Growing A Funded Task Concierge Platform From London With Raj Singh, CEO Of Sooqini

Raj, please introduce yourself…

I’m from London, but have lived in eight countries (and counting). Did a degree in computer science and then was an engineer, a consultant, a VC and now an entrepreneur, back in London.

What’s the story behind creating Sooqini?

Getting stuff done is really inefficient, and most options out there are about people selling to you. We thought to ourselves, surely the buyer should be in control, they are the ones with the need and the money?

Sooqini was created to put the buyer in control, and to make the process of getting something done efficient so that people can get on with their busy lives.

We call it ‘Sooqini Silver Service’ or ‘S3’, and it is a unique task concierge concept that allows you to get stuff done, both professional and personal, and get on with your life

How’s traction working out so far? Any big milestones?

We’ve got 1,8000+ in the marketplace now, and have passed £500,000 worth of requests – all based in London. S3 is really moving fast and we’re getting the sort of positive feedback an entrepreneur can only dream about.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Checking what’s being requested in the marketplace, dealing with customer queries, looking at new features under development, dealing with potential and actual partners, and generally promoting Sooqini within the London community. It can get pretty intense.

What challenges did you face when launching, and how did you overcome them?

The classic issue with any marketplace is that you need both buyers and sellers otherwise it doesn’t work. We started with sellers and made sure it was free and easy for them to be a part of Sooqini.

Once they were on board, we could attract buyers. The cycle is ever continuing as we attempt to reach ‘scale’ such that the marketplace is self-sustaining and growing.

You’ve raised a round of financing. What advice can you share with entrepreneurs looking for funding?

The reality of raising money is that it takes longer than you think it will. The market conditions have been very tough out there, and finding people to take the risk is always hard – you need to work very hard at it, and it’s a sales job in many respects, especially when it comes to dealing with rejection.

The other thing to consider is that you spend so much time on the process you have to be very careful to ensure that the business does not suffer in the meanwhile…

What are you doing to foster company culture?

Nothing deliberate I would say – we’re all in the same office so everyone is clued up on what is going on at all times. Apart from the odd social gathering, the culture is one of openness and honesty, because I believe that is how one should live one’s life, no matter the circumstances.

Working in a startup affords a lot of freedom, but of course its very hard work too. If you enjoy it, everything is that much easier

What strategies are you using to market Sooqini?

We try to be in front of the people we think would benefit the most from our services – entrepreneurs running small businesses, busy professionals with a lot on their plates and so on.

So marketing is about being present where they are – E.g. in the office, the tube and online; but also co-working hubs, networking and startup community events etc.

What works well is (no surprise) word of mouth, but also collaboration with other companies addressing the same markets – we’re a wonderful addition to a lot of other companies’ offers.

What doesn’t work well is trade events, flyers and the hard sell – people need to be engaged for that ‘aha’ moment to happen .

How does being based in London impact the business?

Finding good people is hard in London, or should I say expensive. Likewise all other costs are relatively high. On the plus side, the ecosystem is developing well here and people seem to be aware of the tech scene and more open than before to trying out new ideas.

How do you see the startup and investment ecosystem developing in London?

What I especially like about London is the diversity – I believe that having all those different people and cultures and ideas in one big pot means that more cool stuff is generated, and so the chances of a real breakthrough in people’s lives are that much higher.

Hats off to the government for building on what was already happening here, and getting the word out. I would also say that the SEIS and EIS tax breaks on offer are a net positive to get more good ideas off the ground than before.

What’s next for Sooqini?

Keep on building our own little ecosystem, and establish ourselves as the place to get stuff done. Once we have London humming, watch out for us in a city near you soon…

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