It is no secret that global companies such as Amazon have become increasingly dominant in the retail market whilst the likes of Facebook have enjoyed a strangle hold on social media.
The buying power of the retail giants put small and medium businesses at a serious disadvantage and the advertising models sold by the dominant social networks do not provide reasonable value for smaller enterprises.
While these developments have brought benefits for the consumer in terms of price and delivery, as well as online connectivity, it has raised serious questions about competition, dependency and advertising data manipulation.
These are not new issues and the trends are not just confined to retail and social media but can be seen as a pattern in other areas of the economy. In a way, it was a need to re-establish a fair capital market and to combat dependency and imbalance that led to the creation of cryptocurrencies in the first place.
During this commercial and monetary evolution process, decentralisation has become a mantra for ICOs. With some justification ‘decentralisation’ is seen as key in reducing external security issues and internal corruption while at the same time promoting consensus and inclusivity.
Although the vast majority of new companies relate this purely to blockchain technology, FlipNpik have also used the concept by applying it into the ethos of their business model in an attempt to provide consumers and smaller merchants a voice in the current world of commerce.
Concept and White-Paper
FlipNpik’s whitepaper bills itself as “a blockchain-based collaborative social media tailored for local business and structured to reward both businesses and consumers. At the core is a desire to enhance local commerce, promote community interaction and responsible consumption.
FlipNpik’s comprehensive whitepaper outlines how this is to be achieved through incentivising all of the various participants. Through this app-based social network, users are rewarded for promoting their favourite retailers by payment in the project’s native token as well as each time they introduce a new client to the platform or to the app itself.
A reward system known as the Flip Social (FS) will be employed within the internal ecosystem and a FlipNpik token (FNP) will be used for acquiring various goods and services on the platform.
Initially the FS will be exchangeable for the primary FNP but will also be used to gain discounts, play games and receive ‘surprise rewards’.
The ecosystem structure is triangular with Users, Businesses and Partners/Ambassadors forming the three corners of solidarity.
For merchants, an integrated solution is offered that encourages them to implement communication and targeted marketing strategies. A premium level is also available for added benefits.
Consumers add value to the system by being co-creators and contribute to establish merchant profiles as well as to boost their content and the community aspect.
Users who wish to go the extra mile can become a Partner/Ambassador for the program if they deposit a refundable amount of FNP (500 tokens).
They are then tasked with keeping a business of their choice active and visible on the application and in return they will receive up to 20% of the budget allocated by the business for premium services offered within the ecosystem.
FlipNpik have elected to utilise the Stellar platform instead of Ethereum for token delivery.
The management team believe Stellar is better suited for the role because of its scalability and low fees, particularly for micro-transactions, on the network.
In the whitepaper, emphasis is placed upon nine members of the core team, all of them with well-documented LinkedIn profiles and several with traceable, wider digital footprints.
Collectively, there is considerable experience in the fields of leadership, finance, entrepreneurship, project management and public relations.
There is also an ecological, community or cultural leaning amongst several of the team which should strengthen their personal resolve, interest and ownership of the project.
Technically, the main players are CTO Serge Helou and UX/UI Developer Artem Shatalov. They bring strong, relevant and complimentary talents to the table, including developing e-commerce loyalty programs.
One area that may give concern is the lack of a specific blockchain expert within the headline team but this may be mitigated by the fact that the team counts Laurent Leloup among its advisors, a serial blockchain entrepreneur who will likely have the necessary networks to assembling a competent development team.
The advisors more generally appear to bring strength in depth to the project, counting Mobile Business Advisor Jason Hung and Irish News Tech Editor Simon Cocking who, between them, have a track record of bringing over 130 ICOs to market.
The users themselves and area Ambassadors will be incentivised to raise the business profile but initially more centrally directed coverage will be needed to generate sufficient volume.
Around a quarter of the funds raised in the ICO will be allocated for sales and marketing, so there is a clear understanding that reaching the target audience, both vendor and consumer, will ultimately determine whether this idea flies or fails.
The whitepaper demonstrates they have planned for the roll out but currently, awareness in the project seems low and little hype has been created around the project.
A number of articles are beginning to appear on crypto-related websites as well as their own blog posts and a smattering of Youtube videos are joining them but this has not yet been enough to create rampant investor interest.
The FlipNpik Telegram group for example has sign-ups in the hundreds rather than the thousands you would expect for this type of community-driven enterprise.
Signs of activity can be seen through their Twitter feed though and posts are attracting increasing numbers of views.
However, at the time of writing, this project is still in its embryonic stages and there are still several months to go before the actual public sale begins. That should represent plenty of time for its pre-ICO marketing to kick into high gear to stimulate wider interest
Observers interested in contributing to the ICO will no doubt be keeping a critical eye on how the company responds to this challenge to gauge the longer term effectiveness of the embedded marketing strategy.
Tokenomics and RoadMap
The 40,000 ETH hardcap sought in the ICO, on top of an additional 60,000 from the private and pre-sale, could be seen as being on the high side for this type of project.
Reassuringly, the bounty and management quota will be released over 1 year to ensure commitment from the team after the launch phase is completed.
The FNP token price is given as 1 ETH = 3,500 FNP which equates to 1 FNP = 0.0002857 ETH.
While the roadmap highlights key events from 2016-17 and sets out the planned agenda through 2018 and into next year, it is limited to bullet points and several of the goals would benefit from expanded explanations.
The previous two years have seen the development of FlipNpik mobile app and formalisation of the Flip Social reward system.
Following this ICO, the next 18 months will focus upon market penetration into Asia and Europe utilising strategic partnerships with trade associations and agencies. The latter half of 2019 will see similar focus on the Oceania and Africa regions.
On the platform itself, advanced tagging and search functions as well as instantaneous promotions are scheduled to be added this year.
Augmented Reality integration, video 360 and 3D video are seen as an important milestones to be reached by the end of 2019.
The company’s future revenue is obviously dependent upon many factors and projections should, as always, be viewed as a guide rather than anything set in stone. According to their own market penetration assumptions though, break-even point should be reached during the third year of operation.
Minimum Viable Product
FlipNpik’s App has been field tested by Geekco Technologies for a 3 months period in the Montreal area in Quebec. Around 700 diverse businesses ranging from food outlets to beauty clinics and fitness centres to professional services signed up to be included.
The FlipNpik application is currently available free on the App and Google stores in iOS and Android and is expected to be available soon on the web.
FlipNpik has established a clear market need for its proposed product and appears to have assembled a good case for solving the dominance of global companies with deep financial reserves who saturate marketing to the exclusion of smaller, regional enterprises.
An attractive addition to both business development and social media, if FlipNpik can find the right marketing mix to attract investors it stands a chance of hitting that significant hardcap.
However, even if they fall short of the ICO target figure and the amount contributed is insufficient for the full implementation worldwide, it should be possible for the project to initially scale into targeted geographical locations.
They possess a capable team with proven advisors, a working viable product and a collaborative social media model that is capable of disrupting the current status quo.