Chicago- based baseball couple, Chris and Tracy Hayes are the founders of the new flik app. The flik app is a new social video platform developed for the iOS, utilizes short videos for sharing and discovering. Chris and Tracy talk with TechZulu about the flik app, social media, and startup advice.
Where did flik all begin?
Tracy Hayes: A few years ago we had an idea to launch a website where people can share the things they loved. At first, the flik site was mainly for our own personal use. We could never follow through with making flik into an actual product before. Chris was playing in the MLB and I was busy with work and life. Then last year we got the idea of short videos that are six seconds long. People thought we were crazy, because this was never done before. Chris and I started to work on developing flik from the web platform into a mobile app where people can share and upload videos. Chris had a degree in computer science and taught himself how to code for the iOS.
Chris, you were in Major League Basesball?
Chris Hayes: I played baseball all through college and after college I signed with the Kansas City Royals. After my contract was over, I was injured and had to go undergo Tommy John’s Surgery. I have been recovering from the injury and during that time I was able to work on making flik into a reality with my wife.
Can you tell us what flik is all about?
CH: flik is all about sharing. It is a way to share all the things people own and love or all the places they go to through the power of social network and short videos. The videos are five to eight second long clips, which create quick and straight-to- the-point videos. One of the taglines we use is “Window shopping through your friend’s lives.”
One of the great things we like to see is people discovering the very things that their friends own. We feel that everyone has something they love and want to show it off to everyone else. flik is not just a video app, but an app that gives people another way to share and discover.
I saw that you guys had “flik-tiquette” for your app. What is that about?
TH: flik was first used and developed with people we knew, like our friends and family. We wanted to continue that “feel”. A community where everyone is comfortable with the things they share, but they also know which boundaries there are to cross and not to cross. We are not going to be like any other video app out there which is inundated with poor content. flik is an app where people come to create high quality content and to also be in a community where everyone is respectful to each other.
Where does the future lie with social media?
TH: Videos will be the future of social media. People thought we were crazy when we first told them we were going to work on a social media app with six-second videos 18 months ago. What was cool is that Vine validated our point and showed people want to share and make it quick-to-the point. People just want to share, browse, and discover on their own time. People don’t want to be bombarded by ads and other ploys. We feel social media is a place for people to enjoy and discover new ideas.
CH: Pintrest has shown that people want to discover new things. People also want to have a social presence online by uploading and sharing. flik has the perfect combination to post and view in a whole new way. We have given users a new way to discover the new ideas and stuff they would have probably never come across.
Social media is going to be very dynamic over the next couple of years. We are going to see new ways of sharing and viewing. The market is certainly saturated with social media, but we think that there is a reason why it is so popular still and widely used.
How hard was bringing flik to life?
TH: It was difficult because we never have started a social media business before. One of the main obstacles we have faced is that we didn’t have any direct connections to help us with the building a new social media business. We have done business building before, but nothing like the social media market.
We were initially trying to find developers to help us code. However, we just never found anyone we could really trust. So, Chris took the load of developing and coding the app himself.
CH: It’s been an interesting combination of easy days and tough nights. There have been days where things are just clicking together and thinking of simple and obvious solutions to problems. Then there have been day where we have been working 20 hours straight and we just want to go to bed. But it’s the life of a founder of a startup. In those moments, things are just insanely difficult and the time spent on our work is really taxing.
TH: Getting the app out to the public was our biggest achievement. Receiving funding was another one. Having people come to us and help fund our company was a great feeling. We didn’t have to go look for people, they came to us. There were people out there that shared the same vision as we did and that alone was a great feeling. Another great moment is when other people using our product.
CH: When people were using the app and to see people using our product. Whenever someone “fliked” something and saw someone posted a product we never seen before. We thought that was really amazing. To be able to create something and have other people enjoy what you have created is a feeling like no other.
What are your goals now?
TH: Our goal right now is growing our user base and with that we are looking for strategic investors. We want to find people who have done this before. There are other small things such as hiring new employees, more engineers, and developing a full web platform.
Since you guys are based in Chicago, why did you see it as a place to start your business?
TH: We have been in the baseball lifestyle. We have lived in 40 cities within the past six years. We have half our team in California and the other half is in the east coast. Chicago does need a bit more tech startups and the good thing is, there isn’t that much competition to face as of yet.
Do you see Chicago as a great startup community? Or does Chicago need more time to become one?
TH: Since we haven’t been specifically been in areas where the startup community is huge, we really don’t have anything to compare Chicago to. Chicago does have a great startup community. There is a lot of great talent in Chicago and it is not a crowded place unlike other startup communities in California or in the east coast.
What advice would you give to other people when creating a startup?
TH: You can do it anywhere. You just need the passion and the perseverance to create a startup. It doesn’t matter where you live, we would make home our office no matter where we were. If you have an idea, then go with your gut. Listen to yourself because your inner voice is what’s really valuable. Being able to stick with your idea, believing in yourself, and persevering to reach your goals are just a few rules to abide by.
A tech startup is a lot different than any other business we have done before. There are a lot of moving parts and if you were connected to the right people, then things are obviously a lot easier for you. We were lucky to have such great advisors to help us with our startup.
The last thing I would say is be connected with the right people. I was fortunate to find great friends who were in the tech business. And even if you don’t have anyone you know, find people who are just as passionate as you. There are tons of people who are not going to see your goals and vision, but aligning yourself with the people that do can create a great dynamic for you and your team.
Thank you Chris and Tracy for your time.