Michael Langguth will be hoping his startup, Poq Studio is able to fill the gap when it comes to mobile shopping. High street fashion brands can't compete with big retailers when it comes to custom-made shopping apps and this is where Poq Studio hopes to make their services available and noticed.
Hi Michael, How are you doing, great to have you on YHP?
Thanks, happy to talk.
Tell me about yourself growing up? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
My family has a wine company, founded 1789, but only my grandpa grew it to its current size. Whenever I was at my grandparents’ place everything would evolve around the company, later I worked for the company on several occasions.
I grew up in a small town in Germany, called Memmingen. After finishing high school I went travelling in Australia for 8 months, before starting a undergraduate degree in Maastricht, the Netherlands. During these three years, I started my first startup company – an online housing platform.
Who was your inspiration growing up and why?
On the business side certainly my grandpa was an inspiration. He showed me how great it is to build your own company. It takes a lot of courage and hard work, if you want to succeed. He started working in the company when he was my age and was determined to grow it. I admire his determination.
What was the inspiration behind poq studio? How did the idea come about?
The original idea came from my business partner, Oyvind Henriksen. He had been building ecommerce websites for over 10years and wanted to get into mobile. Together we started doing research into the business opportunity, which became the topic of both our master dissertations. One of the great aspects of studying entrepreneurship, you really get to try things out.
So Michael, what is poq studio? What are you guys are trying to solve?
Clothing is now the most popular product sold on mobile phones. However, high street fashion retailers cannot afford custom-made shopping apps. This leaves these retailers unable to keep up with big retailers such as H&M, Asos and Topshop. Poq Studio wants to help save the high street, by making it possible for SME fashion retailers to get their own branded mobile commerce apps, and compete with the big brands. Please have a look on our website to get more information - http://poqstudio.com/.
What were you doing before you founded poq studio?
I was working for a social investor in Germany, called Ashoka. They are helping social entrepreneurs with funding and advice. After that I did a Master’s program at UCL, Technology Entrepreneurship.
What was your biggest challenge during the starting up phase?
Perseverance is key in a startup. There are certainly more reasons for the business to fail than to succeed. A business partner you can trust and rely on is, I think, the most valuable asset in a startup. I think for us the biggest challenge is really still laying ahead, which is bringing the business to scale.
Raising money is always such a hot topic when starting a business, How have you been able to fund the business?
One of our major advantages was that we were able to do all the work ourselves and didn’t need to pay any outside people. Also, we were strongly supported by UCL Advances, the Center for entrepreneurship of UCL. They give free office space and advice to student and alumni businesses that they see to have potential to get big. Our first investment also came from UCL through winning the Bright Ideas Award 2012.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
We just added a third co-founder, Jun Seki, a software developer. I think getting a third person on board is crucial to prepare our internal communications to be able to adapt to more staff in the future.
The other big step was to go live with our first customers in the iTunes Store. We have six live apps in the iTunes Store now. We recently launched an app for Tatty Devine, the trendy East London-based jewelry company. The app got an incredible reception, being downloaded 10,000 times from all over the world.
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
There a lot of things that have changed, basically everything besides the team and that we build mobile-commerce applications for fashion retailers.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Winning the UCL Bright Ideas Award 2012 was a big step, we received our first investment from that and got a nice product video, which you can see here: http://poqstudio.com/how-it-works/
Also to see the first customer apps going live in the iTunes Store was a big step.
What can we be expecting from poq studio in 2012?
We will be closing our first angel round and use the money to grow the team. We want to become the dominant provider for mobile-commerce apps for fashion retail in the UK in the next months.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Find a partner that you can trust. Starting a company is a lot easier in a team.
2. Never give up. The most powerful weapon you have as an entrepreneur is perseverance.
3. Get out there and be open to change – changing your product or anything in the business, because your customers gave you feedback is the best thing that can happen to you. In the end of the day your company only has a reason for existence, because your customers have a need and you solve it for them.