Author’s Blurb: We often hear about success stories of thriving businesses, about the tentative young entrepreneurs who risked it all and created a startup that surpassed everyone’s wildest expectations. But while no one likes to dwell on failures, it’s important that these stories get told too.
Flipidea (pronounced as “flee-pee-dia”) was created for this very purpose.
An online DaaS (Data-as-a-Service) platform that’s currently free for all, Flipidea records the businesses that went kaput, listing down the reasons for their shutdowns with a concise explanation of the mistakes that led to their demise.
“Put simply, we study business failures,” said Paul Lee, its co-founder.
An entrepreneur with several years of experience, Paul is no stranger to failure.
However, he’d also had his share of successes, co-founding two innovative startups in Beijing and serving as the president and managing director of Seeway Group.
He attributes his inspiration for the startup to Ijad Madisch, the co-founder and CEO of ResearchGate.
Ijad was frustrated that researchers weren’t sharing the results of their failed experiments, which led to research redundancies.
“I then wondered, ‘Are there similar pain points shared by entrepreneurs worldwide? What if there is a database of business failure data from around the world to learn from?’” Paul said.
With a goal in mind, he began speaking to other entrepreneurs.
“In the early stage when I was conceptualising the idea and product design, I was constantly speaking to my fellow founders from Europe, Africa, India, East Asia, and Australia,” he explained.
“I listened attentively as they described their critical pain points in how they manage and grow their startups at different development stages. This was how I discovered that the problems were real.”
A Dossier Of Disaster
As soon as I opened the link to Flipidea, the list of failed businesses took the center stage, fixating my attention. The reasons for their shutdown were detailed in bright red boxes, drawing the eye immediately.
Reasons for shutdown: Fraud. Reasons for shutdown: Lies and Manipulation. Lack of Strategy. Bad Focus. Poor Hire. No Sustainability. They can go on and on, depending on the company.
The list of businesses span worldwide, from the UK and Istanbul to California and Taipei.
“We are gathering information on shuttered companies from around the world so that our analysis will be more contextual and meaningful,” said Paul.
They have their own data retrieval systems that identify companies that have shut down and gather information that’s publicly available.
However, obtaining the information can prove a challenge when the entrepreneurs are unwilling to divulge it, especially if it’s sensitive.
To overcome this, Paul and his team are testing out new features where entrepreneurs can share their confidential data safely.
“If successful, we will be able to gather great quality and proprietary data,” he said.
Flipidea currently features over 500 companies and will add another 1,000 in the future, although people would need to create and register an account to access them.
An Idea To Grow Others’ Ideas
Flipidea’s defining point, however, is its Idea Checker. Powered by AI, the Idea Checker’s purpose is to help users analyse their business ideas by predicting their estimated failure rate.
“In the near future, we hope that it can also analyse the commercial viability of their business ideas to gauge if potential customers would consume or pay for them,” said Paul.
He also mentioned that the Idea Checker is one of the things he’s most proud of, crediting his team for its creation.
“Although it is still a work-in-progress, it will become a very powerful tool for aspiring entrepreneurs to use in their ideation stage. It is the highlight feature of our freemium offering,” he said.
Accessible And Affordable
Flipidea is currently free for the masses, although Paul has plans for adding premium features in the third quarter of 2020.
When asked for details, he declined to reveal more, although he assured us that Flipidea Pro would be affordable and helpful to users in terms of research, ideation, design, and validation.
Flipidea also offers a “freemium”, where, as stated above, users can access 1,500 companies with limited functions by creating and registering an account for free.
“As of June 30, 2020, we have 323 registered users,” Paul revealed.
Out of 7,633 users they’ve had so far, 19.59% (1,495) are returning ones and out of those, 434 find enough value in the site to be loyal.
Those loyal users have generated about 60.71% of the total pageviews.
They’ve been growing their user base by spreading the word through social media, newsletter campaigns, and word-of-mouth referrals with non-paid promotional efforts.
Their Own Successes
Flipidea has earned two accolades: the Research & Development Special Award from the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, and the Best AI & Machine Learning Startup Award in Brunei Darussalam at the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards 2019.
For the future, Paul seeks to expand their SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) product, which we got a glimpse of through the Idea Checker. He plans on releasing it in 2021.
“Our AI-powered SaaS product will guide our users to prototype, validate, build, launch, refine, grow, and monetise their business on our platform,” he assured.
He plans to improve Flipidea by strengthening their team and building a company similar to Atlassian, by prioritising goals such as being user-centric in their product design and identifying suitable partners to work with.
Bottom Line: I personally believe that the concept behind Flipidea is quite solid. Learning from mistakes is how we grow, and this nifty platform may just be what some struggling first-time entrepreneurs need.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups we’ve written about here.
Featured Image: Flipidea