Interview With Adel Abdalla and Sishir Giri
Describe your product or service:
“Blitz Checkout is a two-sided mobile and web based application that allows customers to bypass checkout lines, while simultaneously allowing store owners to track active customers in their store, manage their inventory, and apply promotions. Our goal is to both limit the checkout lines for customers, and replace the costly POS system that stores are currently using.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We believe that smaller convenience stores, with lower budgets, should have access to the self-service checkout system that many larger stores have. We also believe that customers should be able to seamlessly enter and exit the store bypassing any sort of line.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“We are currently looking for angel investors and have been applying to accelerators.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Co-Founder: Adel Abdalla Currently, Adel is studying Data Science and Economics at UC Berkeley. Adel has worked in multiple startups focusing on improving their data visualizations and automation processes. Adel has a passion for the cross section of business and data, believing that data is the key to any startup’s success.
Co-Founder: Sishir Giri
Sishir is studying Data Science and Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Sishir has a passion for Blockchain and has been actively involved in Blockchain@Berkeley for two years. Sishir has also been developing mobile and web-based applications for the last four years.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Sishir came up with the idea of contactless payments in mid-February and approached Adel with a rough plan of execution. The following months led to focusing on developing a production-ready application. Prior to this, Sishir and Adel worked on a social media application aimed at creating tighter-knit communities at larger public schools. Having said this, both Adel and Sishir have had deep interest in making an impact in their community through startups with a purpose.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“The height of COVID brought many anxieties relating to many different social interactions. Of which, was the idea of shopping. People feared others touching their products at the checkout counter, as the virus could spread in this instance. As a result, it was no brainer to implement a solution that enables customers to shop in a more contactless way. This idea grew to also allow store owners to do everything they can on a traditional POS system, on our own application.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We figured that Blitz represents a lightning-quick process. After all, our goal is to have customers quickly in and out of the store. As a result, Blitz was a clear option. We were also considering Descart (a homage to the shopping cart and late philosopher).”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“A challenge we continuously face is marketing. People love the app, and once they use it once, they are hooked! The tough part is outreaching at a constant rate, with efficient marketing tactics.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our target market is currently people in the Berkeley area who shop at the smaller convenience stores in the area. We will be looking to expand past this area once we get funding.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Our marketing strategy is simple, target the incoming freshman at Berkeley through events, social media, and posters. We’ve been placing posters all around campus, and within our currently implemented store—hoping to gain traction in this sense.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We told our friends who told theirs! Word of mouth goes a long way.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to monitor the health of your business?
- “Retention rate (how often customers return).
- The number of orders per customer.
- The size of the order.”
What's your favorite entrepreneurial book and podcast?
“To be honest, Adel doesn’t read much, but he’s recently been reading up on a lot of trading books! Sishir on the other hand loves reading Nietzsche's work.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“Startups are hard! But hard work and focus go a long way. People are also very eager to learn more about your product if you present it right.”
Who is your support system?
“Sishir and Adel are lucky to be surrounded by a very supportive friend group. Additionally, both turn to their previous employers for advice regarding their startup!”
How do you stay motivated?
“When you care about something enough, you always stay motivated. Blitz is something we both care deeply about and will continue developing to perfection.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
- “Documenting everything. Always keeping track of any expense, problem, or marketing strategy we may come up with.
- Keep contacts and continue to expand your network. People will always help.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
More on Blitz Checkout
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Adel Abdalla and Sishir Giri of Blitz Checkout that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.