Monday, July 16, 2012
Interview with Jeremy Gocke, Fliptu
With the proliferation of social media, how do you--as a brand--manage all of those various websites, content, and media? Los Angeles-based Fliptu (www.fliptu.com), headed by Jeremy Gocke, thinks it has this figured out, by providing a central place to access a brand's content, across social networks. The firm already has seed funding from such investors as Kelly Perdew, Sugarmaker Media, and support from talent agency ICM Partners. Gocke told us more about the company and what it's doing.
What is Fliptu?
Jeremy Gocke: With Fliptu, we're aiming to fix the disjointed media and product discovery process for consumers and brands. It's extremely noisy out there, and right now consumers are essentially being forced to drink from the social media fire hose. Brands are expected to maintain a comprehensive social media presence, but a comprehensive social media presence, but the act of doing that is very onerous. From a promotions standpoint, it's very difficult for them to know what is working and what is not.
The numbers tell the story. Brand that have Facebook fan pages are seeing less than two percent visibility on any of the posts they put out, and it's widely known that Facebook commerce is not doing so hot, and Facebook ads are not doing so well either. The second part of the story--is the Fliptu team has experience first hand running campaigns for major brands and being part of audience-focused properties. What Fliptu does, is it enables brands to sync and import all of their social media accounts into a comprehensive, single display. I like to refer to that as the ultimate brand fan page, or to take the example from the apparel industry, where I come from, a virtual look book for a brand.
Customers, fans, and buyers can get a brand's essence, their personality, and vibe, in one, visual display. By enabling brands to do that, we're making it easier for fans to discover and engage with that media. If a fan know they can get their entire brand fix there, rather than having to jump across multiple profiles, multiple social media platform, and networks, that's very compelling. It reduces a lot of the friction between the consumer and the brand.
Does this look like a Facebook page, or is this a separate site?
Jeremy Gocke: Fliptu is a separate site and community. Right now, we're a strictly Facebook Connect site, where what we're trying to do is to enable consumers to pull in all of their interests and likes into a single dashboard. We provide a dashboard page, and from there they can click into and view media from all their favorite brands.
What's your background and how did you come up with this?
Jeremy Gocke: The first incarnation of the idea for Fliptu started to gel between 2008 and 2010. At the time, I was concurrently running two companies. The first was a lifestyle apparel company, and the other was more of a lifestyle, passion pl ay, a mixed martial arts focused social networking and media content hub. I was an active investors in the apparel company, and had to step back into the company in a reorg scenario, to get it back on track. That company had three brands that we were selling into retail, three completely separate brands, which meant three separate vibes, three separate social media presences, and in at the end of the day, sixteen profiles across six major social networking platforms. We had limited time and resources, and to keep stuff fresh was a nightmare. We also never knew where to direct fans and customers, because our media, content, and offerings were spread all over these profiles.
That started to hit home when I was diving into the business, and listening to the inside sales guys making calls to buyers. What were supposed to be five minute cook and book sales calls ended up becoming ten minutes calls. They'd say, listen mister buyer, by the way, you can get our real time updates on Twitter, see our latest event photos on our Facebook fan page, check out our Tumblr page, look at videos of the event on YouTube. It was information overload, and the customer now didn't know what was what, and we were losing sales. I was thinking, we need to fix this script, and it kept coming back to me--what if we had a single destination where we could direct our fans, customers, and buyers? That's where the initial idea for Fliptu came about. My mixed martial arts company gained a lot of traction , and was acquired by ProElite, which was backed by CBS and Showtime, and raised $50M to go after UFC. They acquired the company, and I cam eon board, and I saw they had a similar issue, with managing fighter identities. They had hundreds of fighters on their roster, who had their own online identities across social media platforms, but really had limited time because they were training full time. It was the same issue. They had to maintain all of these separate accounts, but really just needed a comprehensive location for their fans. Fast forward, ProElite sold their assets to Strike Force, and was ultimately acquired by the UFC. Once that settled down, I took a hard look at the problem, and then back in January we built a prototype of what became the existing Fliptu site. We showed it to other brands, and colleagues in music, sports, and entertainment, and finally brought it to the MAGIC apparel trade show. We showed it to colleagues, who thought it was awesome, and made it easier for brand owners to create a single destination, so we started creating sharing and curation tools to remove friction from the process.
We understand you already have some investors for your company?
Jeremy Gocke: My strategy was to build a quick and dirty prototype, and use that to get some buy in from our customer base and the brands. We did that, and to bankroll that effort we went out to raise a very small, pre-seed round. Those investors included Kelly Perdew, BHV, a seed fund out of New York City, Sugarmaker Media, run by Bill Fogg, Gus Johnson, and other angels. It was a small round, right around $250,000, and closed in February. We used those proceed to build our product and interate on it, and will be going out fairly soon for more of a traditional, big angel round. ICM Partners, a leading worldwide talent agency, is also involved on our board and helping with our upcoming fundraising round.
Finally, where are you now in terms of launch?
Jeremy Gocke: We recently launched our invitation-only beta, and we're slowly and surely inviting people into that beta. The plan is to have a soft, public launch by the end of summer, in time for some back-to-school campaigns. We plan to have our full launch for the holidays, including the timing of our full e-commerce engine with the holidays, which will allow brands to create offers to push out to their community.