Flogd - Sell Securely Anwhere on Web

Today we showcase the story of another successful startup and entrepreneur, Phillip Kingston, Co-Founder & CEO, of Flogd

Flogd is an Australian-based company that allows anyone to create a shop to sell stuff anywhere you can paste code. Sell from blogs, websites, and social networking sites like MySpace. It provides its users with a shopping cart system that handles postage, taxes and processing of the sale. It also partners with other companies to offer Flogd services natively in other applications.

Let us explore what Philip has to say about his venture Flogd and his thoughts on entrepreneurship and innovation coming out of Australia. This is what he has to say:

• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
I am a 22-year-old student at the University of Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Commerce. I am interested in human behaviour, social and environmental sustainability, and, I suppose, technology. I am a programmer by trade but much prefer strategy and business problem-solving - so I do more of it.

I am the CEO of Flogd and I am also the Vice-Chairman of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership

• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
Flogd was co-founded by Edward Thomson and myself. It all started on a phone call between Ed and myself. Ed said to me “I have an idea..”

• How long it took before it was up and running?
6 months. We both took a semester off uni so we could pursue it full-time. The main reason for this is because we kept changing (read: improving) our product and our service offering.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
To ultimately allow people to monetize their web traffic (blogs, websites, etc) with product sales and commissions.

• What services it provides for consumer or customers?
Flogd is an integrated and full-featured portable shopping cart system. Flogd handles taxes and shipping costs and has a user-friendly control panel for product, tax and shipping management.

• What type of customers you are targeting?
Anyone who has web traffic can find products to sell with our partner sites and sell. Customers can also sell their own products either in isolation or with products from our partners. We are targeting people of average technical proficiency, they mustn’t need any specialised computer skills.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
We’ve tried a lot of different avenues, but the best is word of mouth, particularly through forums. We’ve used Google AdWords and fairly aggressive press strategies. Nothing competes with a recommendation from a faithful Flogd user to a forum.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
We have a few metrics for this including the number of users, the number of page views, press, and goodwill.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
There are no Australian competitors. Our main competition comes from Silicon Valley. It’s challenging keeping up with Silicon Valley all the way out here - but it allows us to constantly improve our product and service for our consumers.

• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
We use all the standard web-development programming languages and software. PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, HTML, Flash (ActionScript) and CSS. Everything is custom-built - we don’t use any platforms.

• Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
Everything except Flash is open source.

What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using? Linux derivative operating system, Apache software, MySQL database

• What’s your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
Web start-ups are not too tough. You need to know the technology in-house. If you have to pay upfront for the initial technology development then it’s going to be expensive and the product will never be exactly as you want it. If you are not tech savvy, find someone who is and partner with them.

• What government resources have you used to help your business? And have they made an impact? Have you sought any funding?
We never thought of Government resources or funding.

• What do you think the government (federal and state) should do to improve the culture of innovation and the telecom industry?
Yes, although it's easy to bash the government. Rudd seems to value innovation and entrepreneurship and seems to be trying to develop the Australian scene. Brumby is trying to establish Geelong as a new tech centre. We will have to wait and see on that one.

• How many business partners do you have?
I have one business partner, Edward Thomson, and he is amazing. He is very intelligent and a good character, the two most important attributes. He keeps it fun when it gets tough. He is also a very creative fellow and works out hard things like design and usability.

• Any external funding – from VC, Govt, Self-funded
Self-funded by my business partner coupled with a lot of free man-hours

• Which City you are based in?

• Do you have any business advisor/mentor?
Initially, I made sure that I had a lot of people around whom I could ask for guidance and advice. The real value of a mentor is knowing when you’ve actually made a mistake - most of the time mistakes are very hard to identify and attribute to yourself. Mentors can slingshot you up the learning curve.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
If you know what you are doing in the web technology scene, go for it. If you don’t, find someone who does. In any case, I’d also advise that people don’t do it alone.

Thanks, Phillip for sharing your thoughts with us. All the best for the future.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation, and tech trends check this out our coverage on interviews can be found here