From a college project to starting up an enterprise – The Flick2Know story
Divir Tiwari, Peeyush Jain, Apurv Gupta and Rituraj Rathore, four friends from ISM Dhanbad, were bitten by the startup bug very early in their college days. Their first encounter with entrepreneurship was when they joined their college’s e-cell, Genesis. Excited and intrigued by entrepreneurship, they wanted to start up something very soon. While in college, they started a service which they called ‘cyber ex-change’, a society facilitating the students with services like personalized email and website.
Within months, they started generating INR 60,000-INR 70,000 in revenues and at that time being students, it was a big amount for them. It kindled the fire in them to look for potential ideas in future and start a full-fledged enterprise. They were always curious to learn more about entrepreneurship. When one of their college senior was starting CoolJunk, they started working with him and gained immense learning experience from this.
They started thinking of different business ideas to start up with and kept trashing all of them one after the other due to lack of resources to start them with. Their ideas were getting rejected for seed funding or incubation wherever they tried. They started feeling dejected but knew that this was just the beginning. Getting into high spirits again, they again started discussing what to do next while watching a TED Talk by Pranav Mistry - The Sixth Sense. It turned out to be a source of inspiration for them.
They started their quest to develop a business which could bridge the gap between digital and print communication. Apurv and Peeyush, took this idea for their final-year project and successfully developed their own kind of tags/ holograms which could be read by a mobile application and shoot relevant information back to the user on scanning them. All of them saw a huge potential in the applicability of this idea and started hunting for seed fund and incubation.
This time, their idea got selected for incubation in CIIE and Business Incubator by MSME, GOI. With the backing and support, they founded Flick2Know just 10 days after graduating from college in June 2010.
Flick2Know offers sales automation, brand marketing and consumer engagement solutions using technologies like QR codes and image processing. QR being the prominent one as it is very easy to use, is widely known and well accepted across the globe. Their flagship products include Field Assist (FA), a patent-pending technology for field sales automation targeted for FMCG and similar industries, and Flick2Know’s end-to-end platform for creating branding-marketing campaigns.
Though FA is relatively new in the product line, it has grown in the last six months and was recently named among the top 10 innovative ideas in Intel’s AIC 2013 contest. FA aims to address the most common secondary sales problems faced by FMCG companies like authentication of visit made by salesmen, average time spent at each outlet, credit history of point of sale location, SKU-wise and outlet-wise, weekly-monthly trends of sales etc.
With FA, managers can get live updates on the whereabouts (each salesperson is empowered with an Android device) of the salesperson and their performance, which allows them to react immediately in the case of an anomaly. They also get live access to information on activity, which includes daily sales, outlets visited, time spent at each location, orders placed, sales analysis etc. FA also helps clients to check the prevalent brand presence and delivers entire information in a schematic manner to the DMS and ERP layer.
Building a solution like this brought some technological challenges in the beginning for Flick2Know. They started with remotely hosted servers but soon started facing scalability and reliability issues. Divir says, “The solution for us was to move to cloud services and Windows Azure proved to be very startup-friendly. It enabled us with lots of resources which were enough to get things in production ready. It enables us to build highly scalable solution without worrying about the scalability at the beginning. Its flexible pricing model helps us to experiment without risking too much. Apart from all this, Windows Azure gives a better level of trust for our solutions among our customers too.”
In the three years of its existence, Flick2Know has worked with 70-80 clients including the likes of PepsiCo, Fiat, Tata Teleservices, PVR Cinemas, Hero Moto Corp, Unitech etc., and has delivered more than 300 campaigns. Divir shares that FA has a close fight with other mobile-based order booking solutions; similarly, there are many marketing platforms for brand awareness. But Flick2Know’s core competency lies in the amount of business intelligence that we put and augment with our solution.