At Tech City News, we’re always keen to shine a light on those who make up the UK’s thriving technology community.
This week, we spoke with Bassel El Koussa, CEO of Quiqup, an on-demand delivery service.
El Koussa talked about the operational challenges he’s faced when trying to grow his business and why he still looks up to his dad.
Tech vertical: On-demand logistics
Funding: ‘Multi-million’ Series A round announced in September 2015
Staff count: 80+
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Q: Where did the idea for Quiqup come from?
Having things delivered to your house in London is not a very common thing. It is usually either too expensive, slow or unreliable to appeal to most people. My co-founders and I were bothered by the fact that all of our free time would be consumed if we needed to run an errand after work. The rise of on-demand services got us thinking about how we could get stuff done while saving our precious time. This sparked the idea for a consumer app for custom pickups, giving people the ability to get anything picked up, quickly and affordably. The business has now evolved to take a technology-led approach to building on-demand logistics services for both businesses and individuals, balancing speed, cost-efficiency and reliability. That’s the essence of our business and the result is a service that anyone can access and use.
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Q: What’s your background? What were you doing before?
I grew up into a family business where I learned most of what I know. I later decided to take my own path and move to London. I worked in a venture capital firm, where I met three of my four co-founders. We clicked on the first day I joined the job and decided that we should start something together.
Quiqup was founded in 2014 and, today, we’re all involved in leading the business together: Federico Ferraro heads up marketing and communications, Danny Hawkins looks after the tech, Rami Idriss manages operations, Tim Linssen is the head of product, and I lead the business as CEO.
Q: Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
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I used to have a fear of flying which I got over by learning how to fly! I now fly single engine light aircraft. Maybe one day we can start using that for deliveries too!
Q: What has been the most challenging part about setting up your company?
Our biggest challenges have been operational, because what we’re trying to do is inherently very complex. We deliver anything, to and from anywhere in urban areas, and doing this in a city like London is extremely complicated. There are so many variables involved in the process; from traffic or weather on any given day, to specific vehicles that need to be sent to specific areas or seasonal fluctuations in the kinds of orders we get.
Optimising our processes for dealing with these variables, while simultaneously scaling the business, is something we are really focusing on. Getting this right is an ongoing challenge but it’s hugely rewarding when you see your solutions delivering real benefits for our business partners and customers. And our great people and in-house tech give us a leading edge.
Q: Have you had any mentors along the way, if so, what have they helped with?
My father has always been my mentor along the way. He is a self-made businessman who has built industrial scale manufacturing businesses in Lebanon, a country that has been in constant turmoil since the day I was born. His experience doing business in an unstable environment has equipped him with a breadth of experience in conflict management and in simply being resilient. My approach is mainly inspired by him. I generally go to him during the difficult times. He gives me the tools I need in order to deal with conflict.
Q: Do you have any regrets?
Never. I believe that every decision I take or experience I go through is for a reason. The objective for me is to learn from all situations
Q: Name three things that every tech founder out there should do to guarantee their company’s success.
There is no such thing as guaranteed success 🙂
The single most important thing is people. People make the company! Recruiting and developing the right people is probably the single most important job any founder should be doing. The more you invest time in people the better the outlook of your business is. I feel there is definitely a direct correlation there. This is not an easy task nor an exact science. It is something I am personally still learning along the way.
The second thing is flexibility. The technology industry moves really fast, markets move fast and people’s expectation change constantly. What could have once been a product or market fit may not be the case the next quarter, let alone the next year. A successful tech founder should have the skills to detect a shift in the market and be ready to adapt to it rapidly.
The last thing is to never give up. There is always a path to take to reach success. All you have to do is persevere until you find it. If you are equipped with the previous two things I mentioned then there will always be a way.
To read more Q&As with other inspirational tech entrepreneurs, head over here.