Quiqup Disrupts Last mile delivery a Talk with GM Michel Kaloustian

Quiqup is an On-demand Delivery Service, revolutionising the way in which companies and consumers connect to local London retailers and restaurants. Currently available as a smartphone app, on both iOS and Android, and a web platform; Quiqup successfully made it’s way in the Global Start-up Galaxy in barely two years, rapidly spreading through positive user experience and enthusiastic word of mouth.

The starting idea is the following: Whatever you need, from food and drink to useful items and gifts, today Quiqup allows you to simply place your order via their app. Then, Quiqup will collect and deliver it to your door within the hour.

Launched in September 2014 by co-founders Bassel El Koussa*, Tim Linssen*, Federico Ferraro*, Rami Idriss* and Danny Hawkins* (founders Biographies below), the idea for their business came about following the realisation that Time is an increasingly important commodity for both consumers and businesses in London. Quiqup would allow it’s users to purchase the items they need, when they need them, with just a few clicks.

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Today, Quiqup is a solid success-story acting as a reference for Young Tech & Creative Entrepreneurs as the values it embraces are organic growth, trust & reliability.

Kamsyn met with Michel Kaloustian, Quiqup‘s General Manager for an exclusive talk with the dynamic Entrepreneur revealing the Highlights and Achievements of his  journey launching Quiqup.

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Michel Kaloustian General Manager  of Quiqup    Photo Emile Issa

 

Michel left Lebanon right after school at age 17 and went to study Industrial Engineering at Virginia Tech with a minor in business and a minor in green engineering. Then, he obtained his Master from Columbia University NYC in Industrial Engineering Operation Research. His first job was as a Project Engineer in an Engineering Consulting firm in Oil & Gas in Abu Dhabi. He then moved to their HQ in London.

As a citizen of the world, with a perfect command of multiple languages, Michel enjoys challenges and cultivates a winner mindset he developed very young on Tennis courts and in Football arenas. He also embraces sportsmanship values and a beautiful team spirit that is appreciated by his closest friends.  That’s how he met with the co-founders of Quiqup through his roommate that was one of them : « I left my job to join forces with them at a very early stage where Quiqup hadn’t even launched yet and I became a partner. These were the days where we were wearing many hats and doing everything for the business. »

Michel appreciates competition as it feeds his drive to surpass himself in order to lead his team towards new achievements. In a highly competitive field, Michel finds deep in himself the Spirit needed to succeed, just as pressure creates diamonds.

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So what was your first focus ?

« My first real focus was as a Scrum Master: basically managing our team of developers as these were the first employees we had; as a Tech company. Things picked up pretty quickly and other departments started coming to life which made me manage our project as a whole. I am currently the General Manager for our team of 75 employees and I am mainly responsible of executing our business strategy and keeping all our teams in sync in order to do so. »

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How did you get funded ? 

In the beginning, we mainly got funding from family and friends that believed in the project. However, when we launched publicly, we began to generate interest from Institutional & Strategic Investors. We have completed multiple rounds of seed funding and aim to raise our growth and expansion round within the next couple of quarters.

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What profile of clients do you target ?

B2C:

After conducting extensive research, we have determined that our target audience are working professional between the ages of 25 to 34 earning above £40,000 per year. London’s high income earning working professionals make up 77% of the population, from those 17% are students 18 to 24, 36% are young professionals 25 to 34 and 24% are older professionals 35 to 44.

B2B:

Quiqup’s B2B proposition targets four verticals of partner acquisition:

  • Retail and grocery
  • Restaurant chains
  • Independent retailers
  • Third party partners

The independent retailers consist of both food and non-food retailers. While the third party vertical will be the acquisition of partners which directly affect order growth through indirect channels.

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Michel Kaloustian Quiqup General Manager    Photo Emile Issa

 

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What were your main challenges ?

Our main challenges in my opinion are people and funding. On the people’s side talent acquisition and talent retention are challenges that every single business has to deal with and we are one of them. I can’t stress enough on the importance of defining who the right people for you are, hiring them and more importantly retaining them.

It does not to stop here, the day to day management of people is not a skill you can learn anywhere, you have to adapt to different personalities and different approaches to do it well and this is an eternal challenge (and my job). The big reality check for us was accepting that not everybody will treat the company like it is his and you can’t blame them. In general startups give out equity to early employees and key employees, however at Quiqup we have decided to give shares to almost all of our employees, this way we are really all in it together, and it feels great! 

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 Funding: it is pretty obvious, getting funded in the early days is not easy. It required a lot perseverance and confidence to get money in, even from friends and family. At the beginning investors believe in your team and your vision, later on results start speaking for themselves and things get easier. One big lesson from this funding challenge is that there is no room for egos and you always have to think about what is good for your company.

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What are the main qualities you look for in talent applying to join your team ?

Ambition with a winner mindset, reliability and strong listening skills. Also the capacity to be accountable when something goes wrong.

What were the exciting milestones?

Everything has been exciting for us from day 1 and it continues to be. But to state notable milestones to the audience, I would have to say that signing our Exclusive partnership with Wholefoods is a very big milestone we are proud of. Building our fleet of 800+ drivers and 300+ retail partners is also an ever evolving milestones but proves our ability to scale and grow without having an exponential growth in our overheads.

