Matt King is the founder of WeQ4U, a FREE telephone service and APP that gives you FREE 08 Calls and helps you get through to any Call Centre without waiting, saving mobile users save around 30p per minute on their 08 calls.
Hi Matt, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I’m very well, thank you for asking.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Sure no problem. I was born and raised in Devon, and hold a double-first class Physics degree from Keble College, Oxford. After university I worked for IBM and Logica, and then spent five years in San Francisco learning how to ‘do’ start-ups.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I had an idea that was so good and helpful it would have been foolish and irresponsible not to build a business out of it!
How did the idea for WeQ4U come about?
I was trying to buy tickets for the Glastonbury Festival back in 2004 – it was the year they were in the news as their servers fell over under demand, and 400,000 people spent the night hitting ‘refresh, refresh, refresh’ on their browsers. I thought ‘there must be a better way’, and came up with the idea for an internet queue page to sell tickets fairly in these circumstances, without people having to wait by their computers.
I realised while we were drawing up the patents that if we applied the same principle to call centres, then no-one would have to queue for a call centre again, and this turned out to be where the market is for the invention. We focused on a call centre solution that allows callers to hang up and call back without losing their place, which increases efficiency at the call centre by around 20% whilst eliminating queues.
The WeQ4U App and Service came much later, as it was a long time before the technology existed to enable us to provide a similar service direct to consumers. WeQ4U works with pretty much any UK call centre, and also saves callers approx.. 30p per minute on their 08 calls. Anyone can get it free now from WeQ4U.co.uk
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
Funding is always a struggle, but we were lucky to get a seed loan from NESTA, which we have now paid back. They are definitely worth calling if you have an innovative idea – even if you don’t get funding they can provide all kinds of support.
The hardest part is getting large companies to take us seriously, and getting through all the red tape to make an actual sale – particularly in the UK, where we still struggle with that. We find the sales process much easier in the US where businesses seem to embrace change rather than resist it.
What is WeQ4U? And what are you trying to solve with it?
We believe people deserve a life free from suffering, and everyone's time is valuable. To help, we provide solutions that remove the pain from running, and getting through to call centres, even when things get busy.
WeQ4U is a consumer App and Service that allows you to call UK 01,02,03,05 and 08 numbers. If you get stuck in a queue, just press 9*, and the system queues for you (hence the name), and then reconnects you when an agent answers, so you haven’t wasted your life waiting on hold. Mobile users save around 30p per minute on their 08 calls with the service too, whether or not they get stuck in a queue.
How have you been able to fund it?
We also offer a business service, WeQ4U 4 Business. When a company has our business service, it means that everyone can get through without queuing, whether they also have our App or not, which provides a huge advantage to the business in terms of increased efficiency, answer rate and caller satisfaction.
Running the WeQ4U consumer service helps us identify which call centres have a queue problem, so we can reach out to help them with our Business product.
What sorts of advice do you having for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their start-ups?
Keep your expenses as low as you can and get something in front of potential customers as quickly as possible – even if it’s not the whole of your planned offering, and even if you give it away for free. Contact with customers is how your business and product will grow, and it will be easier to secure investment if you already have a customer base.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
My business experience was purely in a technical role, and I’d never started a business before, so I had no idea whether or not I would really be able to do this. It was exhilarating, exciting, terrifying and deeply satisfying all at the same time. I’ve grown as a person in so many ways since then and I’m very thankful both for the opportunity to do so, and all the help I’ve received along the way. If you’re thinking of starting a business, my advice is to go ahead and DO IT! The support you need is out there, you just have to ask for it.
How did you initially get traction?
We found a local business that was having the problem our solution was designed to solve, and set about telling them how we solved it.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Partnering with organisations that already have a route to market for your solution is a great way to start – but be careful as they will have their own agenda that may or may not coincide with yours. If you can get something directly in front of consumers, then so much the better.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Winning the Real Business Future 50 Peoples Champion award was great for our business, and for me personally, particularly coming so shortly after Dragon’s Den had done its best to slam the business. The recognition we got from our thousands of satisfied users, who voted for us, as well as the business community, really meant a lot to us all. Thank you. Also, I was recently featured as a 'business leader' in The Smarter Business Blueprint from Zipcar and Ashbridge Business School
What should we be expecting from yourself and the WeQ4U team for 2013?
We’re going to continue to make it easier to get through to even more call centres – we’re staying focused on that mission through 2013.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1) Don’t let your fear of going at it alone stop you. It’s easier than you think. The help and support you need is out there.
2) Keep your costs down. Work from your bedroom. Don’t seek investment unless you really need it.
3) Get something – anything – out in front of users/customers as quickly and early as you can.