MAQU - Disrupting the heavy machinery industry, one reutilized machine at a time
Interview with Alessia Verdi, cofounder of MAQU a Peruvian startup that connects buy, sell, and rent opportunities for heavy machinery of all sectors.
We sat down with Alessia Verdi, cofounder of MAQU to learn about their solution and journey to become the biggest connector of reselling opportunities for heavy machinery in LatAm.
We discuss Alessia’s first experience as a startup founder, and the support they have found in the Peruvian Startup Community.
Let’s start with the basics, what’s the story behind MAQU?
The idea was born thanks to all of the founder's experience in the heavy machinery industry. I worked for several years at Ferreyros, the Caterpillar dealer and industry leader; mainly on market, imports, and sales analysis. I noticed how the second-hand selling market was growing but how many companies had difficulties finding the right machines.
Having done the market analysis, I knew the supply existed. I realized that there was no channel to connect this data, and yet the machine owners abandoned or auctioned off machines at discount prices, because they aren’t in the business of reselling machines.
Today MAQU offers that channel, bringing together a variety of multi-brand market opportunities, making it quick and easy to find a customer’s ideal second-hand machinery. Sellers and resellers can offer their machines on MAQU to maximize their leads while non-resellers can let MAQU take care of selling their unused machines to maximize cost recovery.
What's the rest of the team's background?
All 4 founders have a background in the industry, but in different areas. This helps us have multiple perspectives & offer a more complete solution for our clients.
Alonso worked in productivity, project tangibility, and sales, growing to become a Key Account Manager and managing client portfolios of $60+ million dollars a year. His strength is commercial strategies due to his proximity to final customers.
Gonzalo specialized in marketing deploying traditional campaigns like in-person events, and managing digital solutions such as e-commerce platforms.
Alex specialized in supply chain, machinery purchases, and contracts. He has a buyer's perspective that complements the rest of the founders.
The rest of the team is: Karla overseeing business development, Maria Sol supporting marketing, and Nicolas, who helps us with a little bit of everything.
As a first-time founder, tell us about your experience with the local startup ecosystem.
Before creating MAQU I was unfamiliar with the startup ecosystem. From the beginning, I was surprised at how everyone is willing to help. Our first encounter with the ecosystem was with the University of Lima’s entrepreneurship center. We won a contest and a small amount of capital which was key at the time.
Today, we are a part of StartUPC's accelerator portfolio, and we earned a grant for our performance in their program! They connect us with mentors who are entrepreneurs that share their lived experiences - that's the most valuable for us.
Thanks to StartUPC we connected with Swiss EP and were able to go through the MXP course focused on Product-Market Fit. That experience was incredible because it helped us develop strategies we still use today like focusing on our "Ideal Customer Profiles" and setting sales goals.
We have met many people briefly, but they continue to be open and interested in our advances; you can feel the closeness.
Switching to your role as CEO, what’s been key to advancing your startup?
The first thing I would say is patience. When we launched MAQU, and being a first-time founder, I thought: "we'll press play, and tomorrow it'll be a success" It was very discouraging when things went slower than expected initially. Now we understand that this was totally normal.
Also, listening to our customers. Since our solution needs supply & demand, we started doing demos to build trust with potential customers. Their feedback led us to shift the product from only selling classified ads to a more robust solution for selling idle machinery, thus MAQU Agents was born. We currently generate most of our revenue here.
In the beginning, we felt that we didn’t need to expand the team just yet, nor did we have the resources to do so, but the day-to-day is consuming and growth requires support. With new teammates, we can grow faster and work smarter.
On a personal level what are your favorite learnings so far in the journey of entrepreneurship?
Well, one of my favorite learnings has been how to lead a team. I didn’t have the opportunity to have a team in my corporate years, only now that I’m building it myself. Having a good relationship with the team, and being able to motivate them, is something I love. It’s been a big challenge, I think, and I hope I have handled it well so far.
Another thing is embracing change. I don’t like abrupt changes, but having a startup means exactly that. I’m learning to be more flexible, to pivot, and not to cling too much to anything. That’s my favorite learning because it transcends into my personal life.
Lastly, learning to say "no" to customers; it’s a bit ironic but while it’s good to listen, sometimes they ask for too much. You must be very clear about your solution’s value; that can’t be left behind to please a few customers.
Tell us, what’s next for MAQU, what are the current challenges?
Well, we are about to launch a project with the Canadian-Peruvian Chamber of Commerce. We will have more information about this soon, but we are excited to collaborate with them!
In Q4, we want to evaluate entering Colombia and Mexico, so we are starting to establish a strategy, and we're currently fundraising!
To finish up, what would help you most at this present stage?
Definitely introductions for our funding round. We would like to close it by Q4 2022. So far, we have several conversations open with interested angel investors.
Also, we would like to have strategic partners in Colombia and Mexico. Any key partners to support and facilitate our future entry, from market knowledge to relevant contacts are most welcome right now!
If you're interested in learning more or connecting with Alessia, check out their website: https://www.maqu.pe/ and reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org