Founders Spotlight: Tabaani

Editor's note:

Student Venture Associate Michael Riley had a chance to virtually sit down with cohort member Amal Abid founder of Tabaani. Taabani is an easy to use landmark-based mapping application for people in cities where the city structure is not a clear grid and where streets are not fully labeled. 

Michael Riley
April 23, 2020

The idea for Taabani was born when founder Amal Abid, a native of Tunisia, faced a navigation challenge. She mentioned that on various occasions “[she] was in a taxi and would have to call a family member to give [her] landmark references that she could relay to the driver as guides to [her] destination.” From these experiences, she started circulating the idea with friends and colleagues with whom she had previously worked and the concept quickly turned into the solution she and her team have built today. 

Most mapping applications today provide distance-based directions for users. These directions instruct users to walk “X” miles before taking a turn at street “A” for instance. Although this model might seem flawless for large developed cities, it is not as intuitive for more than half of the world's population. In places like Tunisia, Pakistan, Bay Cruz and many others, locals rely on landmarks to describe directions.

Amal Abid

The team at Taabani is driven by an interest in the intersection of technology and localization. Abid says “[she] finds solutions that take an existing concept and adapt it to the uniqueness of a certain cultural and geographic context super fascinating. It feeds directly into a bigger question of the digital divide between developed and developing countries.”

For an early stage idea one of the most important priorities is understanding who the customers are and how to solve their problems. Team Taabani chose to join the Columbia | IBM Blockchain Accelerator because it focused heavily on these aspects and provided them with the structure to track and validate their learnings with fellow entrepreneurs and mentors. 

The most important lesson they learned throughout the program is “that the most important phase of a product’s lifecycle is the customer discovery phase. The customer interviews have been priceless for us, they allowed us to understand the exact problems our customers face and focus our energy on the aspects of our product that solve those pain points best.”

Moving forward, Taabani is looking to test their product in the market. Having built a good understanding of their customer profiles in the past 3 months, their next step is to iterate over their MVP with a set of pilot customers in order to sharpen their understanding of the space and validate their solution.