How Flippa hit $100 million in turnover in its first four years

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What have been the main drivers behind your growth?

 

When we started, the idea came from our customers and we’ve been adamant in listening to them.

 

We want to make it easier for them, so we are careful to test everything. It’s far too easy to think you’re the expert. The customers are the experts, so they need to test these things out.

 

One thing we have tried out is an evaluation tool, as are frequently asked how much is a site worth.

 

Sellers want to know how to value a site. So we have created a tool that uses mathematical modelling so that you can type in a domain name and be given some sense of what it’s worth.

 

We went around in circles seeing how people used it and then tweaked it. It’s like the lean start-up cycle – we refine as feedback comes in.

 

It’s a great way to get people into the market, because it shows your idea has value. If you’ve got 1,000 people reading your site about cats, it gives you an idea about value of that site.

 

On top of this, there’s definitely a broader trend towards the democratisation of work, where people are working for themselves rather than large companies.

 

Our site gives people the tools to work for themselves. You don’t have to buy too many site that earn you $100 a week before you make decent living.

 

Much like Odesk, eLance and Freelancer.com, this can give you a good supplementary income stream.

 

What about marketing?

 

Marketing is something we’re looking at now. I’m a software developer by background, as are a lot of us, so I like building features.

 

What we’ve never been perfect at is marketing; actually getting it out there and advertising ourselves. We are hiring people on that side of things now. We aren’t experts and we are lucky we haven’t needed to be.

 

We are now at the point where we think ‘we’ve got a great product here, let’s tell people about it.’ Word of mouth has driven us so far, which is a wonderful thing. But it’s very hard to gauge that. It’s hard for my computer brain to deal with.

 

How have customer needs influenced your business?

 

We have tweaked pricing a few times and the upgrades. We have a success fee that directly aligns our interests, which is really useful.

 

We have a success fee cap of $2,000, where it’s fixed at the moment. It was $3,000 but we decided to change that. Things can change quickly, that’s the good thing about the internet.

 

Pricing is an interesting one because people want to pay zero. But if people have problems or can’t do something, we want to know about it.

 

As the company grows, there’s the challenge of getting information flowing back to you. We have customer support team, but I want to know what that info is myself, so I can fix it.

 

It’s very important that we have contact with users – we love to know what they are thinking. We survey them regularly.

 

Being the GM of a three person team isn’t really a GM. You are dealing with customers every day. I’m personally concerned about losing touch of that as we grow – it’s important to not forget your roots.

 

How do you filter the good ideas from the bad ones?

 

It’s easy to think you know best when you’ve run a business for a few years, so it’s important to give yourself a reality check.

 

I’m not the one buying and selling sites, so you need to keep in touch with people who are. It’s important to not lose touch.

 

It’s not like we sit down once a year to work out our strategy. We’re a lean internet business, so the strategy is changing frequently to suit our goals.

 

There are a couple of products we are working on now. One is a website portfolio management system, because we know lot of users have more than one website and it gets tricky to manage

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When you have more than one site, you need data quickly, if you have virus, broken links, rankings and so on.

 

We know that’s what people want because they tell us. At the moment we have a free trial for this tool, as we want customers in and get their opinions.

 

But if it’s a useful product and it creates value for users, they’ll happy to share some of that value with us. So it could be a standalone thing.

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