Last Updated on December 28, 2020
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About Georges Khairallah
As a child, I was lucky enough to move around to different countries frequently. This gave me experiences that I might not have had if I had stayed in one location, and made me more open-minded. It also sparked a curiosity about some activities that people often take for granted, like the simple act of drinking water. In fact, no matter where we were, we were always drinking bottled water. I always asked myself, why was that?
Then as a young adult, studying Engineering made me very aware of how improvements in systems can have massive impact on society. I became fascinated by how water is becoming a strategic resource, when it is all around us and should be available to all. We’ve seen evidence of this recently with the droughts experienced in South Africa.
When I moved to the UK last year, I was shocked to see how many people chose to drink bottled water rather than tap water. It’s similar to what I saw when I lived in Dubai, but the tap water in the UK is pristine quality compared to the water in Dubai. I knew there had to be an answer to this, and that’s what drove me on to create the Sküma device.
These days everyone is talking about reducing plastic waste, and that’s fantastic. We know that bottled water is one of the major causes of plastic waste, but the consumption of bottled water is still increasing by about 10% every year. And that’s even true in countries like the UK and US, which have high-quality water literally available on tap. That’s because although the tap water is clean, people don’t like the way it tastes. And most importantly, they don’t trust it in the same way that they trust bottled water.
After several months of market research, we created the Sküma water mineralization device, which purifies the water to the highest standards and then adds back a specific level of minerals into the water. This gives it the same specific mineral content and great taste that you get with popular brands like Volvic or Evian
- 1 How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
- 2 How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
- 3 What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
- 4 What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
- 5 What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
- 6 What Are Your Favorite Books?
- 7 Anything You’d Like To Plug?
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
Other than family and friends, we managed to allocate our efforts into building multiple AB testing paid ads with various audiences and analyze their metrics. Finally, we were able to come up with an audience that was most interested in our product. We took this audience and launched paid ads targeting them, and collecting their emails.
Currently, we have an email list of 1,850 users, and 77 engaged users in our community group.
We are excited about our launch, which is set to happen in the first quarter of 2021.
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
Our company continues to run paid ads to build our e-mail list, which helps us build our “exclusive” private community group.
I will be the first to tell you, never ever spend so much money months before launching your product to build an e-mail list. The truth is these potential leads will “cool off” and most will either end up unsubscribing or not open your e-mails. The key is to send them regular newsletters, but more importantly to invite them in an early adopter’s group, where they can really have this one-on-one touch with your company and your product/services.
Another aspect that helps our company grow is genuine referrals. Currently, our early adopter’s group regularly invites their friends who reserve their devices.
This allowed us to have 32 pre-orders from our private group alone. Combine this with our e-mail list, and additional paid ads which will help us secure our first batch of 150 units to be sold.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
I think we can agree getting your first thousand dollars is far easier than your first users.
Although at Sküma we are a hardware-based startup, I can tell you the strategy I am about to share works for software too:
You start by identifying your potential target market. Then, you take those identified interests, demographics, behaviors, and run targeted paid ads. By building a simple, short, and appealing landing page for qualified leads to sign up by e-mail. Next, use the emails and invite them to an early adopter’s community, whether in the form of regular face to face, virtual meetings, Slack channel, or on a Facebook group.
Surely, you must put effort into maintaining an exciting community, but understand these potential users will not only provide critical feedback to your product design phase and reduce your overall costs, but they are more likely to convert and invite their acquaintances who show similar interest.
Of course, by involving them in your early adopter’s group, you will need to provide some sort of incentive, whether in the form of gift cards or product perks, which will allow you to further build that relationship, keep them involved and motivated.
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
Fail early, fail fast.
When you are just starting out, what is it really that you are at stake of losing? The only valid answer is time – money can be always be made. However, the loss of a few months far outweighs the feeling of regret for not trying. The longer you wait to fail, the costlier the mistakes become in terms of both time and money.
Otherwise, will there be swift innovation taking place?
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
We spent over five months in fundraising efforts, and every single application was rejected. This is time that could have been spent elsewhere. I thought to myself if we had put the effort into developing the product and advancing it as much as we can, we would have been in a much better position to raise the necessary funds.
When you put so much effort and time into something, and it does not give you back immediately, you tend to lose momentum and motivation. It turns out that the very last application (which I did not feel like completing) secured us a valuation of over half a million British pounds. In fact, it was worth much more considering the investor became a strategic co-founder for the company, bringing on board over 15 years of experience in our industry!
The lesson I personally was grateful for here is no matter how many objectives you encounter, no matter how much a task gets tedious because you do not see its immediate results, just keep showing up every single day, and soon enough, when you least expect it, it will happen!
What Are Your Favorite Books?
Personally, I was not always into books until the age of 19. Being a fan of Shark Tank, I read Mark Cuban’s book “How to Win at the Sport of Business“. The storytelling and especially Cuban’s mindset was special for me, as I could relate to most of his childhood and college experience.
One of the many lessons I took home was that businesses do not fail due to lack of resources, they fail due to lack of effort.
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
Most think it is about the “idea”. Everyone has ideas, the key is to do your due diligence and determine whether the idea will be successful in a particular industry or market, what it will take, and how to penetrate that market? Time is the most important asset, do not fully invest yourself in an idea if there is no potential of success.
- Building An Affiliate Marketing Business With Joshua Kennedy
- Growing Through Content With John Bedford
- Building A Donut Business With Influencers With Leslie Polizzotto
Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!
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