A Q&A with flik co-founder Chris Hayes. The Chicago-based startup, which makes a mobile app that allows users to share short videos about places and products, launched to the public in early June. It was founded by Hayes—a professional baseball player—and his wife Tracy, and initially tested among Major League Baseball players and their wives.
SUB: Please describe flik and your primary innovation.
Hayes: flik is an iPhone app that allows users to share short videos about products and places they love.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Hayes: flik’s current user base is twenties to early-forties men and women, which is right on with what we expected the target demographic to be.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Hayes: flik is the only social media app allowing users to share their commercial experiences, so there doesn’t seem to be any direct competition. flik’s users have likened flik to a combination of Vine—short-clip video sharing, Pinterest—content discovery, and Yelp—recommendations.
SUB: What differentiates flik from the competition?
Hayes: Since flik allows users to share what they love without bombarding them with rewards or prizes or incentives to participate, users are sharing the things they love naturally and without prodding. Other review and recommendation sites are mainly text-based, whereas flik is quick, straight to the point videos so other users can freely browse and discover new stuff.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Hayes: flik was officially formed in May 2012, but we had been working on the idea since 2011. Once the idea was fine-tuned, we immediately took the necessary steps in filing a provisional patent to safeguard the ideas.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for flik? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Hayes: In 2011, we wanted a way to share some things we owned, loved and would want our friends to know about. So, we started shooting short videos to email to friends with our recommendations of everything from travel destinations to kitchen peelers. Much to our excitement, the ‘aha’ moments seemed to gradually and continually roll in as we realized we had stumbled upon something special.
SUB: Can you describe the user experience? In other words, you mentioned that users can share their ‘commercial’ experiences—is the discoverability aspect organized around brands or retail locations, for example?
Hayes: flik is organized into 23 different categories ranging from bars and clubs to beauty products, fitness to fashion. Initially, a user is brought to the ‘explore’ page where they can see all fliks in every category with an algorithm that bumps popular and new fliks to the top for users to check out. Users can search by product name, brand, and location searching is coming. Another way for users to discover new places is through the ‘map’ feature, where users are taken to a map with pins signifying fliks nearby. These map pins are usually restaurants and hotels, but some are also retail locations such as a Tory Burch or lululemon, for example.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Hayes: In initial mock-ups, the user-interaction for sharing a video was a flicking motion. As we were doing dry-runs of using the product, we joked “that was a good flick.” It took a split-second, but the double-meaning of a flick not only being the motion, but also signifying a video—i.e. ‘chick flick’—stuck. From there, we shortened the name to ‘flik’ because, well, flik is short and to the point anyway. That ‘c’ wasn’t bringing anything to the table for the app. Plus, how can you get your brand added to the Webster’s dictionary after you get huge when it’s already in there? And so ‘flik’ it was.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was this a particularly good time to debut?
Hayes: flik initially launched privately within the Major League Baseball community of players and their wives. Those users continually requested to invite friends and family outside of baseball. It seemed only natural to give users what they were asking for by opening it up to the public.
Additionally, the sticker-shock, so to speak, of having to condense what you want to share into eight seconds has seemed to wear off more-and-more over time. With other apps—thankfully—convincing the general public we aren’t crazy in expecting such brevity, flik’s users have demonstrated the time is right now.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Hayes: Yes. flik was approached by two separate private parties who were interested in investing—one within the baseball community and one outside of baseball. flik agreed to an equity funding agreement with both.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Hayes: People initially think they can’t fit what they want to say into eight seconds. And they hate the sound of their voice. At some point for each and every one of our users so far, however, the realization sets in: “no one else has a bad-sounding voice” along with “I love the fact that the videos are so short and to the point,” and boom!—crisis averted. Adding to the good news for flik in avoiding this potential obstacle, with the launch of Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram video sharing app, short videos will become as common and easy as posting a status update or snapping a photo.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Hayes: flik is going to be able to provide an easy-to-use product discovery, and purchasing, platform for its users. Any product discovery will be completely on the users’ terms, but it will be there nonetheless. And product discovery has its monetary benefits. At the same time, retailers are constantly looking for feedback on their products, as well as trying to improve their social media presence, which is going to be done very naturally on flik as well. We’d like to think flik has the potential to be very natural, very mutually beneficial for user and retailer alike, and that could be revolutionary. Let your mind run for a second or two, and you’ll start to realize some extensive, yet simple, monetization opportunities. We have already started to implement small pieces of what we plan for the long run.
SUB: What are your goals for flik over the next year or so?
Hayes: The immediate next steps for flik are to expand the user base, acquire additional funding from strategic investors, build out flikapp.com’s web platform to be fully functional, release an Android version of the app, and bring on special users called fliksperts. fliksperts are going to be a really cool aspect of flik, and we are excited to announce those soon.
flik – www.flikapp.com