To kick off our second post of the series we spoke to mobile queue management system startup Qminder. Founded in Estonia and now based in London, their app increases efficiency and provides valuable statistics for the business. With names such as AT&T and Verizon using Qminder in their stores it’s clear this startup are doing great things for visitor experience and customer satisfaction.
Rauno Rüngas, founder and CEO of Qminder, gave us an insight into his experiences partnering with large companies.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you faced working with larger companies?
A: Definitely the first thing that comes to mind is the speed and agility. Due to the nature of larger companies and their corporate structures – everything can take more time. This is somewhat understandable, but definitely something for startups to look out for and for larger companies to improve.
Q: How could these problems be mitigated?
A: There is no silver bullet to eliminate this obstacle, but just a lot of small things to prepare and look out for to speed up the process. Know or search who are the decision makers, predict the questions and requirements and make their lives as easy as possible – in the end you are still dealing with people, who most likely have other tasks and worries to take care of.
Fortunately working with startups is becoming more common and acceptable. A long track record, connections or media attention aren’t the main factors anymore – a great product can provide all the credibility that is needed.
We once got an angry call from a Project Manager, who demanded Excel spreadsheets and PDF graphs for statistics.
His request came from his experience with similar product and corporate structure where he has to deliver this data to another department.
We simply gave him an URL the Qminder API and said that their development team knows what to with that information.
15 minutes later we got a call from the Project Manager apologizing and thanking us for a great product. He didn’t exactly understand how it technically worked, but he’s development team assured him, that Qminder saved them a lot of time, money and is actually a way better way to get the needed statistics to their Oracle business intelligence database.
Q: What are the benefits of working with large companies?
A: Besides the fact that large companies can sometimes be your biggest customers and largest revenue source, a large company can help a startup to get the credibility to sell to many smaller companies.
As the previous point is common sense and clear for everybody I would add the finding, where a large corporation can be a great partner in product development. They might provide the competence and insight through their structures and specific departments that a one-man-shops and SMB’s simply lack.
Q: What advice would you give to startups just beginning to work with large companies?
A: Do not put all of your eggs in one basket!
This overlaps with the first point about the speed of the larger companies. They might give you the credibility and revenue desired, but sometimes this can simply take so much time that it will hurt your startup.
Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
If you adjust your expectations and maintain the balance, then you might not need to choose between a single 1 million dollars sale and a million 1 dollar sales, but actually end up with 2 million dollars.
Q: Did you specifically plan to work with large organisations? How did you go about
A: Queue management systems have been sold almost exclusively to larger establishments for decades. The banks, governmental offices, telecoms were to only ones who could afford it and where visitors saw them. Based on the current market, a lot of our customer development, interviews and problem findings did come from the large companies.
Our goal was never to focus solely on them, I would say we were even a bit hesitant to work with them, based on the bureaucracy and slowness we had heard and seen. Fortunately people who see and appreciate innovation have found us and helped us to navigate through the corporate structures. People from large companies have reached out to us.
We have now ended up in a positions where we have made queue management system affordable for the SMB’s and even the large companies are ditching their 10+year partners because Qminder is offering a superior product and support that actually is helpful.
I believe the key to our success has been the courage to ask questions and not fake a facade of knowing it all.
To seek out and understand what are the goals of the people in larger companies and how we can help them.
What are the underlying goals and where are the questions and feature request coming from – trying to identify and solve the problems and not to just manage the symptoms.
Learn more about Qminder.