Like many who lead hectic, busy lives, co-founders Yalda Moshiri and Shahrzad Vossoughi were frustrated with long lines and inordinate wait times at restaurants or events. Together, they developed an innovative solution: SaF. SaF means “queue” in Farsi, their native language.
Tell us about your company.
SaF is an on-demand Line Concierge service that connects Clients with a professional Line Concierge who will wait in line on their behalf. It’s a quick, affordable and easy solution to queueing up, allowing patrons access to the hottest spots in Portland without the wait. SaF is likened to be the Uber for standing in line, with plans to expand to new cities and other verticals such as the DMV, tourist attractions, festivals and much more.
Who are your cofounders and what makes you a great team?
Shahrzad and Yalda are co-founders who have a combination of experience, passion and grit to make this a successful venture. This is Yalda’s second startup, she previously co-founded a hardware company and is a former Amazonian. Shahrzad also comes from an entrepreneurial background. Her family founded Ziba Design and she has built her own successful small business in Portland. Our extended team is comprised of many talented individuals who have worked for large companies as well as built and scaled their own ventures. SMAL Munich, formerly Ziba Europe, is an award winning, full-service agency comprised of forty employees. Our partnership with them allows us to tap into top talent, move quickly and scale thoughtfully. We are a team that personifies our clients and are passionate about bringing SaF’s vision to life and beyond.
How is your company making a difference?
We don’t just want to create another app. We want to build a company that empowers people to maximize their time while also impacting the gig economy in a positive way. The American workface is estimated to be built of 50% of the gig economy workers by 2020. With all the negative backlash from other major gig-based companies, it’s more important than ever to build a marketplace with a positive impact. This is an opportunity for us to create a company focused on inclusion and community, but this all comes with time. We’re determined to make a difference in people’s lives because at the end of the day, we are both the customers and workers.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Our team’s biggest challenge is to move fast to prove product market fit and to establish SaF as the go-to for this type of service. To prevent competitors from entering space, we know that our biggest defensibility tool will be capital. With the beta launch live in Portland in October, our challenge will be to demonstrate proof of concept quickly and show incremental growth before seeking investment capital.
What is your biggest win?
To date our biggest win has been establishing partnerships with high end Portland hotels such as Jupiter, Nines, Heathman and Woodlark. These partnerships allow us to cast a net to tourists visiting Portland with limited time but an appetite to try out Portland’s food scene. This allows us to be scrappy and clever with our marketing as it’s no cost to SaF and creates a viral element for national exposure as customers share their Line Concierge experience on social media.
Who is your role model?
Our role model is Oprah Winfrey because she exemplifies being grateful for everything AND every moment. This practice of gratitude amplifies everything in her life. Despite her level of success, she has maintained her integrity and grace through the process, something we should all strive for.
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
Yalda: I wish someone had reminded me again in the beginning that this was all going to take time. This is my second venture, and even though I learned a tremendous amount about starting a company – and closing its doors – from the first time, I still found myself getting anxious about the pace this second time around. We’re taught to move fast, test, learn, pivot, etc…but the groundwork is essential, and it takes time. We frequently step back and remind ourselves that we are exactly where we need to be and that we have made great strides in less than a year – but time is everything!
What is your founder super power?
Shahrzad and Yalda both have unique superpowers but their biggest strength is the ability to work together symbiotically. They both see the big vision, yet both have their unique strengths they bring to the table. Yalda is able to assess what will make the machine work, (for instance, identifying and hiring the best talent and ideating unique marketing strategies), while Shahrzad is able to dive deep into the details by determining what needs to take place to move the machine forward, (such strategizing user acquisition and setting up effective and efficient operation strategies.)
What has been your experience with FFA?
Our experience with FFA has been nothing short of fantastic. The organization goes above and beyond to truly help its members move forward with their goals and vision. With FFA, we feel like we have a group of supporters behind us. The FFA team has created a culture where everyone can lean on each other and trust the organization for guidance as necessary. Thanks to the FFA, we have built meaningful relationships with investors and the PNW community.
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