The Scale-up Series: Qwil on hiring and staying healthy when scaling up


Posted: Thu 2nd Jan 2020

Peter Reading founded Qwil Messenger in 2017 with a four-person team. It's since scaled to 12 staff and over 20 financial institutions use its chat tool.

Peter shares his story with O2's head of business marketing Zoe Hominick in this episode of The Scale-up Series, which is supported by O2 Business.

Selling to large companies

Qwil is described by its number one client as the "WhatsApp of financial services", according to Peter. The idea was to bring the communication advantages of the mobile app to the heavily regulated financial services sector.

It's difficult for startups to approach large corporations, who often have long procurement processes and may be hesitant to work with start-ups. The team leveraged its background in the sector to build trust.

"I spent a lot of my career in wealth management," said Peter. "Chat was becoming the way we communicate socially. I saw that there was an opportunity to bring that into the business in a safe and compliant way."

Qwil started with relationship-based sales and grew through word of mouth from these initial meetings. "That multiplier effect has a big impact," Peter added.

Finding and building a team

Peter said that a team is everything, particularly in a software business. Recruitment's been tough, particularly for software programmers in London.

"We try to go quickly with the recruitment process," said Peter. "We do skill assessment tests upfront and then deep, critical behaviour assessment to make sure we get the right people - in a small business, you can't afford to carry resource that's not needed."

Staying healthy when you're growing rapidly

Building a business is difficult and trying to scale up quickly can create strain for business owners.

"The challenges change every day, almost every hour. Initially, they're very hard and undefined. The further you go, they become more manageable and there's less grey as you start to scale," Peter said.

He advised other founders to be realistic because there's a mountain to climb. "Make sure you have passion and positivity. If you do go for it, back yourself 100%".

Qwil Messenger is a single chat app for everyone, which can be deployed in minutes. It allows clients of multiple firms to safely chat and share documents with their staff representatives within a branded space that's fully controlled and coordinated by each firm. Click here to take advantage of Enterprise Nation's exclusive offer to use Qwil for your firm for free.

Chris has over a decade of experience writing about small businesses and startups. He runs Inkwell, a content agency that helps companies that sell to small business owners grow their audiences through content marketing. You can find him on Twitter at @CPGoodfellow.

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