Founders, differentiate creatively & compete wisely to reduce failure rate

In an interview with Venture Mirror, Paul shared how Flipidea differentiates itself against its competitors.

Founders, differentiate creatively & compete wisely to reduce failure rate

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Author's blurb: Failure isn’t a strange terminology that we aren’t accustomed towards. In life, we face several challenges; some we overcome while succumbing to others. It’s a process of learning from failures and correcting those mistakes.

The same implies to budding companies or startups that have failed to achieve their goal. However, analyzing the failure is quite tricky if you’re looking for a core analytical 'Point-of-View'.

But to assist in this matter, Flipidea (‘flee-pee-dia’) can be of great help.

Flipidea is a data analytics company that conducts a post-mortem review of failed companies and provides a technical overview of the failures.

The company offers several criteria for analyzing failures, including funding sources, idea validation, investors' portfolio, competitive analysis, and more.

Speaking with Paul Lee, Co-Founder, and CEO of Flipidea, Venture Mirror got an exciting insight into the company. Learn more from our conversation below.


Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): Paul, what is your startup/product/venture about? Give us a brief description of it.

Paul Lee: Flipidea is a Data-as-a-Service platform offering analytical information about business failures

Put simply, we analyze business failures.

Did you know that every year more than 75% of new and small companies around the world shut down?

In the US alone, over 360,000 companies shut down every year (US Small Business Administration, 2019), and in 2017, 898,000 out of 1 million newly established businesses shut down (US Small Business Administration, 2020).

Evidently, the business shutdown rate is staggeringly high.

This is why we built our data retrieval and human-in-the-loop systems to monitor and gather information on shuttered businesses, and perform post-mortem analysis to understand their reasons for shutdown.

We do this for our audience to learn from insightful hindsight’s, so they can reduce costly mistakes, make prudent strategies, innovate creatively, and fundraise strategically.

Flipidea offers analytical information about business failures
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Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): How many co-founders are there? Please introduce them and their backgrounds.

Paul Lee: Thankfully, my co-founder and I complement each other with our different expertise and experiences.

As our Chief Researcher, she leads our R&D in the areas of data mining, artificial intelligence, and metaheuristics.

In her last post-doctoral research, she explored approaches in evolutionary computation for optimising data clustering with particle swarm optimisation algorithms.

Prior to founding Flipidea, I was a founding director of 2 tech startups in Beijing. One is a mobile game development startup which I exited from in August 2017. The other was a legal AI chatbot startup that flopped in 2016.

Between 2013 and 2016, I co-owned a multifaceted business that offered investment advisory, commodity trading, and consultancy services to Beijing’s state-owned enterprises.

For instance, we served our clients to secure and develop international EPCF and PPP projects in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Between 2011 and 2014, I was in the business conferencing industry.

For instance, we were endorsed by governmental stakeholders to organise the APEC Women Leadership Forum in Beijing (2013-2014), and were also involved in the APEC CEO Summits and ASEAN business fora.

Paul in APEC Women Leadership Forum 2014 in Beijing, China
Paul concluding the APEC Women Leadership Forum 2014 in Beijing, China

Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you to do this?

Paul Lee: I believe most of us, if not all, are no stranger to failure.

Personally, I’ve failed my parents many times, failed plenty of modules in uni, 2 failed marriage engagements, lost money in failed projects bids and business ventures, it goes on and on.

So the idea of a database with collections of bankruptcy and failed business case studies was seeded when I heard Ijad Madisch shared how he co-founded ResearchGate at the DLD Conference 2014 in Munich.

According to Ijad, more than 90% of the data created in scientific experiments are negative results and these data rarely get published, which led to much research redundancy.

Now imagine if Thomas Edison had access to the results of the failed filament experiments shared by his British counterparts, he would have scientifically solved the challenges of the light bulb design much sooner and with lesser failed attempts.

DLD'14 Chairmen and speaker dinner at Munich Residenz, Germany
DLD'14 Chairmen and Speakers' dinner at the Munich Residenz, Germany

Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): Who is your target market? Why do you think your product will appeal to them?

Paul Lee: According to our own research, non-innovative new and small companies generally shut down within 1-3 years or 3-5 years of operation.

Therefore, we’re primarily serving first-time founders at the very early-stage, and budding founders at the early-stage of their startup development.

Most business studies and entrepreneurial research seem to have a natural tendency to focus on success stories (Madsen & Desai, 2010), and less on failure stories which many result in a survivorship bias that can lead to overstating or understating the predictability of events (Brown et. al., 1992).

Therefore, we’re encouraging founders to also learn from failed businesses than admiring successful ones.

Reason being, we will naturally copy a tried and tested successful business that makes money, no?

In doing so, what is our unique value proposition?

Ultimately, all of our solutions are designed to guide founders differentiate creatively and compete wisely to reduce our failure rate.

Flipidea: startups' lifespan based on 1,000 shuttered companies (1 January 2021)
Flipidea: startups' lifespan based on 1,000 shuttered companies

Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): Who are your competitors? How are you different from them?

Paul Lee: Due to our unique value proposition against our direct competitors and similar companies, it’s hard to give a straight answer.

Autopsy (dormant) and Failory used to be our direct competitors before we released our advanced built-in analytics features. Even though they publish post-mortem stories, they’re more of a media company than a tech startup.

Importantly, we have larger datasets due to our intelligent data retrieval systems we’ve built, which we’re working toward autonomous data monitoring, collection, and wrangling.

On the other hand, the previously similar companies such as Crunchbase, Pitchbook, Tracxn, Mattermark, Itjuzi, and so on, are now our direct competitors because we’re all Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) startups.

That said, Flipidea is the only startup that offers business failure data (primary data assets) and analytics to our customer segments.

By the way, Flipidea DaaS is merely a by-product of Flipidea SaaS, which helps founders validate and build successful businesses.

Flipidea's solutions offering
Flipidea's solutions offering

Prasad Bambarkar (Venture Mirror): What are the future plans with your product/startup? Any new features you are planning on?

Paul Lee: Before we build our Flipidea SaaS MVP to validate our product-market fit, we’re building our Flipidea DaaS 3.0 on a single environment for your better experience.

In the coming months, we’ll be releasing the following new features on our Flipidea DaaS 3.0:

  • idea checker 3.0
  • pitch deck analysis
  • competitors map
  • startup costs simulator
  • business valuation simulator
  • capitalisation table simulator
  • competitive analysis (advanced)
  • bankruptcies analysis

This interview is permitted to be published for our audience which was originally published by Prasad Bambarkar from Venture Mirror on 19 February 2021.

Venture Mirror is a publication by the Insider Media Corp, covering startup, technology and business news from the streets of Bangalore to the streets of Palo Alto across different domains.

Last edited on 26 March 2021.