Ilter Dumduz Co-founder of Blys

ilter profile newWhere did the idea for Blys come from?
The origins of Blys goes back to when Dan, my co-founder, couldn’t find a massage therapist to soothe his back pain when he was on a weekend getaway in Melbourne. He was telling me about his miserable weekend upon his return to Sydney, and it was one of those moments we both went – “wouldn’t it be cool if there was an Uber for massages”. We haven’t stopped working on it since then.

Why did you decide to start this business?
We thought getting a good massage shouldn’t be a difficult and stressful process. It was kind of ironic that you had to put yourself into a lot of stress to find relaxation! Unless you had a good reference from a friend, you were basically stuck. You had to do a few google searches and browse pages and pages of individual therapist websites, and if by luck you find a good one, then you needed to call to check if they were available on your only free day… And if that was all good, then get in the car and do the trip to the clinic and back home in traffic which is the last place you want to be after an hour of relaxation. The whole process was broken. So we thought, let’s fix this with what we know best – create an amazing user experience that’ll flip the whole thing on its head and bring the best massages to customers, whenever and wherever they want.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day usually starts with my sons jumping on me – so it’s ON as soon as I open my eyes! Luckily my background is in product management – so I’m extremely organised and have a fairly clear idea as to what I’ll be achieving each day/week as I keep an up-to-date list of priorities. Typically I check emails first to see if there’s anything that needs my immediate attention. Emails are tricky because they can easily dictate the outcome of your day unless you’re disciplined about it – so I only deal with the ones that need attention, and flag the rest to read later. After I’ve done the priority emails, I check my list of priorities (which combines professional and personal tasks) and dive straight into it.
As we’re an early stage startup, it’s all hands on deck all the time – so we deal with all customer enquiries and support, which means some days we can get stuck in unexpected issues, but other than that we are big on priorities and focus. I review our priorities on a daily basis – which gives us the agility we need whilst still keeping us focused on the most important things.

How does your business differ from your competitors?
We operate on an on-demand basis, meaning, you can get a massage in your home or hotel room in a very short notice (as little as an hour) – which is a first in this market to our knowledge.Our qualification requirements and vetting process for therapists allows us to remove the biggest friction in the process (picking the right therapist) and offer a more seamless experience. We also offer a variety of measures to provide a safer working conditions for our therapists – which is another point of difference for us.

What kind of new trends excites you?
Health & wellness is a rapidly growing sector and there are a few key trends we’re following closely – but what really excites us is how easily accessible the services are becoming through platforms like Blys. There’s a huge demand for health and wellness services that’s been sitting untapped, mainly because it’s been so difficult and expensive to access – but services like Blys is changing that. We know for example booking a massage will become part of our daily routine in the near future – we’re here to enable that.On a broader level, anything that pushes the boundaries and does that at scale is exciting.
Space exploration and the commercialisations of space programs is hard to ignore. And so is the clean and sustainable energy area, which will see some interesting innovation and major industrial shifts in the coming years.

What part of your job do you personally find most interesting?
I’m an analytical-thinker and I love data – so any area that I can measure performance and quantify impact gets my attention. This goes from customer support to marketing to site performance.But the best and the most interesting part is working with our amazing network of therapists to bring a 5-star experience to our clients. Blys is a 2-sided marketplace, so core part of our job is dealing with people – which is always interesting as every person has a different perspective and a different set of needs and expectations. Our job is to understand those needs and use cases (of both sides, clients and therapists) and create a solution that’s mutually beneficial for everyone. It’s challenging, but that’s the fun part.

Please describe one of your habit that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
A list of priorities. It’s my own backlog for my life. It helps me to remain focused and always work on the most important item, not the easiest item – as we all tend to do.

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]As a customer-centric business you naturally care about your customers[/clickandtweet]

If it isn’t a secret, could you please describe one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’m not sure if you can call it a ‘strategy’, but we genuinely care about our therapists and clients.
As a customer-centric business you naturally care about your customers and want to make sure you’re always adding value to their lives with your service/product – that’s why you exist and would be stupid to do otherwise, but I think we’re unique in our approach to how we deal with therapists.
We are genuinely interested in their careers and business, and also on a more personal level, we really care about their development, and their happiness and safety. From the first application phone call through to the face-to-face interview, to their first booking through Blys and ongoing support – we like to have a real human connection with our therapists. We never see ourselves as this faceless online portal where you log in to pick up jobs – we’re here to add real value to our therapists and their practice. We’re quite hands-on and we take every opportunity to create a sense of team and community, and I think our therapists appreciate that.This helps us not just in recruiting the best therapists, but also keeping them actively engaged and interested in Blys – which is an important ingredient of our growth.

From your perspective, what are the challenges that you have to face as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
At early stages motivation can be challenging. You really need to find that drive in yourself to keep pushing despite not seeing any progress – but having said that, if you’ve started something you probably have a plenty of that drive anyway, so you’ll probably be alright. Having a co-founder or a close associate or a friend who believes in your vision can be a good support in those moments of self-doubt.
Growth is also always challenging. There are lots of ways to stimulate and extract growth, but finding those levers and catalysts can be difficult at early stages – especially when you’re running on an extremely tight budget and can’t experiment as freely as you want to. Though that feeling of hitting that reserve once (insert a hockey stick here), makes it all worth it and is incredibly addictive.

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Stop reading interviews and go and work on your idea[/clickandtweet]

Do you have any advice/business idea for our readers before they decide to launch their business?
You are underestimating what you can achieve in 1 year.
You are overestimating what your competition can achieve in 1 year.
Stop reading interviews and go and work on your idea.

What Tools/Apps do you use to grow your business on a daily basis?
My phone. Nothing gives you better insights for growth than talking to your customers.
The good old Google Sheets is pretty useful too. Add the Supermetrics add-on and you can have hours of fun with it.



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