Aiming to improve efficiencies for businesses, Imogen Wethered started Qudini to create innovative and flexible customer management products that solve problems. Running out of London since June 2012, Qudini found a gap in the market that she held the solution to.
What does your business do?
Qudini is a cloud-based platform that enables brands with physical locations to create fantastic customer experiences. This is done through technology to: manage queues and walk-in customers requiring a service, with additional functionality that allows brands to take bookings for appointments and events online.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My co-founder and I met at a hackathon, where we brainstormed ideas around the table and one of them was the ability to escape queuing using technology on the customer’s mobile phone in a theme park. We won the hackathon, and as a result, funding from Telefonica, and learned about the Wayra academy, Telefonica’s tech business accelerator.
How did you know there was a market for it?
It was within Wayra that we got to work heavily with retailers and became very interested in the contemporary revolution happening in retail and how we could create a variety of solutions to help them solve this.
We also did a lot of research and trials with other customers in restaurants, museums and even health clinics.
The product-market-fit realisation came from the fact that our clients, across industries, all became dependent on the platform and said they would feel lost without it and the fact that their customers added to the platform loved it. We then also worked to measure the business case and results for our product and the benefits were phenomenal: 62 per cent walkout reductions, ten per cent store conversion increases and much happier customers with 99 per cent complaints reductions.
How did you raise funding, and why?
As we started the business fresh out of university, we didn’t have much capital or experience. We applied for Telefonica’s accelerator Wayra and took part in the nine month accelerator program. At such an early stage, the ability to gain funding, watch from key start-up ecosystem people in the UK and work alongside 18 other businesses starting their ideas was an incredible learning experience that accelerated the business.
However, in order to develop our product offerings and promote the business, I sought investment and managed to raise £2.4 million in equity investment from John Lewis and private investors, whilst also growing the business organically. As well as this, I created deals with FTSE 100 enterprise retailers including O2, House of Fraser and Telefonica Global within the first three years of starting out, whilst also growing the company’s sales revenue organically. Since then, the company has formed partnerships and sold to businesses in retail, NHS, hospitality and museum brands in the UK, Europe and EMEA and was recently recognised as a Gartner Cool Vendor.
Describe your business model in brief.
Qudini is a cloud-based platform so our business model is really a simple SaaS (software as a service) business model where businesses pay recurring subscription fees to use our service.
Your lowest point was…
They say the second year of a start-up is always the hardest, and that was definitely true. The first year of starting-up is so exciting, as everything is new and conceptual, and you’re able to think purely creatively and strategically. In the second year, you need to be much more practical to get everything working and start closing revenues and understanding the sale cycle and buying process for your product.
Your highest point was…
When we closed our first contract with a restaurant chain it was amazing to have ink on paper showing that our product was something people wanted to buy. Then a few months later when we gained our first roll-out across 500 stores with one of our major retail clients.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I am a very big believer that hard-work and determination is king and the more you put in the more you get out. I also really recommend the book Rework by David Heinemeier, for punchy and alternative ways of thinking of doing things.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Increasing our market share globally. As we are already working with an array of retailers in these Europe and American markets, we will be focusing on increasing our market share in the virtual queue management, appointment booking, click and collect, request assistance and event bookings spaces in both EMEA and APAC. With ambitious growth plans and targets, we are looking to increase revenue fourfold in these spaces through working retailers and brands. We will also look to solidify our share of voice in the customer experience management space as the go-to customer experience management platform for retailers.
Watch this space!
Extending our product and service offering will continue to be a key focus for us with an array of solutions and exciting game-changing retail innovations in the pipeline. We will hopefully help in looking to redefine the perception of the retail industry through the use of best in class customer experience management technology.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be….
Working at Disney!
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
No regrets, I see every mistake as a learning for the future and it’s important to take mistakes for learnings but then only look forward.
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
Don’t do things in half measures.
Have you ever felt at a disadvantage or discriminated in the business world because of your age?
No, never. Except when I was once taking my whole team of 22 people for drinks and was the only one that got stopped and asked for ID by a bouncer.