MSP 501 Profile: IQ Interactive Proves that Hard Work Pays OffMSP 501 Profile: IQ Interactive Proves that Hard Work Pays Off
Passion and a goal are key to getting through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
November 6, 2020
Company Name: IQ Interactive
Company MSP 501 Rank: 270
CEO: Omer Choudhary
Headquartered: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
LinkedIn: IQ Interactive Inc.
IQ Interactive CEO and founder Omer Choudhary knows about starts and stops. He learned to overcome challenges as a racial minority starting a new business more than 10 years ago. And when the pandemic shuttered businesses, including his own, he once again turned a negative into a positive.
Like many MSPs, IQ Interactive was positioned to help its customers remain operational. As Choudahary said, “The pandemic brought on many opportunities for the right businesses to thrive.”
IQ Interactive’s Omer Choudhary
Here, the partner business founder discusses navigating the pandemic, overcoming the challenge of being a minority-owned business, and how technology vendor partners can help the channel.
Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Omer Choudahary: COVID-19 brought on many challenges initially. There is the complete shift in the way business is conducted and how consumers shop. This brought on many opportunities for the right businesses to thrive. Security is now more critical than ever given that majority of the workforce is working from home. Cloud-based applications are now a requirement that business can’t be without.
CF: Tell us the story of the biggest pivot you’ve ever had to execute.
OC: The biggest pivot we had to execute was during COVID-19. This is when the shutdown was announced. Like everyone else our entire team was work-from-home (WFH). Opportunities and business ground to a halt. Our digital signage business went flat and our other core business, which services restaurants, was in limbo. This was due to the drop in dine-in business.
During two months of no activity, the head of sales and I met in the office. We brainstormed for opportunities and how to ensure we survive, every day. It was during this time we had our “aha” moment. We identified that we had to solve a particular problem for restaurants. They were using third-party apps for delivery and were paying 28-30% in commissions. They were losing money on every order.
Our development team went into action with a 30-day timeline to build an online and contactless ordering platform for our customers. This would help restaurants take online orders, eliminate the 28-30% fee, and keep more of their money. To help existing and new clients, we decided to give it to them for three months to try to see if it works for them.
This pivot was the fastest and biggest change we made in the way we sell. We onboarded 120 new restaurants — and that number is growing. The restaurant customers we onboarded saw online food sale revenue increase 25-50%.
CF: What was the single biggest technology or business decision that drove your company’s growth in 2019? How did it do so?
OC: The biggest technology decision for IQ was …
… building and developing our own cloud-based SaaS software. This enabled us to be more competitive in the market. The cloud SaaS application increased our recurring revenue and it opened the door for us to target new verticals and new markets. It gave us that recurring cash flow that was missing in the past.
CF: What is one thing you wish vendors would do that they don’t?
OC: Vendors should connect with their partners more often. They have access to a trove of data that local partners can leverage to enhance their offerings. Most vendors are just order-takers. I would like them to build an ecosystem that’s for both the vendor and the partner.
CF: If applicable, how does your experience as a racial minority change your approach to doing business?
OC: As a racial minority, I faced many struggles when I started IQ Interactive. It was difficult just proving that we are a legitimate business. I always found myself on the outside of the many opportunities, even when we demonstrated that we had done the work before and were qualified.
I lost out on business opportunities too many times. It took me three years to figure out that I had to change my approach to doing business. I decided I had to work harder than everyone else if I were to get the opportunities that we were being shut out from.
We just put our heads down, kept knocking on doors, built bigger and better solutions until we couldn’t be ignored.
CF: If applicable, why are you a business owner instead of working for someone else? What is the allure of entrepreneurship to you?
OC: The reason I became a business owner was because of my father. He came to the U.S. with four kids and a little over $500 in his pocket. He worked seven days a week for more than 20 years to make sure that we got a chance to make the most out of our lives. Growing up seeing him do whatever it took to put four kids through college, I made it my goal that no matter what, I would make the most out of the sacrifices my parents made.
I worked in good jobs, but always felt like I was not maximizing my potential. I saw entrepreneurship as the only way to test myself and see how far I could go.
We all want to make money, but my drive was not about just making money. I identified a goal and it became part of my everyday thinking. To anyone looking to get into business, find your goal and that one passion, that one reason other than making more money. That will drive you and push you to keep moving forward through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
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