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I spent thousands of hours, last dollar to save former company says Eran Eyal


Former Springleap founder Eran Eyal, who faces fraud charges in the US, says he spent “thousands of hours” and “went down to his last dollars” to save a former company of his — which is understood by Ventureburn to be Passo — and cover employees’ salaries.

Eyal, who is currently the co-CEO of retail blockchain startup Shopin and is due in court today (30 January), revealed how he struggled to keep Passo going in a blog post last week for US organisation Scored NYC, a group of business mentors.

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The SA entrepreneur was charged on 24 August last year by the New York Attorney General with allegedly stealing $600,000 from investors by fraudulently soliciting investors to purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company, Springleap. If convicted of the top count charged, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

The former Springleap founder claims he is innocent of the charges.

In the post, published last Tuesday (22 January) and titled “From Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk: What True Innovators Know About Risk”, Eyal writes about Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk before touching on his own story.

Former Springleap founder Eran Eyal, who faces fraud charges in the US, says he spent ‘thousands of hours’ and went down to his ‘last dollars’ to save his former company Passo

He writes that before he started with Shopin, he had the decision to pursue another blockchain-related opportunity that would “have made me wildly financially wealthy”.

Though he does not mention the company by name, it is understood by Ventureburn that Eyal is refering to Passo — a company that he ran at the time with its CEO Steven Gray, before the two parted ways.

In September last year a Shopin spokesperson — John Eddy, senior vice president of communications firm Goldin Solutions referred to Passo as “a pre-cursor to Shopin”. It is understood that Eyal transferred the assets and investors from Passo to Shopin, when the latter was formed in 2017.

‘Many told me to walk away’

Writes Eyal in his blog post last week: “I looked at what Shopin’s predecessor was trying to achieve and realised how rare an opportunity we had in front of us to shift the status quo for so many people, and have since pursued the evolution of that vision relentlessly.

“During times of struggle, many told me to walk away from the opportunity, but I could not let go of the mission and vision.

“I remember when one of my closest friends and advisors told me: ‘I have no idea how you do it: When everyone else is running out of a burning building, you’re the only one running in.’ I spent thousands of hours and went down to my last dollars to save the company and cover the employees’ salaries.

“There were days where I had to negotiate with investors, employees, vendors and retailers all on the same day… and the only thing I had to sell was a vision and a belief that we could execute to bring it to life. The stress was overwhelming.

“Most nights I worked till 3am or was on calls with mentors in Europe till the morning light creeped through the window panes, reminding me a new day had dawned.

‘Shopin’s remarkable opportunities’

Eyal said Shopin however, now has “remarkable opportunities in its future” in helping retailers and shoppers to improve the retail experience while making a “positive impact” on data rights and security.

“The feeling of overcoming risk to innovate and succeed is incomparable. Make no mistake: Every day is a psychological, emotional, mental and creative challenge… each one faced with a boat-load of gratitude and grit.

Adds Eyal: “To court innovation is often to glimpse into the void of insanity. If you don’t get used to teetering at the edge, you will never know what’s on the other side”.

Gray, Passo and pilots

In October last year Gray declined to comment on whether or not it was he who carried out pilot projects with two top US retailers Bed Bath and Beyond and Zegna — on behalf of Eyal’s present startup Shopin.

In September last year a spokesperson from Bed Bath and Beyond last month told cryptocurrency publication CoinJournal (see their story here) that the retailer had “no record” of having done business with either Eyal, his present company Shopin — or his past company Passo. At the time the spokesperson told Ventureburn it also had no record of having done business with Passo’s former CEO Gray.

At the time, in October last year, Ventureburn also asked Gray to comment on when and why he had opted to leave Passo, as well as to explain what the link is between Shopin and Passo and why Passo came to an end.

In addition, Ventureburn asked Gray to comment on the legal case brought against himself, Passo and Eran Eyal by Amadeo Brenninkmeijer, in which Brenninkmeijer claims Eyal and Gray lied about having a carried out an 18-month pilot with retailer Macey’s.

Ventureburn asked whether Gray did indeed carry out a pilot with Macy’s and if so, whether he had proof of this (again, a screenshot and the name of those he liaised with at Macy’s). Ventureburn also asked why he had not yet paid back the money Brenninkmeijer says Gray owes him as per the legal proceedings.

Gray has yet to respond to any of the questions Ventureburn put to him.

This is a developing story.

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Featured image: Former Springleap founder Eran Eyal (Facebook)

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