Weengs: Alex Christodoulou and Greg Zontanos
Founder Alex Christodoulou on how they survived after quitting their jobs to launch a start-up and securing their first round of investment
Name: Alex Christodoulou and Greg Zontanos
Company name: Weengs
Date launched: 15/06/15
Tell us what your business does:
We're an app that offers an on-demand delivery service.
Customers take a photo of the item they want to ship, and one of our Weengs Angel couriers is dispatched to collect the item within 15 minutes. The item is then taken to a central hub to be professionally packaged while we calculate the cheapest and safest delivery method, and ship using one of our partner distributors, which include Royal Mail, UPS and ParcelForce. We charge a flat fee of £5 plus the cost of delivery as we want to offer a cheap and convenient way to get items shipped.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
We had to ship two thunderbolt monitors from Europe to US and witnessed first hand what a pain it was for an individual to package something like that: finding the proper box, researching and getting it to a shipping carrier, and finally filling in the customs forms.
How did you know there was a market for it?
There’s a similar service in the US that’s really taken off but there is no convenient and affordable way to ship items in the UK. Also consumers are looking for on-demand convenience more and more these days.
We think Weengs is a lot like Uber – we send an affordable service to you within minutes.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before starting the business, we had another start-up called Locish, which is an app for local recommendations. Before we set up Locish, Zontanos was an online marketing manager for a luxury resort and I was a web developer.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Absolutely, we both wanted to start our own business and the desire got even stronger when we met each other and realised we had the same dreams.
How did you raise the money?
We pitched our idea to angel investors and received £100,000 in funding. We’re now looking to raise seed funding to help expand the business beyond London.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We get big discounts from shipping carriers because of the volumes of the shipments we do. The bigger the volumes, the bigger the discounts, so it's a highly scalable business model with profit margins increasing as we scale.
The £5 pick-up fee is used to pay our drivers, and is not the source of our profits.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The hardest part was quitting our jobs to start our first start-up. We had no income, and had to sell lots of our belongings on eBay to survive until we got our first funding through.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We think for every entrepreneur, making something that people are willing to pay for and persuading investors to give you their money to build your vision are always big moments.
These two make all the risks you have taken and the fears you have overcame worthwhile.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Stop thinking about climbing the whole mountain and focus on each necessary step.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
We want our service to be all over Europe and to be hearing from happy customers on how much easy we've made their life.