The Startup Playbook

Connecting you to the best entrepreneurs, investors and resources from around the world

Ep155 – Ash Davies (Founder & CEO – Tablo) on pivots, side hustles and self awareness

My guest for Ep155 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was the Founder & CEO of Tablo, Ash Davies.

Tablo is one of the world’s leading book publishing platforms which allows over 100,000 authors to publish and distribute printed books at the touch of a button.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing!

In this interview, Ash Shares for the first time how a failed acquisition offer from Apple, led to a pivot and evolution into building the business that Tablo is today.

Outside of Tablo, Ash also runs two highly successful side hustles, name Nonsense Inc, which creates parody car air freshners such as Elon’s Musk and last year he launched Melbourne Mask Company, which has become Australia’s largest distributor of reusable face masks.

In this interview we also discussed:

  • How he’s taken a data-driven approach that has allowed him to grow the business 40-50% YoY despite only raising $400K in funding 7 years ago.
  • How 2 successful side-hustles have helped him to focus and create a better business at Tablo
  • How Ash approaches execution of new ideas
  • Early mistakes Ash made when trying to grow Tablo
  • The importance of self awareness as a founder
  • How a failed acquisition by Apple led to a pivot and evolution into creating the business that Tablo is today
  • & much more!


  • 2.34 – Introduction to Ash and Tablo 
  • 3.25 – How Ash’s passion for business came from building go-karts
  • 6.41 – Ash’s experience at University and deciding to pave out a unique career path
  • 9.05 – Starting Tablo after seeing first-hand the struggles of self-publishing and ebook publishing 
  • 12.31 – How Ash first built a version of Tablo with very little technical experience 
  • 15.23 – Why it’s important to launch a product rather than spending too much time perfecting it
  • 17.01 – The value of using free trial offers to validate an idea and connect with customers
  • 18.31 – The benefits of participating in an accelerator program 
  • 20.24 – The importance of building a solid business rather than focusing on just raising capital
  • 23.26 – Partnering with Apple and pivoting after the project fell through
  • 28.28 – Deciding what is important to focus on and what isn’t worth continuing with 
  • 29.49 – Why Ash suggests launching customer-facing features first so you can find pain points in the backend initially 
  • 32.43 – Keeping calm and making smart decisions in times of stress 
  • 35.44 – Why it’s important to have a deep love for the product and be able to turn ‘failures’ into opportunities
  •  39.46 – Why Ash prefers working on multiple projects and businesses at the same time
  • 47.01 – How Ash started a reusable mask business at the start of the pandemic 
  • 48.34 – How past projects falling through allowed for a successful move into print publishing 
  • 52.25 – Spending over a year working on print publishing without knowing whether it was the right move for the company 
  • 54.16 – Focusing on customers and building a great product over PR and marketing in the early days 
  • 57.39 – Building customer relationships as an early-stage founder 
  • 1.00.29 – How to get in contact with Ash 

Links Mentioned 

Ash’s Links

People Mentioned 

Companies Mentioned 

Past Episodes Mentioned

Special Thanks:

Special thanks to Amy Lee and Alex Eckermann for their help with research for this interview! ?

Feedback/connect/say hello:
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

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