What is Earlyone and who is it for and when did you start?
Gevorg: It all started in 2008 when we were developing a queue management system. So, we created the system and implemented it in InecoBank. This was our first client. Later on, we started getting more clients: these were mainly banks that wanted to improve customer service and to better manage their staff.
At the end of 2015, we decided to create something that would provide value for everyone, not just our clients. We looked deeper into the issue of queues and noticed that queue management systems make queues more comfortable but they do not eliminate them completely. Instead, people still come and waste time in them. So, we decided to come up with a solution that would help customers avoid long lines in front of service desks.
Eearlyone is thus an effective queue management and employee management tool. It also provides a free mobile app that everyone can use.
Who are your clients?
Gevorg: Banks, telecommunications companies, government organizations, credit companies, embassies, and medical centers are our main clients.
How are you planning to monetize the app?
Gevorg: Based on our mission to provide value to everyone, Earlyone is free of charge. However, our clients pay certain fees to get the services which include the queue management system and the employee supervision tool.
What kind of team building activities does your team like the most?
Gevorg: First of all, let me note that the unity of our team lies in the strength of our mission and our firm belief in it. Each team member invests maximum effort to make Eearlyone a success. The idea of Earlyone as a very useful tool has turned our employees into brand ambassadors. We are all very enthusiastic about it.
As for team building activities, we are all good friends with one another and we love spending time together. We hike a lot, we play bowling. Also, we love meeting young people and sharing our experience with them and trying to inspire them.
Last time we visited Gyumri: we have a branch at Gyumri Technology Center. We walked around the town and then we had a delicious dinner at Cherkezi Dzor.
So, you have team members who work from another town. Isn’t it hard to manage them remotely?
Gevorg: Of course, the distance sometimes makes certain things hard to manage but overall, it is not too hard. It is mainly because everyone in the team is doing their job perfectly. They know what they are here for.
What do you do if there are conflicts in the team?
Gevorg: We are an extremely friendly team. If there is a conflict, it never goes personal. Usually, our conflicts get resolved really quickly. We use debate as a means of conflict resolution. Each party thus offers their own vision as to how the problem could be solved. The party with more facts and stronger arguments wins.
How do you generate new ideas?
Gevorg: We hold weekly meetings on Monday mornings. We discuss what has been done during the previous week and we also set short-term goals for the week. And, of course, all our short-term goals are based on the mid and long-term ones.
What are the challenges of doing business in Armenia?
Gevorg: Well, the biggest challenge is finding the right people/employees. As for the legislation, there are favorable conditions (zero or partial taxation) for startups to thrive and to get stronger. Also, a lot of networking events are being held constantly to help entrepreneurs meet potential clients or mentors. In other words, getting advice or consultation is really easy since a lot of people are eager to share their experience and best practices.
In addition, there are grant programs startups can apply for. However, unfortunately, there are not many venture capitalists yet. They could invest into the startup to boost its growth. Hopefully, soon there will be more people in Armenia ready to invest into IT companies.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Gevorg: For me, the best part of being an entrepreneur is that you have freedom for decision-making. Sometimes even with multiple co-founders (I have had the chance to work with a team of co-founders in another company), it is hard to quickly make decisions. When you are the head of your own startup, you make decisions really fast and it’s sometimes easier to take risks and to advance through hardships.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Gevorg: If I put it really straightforward, I started doing business in order to make money. Currently, the desire to make people’s life easier has become my greatest inspiration. It is super-cool waking up every morning to realize you are creating something worthwhile.
How many hours do you work a day on average? Describe/outline your typical day.
Gevorg: Usually, I work from 9:30 to 6:30. Of course, sometimes I have to work longer: however, at the same time, I manage to spend time with family and friends. The same applies to the team. Everyone should get the chance to enjoy time after work in a way they want to.
Are there any particular publications, magazines or influencers you read/follow?
Gevorg: I read TechCrunch. And I would recommend reading “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. This book helped us to both understand and use the concept of MVP (minimum viable product).
Could you please enumerate a few marketing strategies that help you promote your product?
Gevorg: We practice public speaking. It means we use different platforms and events to tell people about Earlyone.
In addition, we provide our clients with stickers, flyers, and leaflets about Earlyone to keep their customers informed.
And let’s not forget about our explainer video. It is being shown in banks and organizations that use our services.
Also, we have been using Facebook quite actively lately in order to promote the mobile app. And we are soon planning to reach out to people via Viber too.
And last but not least, we regularly launch an outdoor ad campaign. We invite volunteers. They wear Earlyone T-shirts with the phrase “Do you want me to save you from the queue?” and they walk around people standing in the queues and show them the app and explain how to use it.
And lastly, what are the 3 pieces of advice you can give to entrepreneurs-to-be?
- Before you start anything, do you research, read a lot and see what others do.
- Communicate with people a lot, attend networking events.
- Determine what you want and what your goals are and go for them!