An idea which started from a Garage48 Hackathon when two budding entrepreneurs came together to solve a problem, rather than waiting in a queue to be served in most restuarants and shops, how cool will it be if your mobile phone could generate a ticket? Instead of a paper ticket, one which reminds and gives you an estimated time before your number comes up, cool right?
This is what Rauno Rüngas and his team are hoping to solve wih Qminder.
Hi Rauno, How are you doing, great to have you on YHP?
Thank you for reaching out.
Sure, I love what you guys are doing. Anyways, before we move on, could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
Born and raised in the e-country of Estonia. Contrary to the popular belief, this does not automatically mean that I see the code of the Matrix, list Big Data as a hobby, have Skype stock options or that I am an affordable developer to hire ;)
My life has been quite unremarkable, but it has lead me to the fantastic worldwide scene of startups, the #estonianmafia and to work with the above-mentioned mystical Estonian developers. I have no official background of IT, I majored in Psychology, have made a living by doing everything beginning from hustling with computer parts, being the leading sms-auction player, consulting on social-media or selling a half a ton of tangerines from my apartment.
How did you initially get into business?
Growing up in the 90’s in Estonia, I suppose, might have left a mark - cowboy-capitalism at its finest.
What was the exact moment of “getting into business”, I can’t tell:
·Gaining the trust of dozens of people to transfer thousands of dollars to a 13-year-old boy in order to deliver custom LCD-screens for them in return?
·Setting up a legal form for a company after a couple of beers and the realization that nothing is holding us back?
·Or attending the first Garage48 hackathon.
Who was your inspiration growing up and why?
For the moment, I would answer Elon Musk and I would do it faster than his rocket Dragon was flying, but reminiscing my childhood, I can only smirk and recall MacGyver.
Qminder, how did it all happen?
With Qminder we have an amazing story where two people with the same or similar idea were brought together by other entrepreneurial people and an event encouraging entrepreneurship - Garage48. I like to draw parallels with similar occurrences from the history of how patents for the world-changing products have been filed in for the first time simultaneously and independent from one another.
The idea was presented by Markko Karu – our COO, designer extraordinaire and more.
Listing the idea of “SmartQ” in a private group before the event made it possible for me to combine it with my “QRLine” idea that I had had written down some months before. Markko with his in-depth experience in constructing customer interactions, and I with the ability of psychological problem spotting and a focus on the mobile as the next information platform after the web, was enough to attract 4 developers and have an amazing sprint onwards for months.
I‘m getting lost here, can you explain what Qminder does in simpler terms?
Qminder is the queue elimination system.
It is a free smartphone application for remote queuing and a web-based system for managing the waiting lines. We will solve the problem of waiting lines, regardless of whether it is at your local DMV, bank, salon, theme-park or the next launch of the new iPhone.
The benefits of remote queuing are clear for all. By offering a web-based solution and levering the existing hardware such as LCD screen and iPads we can offer a proper queue management with competitive prices for both high-end customers and one-time events.
We all mind waiting!
Oh, I get it now, were you involved in any other projects before Qminder?
Tell me about that?
In the summer before Qminder I was part of another mobile startup. In addition, I was consulting with businesses on social-media and location-based marketing. So in hindsight, I guess I was preparing myself for Qminder.
Tell us about the first initial months after launching, did you face any difficulties?
The first months were all about the team and our potential – by starting from a hackathon with an idea, a “hack” prototype, 6 strangers from 2 different countries, from 3 different cities, everyone with well-paying jobs - we had our work cut out for us. As our situation was quite extraordinary, I would focus on something that applies to everybody: customers! Having our first partners and customers to work with after only 48 hours fuelled the team to continue on, quit their day-jobs, get into Seedcamp in less than 100 days, etc. I would say we are still in the starting up phase and still focusing on customers .
Raising money is always such a hot topic, How have you been able to fund the business so far?
To this day we have not spent a single penny on salaries, bonuses or anything like that. Everything has went into the company itself always with the future in mind. The cost of getting from Estonia to the Mini-Seedcamp in Prague, staying for 7 weeks in Finland, 2 trips to Silicon Valley and many to London have been possible only by continuous support and confirmation that we are on the right track.
And after a hectic first half year, having met some of the world’s top investors such as Jeff Clavier, Dave Mcclure, Steve Jürventson, Bryce Robert and many more from the Sand Hill road and London, we are more than happy with the choices we have made and are just now starting fundraising with a firm confidence and eagerness to go on even more intensively.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Crucial is a subjective term. It might have been the bootstrapping, forcing a friend to drive 200km for a piece of machinery on the first hackathon night, or secretly camping at a warehouse to participate in a startup-accelerator. But I would summarize it by repeating my comment on Bryce Robert’s “Suffering As a Competitive Advantage: “Exit comfort zone. Adapt. Repeat until success.”
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
The business of removing waiting lines has stayed the same, but the product has gone through some mayor iterations and focus-shifts. From a simple B2C prototype to a B2B solution with complexity that is not seen by most.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Seeing people be excited about what you are doing and getting confirmation from customers that this is exactly what they needed is always a highlight, but related to YHP, I would bring out the nice discovery of when the president of Estonia shared a Wall Street Journal article about our company on Facebook.
What can we be expecting from Qminder in 2012?
For a company that has been alive less than a year most is still to come. We hope to bring you faster iteration, Qminder into countries far from Estonia or the UK, news about fundraising and quite possibly something totally unexpected ;)
But if there are more people out there that are interested and/or willing to contribute, wanting to hop on the bandwagon – feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
·#JFDI –just f***ing do it. You should have started yesterday. Just look at Nick D’Aloisio or Thomas Suarez and shift your perspective on “readiness” and “the right moment”
·“Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will” – Chris Dixon
Don’t overthink your uber-hip niche idea – solve a real problem.
·Focus on the customers. - Don’t fool yourself by thinking you know what the customer needs or is willing to pay for.