Discovering new things can be daunting. Think about switching up your shampoo and conditioner. I don’t know about you, but I want to do a little research, and I usually turn to my friends for their opinion. On the flip side, if I’ve discovered something awesome, I’m the first to shout it from the rooftops. Luckily for those of you like me, there’s flik, the video-sharing app that lets you window shop your friends’ lives.
We caught up with Chris and Tracy Hayes, the husband/wife duo behind the app, to talk baseball, skipping showers and lunching with the Messiah. Seriously, you’ve got to check this interview out.
Tell us a little about your background and the inspiration for flik.
Tracy: We are self proclaimed gypsies who have lived the baseball lifestyle for the past 7 years while building businesses in the process. We both have degrees from Northwestern University, but we didn’t meet until after we both graduated (mainly because I was a few years ahead of Chris and ahem, robbed the cradle a little bit. go me!). I spent 4 years in the Research & Information department of McKinsey & Company in Chicago (while Chris learned to walk. no, just kidding, I’m not THAT much older than he is). I left McKinsey and traveled the world for a year and after my year of solo travel I decided I didn’t want to work for Corporate America anymore and started my own fitness and consulting business. Once Chris and I met, we traveled the country while Chris moved up the levels of the KC Royals system and we worked together helping to build new companies and grow existing ones.
For our inspiration to build flik, we always say, “Oprah isn’t the only one who has favorite things”. We all do and until flik there really hasn’t been a way for people to share it. Video is quick and easy and I have a short attention span, so we had to cut the videos off at 8 seconds max – it forces people to get to the point and everyone is happy! One thing led to another and here we are with an awesome new app, if we may say so ourselves.
What makes flik so killer?
Chris: For us, flik is really going to revolutionize commercial experiences for businesses and consumers alike. For businesses, ads are a way of life, for consumers, they suck. Whether consciously or not, we can smell ads from a mile away. Our plans for flik can change that.
More and more businesses are looking for and broadcasting real consumer’s feedback. Ford has been doing it for a while in their ad campaigns. Febreeze is doing it. Fast food chains, beer distributors, it seems more and more ads are going to relatable, real-people kind of a feel. To a consumer, this works because it feels closer to us. Yes, we still like to see beautiful models on billboards, but we also like feeling like we’re going to experience something the same way it’s presented to us. When I see my butt in those jeans that look so good on the size 0 model on the billboard, they don’t look like the same product.
Tracy: yes, that is really Chris talking about his behind in size 0 jeans!
Chris continues: With flik we can bring the experience even closer to home for consumers. My friends use and love this baby stroller. My buddy has these kitchen knives that are razor sharp and stay sharp. Awesome, I want to go buy those. While this is happening, businesses are getting the real-time feedback they are looking for. No more data mining and creeping on people. They can now log on and see, “huh, everyone seems to love and recommend our coconut shrimp, but people think the dumplings are too soggy”. It’s a win win.
What is the best/worst thing about 1) being an entrepreneur 2) working with your spouse?
Tracy: The best thing is the ability to wake up whenever I want, work in yoga pants, and not have to shower every day. I know, disgusting that I am admitting I don’t shower every day, but when our team is strewn across the country and we hardly ever have in-person meetings, why does it matter whether I shower or not? The worst thing is that we don’t have a set work day and we are workaholics, so it’s very difficult to “turn off” and unwind. For instance, it’s 11p and I am doing this Q&A when I should be in bed, but even if I were in bed I’d be lying there wide awake thinking about things that can make our company even better.
The best thing about working with my husband is that he and I actually enjoy each other’s company. Some couples need time apart to be happy, but we thrive when we are together. Chris is ridiculously smart and hilarious, so even though it’s non-stop work, it doesn’t quite feel like work because I get to hang out with my best friend. Is that cheesy? Worst thing? I’d say the only bad thing is that while he is coding, he is in this other world so I can’t just bust out a question and expect him to answer immediately, so I have to be a little more patient than normal.
