The Business Owner: Husayn Kassai, Eamon Kassai and Ruhul Amin

The three founders discuss how they manage fast growth and the benefits of being a small business

The Business Owner: Husayn Kassai, Eamon Kassai and Ruhul Amin

Company: Onfido
Founders: Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin
Location: London
Proposition: Onfido is an intelligent platform that uses high-end technology to automate the background checking process and therefore revolutionise an archaic industry
Size: 45 employees
Website: www.onfido.com

How is your business different from what’s already out there?

Background checking is an industry that needed to be brought into the 21st Century and we have done just that. It’s a sector that has traditionally been slow, expensive and prone to human error. By automating the background checking process, we have completely transformed an archaic industry; therefore providing a service that is quick, accurate and good value.

One of our key differentiators is our technology. We have a team of world class developers who are incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into background checks, which is something that no other company is doing in the space.

How did you finance your business?

We had initial funding from University of Oxford’s Said Business School and the Isis Software Incubator at Isis Innovation, which really helped us get the business off the ground. Thereafter we quickly built a strong clientele, which meant we had a decent amount of revenue coming into the business.

In February this year we raised $4.5m in Series A funding, which has really enabled us to take the business to the next level and grow at the rate we’ve always intended.

What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?

In a high growth business, it is crucial that you continue looking at the finer detail and ensure the necessary time is being spent on every area of the business.

When you are a small business, there are just a few of you and so it’s easier to monitor what’s being done and who’s doing what. We are a tight-knit trio of co-founders who keep on top of how the team is working and ensure the level of productivity is always consistent from top to bottom.

What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?

The one thing every founder will tell you is that nothing ever happens quite as quickly as you want it to. The trickiest thing is managing your own expectations and being realistic.

We have grown at an incredible rate in the three years we have been in existence, so it is a case of recognising that and continuing to do so without getting ahead of ourselves.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

We use combination of inbound (SEO, SEM, website optimisation) and outbound (building and nurturing lead databases, email marketing) techniques to attract new customers.

In addition to this, we place a strong emphasis on content that we believe delivers value to both existing and prospective clients in order to become regarded as thought leaders in our field. We also believe in building long-term relationships with our clients and partners, which naturally leads to trustworthy referrals.

Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?

By expanding our service to 28 countries, we have grown our customer base and, in turn, increased our revenue.

The one piece of advice that we would give is to ensure you have all the foundations in place to successfully sell in other markets. Otherwise, you are wasting crucial time and money that could be spent on ensuring you are tackling your home market first.

What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?

Uber. Although it’s not necessarily a business app, it is extremely useful when you need to be in a meeting and public transport on your intended route is down. It happens more often that you think in London!

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Learn, iterate and succeed.

What would you like the government to do for small business?

Allowing automated access to government databases and offering access to criminal record checks electronically would be hugely helpful.

Additionally, providing grants for early stage start-ups to cover office rent, as well as making it easier to hire talent from outside of the UK would also be beneficial.

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

Neel Ghose, founder of Robin Hood Army which collects unsold food from restaurants in India and Pakistan, repackages it and gives it to the homeless.

What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?

We ensure that our overheads are kept to a minimum, as spending money unnecessarily really eats into your profits. Luckily, as we are a service, we don’t have to worry about storage and over-stocking. However, we do make sure that we keep admin costs such as stationary at a low.


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