Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Jai Al-Attas, CEO of “tastemaker” marketplace Loqules.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Loqules is a peer to peer marketplace that connects people with tastemakers and influencers that create rad experiences in the lifestyle space of surf, skate, snow, food, music, art, fashion and fitness. So on Loqules, you could surf with your favourite pro surfer, get in the kitchen to cook and eat with a chef from your favourite restaurant or learn new skills with a rad yoga instructor.
Our mission is to change the way people experience the world around them. For our users they get access to people and experiences that they haven’t had before and for our Loqule experts, they get to create new revenue streams doing what it is they’re passionate about.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
To date we have bootstrapped Loqules to launch our private beta in Sydney and Melbourne and sold our first experiences on the 2nd day we were live. However we are currently closing a fundraising round to increase our speed and ability to reach our next milestones, as we have ambitions to be a global company.
Our growth strategies are all based around the customer. So at the moment it’s totally organic and we’re fortunate that our Loqule experts are awesome and stoking out our users when they do experiences. However as we start to scale up it will be about increased brand awareness, strategic partnerships and the goodwill from our stoked customers telling their friends about us in person and on social.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
There are other peer to peer marketplaces out there that approach the problem like a technology first company trying to build a scalable solution that thinks of the customer last. We’re not one of those companies, we grew up surfing, skating and listening to punk rock so what we’re focussed on is building a lifestyle brand that legitimately stokes people out. We’re building a lifestyle brand that people love and placing it on top of a technology platform. Technology is our enabler, not the other way around.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Well we’re a marketplace, so we definitely face the chicken and the egg syndrome which all marketplace businesses initially face. However, again we’re lucky that our Loqule experts are influencers in their fields and have built in audiences that follow them on social media – this gives us an engaged audience to speak to that haven’t previously had access to have these experiences. The other challenge which is definitely not unique to us, is just that of being under resourced and having to choose which battles to fight.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Flipboard is my bible, I use it everyday to get my daily fix of what’s going on in the world.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
That the world isn’t as competitive as you may think. There are loads of people that will talk about doing stuff, really smart people with incredible ideas but there are only a select few that will actually do them. If you’re one of those people that just do stuff, you’ll quickly realise that your biggest competitor is probably yourself. So just get started and work the rest out as you go.
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