Enterprise Spotlight: Askar Bulegenov
Thank you for doing this interview with us, please tell us about your business/project:
Grocemania is a tech company focused on the logistics, marketing and delivery of grocery products to households and offices, within the shortest time possible We deliver goods to our customers in an average of 36 minutes. We partner with national supermarkets and local markets and shops, offering a wide range of options for our customers.
“Our mission is to save people time and simplify their lives , ultimately overcoming obstacles that stop them from going to the supermarket. Including family responsibilities, illness, intoxication or just being too busy or lazy to go to the store. “
What inspired you to start your own business/project?
One night, after a long working day, gym and football training, I was completely shattered and asked my friend to buy some strawberries and chocolate for me. He forgot to do so which made me so upset and I thought to myself, “how nice would it be if you could just call someone and they bring you food straight to your flat?” This thought was at the forefront of my mind for 3 days, until I decided to introduce this idea to my friends. The feedback was very positive which lead to us giving out surveys to people and 82% of people reported they would be willing to use such service.
What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?
For any entrepreneur, one of the biggest fears and concerns about the business is people’s faith. Starting your own business, demands a lot of energy and emotions, so being supported is highly desirable. It is very important to feel that people believe in your idea and find it attractive, otherwise it is easy to get demotivated. However, talking to everyone and explaining the nature of the business, with all its’ advantages and benefits, helped us gain trust and acceptance leading to a customer base.
What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback.
There is one thing I am really proud of, according to David Buttress (CEO and Founder of JustEat UK) at ‘Startup Grind Talk’ after two months of operating he and his partner only generated £33 pounds of Net Revenue, while Grocemania has generated approximately £1000. This further demonstrates the demand for this type of service in the market.
How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?
First of all, as there is an absence of a logistic service in grocery market in the UK, it gives us first mover advantage, filling in the gap. Providing customers with almost “instant” delivery within an hour, we charge the lowest delivery fees and also we have the lowest ‘minimum shopping cart’ value of only £10. Furthermore, due to partnering with the physical stores, we are able to better control freshness and quality of the delivered products. In addition our cargo-bicycles enable us to perform even very heavy orders. Finally our service allows customers to discover local and specialised shops, as well as make orders from big high street retailers.
How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?
Once the Idea came to my mind, the name just came along with it. Our branding and imagery was designed by a friend of mine, Aizhan. She was the perfect choice as she understood exactly what we wanted to achieve and delivered! She still supports us to this day.
How have you promoted or marketed your business?
We have strong marketing campaigns in digital and media sources, such as Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook; along with commercial advertisements. Moreover, we leave our flyers and stickers in partner stores in order to introduce our service to existing customers. We have also been running a marketing campaign with Mumsnet Local to attract busy parents.
Additionally, we aim to keep all deliveries and brand image environmentally friendly.
How did you raise funds for your business/project?
In order to help our business expand and raise some funds, our company has taken part in several competitions and elevator programmes. We have also attended a few networking events where we managed to make some very useful contacts, in terms of funding. Additionally, our marketing campaigns increased our sales, ultimately increasing our revenue.
Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?
Passing through different stages of development of our business and gaining more experience in the e-commerce industry, the first thing I would definitely change is the software. Our website is operating on the Shopify platform. Even though this software engine is created specifically for online retailers, it is missing a lot of features that are essential for the type of business we have, such as order tracking and splitting the payments between us and our partners. With the knowledge I have now, I would have set up the website on the Magento platform.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
In a 5 years time, I see Grocemania as an International company. We are planning to issue franchises, so we could enter the foreign markets as quickly as possible. Certainly, after 5 years we will have our own software with all the IP rights belonging to us. One more aspect of a perfect scenario would involve millions in turnover and global awareness of Grocemainia.
How did Kingston University support you in developing and growing your business/project?
Kingston University supported us in several ways. Firstly, all the fairs and events that were running especially for the Business School, provided us with a couple of useful contacts. Along with this, the university regularly holds different competitions which we can participate in and improve our skills.
“Entrepreneurship skills include identifying an unexploited opportunity and making the most of it. People with entrepreneurial skills are the benefit to any company because they will be able to fill the gaps in the market and innovate. Likewise, good entrepreneurs posses good decision-making skills, planning skills, and executing skills, which are obviously vital for the company’s performance”- Askar Bulegenov