There’s nothing like a good story that starts and continues to gather momentum at every turn, in local company Flip Phone we have a perfect example. The birth child of Cape Town based entrepreneur Conor Copas, Flip Phone essentially allows customers to sell their phone in a very easy and trusted manner via the company’s website. Flip Phone refurbishes the devices and lists them on their online store at great prices.
We mentioned that it has a great story, well, it’s actually more like both the company and its owner do. We explored this and more when we got the opportunity to catch up with Conor who was kind enough to indulge us:
To kick things off, because you sound like you’ve had quite the interesting upbringing, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Cape Town born and with an Irish heritage. Studied marketing at varsity and stumbled into the eCommerce industry after varsity. It all started with Groupon South Africa in 2014 and from there, my interests in online business flourished. I’ve luckily been fortunate enough to further my interest in online business and eCommerce at Hyperli which is the country’s leading local deals provider and then with Faithful to Nature who are South Africa’s leading organic and natural online store.
Leading directly from the previous question, please tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
Over the years in eCommerce and understanding the local online landscape, I started exploring ideas behind how to use tech to bring archaic or non existing services into the present and how to fast track their growth. I originally wanted to build out a platform that catered to selling vehicles hassle free and safely but the input costs and capital required were exorbitant.
I luckily had great mentors who, after raising the car selling dilemma with, suggested mobile phones. Following on from that, came the idea to capture the second hand phone market which was relatively untouched and a grey area when it came to being secure, transparent and ethical.
With the rising US Dollar to the Rand, the price of tech was skyrocketing and this opened the doors to a promising used/pre-owned cell phone market. The decision was made early on to be a tech company that buys and sells phones compared to the existing archaic platforms in the market that sold and bought phones using tech. A subtle but important distinction!
Flip Phone, did you establish it as a result of a gap you identified in the market or was there another reason?
The rate at which cell phone manufacturers are releasing new models compared to a few years back, coupled with the weakening Rand to USD led to a huge movement towards customers looking to recoup the cost on the older models or simply trading in their upgrade and making use of the previous model for an extended period of time.
When it comes to selling your phone today, there are tons of trust issues with 3rd party websites or social media platforms. In SA especially, consumers look for transparent, trustworthy and hassle free experiences and Flip Phone is the answer to all 3. Since launching, we’ve seen the feedback point directly to this gap being filled and we’re happy to be filing it.
Being the owner of a tech company, we’re guessing you are passionate about tech in general? When did that passion begin exactly?
It was hard not to notice the upstarts and tech giants coming out of Silicon Valley/California during my school days. Some great movies were made on some of the bigger names and from there my interests peaked. I follow the news covering both the local and international tech scene constantly and this has stoked the fire when it comes to building out great tech here in Cape Town.
You already have an established and successful entity, where to from here for you? Are you looking to expand further with Flip Phone or in other ways perhaps?
We’ve got a great team behind Flip Phone and we know where we are heading and what we want to achieve. The last 2 years have given us key insight into what South Africans look for in a brand and service and on that point, we hope to find out what the rest of Sub Saharan Africa look for too!
To wrap up, is there any advice you can offer other budding tech and general entrepreneurs out there, especially during this uncertain time?
If you’ve got a good idea, run with it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect, it will never be. Simply get a viable product or service out there and take it step by step. With the current pandemic and lockdown in place, more and more consumers are heading online to satisfy their needs. It’s an uncertain time and there is no sign of when life will be back to normal, so if you are in the fortunate position where you have extra time on your hands, put it to good use.
The best start-ups and businesses are usually the ones that were started from a gap identified, a want or a need that had to be fulfilled. Flip Phone is a great example of that, a simple concept but one that is very much bearing fruit. To find out more about the company as well as its online store then check hereand here. Our thanks to Conor for allowing us into his world.