A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words or $2M in Funding for this NYC Startup



Flipsicle is a simple social app that helps you get to know people better. You ask a question in words and get photo answers. And you might just get to know people better when you see the world through their eyes.

The company was co-founded by renowned artist Raghava KK and educator Netra Srikanth, and considering who their investors are (including Esther Dyson and Whatsapp’s Neerai Arora), and that literally trillions of photos are posted over social each year, this may well be a snapshot into the future of social.

Raghava tells us more about his vision and his experiences with the funding process.

Who were your investors?

Our investors are amazing entrepreneurs and angel investors. Some are

-Gautam Godhwani (co-founder of Simply Hired)

-John Maeda (design partner at Kleiner-Perkins, former head of RISD)

-Neeraj Arora (of Whatsapp fame)

-Vishal Gondal (rockstar Indian entrepreneur)

-Esther Dyson

-Linda Stone

Tell us about your product or service. 

Our product is very simple. You get a question in words and we want you to answer with a photo.

How is it different?

On Flipsicle, every picture is a point of view. It’s unlike Facebook, where the photo is about what happened, the party I went to, the people I hangout with etc. And it’s unlike Instagram, where the photo is about beauty.

Flipsicle is using the photo as a unit of conversation. We want people to think and talk in pictures.

What sort of pictures do people share most – scenery? Food? People?

Earlier, people shared mostly food, selfies, events, beautiful inspiring things, objects of beauty. Flipsicle is creating new photo opportunities, where the most mundane things can mean something. For example, in the quest “Does not belong,” you could add a photo of a pencil in a jar with a bunch of pens.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We think that Flipsicle will be mostly adopted by 13 to 16 year olds, as they are very comfortable with taking pictures and are unafraid to express themselves.

What’s your business model?

We are exploring a bunch of revenue models right now, including in-app purchases, freemium, etc. We value our users’ data and want to make sure that we are not intrusive with advertising. We are trying to invent a new business model. We have some insights that we will share once we are ready!

What was the funding process like?

I spent around 10 days raising my initial funding. There were a few things that I was very clear about.

  1. I would only raise smart capital. Since I’m a first time entrepreneur, I wanted to help mitigate risks and learn from my investors’ knowledge and experience.
  2. Since I am inventing a new medium and creating something completely new, that does not exist, I wanted to make sure that I use my seed capital to discover and invent a new business model, not present business models that may or may not apply. I shared with my investors ideas of how I plan to go about doing this.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

It takes a certain kind of person to truly invest in new ideas. Most people like to ride waves. There are a lot more questions to answer when you are trying to invent something new, and even the process of pitching my idea helped me to think through both my vision and strategy a lot.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

There are some trends and behaviors that led my investors to get excited about our vision:

-There is a new exciting behavior of taking photographs, with over a trillion photographs being taken a year.

-We are consuming more and more information visually.

-We are consuming information as smaller and denser units. The photograph is the smallest and most dense unit of information.

-Tinder is a great example of this. People are getting smarter and smarter about how they want to appear visually on the internet, and people are making decisions based on visual information alone.

-Emoticons are becoming more and more popular. We believe that thinking in pictures will soon be a natural evolution of this.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We have a bunch of hypotheses that we are going to test. We want to make sure that we find our core audience, who think in pictures.   We are hoping to achieve product market fit.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Raise capital when you are ready not to hedge your bets. Have perfect clarity of how you plan to spend the capital and when you are convinced that you are ready to invest everything you have in making your idea work.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

A startup lives many lives. As a founder of a startup, one of the important things is to pay close attention to how the company is moving and to where the true value of the vision lies. All I can say is that we are have our feelers out, are putting out products, and keeping a close watch on where this will take us.

What’s your idea of a picture-perfect escape in or near NYC?

Going to the Catskills and sitting on a farm. You get to see such a different life than what you see everyday in the city. Every time I go, it’s so amazing that we feel tempted to move there!

About the author: AlleyWatch

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