Chris: Best thing about being an entrepreneur is the office at my “job” for the last decade has been a baseball field. Pretty freeing if you ask me. Working a 9-5 was just going to be too big of a shift, I think, so being an entrepreneur is a pretty cool fit. Best thing about working with Tracy is getting to hang out together which is one very, very welcomed difference from baseball. We always talked about her training to become a bullpen catcher so whatever team I was on, she could hang out in the bullpen with me, but that never came to fruition. It’s nice to be around her all day now instead of just a few hours in the baseball lifestyle.
As for the worst parts, there’s definitely times where 5:05 rolls around and I would give almost anything to be on a commute home at the end of a work day. Worst part about working with Tracy is the guessing game that takes place some times when she starts talking. Usually, she’s just had a 5-paragraph conversation silently in her own head, and then she starts the 6th paragraph aloud at which point I’m writing some code in a room that’s been silent for 15 minutes and then I hear, “But do you think it’d really be best to do that? I mean, I can see both sides, but what are your thoughts…” And then she looks at me for my opinion.
If you can have lunch with one person, who would it be, what would you eat and what would you talk about?
Tracy: Considering we are on the verge of seeking out a Series A round and the fact that we are on the hunt for pretty awesome investors, right now I would like to have lunch with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. I’m not sure if Mila has any say in what Ashton invests in, but they seem like two normal people and I think Chris and I would have fun chatting with them. I would eat a Vegas Roll from Sapporo in Scottsdale because who doesn’t love sushi and plus it’s THE best sushi roll I’ve ever had. (In case you’re curious, yes, I did flik it.) We would talk about how Ashton would be a perfect investor for flik – he’s invested in some video apps and The Hunt, which is a social shopping app and we would just all agree on what a great team we’ll all make.
Chris: This may sound like I’m kidding, but my answer would be Jesus. I’m not wavering on that one, but since Tracy answered with two people, it looks like our reservation would be full. I’d still hopefully really enjoy Mila’s company and Ashton is just so dreamy it would be fun to try to have a conversation with my wife and have her not hear a word I said.
What are your short-term goals for flik? How do you measure success?
Tracy: Short term goals right now is to secure funding from some pretty awesome, strategic investors to help us grow our user base and get our web platform up and running so even non-iPhone people can enjoy flik. This may seem like an odd answer, but we really go with our gut when it comes to success. If it “feels” right and “feels” good, then we have been successful. Obviously having a million new fliks in a day will “feel” like great success, too.
Chris: We measure success by the number of times our moms “like” one of our posts on Facebook or “endorse” one of our skills on LinkedIn. It’s been a process, but we’re slowing creeping into 4-digit territory, which will be a big milestone for us as individuals. As for flik, we want to walk past a couple in the mall and hear the husband or wife say “hey, open up flik for me and find that one pair of shoes I wanted to buy.” Cause it would be really nice to have some free time and just go to a mall.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
Tracy: Go with your gut and follow through. I think Chris does a good job talking about what we think of building a business and moving forward, so I’m going to revert to him:
Chris: For me it’s more of a mindset that helps guide us than a specific quote. We often remind ourselves everyone else out there is a real people with real problems, just like us. In baseball, whether as teammates or friends, or through acquaintances, we’d bump into some of the best-known players in the game. These were guys and their wives that growing up I would have stuttered to ask for their autograph, but now when we’d meet them, to be perfectly honest, they weren’t bigger than life. They were people. Most were really nice. Some were jerks. Some were having bad days. Others were shy. But over and over again, they were normal, nice people. Yes, they were “superstars”, but they were people.
In business, it’s intimidating to think, “Are we really ready to be the founders or the CEO and CTO of the next big thing in social media? Are we going to be innovators in the industry and run a business and hire people and get up on stages and unveil products or features or wear hoodies to meetings? That can’t be us, right? That’s for other people.” More and more we talk ourselves out of that negative thinking and center ourselves by knowing that the guys on stage, the innovators, the hoodie-wearers are just normal people, too. They get paper cuts, they leave the toilet seat up. They spill food on their shirt and get speeding tickets. We can do that. We are doing that. We are those people (minus the speeding ticket part). Let’s do this!