From mobile app to a marketplace
How does it feel to be the only woman in a startup? Honestly? Amazing…not easy though. To start with, I have been occupying position of COO of Kengu for the last 5 months.
Frankly, I didn’t understand what obligations this person holds. But when you become one of company’s founders you can not limit your field of responsibility as in the beginning everybody tries to cover as much as his expertise allows. This is how it happened for me to be the one who makes up creative content, searches for relevant events or promotion activities, helps our CEO Dima Tsurkan with business strategy and argues on type of corporate colours with the team.
We had been working on P2P delivery application that was supposed to solve the delivery problem of our initial startup idea. Two of us were sharing latest book updates with each other what eventually inspired us to create a retail platform (we will come back to it, so I am not going to reveal the secret). We had weekly calls as our CTO Oleh Pashchenko resided in another city. Me and Dima were preparing to one of our calls when realised that we got a problem: who would deliver all those orders proceeded with our platform? Why not to create solution instead? I remember how Oleg could not even say a word because Dima and me were so obsessively telling him what a brilliant idea we came to. As CTO his main role is to make up how this idea will work technically. So, when he said that it was possible to do it — we were more than happy. Next week we had a designer. Couple of weeks later we had a complete team working on Kengu! This was a starting point of our 5 month startup journey.
In general, there are 8 people inspired and passionate with the idea of Kengu. Surely, the core team includes 3 founders and this is not easy, by the way. Two of them are tech geeks and I am not. However, my sales experience and inner fountain of creative ideas let me be at the same gear with them. Wondering how it looks from inside of a startup? Most of the team is located in one office. How does it come that we have an office? Well, our CEO Dima started his own company last year and, luckily, we can afford some minimal costs for promoting our product.
As I have mentioned before, we started working on a mobile app that would be available on iOS and Android. But after 4 or 5 weeks at YC startup school our mentor james miao gave us a nudge to look at Kengu from a different angle. The idea of startup school is sharing your experience, problems, success and failures with other young entrepreneurs who are trying to do the same — make their ideas work. This is very useful as it helps you track your progress and sometimes you can receive a good tip — a service that the other team has been using or the solution of your problem that somebody has already faced.
Going back to the point: why we call Kengu a marketplace?
First of all, the core idea of the product is to enable people build trust and help other members of Kengu community without even the need to deviate from their route.
There are two sides of the platform: those who need delivery and those who can provide it. And yes, one user can perform both roles. Forgot your keys at home and your grandma doesn’t feel well to go out — leave a request in Kengu and pick your personal delivery guy. Those in the area will apply to your request and then your have just to choose the one you like the most. All users have public profiles which you can take a quick look at and decide who can delivery your stuff for you. Another case: you study abroad and miss some things but are not willing to pay high fee of regular delivery service. What would you do? I bet you would search for travellers in FB communities who could grab your stuff and deliver for you. Now all this is available in one application. Check who is traveling to your destination or leave a request with the price you are ready to pay. The choice is up to you.
Secondly, there are no delivery guys working for Kengu. We allow anybody aged 18 and holding a bank card to become a user and earn extra bucks. You are free to agree on time, place and price of the deal. Moreover, you have a direct contact with the other side of the deal. Kengu won’t interfere into your communication. We do not make any suggestions either on candidates who can deliver or orders you can apply for. Feel free to make your own choice.
Thirdly, Kengu is available around the world. It doesn’t matter where you live, what language you speak or what you do for living. Kengu can be a good option for a student with limited monthly budget as well as for a business person who tends to travel a lot. In both cases you get benefit: either you earn or get the requested item delivered.
What our next steps are?
How we are planning to move further? Well, inspiration comes every day and the ideas never end. We chose three ways already for Kengu’s growth.
By next year we are planning to involve cafes and restaurants for cooperation to let them unload their delivery guys with orders. This would reduce waiting time of customers and costs on fuel of their delivery cars.
Next, we are going to collaborate with e-commerce platforms to speed up delivery process in the e-stores. We hope that Kengu would become one of delivery options available for customers.
And, finally, traveling is one of the industries that has been already tightly implemented in Kengu. Now individual travellers are enabled to earn while traveling. This is something we are going to raise to a global level involving travel agencies and other establishments that help to plan vacation.
Working in a startup is challenging. Sometimes you feel on the edge and it breaks you and your team who can observe you losing motivation and passion. Your idea seems simple but awesome for you. However, what would you do to make other people believe in it?