A Q&A with Quikkly co-founder and CEO Fergal Walker. The London-based startup, which has developed smartphone-based product scanning technology, announced in mid-December the closing of a $1 million Seed funding round. Investors include Initial Capital and undisclosed Angel investors. It was founded last year by Walker and Ken Johnstone.
SUB: Please describe Quikkly and your primary innovation.
Walker: When you see interesting stuff online and there’s a button to interact with it, you can click on it and something happens immediately—like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, add to basket, listen to the song.
In the physical world, it’s considerably more difficult. If you’re interested, you would have to manually search for the item, hope you find the right one, and hope it works on your mobile. Quikkly removes the hassle and makes it as simple as it is online. You see the ‘button,’ you scan it and it’s done. The product is ‘liked,’ the account is followed, the item is in your basket, the song is playing.
Quikkly also makes it super easy for anyone to create their own ‘Action Tags,’ and use them on their business card, flyer, or poster. It just takes a few seconds from within the app or online.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Quikkly from the competition?
Walker: There are loads of QR-based companies and image recognition companies out there. But we are doing something different. People know exactly what will happen before they scan a Quikkly Tag. When they scan it happens straight away; it’s just like pressing a button.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $1 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Walker: We’re just embarking on a journey to make the world an easier place to interact with. What we have now is version one. But we have products and features in our roadmap which will help people realize how amazing this new world will be. It’s going to take several years. The funding is very important because it enables us to focus on bringing more of our vision to life.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Walker: The Quikkly you see today is a small part in our overall vision for Quikkly. There is more to build and more people to show, and that’s what we’ll focus the funds on.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Quikkly? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Walker: We kept on seeing the Facebook and Twitter logos on ads; brands trying to give people a way to stay in touch on social media. And we also kept on seeing QR codes. We figured it would be good if you could, more or less, scan the Twitter logo directly to do the follow—and it grew from there.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Walker: We prototyped the Action Tag with a simple application, tested it with friends and family who were very clear with us—they said the prototype wasn’t good enough but absolutely loved the idea and said the world needs Quikkly in it.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Walker: Purely brainstorming. We wanted a brand name people could easily remember and communicate. When we thought of ‘Quikkly’ it just seemed to fit. For us it implies removing barriers for people and making things easier than they are today.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Walker: Quikkly is new—a bit of a game-changer. With game-changers it always takes a while for people to absorb the new thing, to realize that a new paradigm is emerging, to get it to the extent that they can exploit it. So, getting people to understand what we’re all about is probably our biggest challenge and thus a big barrier for us.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Walker: Quikkly is free—free app, free to scan, and free to create lots of Action Tags. For brands and agencies, Quikkly is a new tool that engages consumers more effectively than anything else out there due to the simplicity, clarity, manageability, and traceability of Action Tags. Quikkly will be available to brands and agencies through a subscription model.
SUB: What are your goals for Quikkly over the next year or so?
Walker: That’s a really hard question. We love the fact that Quikkly is so flexible. Quikkly could be used right across the globe. It could be awesome for a specific demographic, for a specific use case, in a specific market. We’re excited to see what people will do with Quikkly—our job is to simply put it out there and see what happens.
We’re on a mission here to help people get more out of the physical world and to save people time. It will take time. In five years time, we hope people will be able to look back and think: “How on earth would I have done this before?”