Tell us about yourself?
I’m a native Californian, although have lived in the UK for a long time. I built and sold a successful company selling mobile content over a decade ago, when smart phones were just becoming a big deal. This gave me a real taste for entrepreneurship.
I started my second start-up with a business partner which provides software that enables developers to easily integrate real-time communication features to any app or website.
I became sole owner and CEO in 2018, and since then have worked hard to expand the business. We now have offices and personnel in the US, UK, Ukraine, Indian, and shortly Canada.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
It’s hard but gratifying work! The buck stops with me.
You need to be engaged and look for opportunities to grow, be open to trying new things, and realize that growing a business is a process which requires perseverance.
You also need to be adaptable and open-minded enough to change when needed. Despite all the challenges and hard graft, it’s very thrilling to build something.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Trust my instincts and don’t second guess myself so much. Also, to make sure I hire the best team around me. Having the right people in your organization makes all the difference. You can’t do this alone.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I’m really dedicated to my company, so it can be challenging at times to pull away and put my attention elsewhere. But having a good family life and other interests helps me find a balance and allows me to feel refreshed when I get back to work.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The rapid speed of technology change and the way we all communicate has influenced me and the QuickBlox business.
The rise of messaging and communication apps, which began as a social phenomenon among friends and family, has now radically altered the world of work and business. I see tremendous opportunity here.
The digitization of our personal interactions with chat and video calling has led us to create tools so every website and app can offer these experiences.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Our magic source is the ability to be farsighted and adaptable. We were one of the first Communication-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) providers on the market.
We’ve always manage to keep one step ahead by identifying new market trends and catering our products and services to meet customer needs.
Our product allows our customers to add chat, video calling, and multiparty video conferences to mobile apps and websites, and we’ve also created some ready solutions.
For industries like banking or healthcare that need secure messaging and video communication, we’ve build a customizable white label solution – Q-Consultation – that can be embedded into an existing software platform.
The recent pandemic has highlighted the value of digital communication and we’re seeing a lot of traction with this new product, which is exciting.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Sales are generally good. We have a great product, so now we’re focusing on getting the word out so that more and more people know about us. Lately we have increased our marketing budget to make more noise and attract greater interest.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Covid-19 inevitable brought many challenges. We moved to a remote model of working and experienced several customer accounts put on hold or cancelled.
On the other hand, there was also enlarged interest in our product given the immediate need across industries for remote digital communications.
Healthcare organizations in particular were knocking on our door in search of communication solutions and we’ve used our learning to develop more products for this industry
What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?
London is where the world meets. It’s a great city enabling meetings with all sorts of helpful contacts, whether they be investors, new customers, or new partners and collaborators.
We’re working with a London University healthtech accelerator to help integrate our Q-Consultation app among NHS providers. In London there is a rich network of industry and technology communities that can use QuickBlox products for real-time messaging and communication.
Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?
I don’t think so. In this day and age of the internet, digital communication, and remote work, the world has become a much smaller place.
The company might be London based, but I remain connected to all my teams members and customers throughout the day, wherever they are located.
How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
That we are a remote team helps cut down the cost of having a London office. We bill our customers in US dollars and given the current exchange rate, its actually a good time to be hiring UK employees.
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
The only reason I can see us moving out of London would be due to the high cost. But I feel the advantages of staying (travel connects, networking events etc) outweighs any reason to leave.
How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?
No. Not really. We sell our products and services around the world.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
To be a global leader in providing businesses with embeddable communication apps and CPaaS communication solutions for a variety of use cases including telehealth, social networking, conversational and video e-commerce, and secure private messaging.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
We have a very informative website and blog where they can learn more about our products and services (https://quickblox.com/blog/). I’m also happy to be contacted directly with any questions.