A Q&A with Flowdock co-founder and CEO Otto Hilska. The Helsinki, Finland–based company was founded in late 2009.
SUB: Please describe Flowdock, and the value proposition you bring to group chat and collaboration.
Hilska: Flowdock is a shared team inbox with chat. Almost all teams use some kind of a group chat tools, but unlike them, Flowdock is truly connected to all your other tools, including email, wikis and version control. The team will work together and react to issues in seconds.
SUB: Who is your target market?
Hilska: Technical teams, mainly software developers. That said, Flowdock is used by real estate agents, rock bands, governments, marketing agencies etc.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Hilska: We’re competing against traditional group chat products: Campfire, Skype chat, IRC, MS Office Communicator, etc.
SUB: What differentiates Flowdock from the competition?
Hilska: Flowdock’s integrations are rich, and the team can work on the issues without leaving the tool. For example, you can’t forward an email to any other group chat tool.
We’re also the only ones making sure that relevant parts of the discussions will be found afterwards, since we do hash-tagging and search.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Hilska: Flowdock was founded in December 2009, but it’s a product spin-off from our consulting company. Previously we did Ruby on Rails development under the ‘Nodeta’ brand.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Flowdock?
Hilska: Every time we started a new consulting project, we needed to figure out which communication tools to use, and we were never happy with any of them.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Hilska: Prioritizing features is a constant challenge.
SUB: You recently announced that you have raised $650K in seed funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
Hilska: We’re continuing the work on the product-market fit with our current team.
SUB: Why was this a good time to raise outside funding?
Hilska: We have slowly migrated from our consulting business to building Flowdock. With the outside funding we’re now able to focus fully on the product development.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional outside funding in the near future?
Hilska: Not in the near future.
SUB: What are your goals for Flowdock over the next year or so?
Hilska: Over the next year we’re focusing on the ease of use, some highly requested features—native iOS clients etc.—and some super-secret features I can’t talk about yet.
Flowdock – www.flowdock.com