Serge Taborin is CEO of Q App, a mobile ordering platform that enables user to order and pay for food and drinks via their smartphone.
Before founding Q App, Serge spent a number of years working in senior positions in the digital media sector and holds an engineering degree from Oxford University and an MBA from INSEAD.
Having been involved in technology and digital media for almost twenty years, Serge has built fast-growing businesses in the web and mobile space, and as an investor.
Prior to Q App, Serge was the Managing Director of Archant Digital Ventures, a division of Archant Publishing focused on acquiring and growing exciting digital businesses. And before that, he was the Head of Strategy at Perform Group as it grew from being a £3m a year company to a £600m IPO over a five-year period.
So, just what are the thought processes behind his success with Q App? We find out.
Take inspiration from real life
As is often the case with new business ideas, Q App started with a personal experience. I used to spend twenty minutes on a train commuting into work and would then wait fifteen minutes in a queue to buy a coffee at the station. Similarly, buying a drink at half time of a football match, or in most pubs on a Friday night, has always been a horrendous experience – not only for the customer, but also for staff. I thought there must be a better way, and realised that the problem could potentially be solved through smartphone technology. And so Q App was born.
Identify a clear need and provide a solution
Q App serves three distinct groups of stakeholders:
- Customers, for whom it eliminates the need to stand in queues, removes the need to carry cash/credit cards and enables remote access to the full menu and any applicable promotions at the venue.
- Venues, for whom it minimises lost business due to long queues, delivers higher order throughput, enables a highly effective up-sell mechanism, collects rich customer data, reduces (or eliminates) cash processing, and enhances customer loyalty.
- Advertisers, for whom it enables highly-targeted, real-time access to the customer at the point of purchase.
Be prepared to prove your worth
We’ve been successful in attracting a number of great venues – proving not only the technology, but also the value added by the Q App service. This enabled us to gain unique insights into how best to deploy this service. Because businesses don’t like change generally, and don’t like taking risks, being able to demonstrate working deployments in venues like the Royal Albert Hall really makes Q App stand out. In addition, we have attracted some great angel investors with broad connections in our target market segments, which has given us added credibility and accelerated our business development efforts.
Strive to keep up with, and utilise, modern technology
Businesses have always looked for ways to get more customers, generate more revenue and increase profitability, while customers have engaged with products or services that can solve a problem for them. Technology in general has inevitably played a large part in this, but the extraordinary rise of the smartphone has opened up a whole host of new possibilities to not just improve, but revolutionise industries that have worked largely in the same way for decades.
Think smart with your marketing channels
Traditional marketing channels are not particularly relevant to us at this stage – instead, we utilise targeted marketing activities, aimed at reaching those customers that attend venues where Q App is available. This means we benefit greatly from the venues themselves, who promote the service on our behalf, both through in-venue activities and their own digital channels. In addition, we try to find other cost-effective ways to raise awareness of the service. For example, we have just been selected by UKTI to be a part of the UK Pavilion at this year’s Milan EXPO, which is both a great stamp of approval for us and will also give us fantastic international exposure to over 20m people.
When it comes to maintaining clients, ultimately it comes down to delivering and proving the value that Q App brings. In terms of growing the client base, we utilise several channels including distribution partnerships.
Never lose momentum
With the proof-of-concept phase now behind us, we’re in the process of raising the next round of funding to boost our sales, marketing, operations and product development activities, and accelerate our expansion across the UK. We are also taking our first steps towards launching in international markets.
For any new product or a service, however good it may be, getting some early reference clients is critical. The fact that we’ve managed to sign up a number of tier one clients already, including our first UK-wide group, is something I’m immensely proud of. I am also delighted that we’ve attracted not just investment, but investment from some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs – it was a great confidence-booster.
Work hard to succeed and to overcome challenges
The venue acquisition and engagement process has proven to be one of the more challenging areas of developing Q App. However obvious it may be for venues to adopt the Q App technology and for the users to use the product, we’re still dealing with inducing a considerable change in behaviour – in-venue ordering has worked the same way since the first bar was opened and that won’t change overnight as most humans are naturally resistant to change. But we’re slowly seeing people waking up to the power of technology in solving major inefficiencies that currently exist.
There’s no substitute for hard work. However, great and original the idea might be, the customer demands will change. It’s often the focus on little details that are the difference between winning and losing.
To find out more about Serge Taborin and Q App, visit http://www.qappmobile.com/.
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