Jelastic Cloud case study: Sooqini

Sooqini were named in the Top 20 UK Startups to Watch in 2013, and were also lucky enough to recently enjoy some high profile media coverage. We caught up with Nicholas Bransby-Williams, CTO at to discuss how using the Layershift Jelastic Cloud helped them ride the wave instead of drowning in all that extra traffic / attention.


What’s your background?

Growing up in Ealing, West London, I discovered programming at the tender age of 12 when Amiga Format (issue 191!) came with a coverdisk featuring Easy Amos, a dialect of BASIC. I studied Computer Science at the University of the West of England and spent a further 7 years in the West Country, working for Future Publishing (alas Amiga Format had closed by the time I joined!). After which I moved back to London to get involved in the start up scene where I met my fellow founders.

Sooqini is a cool name, but what is it exactly?

Thanks! The name means local marketplace: it comes from the word “souq” or “souk” which means marketplace in several languages and “-ini” meaning local.

Sooqini is a leading task marketplace: get any tasks or errands done by trusted local people at your price.

We help you save time, save money and, if you want, make quick money by selling any skills. (Interestingly, techies love our platform for affordable usability testing by crowds and site reviews.)

You ended up hosting Sooqini on the Layershift Jelastic Cloud, but what other platforms did you evaluate and what sets us apart?

We’re a bootstrapped startup, so we didn’t have time to get distracted by server administration.

We found the ability to focus on application innovation essential for the rapid development of the Sooqini platform, so we looked at hosting platforms (like PHP Fog and Orchestra) rather than basic server infrastructure providers (like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace).

We actually started on PHP Fog (now AppFog) during development, moving to Orchestra (now part of Engine Yard) before launch. With both of these we hit problems when we wanted to get under the hood and start tweaking the configuration.

We needed a hosting platform which gave us additional flexibility without sacrificing ease of use, and we were keen to find a host with UK based support.

Layershift Jelastic Cloud really shines in both areas.

It was simple and actually fun to get everything set up on their Jelastic Cloud. Although we haven’t needed their help very often, Layershift’s support team is much better than any provider I’ve worked with before. I can see how they get their 9.7/10 support satisfaction rating! Responses are prompt and thorough and we feel their UK based team are more on the same page than the offshore support typical at other providers.

On the technical side, Sooqini uses some Nginx features (a dependency from when we used Orchestra) so Nginx support was an essential requirement for us. Layershift Jelastic Cloud supports Nginx natively, provides all of the features of our previous hosts (and then some!), and exposes the server config files so we can customise things to suit our own needs.

What can we improve?

When we first started using the platform the pricing was a little high, but the recent price drop (plus reserved cloudlet support giving us additional discounts) firmly addresses this issue and has proven that Layershift are fully committed to listening to feedback from customers and supporting startup businesses like ours.

Price will always be about value more than just raw cost; we save a lot of time and money by using the platform compared to other options, and we hope the pricing will remain competitive as we grow so that we can continue to innovate at Sooqini.

What does the future hold for Sooqini?

At the moment we’re focused on London and we already have almost 15,000 users using Sooqini. We hope to increase that to 100,000 or more over the coming months and we’re looking to expand our marketplace to other big cities within the UK and across Europe.

Technically, we’ll look to expand our mobile offering to Android (we already have an iPhone app) and invest in more features to enhance user experience and loyalty.

Layershift’s Jelastic Cloud feels like the right platform to properly support our ambitious growth plans. Our servers scale up automatically without us lifting a finger, so whenever we get a spike in demand the platform keeps us running smoothly, and we can scale out horizontally in just a few clicks!

What do you like most about your work?

Well I’m a bit of a perfectionist and in the world of ones and zeros I can reach my nirvana 🙂