He’s one half of the ‘Billionaire Brothers’ and a serial tech entrepreneur at heart, with a penchant for disruptive and innovative ideas. Bhavin Turakhia, the eldest of the Turakhia brothers, talks to us about his company Flock, and his plans for taking over the prolific enterprise messenger market.
With over 19 years of experience in the tech sector and after having founded 11 companies, Bhavin’s newest company aims to beat the competition and become the finest real-time messaging and collaboration app for contemporary workspaces.
Tell us more about Flock and its possibilities.
Flock is a real-time messaging and collaboration app for teams, which speeds up and simplifies communication and boosts productivity. It comes with incredibly powerful features and a slick, easy-to-use interface. It’s is the ideal tool for organisations looking to move to a real-time communication model.
Flock also offers its platform for developers, FlockOS – the world’s first chat operating system. Developers can build customized apps, bots, and integrations on top of Flock and either use them within their organization, or publish it on Flock’s App Store, making them available for all Flock users. Flock also comes with its own, pre-installed apps, built on top of FlockOS. These apps boost productivity and improve task and notification management. E.g. the Shared To-Dos app and the Mailcast app for sending group emails right from within Flock.
How did you get the idea for Flock?
The idea to be an entrepreneur took me over during school. By the time college was over, I started experimenting with a few ideas and that led to some business ventures. Eventually, in 1998, my brother Divyank and I co-founded our first company.
I’ve always been driven by the idea that we can solve problems in our current ecosystem with technology. At some point I realised that team communication as a category had become a stagnant space. There had been no significant change in the way we communicated at work over the past decade. While email continues to be a mainstream communication tool among teams, it hasn’t really evolved. At the same time, our activities have become much more team-oriented and we need to be able to respond in real time to many challenges at the workplace. Thus, there is clearly a need for tools that let users collaborate without any gaps in real time.
This is how we came to develop and test multiple chat applications. When we were convinced of the results of our various experiments, we finally launched Flock in 2014.
Most of your companies are bootstrapped. Is Flock funded in the same way?
Flock does not have any external investors. We are completely bootstrapped. Flock currently offers a free plan, and a pro plan at $3 per user per month where teams have the option of upgrading select users only. We also offer an enterprise plan, which gives users everything in the pro plan. For this, we charge an additional one-time cost for setting up on-premise deployment.
Our pro plan has considerable benefits for users. The key difference is that while most of our competitors ask enterprises to pay for all users, we charge only for users for whom premium features have been activated.
Tell us about your decision to launch Flock in the UK.
While the European tech industry has grown significantly during the past few years, the UK is emerging as the digital capital of Europe. More people are adapting to technology, and in the coming years we will witness newer ways of communication and collaboration that will become an indispensable part of our lives. Interestingly, what further emphasises the need for a product like Flock in this market is the fact that the productivity level in the UK has been below the average compared to the rest of the G7 advanced economies. With the right appetite for technology and the need for enhanced productivity, the UK is a very promising market for Flock.
Also, Flock is a growing company that is expanding geographically, and our main business objective is to become the messaging and productivity app of choice for enterprises and communities across the globe.
Which companies are currently using Flock?
Flock currently has a userbase of over 25,000 companies. The names on board with Flock include Tim Hortons, Vmware, Mothercare, Victorinox, RICOH, Avendus, Princeton University, Skin Laundry, Craft and others.
How do you see the enterprise messenger market developing in the future, both in the UK and globally?
Personal messaging tools have certainly been more popular across the world, including workplaces in the UK. But with increasing incidences of confidential company data being leaked through these personal messengers, I think workplaces are certainly more likely to adopt enterprise messaging apps and tools.
As enterprises increasingly adopt secure enterprise messaging technologies and are willing for developments, the market in the UK will continue to grow. We estimate that there are over 5 million users of team messengers across the globe. And the potential market size is about 300-400 million users. Thus, while there are many competitors in the market, we believe that there is enough space for everyone.
How do you think enterprise messaging products will develop in the future?
There are so many trends in workplace technology that are considered esoteric today but will become essential tomorrow. I am very excited about AI or artificial intelligence, as well as augmented reality, considering all of its potential applications. At the workplace, for instance, AI could be used to replace or augment the services of an assistant, including handling communication, replying to emails, etc. So many of these routine tasks can be delegated to AI.
As a successful entrepreneur, what advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone, I would say – never compromise on the quality of talent that you hire. We follow this principle diligently at Flock and across all my companies. At Flock, we have excelled at innovating and launching unique products and features only because we have the best people on board.
Secondly, I would say that we must understand that the definition of a successful business is one where you create more value for your consumer than what you seek from them. Business models that meet this criteria are more likely to be successful.
If you had to sum up your approach to business in three points, what would they be?
- Identify the space that needs disruption and create the right product for the right market
- Pivot, as per the consumer demand, and be open to change
- Focus on creating value (for the consumer) and not valuation, and market the product well
— flock (@Flock) May 5, 2017
Visit Flock’s website to know more – www.flock.com