Local PCR: Mohsin Khan

Local PCR provide quick and easy access to COVID-19 testing services, with results recognised by all public and private bodies.

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Name of founder(s): Mohsin Khan
Age(s) of the founder(s): 32
Location: Birmingham
Date launched: March 2021
Number of employees: 14

Which university, if any, did you attend?

Queen Mary University of London.

What does your business do?

At LocalPCR we have set up test centres across the country to help increase the testing capacity of the UK. We aim to support the country as we come out of lockdown by encouraging and facilitating travel to and from the UK.

We offer local testing at a more competitive rate (we are one of the cheapest). We have a Doctor as a majority shareholder and director. We are UKAS accredited and registered with PHE and the Department of Health and Social. We are also fully insured.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

We looked at the market and realised that demand was about to spike, yet the number of suppliers was still too low to able to handle the potential increase as we came out of lockdown.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We deep-dived into a lot of data sources. This included Google search trends, SEMRush, SERanking, and cross-referenced this with data from Skyscanner and a number of news outlets. We could see there was a massive spike in search traffic from people trying to research what is required to go on holiday. From this, we looked at search traffic by location, and cross-referenced it with airport and Skyscanner data, and listed all the top locations to open up testing facilities.

What were you doing before launching your business?

I run three other companies, which are still ticking along. This includes a number of dessert franchises for Kaspa's, a cleaning company, and an ecommerce store.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

I started my career working for PwC, and found that office work wasn't for me. I quit my job and invested all my savings in starting a number of businesses. This strategy didn't work at first, but it was about trial and error until I found ideas that stuck and actually worked.

How did you finance your business?

Financed by myself and other partners, but a lot of the added value actually came from partnering with experienced people who were able to accelerate our growth. They added value without needing to finance the business.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

We opened up testing facilities in areas where we knew there was high demand but were not covered by our biggest competitors. Many competitors focused on the big cities. We use paid and organic sources to send traffic to our landing pages, where people can book appointments to get their PCR tests. These PCR tests come with certificates that prove whether you have covid or not. This is used in order to go to events, travel, or return to offices.

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge so far was the CRM implementation. There are a lot of CRM systems out there, but we needed one built specifically for our requirements. As this model is relatively new (especially in terms of demand), we had to work with a CRM provider to build a bespoke solution for us that allowed us to accept bookings, update contact information once test results were returned, and automate the certification being returned to the customer.

The reason this was a challenge was that there were a lot of regulations for running this type of business, and we had to ensure we were airtight in our operations and compliance. There was no room for error as this would be a huge security risk for people, airlines, and businesses.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

We have been working 16 to 18 hours every day to get this company up and running. But overall it's been exciting, and a great learning curve bringing people together and creating a culture with remote work. I've organised only two meetups, but other than that we have been communicating using Zoom and Slack. Constant communication through these services has been key to our success.

Describe your first breakthrough.

We have been lucky to have experienced partners with us, so our paid marketing was spot on from the start, as was our website conversion rate.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

It hasn't impacted us as of yet. It's hard to say, but from our understanding, travel needs and requirements will continue long after both the pandemic and Brexit.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

There's so much data out there to verify your hunches. The moment you have an idea, get together with friends that have experience in data analysis and go through it to see if the demands match your expectations.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

Open up 20 locations across the country by December.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

It's difficult to say how long PCR testing will be required, from our estimates we still have at least about a year of this. In order to continue, we will need to diversify.

If you're a business owner with a startup that's less than six months old, apply now to feature as one of our Just Started business profiles.

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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