Interview with John Phan (Qwiqq)
Qwiqq is a social commerce platform.
I interviewed John Phan, Qwiqq co-founder to find out more. This is the hundred and thirty fifth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to John!
Describe Qwiqq in under 50 words.
QWIQQ enables a local merchant to post what they want to sell, when they want to sell it and then instantly share it to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Email and SMS, all from the convenience of single device.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m an entrepreneur and Canadian who is now enjoying the good life in Texas. I like to do epic sh*t.
Tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial background. What made you decide to start working on Qwiqq?
QWIQQ is my second startup. My initial concept for QWIQQ came about back in September 2010, around the time Groupon was starting to take off. I noticed that most of the daily deals that were listed on Groupon were services like salons, spas and restaurants. There weren’t any deals on merchandise stuff. My idea was to build a destination website that listed local closeout merchandise. For local merchants, CloseoutPost would aggregate an audience of consumers looking for closeout sales, while for consumers, we would be a one-stop shop for people seeking final sales merchandise.
How did you and co-founder, Jack Wrigley, meet? What roles do you each take?
Jack and I met when we were working at a digital entertainment startup in Incline Village, Nevada. We were both passionate about local commerce and social media but saw that most social sites were struggling to monetize. We knew mobile was going to be big and wanted to build something at the intersection of social, local, mobile and commerce. Today, Jack leads product marketing and I lead product strategy.
How did you come up with the name?
We wanted a name that captured the core of our vision: to build a commerce platform that was simple, fast, and easy to use. Finding a name for our startup wasn’t something that came easy for us! Not only did we have to find a name with a dot com domain available, but it also had to have the Twitter and Facebook handles available. We also wanted a name that had a single syllable and was catchy and qwerky. It took us about a month to come with a shortlist of names before we finally decided on QWIQQ!
You originally launched Qwiqq in August 2011 as a platform for friends to share deals. When did you realize that small and medium-size businesses were the majority of the app’s active users, and what action did you take?
It wasn’t long after the original launch that we noticed local merchants using QWIQQ. It was interesting to us because QWIQQ v1.0 was built as a consumer facing app, not necessarily an app for merchants. After speaking with many of the local merchants, a significant pain point became evident. That pain point is the task of creating content for social media. Sounds simple but its challenging for a local merchant to create social content when they are balancing so many things during a business day. As a result, we retooled QWIQQ with many features local merchants asked for and as a result, QWIQQ is the quickest way to create a commerce post that includes a picture, price and location of what’s important for them to sell and then share it to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, SMS and Email.
Can you give as a few examples of how Qwiqq is used.
We have many great use cases. From salesmen selling new and used cars, to cottage industry artisans selling handmade jewelry. QWIQQ supports the sale of any product or service.
What’s the startup scene like in Dallas?
Dallas has a vibrant and growing startup scene. Ranked 3rd in the nation with the most corporate HQ’s such as Pizza Hut, Pier 1 Imports and Mary Kay, Dallas is arguably one of the best cities to launch a startup in the B2B space. We also have a very active angel group and the VC firms in Dallas are investing in mobile. Tech Wildcatters, a Forbes top 10 startup accelerator, is also headquartered here.
What was the most challenging part of developing Qwiqq?
Building a simple, yet feature rich product that is intuitive and easy to use. It’s easy to build a product with a ton of features but making it simple to use in the process is very hard to do. Our goal has always been to keep QWIQQ focused on doing one thing very well and then add complimentary features that either make sense or are requested by users.
Recently, Qwiqq added its first partner, Constant Contact, an email marketing platform. How does the partnership work?
We have integrated Constant Contact email into the QWIQQ platform enabling over 500,000 Constant Contact customers the ability to create a QWIQQ post then share it via their Constant Contact email account. Seamless perfection. We are working on co-marketing opportunities and are slated to be part of a Constant Contact company-wide training event in mid-November at their HQ in Waltham, MA.
How does the business make money?
Because we built QWIQQ as a mobile commerce platform to sell stuff, it monetizes very naturally. Our immediate plan is to close the transaction loop to enable local merchants to post any item they want to sell and allow their customers to buy that item with 1-click, in-app and off network. We’ll charge a nominal fee for each sale that originates from a QWIQQ post. This said, because we have built a social commerce platform there are many cool ways we can monetize going forward.
Qwiqq 1.0 was featured in the iTunes App Store: New & Noteworthy, What’s Hot, Great Free Apps section, and it was a finalist in TeXchange’s inaugural One to Watch awards. Where do you see Qwiqq in 5 years time?
Rather than focus on where we will be in 5 years we continue to focus on building massive value in our platform for both merchants and consumers. The future will take care of itself.
Any plans for an Android app?
Yes! We’re planning on releasing an Android app in Q1 2013.
What are you working on right now?
Integrating a payment solution to close the transaction loop. Consumers will be able to purchase an item listed, in-app or off network, with 1-click! Great for merchants. Great for consumers!
Which entrepreneurs do you admire most?
I’m a big fan of Jack Dorsey. He thinks big and isn’t afraid to fail. Most importantly, he has a deep understanding of his target users. He truly owns the minds of his customers, and that is powerful!
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Mobile commerce is in its infancy. People are migrating to mobile and the numbers are growing rapidly. In the next few years, payments, commerce and social will all be driven from mobile.
Can you convince the reader to start using Qwiqq in under 50 words?
Have something to sell? In a matter of seconds, create a QWIQQ post then instantly share it to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, SMS and Email. Pretty cool!
Finished reading? Check out Qwiqq!