The Qudini team is very proud that our CEO, Imogen Wethered, was recently featured in the Guardian, in an article about women in technology careers in 2017.
As a result, we decided to interview Imogen to hear more about her story and how she created the award-winning queue management system that launched Qudini…
From winning a hackathon in 2012, to leading a team of more than 30 people, Imogen has been marked as a one-to-watch example of “Women in Tech 2017″ by the Guardian. Having recently won the Telefonica Women’s Age award, there is no stopping the success of this talented London entrepreneur. We wanted to find out a little bit more about Imogen’s background and how she brought her idea to the forefront of the retail tech space.
Check out the Guardian article here as well as our interview with Imogen below:
Q: Imogen, could you give us a bit of a background about you and your experience?
Of course. I completed a humanities degree at uni and then I went on to do a course in advertising and entrepreneurship at the School of Communication Arts 2.0. In my years at Uni, I was looking for things to do in my summer holidays, so I decided to take an adobe Photoshop course at Chelsea Art School (they run some amazing short courses in the holidays). I used to then keep practicing with Photoshop in my free time.
Q: How did this lead to building Qudini?
The year after leaving university, I was at my advertising school and we learned about this Hackathon that was taking place, with Isobar (the ad agency) and O2. I had to investigate what a ‘Hackathon’ actually was, but it sounded interesting. The Hackathon wanted to team up developers and designers/ideas people. The designers had to be able to use Photoshop. So with my, still quite basic knowledge, I decided to apply. I went along and met Fraser on a facebook group (created to help people team up) before the event. We spent the weekend, prototyping the first version of Qudini (the name arose much later), an app to help people avoid queuing in themeparks. We then won the hackathon at the end of the weekend, it was so much fun.
I really feel that learning Photoshop in my free time was the main driving force behind my career path: I only went to the Hackathon because I had basic knowledge of Photoshop. So I was able to try mocking up user interface designs and was keen for a challenge. If I hadn’t have done a Photoshop course at Chelsea Art School one summer at university, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the hackathon and wouldn’t have started Qudini.
Q: Tell me about how you started working with Fraser and formed such a strong team?
So we’ve been so fortunate to have met and be able to build these opportunities together. We won the hackathon with our idea and then applied to Telefonica’s accelerator Wayra. We won a place in academy and investment. We then incorporated Qudini within the accelerator, we were the youngest team in the academy and had the earliest stage idea. And as a result, I had to become a lot more techy on the job. This involved learning how programming works from Fraser and scoping the product and helping clients to implement it. Whilst working on business plans, strategy and investment.
In the last 5 years, I have learnt so much about tech and business and I really believe the best way to learn is through having to do things on the job and being thrown in at the deep end and learning through application.
What have you learned over the past five years?
Like our product, my technical knowledge and skills have grown so much, and Fraser and I really enjoy collaborating over the product. I work with clients to collect feedback and scope our features with our UI team and he helps to refine the them and manage the development team. I caveat that I can’t code myself, but my role is to define strategy and work with clients, and I believe product is a key part of both these roles.
Product is the future vision of the company, and a key part of working with customers.
What has all this lead you to believe about education in the UK?
So I believe that education, whilst valuable, our methods in the UK are extremely narrow, you focus on one subject intensively. This method, doesn’t enable you to exercise all the parts of your brain and different ways of thinking about things. That’s why it’s vital for students to do things outside or work to learn a variety of skills and tools. With the internet it’s so easy to learn things and you never know where a new skill might take you later in life.
How would you describe your solution in a nutshell?
Qudini is a customer management experience platform that helps retailers and other brands to improve customer experience and their resulting revenues by better managing their queues and taking bookings for appointments and events online. We now work with amazing brands including O2, Telefonica, John Lewis, Honest Burgers, Hoppers and a number of other global retail brands.
Thank you so much for your time, Imogen.
To read more about Imogen’s success, read the latest Guardian article on Women in tech.