On the product side, we have so many achievement we are very ecstatic about but the biggest one for the business must be the fact that Quiqup have an easily accessible modern JSON Restful API for anyone wishing to integrate. Integration is made simpler with our API explorer and JS libraries. API integration works seamlessly to give you complete visibility on all your orders on tablet and desktop. We are now embracing automation and machine learning .

Finally, we just got nominated in the Europas Award for the fastest growing startup in Europe which is pretty special. 

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Where do you stand today as to your teams ?

We have the following departments Operations, Product, Data Science, Growth and Finance, Sales and Marketing.

Are offering diverse services, other than food delivery ?

On the B2B side, we empower bricks and mortar retailers in enhancing their propositions by enabling them with 1-hour delivery straight from their stores. We have seen that this is a quite compelling propositions to retailers trying to move towards multichannel commerce and becoming more competitive in the growing e-commerce space.

On the consumer side we are a multi-channel last mile delivery company which means we move goods from A to B. Having said that, our Groceries deliveries  are picking up a lot (especially now that we have signed Wholefoods and are working closely with another national grocery player) so did our “courier” service. We do however deliver anything you want from drinks to electronics, pharmacy, pet food and any goods you can think of within the city.

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Michel Kaloustian Quiqup General Manager    Photo Emile Issa

 

What are you future plans ?

Our next steps are about national expansion in the UK and then International expansion. However, we are being patient and doing it the proper way as growing at any cost is no longer “sexy” and we do not aim to be a cash burning machine. Our future plan is to be a operationally profitable business and it is something we are already tackling and it is looking very promising.

Where do you find your inspiration ?

Family is very important  to me.  It’s where I find balance & inspiration: « My Father and Mother taught me the importance of Ethics & Persistence in a challenging career. Never get too high, never get too low, my father still says. Also, my mother’s temperance often reminds me to keep my feet on the ground. That’s how I can keep aiming as high as I want ».

 

To Follow Quiqup:  Website: www.quiqup.com

                                       Insta    @Quiqup

                                       Twitter @Quiqup_app

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Quiqup Founders Biographies:

Bassel El Koussa:

Bassel has spent his life growing up in an entrepreneurial household. His family business in Lebanon, is an industrial manufacturer of bakery products distributed through the one of the largest logistics operations in the country. After graduating from the American University of Beirut, he pursued two masters degrees at the School of Oriental and African Studies and Imperial College. In between the degrees Bassel spent two years starting the family business operation expansion in Riyadh and then moved on to work within Private Equity. He later returned back to London where he worked in venture capital before starting Quiqup.

Danny Hawkins:

Working in IT and Development for 13 years, Danny lives and breathes technology. A true full stack developer, his skillset include Ruby, Rails, Javascript, Node, Python, Perl, Infrastrucre and High availability. Danny lives in Linux / BSD based operating systems. Danny is always operating at the forefront of technology.

Most recent engagements prior to Quiqup include Slot Partners Gaming, Danny converted a legacy system to a modern standards. Established process for development where there was none. Improved overall performance of realtime affiliate based commission system. He also worked as the lead software engineer on an second screen tablet application for Formula 1 with Venture Capital firm WPS Challenger. Other achievements include being the Senior software engineer across a range of public facing government projects with usage or up to 4 million requests per week with the Ministry of Justice. Danny is our Chief Technology Officier and head of tech.

Tim Linssen:

Tim started his career as an entrepreneur through music. Growing from small events culminating in a internationally established hip hop festival, with over 5000 visitors. Tim directed all media, event & technology productions for the events. For almost ten years Tim has been part-time involved in the construction, managing and delivery of automated warehouse & logistic solutions across Europe. Working with and for the companies like: SSI Scheafer, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Daalimpex, Eimskip, Kloosterboer, Nedcon, Storax Ramada & Hansen Industrial Transmissions. Moving to London after graduating from University, Tim worked for Venture Capital firm WPS Challenger in the research & innovation department, responsible for all aspects of research and product definitions around development of a second screen tablet application for Formula 1 and the initial research for a new product called Databank. Tim mainly focussed on the business requirements. Tim is now focussed on leading and owning Quiqup’s products on the back-end and infrastructure side. He is also responsible for all tech integrations within Quiqup.

Federico Ferraro:

Whilst studying International Media & Entertainment Management, with a double specialisation in Marketing & Production in the Netherlands, Federico has worked on several multimedia projects, providing creative direction and supervising the productions.

Moving to London to work for Venture Capital Fund WPS Challenger in the Research & Innovation department, Federico researched the latest trends & development, defining new customer propositions and Minimal Valuable Products in collaboration with the business and development team. Federico is now mainly focussed on product development and ownership on the front-end side and everything that is customer facing. He is also heading our creative team.

Rami Idriss:

Graduated with a distinction from American University of Beirut with a BA Hons. Rami also obtained a Masters in Finance from Imperial College of London and worked in Corporate Finance for a year with British American Tobacco London HQ. He worked for a year with CB Capital London and is invloved in his families business in Beirut ( Real Estate Semiramis) and Saudi Arabia (Riyadh Cables Group).

 

To Follow Quiqup:  Website: www.quiqup.com

                                       Insta    @Quiqup

                                      Twitter @Quiqup_app

Kamsyn, June 2016