Bhavin Turakhia’s Flock competes with Slacks and Yammers of the world
Flock is a real-time team messaging and collaboration platform that focuses on simplifying communication and boosting productivity.
When a boy starts coding at the age of nine, it isn’t difficult to imagine the child prodigy going on to co-found 11 companies (with his brother), bootstrapping most, and selling one (Media.net) for over $900 million to a consortium of Chinese investors.
Another four of their web-based businesses were sold for $160 million to Endurance International Group. The Turakhia brothers — Bhavin and Divyank — need no introduction, as the brother duo's story is one of succeeding against odds and swimming against the tide.
It was a drive to always do something that got Bhavin to start up again with Flock in September 2014. It is a real-time team messaging and collaboration platform that focuses on simplifying communication and boosting productivity.
Having invested $20 million already, Bhavin this month added $25 million to the company to enhance product innovation and meet global demand.
One before the other
Flock, however, isn’t the first-of-its-kind enterprise and team messaging app; there are already several strong and established players, like Facebook Workplace, TeamChat, Slack, Yammer, HipChat, and Skype, to name a few. Though Microsoft Teams is claiming to be a ‘Slack killer’, which is valued at $2.8 billion, Bhavin believes Flock will be a strong survivor. He says,
“There was Internet Explorer before Firefox and Chrome; BBM existed before WhatsApp. Every product has multiple providers. It is about who provides a better solution. Everybody who has switched over from Slack to Flock has said it is much more intuitive, easier to use and adopt, and has a far better user experience and performance than Slack.”
The focus on efficiency
Currently a team of over 150 people, over 70 percent of the Flock team comprises technical people. Flock was born out of Bhavin’s passion for enterprise productivity. The 11 companies he had co-founded earlier had achieved growth and scale with limited people and external funding.
“A large part of the reason is that we hire some really good people and we are all sticklers when it comes to productivity and efficiency,” Bhavin explains. Starting up a decade ago, the team at Directi (part of Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia’s group of companies) had started using Jabber and their own internal messengers for collaboration and work.
Organisations today work differently from a decade ago. Gone are the days of working in silos; it is an age of collaboration now, with Facebook, messengers, email, and taskboards. Bhavin notes:
“Today, 80 percent of the work is done via devices more as a communication collaboration rather than an individual work device. In many ways, I believe that the next big operating device that will govern us will be chat and messaging. Everything that we do in an organisation, whether it is simple workflows, organising meetings, assigning tasks, discussing updates, booking conference rooms, conducting polls, sending project updates, all will take place as workflows, or apps layered on top of an instant messenger.”
Thus, when the idea for Flock happened, Bhavin was pretty excited about the concept of instant messaging in the enterprise scenario. Today, a significant portion of Flock is used for teams within enterprises, but it is also adopted by several tech forums, communities and teams working on collaborative projects. Bhavin simply calls it a 'team messenger', be it for a short- or long-term purpose.
Communication and collaboration
“We have seen events adopting it for their entire communication for the duration of the events,” says Bhavin. Initially, the team focused on experimenting with the interfaces, and the kind of platform they should create. Soon, the current form of Flock took shape.
A global company, with a presence in Brazil, India, the US, Spain, the UK, and Russia, Flock is used by over 25,000 companies. Some of the company's clients include Gini & Jony, Ricoh, Victorinox, Tim Hortons, Yepme, Whirlpool, and 1mg. Bhavin says,
“Almost 80 percent of the people who regularly use flock say that they would be highly likely to recommend this product to a friend or colleague with a score of 9 or 10. Flock has the highest NPS (Net Promoter Score) that I have seen as opposed to all the Directi companies.”
With over 50,000 weekly active users, 1,600 weekly teams created, and over 5,00,000 app downloads, Flock has seen over 200 percent growth.
The workings and future
The platform takes most of the apps and services at work and allows one to integrate them onto a single platform, making it efficient and easier to organise tasks. It lets users create and access multiple teams, using a single Flock account. Every team gets a unique URL, which members can share for others to discover or join the team.
The platform also allows one to create public teams for communities; it has two default channels: Team Hub for all members to collaborate, and Announcements for one-way communications. There are also options for creating public and private channels, adding channel attributes, sharing files, and creating polls.
Flock also offers multilingual support for non-English speaking users. The company recently launched the product for Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian users. The team has also launched Flock OS, the first-of-its-kind chat operating system with HTML widgets features, which lets users have a smooth experience with any Flock app. It also lets developers create app-specific buttons embedded in the interface, thus ensuring higher app discoverability and usage. Bhavin adds:
“I think that chat-based operating systems will be the next big thing.”
Flock follows a freemium revenue model, where users start off by using the free version and eventually upgrade to the paid version.
Flock also has an app store that brings external work apps and services together, thus letting users receive notifications and updates directly on Flock. Currently, apps like Google Driver, Github, Trello, Mailchimp, Analytics, Hangouts, and Twitter are present in it.
According to a survey conducted by the company, Flock has reduced internal email by an average of 54 percent and reduced in-person meetings on an average by 55 percent in the companies it is being used. Now, with the data in place, Flock is looking at focusing on marketing and aggressively promoting the product.