We talked to Simona Agolini of QiDZ about its family mobile app that acts as a marketplace by aggregating and consolidating all family relevant activities and events in one place.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Simona Agolini: Thank you for asking. We are all well and safe in what has been an unprecedented year for the world over.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded QiDZ.
Simona Agolini: I started my career working in the Energy Business and actually remained in a large Oil and Gas company for more than 15 years, where I worked in a variety of different roles, including marketing, Mergers and Acquisitions, Venture Building, and leading large capital projects. However, I had always harbored a wish to start my own business, and when the stars aligned, I took the step to start QiDZ.
My co-founders and I started QiDZ because as we started our own motherhood journeys –while also having busy corporate careers, we were constantly looking for the best things to do for our families, and we found that the information was not up to date, consolidated, relevant or user-friendly – so we decided to launch QiDZ – a marketplace that connects parents and leisure, entertainment, education, and afterschool vendors so that parents can find, plan and book the best things to do with their families.
How does QiDZ innovate?
Simona Agolini: Our company innovates constantly. When we launched QiDZ, there was no other comparable platform in the region or globally – and we are constantly innovating and introducing new products or features based on user feedback and market demand and insight. In addition, we leverage our technology and machine learning to develop and offer the best user experience for our customers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Simona Agolini: As a company operating in the field of leisure and entertainment – our business was significantly impacted during the COVID-19 lockdown, and revenues fell to zero overnight. Having said that, though – our immediate priority during the lockdown was to continue to support our customers, our partners, and our teams. We used the time during the lockdown to
1. Help our customers deal with the stress of being locked up at home by introducing new stay at home products for their families
2. Helping our partners transition to online products and
3. Developing our team, launching new products, and spending time connecting (over zoom) but reaching out and discussing health. We are happy to report that post lockdown, we have seen a strong rebound in the business with month on month growth, and we have retained our whole team.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Simona Agolini: Making difficult choices is part of running a business. We constantly make trade-offs and choose what we think is the right path. During COVID-19, one of the immediate steps we took was to reduce our burn rate to preserve cash. That reduction came from different sources, including reducing the salaries of our team members. However, this decision and solution were implemented with our team’s involvement. We involved them by asking them how they would solve or address the problem the company was facing. The lesson learned from this is that if your team buys into a concept and a vision, and you involve them in the decision making – you actually may get more than you needed/asked for.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Simona Agolini: On a personal level, I deal with stress and anxiety by doing sports and keeping busy. I also always prioritize spending with the people that matter in my life and who keep me grounded. As a company, having other co-founders helps spread the stress – and we celebrate the highs together, and we help each other during the lows.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Simona Agolini: We have a long-term vision for QiDZ. The problem that we are solving is a problem that the parents the world over experience. We stay ahead of the game by being customer-focused, data-obsessed, and innovating constantly. With regards to the competition, we do not have a clear competitor in this space – there are different types of competitors, e.g., Print media (Timeout) or Discount sites (e.g., Groupon), but they don’t cover the breadth and scope of what we cover.
Your final thoughts?
Simona Agolini: 2020 has been an unprecedented year. If I want to focus on something positive in 2020, I would say that it has also been a time for incredible innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration, and cooperation (e.g., Vaccine development). I believe that entrepreneurship will continue to be one of the key drivers of change and societal and value creation going forwards.
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