority for Tringas, StoreMapper was netting more than $216,000 in revenue per year based on 40 hours per month from a single employee (himself), Tringas confirmed in an interview.
Once Storemapper provided Tringas a full-time income, he began to more seriously consider selling the company, he wrote in a post on his blog.
In 2017, Tringas attended a MicroConf, a conference dedicated to bootstrapped software businesses, and met Kevin McArdle, founder of SureSwift Capital. SureSwift is a venture capital firm that acquires SaaS businesses from independent founders with the intention of growing its portfolio businesses.
The visit to MicroConf garnered Tringas three offers for Storemapper, and he ultimately struck a deal with SureSwift for an undisclosed amount. He intentionally communicated with several prospective buyers at the same time so he could review multiple offers simultaneously, he said, and that strategy helped out in the long run.
Tringas is now the general partner and founder of the Calm Company Fund, a firm that invests in internet businesses and offers a cooperative community of founders. He declined to comment for this story.