Sharing economy platforms like Airbnb, ebay, Uber and Lyft have no doubt disrupted their respective industries and there are so many adding up each year. It is expected that by 2020 the global economy sharing market size will reach to more than $330bn, that is understandable considering they cashed on efficiency and empowering ordinary people which resulted in explosive growth.
There is one industry (apart from a few others) that still require an alternative to age-old practices it follows and that industry is courier delivery service. We know how costly and at times inefficient it is to send an international parcel that also consume a lot of our time. Recently I came across Flype, a decentralized courier platform in the making that’ll be much faster, cheaper and environmental friendly.
I talked to Flype’s co-founder and CEO Yousif Touza, as he talked to BlockPublisher and shared his company vision and how they’re using blockchain technology to become a standard global courier service.
- Please tell us about your and other co-founder’s background.
Yousif: Yeah absolutely! So my background is mainly within business development and entrepreneurship. I’ve founded three companies in total, Flype being the third one. Dani Daryaweesh is the other co-founder and he is the CTO and I’d say that he is one of the most talented software developer that I’ve ever met. When we started Flype last year in February, Dani was planning to move to Dublin to work for Microsoft and right before that I pitched him the idea of Flype.
- So how you came up with the idea behind Flype?
Yousif: I was working in Japan for my previous company Global Computers and developed some very good friendships there so I also used to travel a lot from there to Sweden. In February last year, I was sending a really important package of around 300 gram to Japan. I got up early and went straight to postal service office, it was Monday and I asked them ‘will this package get to Tokyo by Friday?’ They replied ‘yeah absolutely but in that case you’ve to get our premium service and your package will reach Tokyo within 3-4 days’.
Their premium package costed me $80 which is expensive considering the size of the parcel but I had no other choice. One week passed and my package couldn’t even got there, so in in the second week, I entered the tracking number they gave on their website and found out the my package is at the same postal service office I went to. It was confusing so I went again to their office and showed them my package status and that confused them too.
So after 30 minutes, the manager came to me and said ‘I’m sorry to say but it seems that we’ve lost your package’. In frustration I asked him how that happened and he said ‘yeah these things do happen sometimes and there’s really nothing we can do about it. The only thing you can do is to file a complaint.’ I went home and wrote a detailed complaint letter to them. The reply I got was ‘We will look at your case after 30 days’ and that’s where I lost it.
I’ve been to that that plane to Tokyo so many times and so many people travel from Stockholm to Tokyo everyday, if only I knew one of them who would take my package it would’ve got there the next day! That’s when the idea behind Flype, the sharing economy platform hit me. No company has been able to change the international delivery market today. Every single day there are thousands of people that goes to every city of the world and many of them would be willing to take a package along, deliver to the destination and earn money for the service. By doing so, they would decrease their travel cost significantly and at the same time creating a delivery service that is faster, cheaper, more reliable and environmental friendly than anything or anyone in the market today.
DHL, Fedex and few other big companies control the entire postal market and people have no other alternative. We’re bringing Flype that’ll definitely be the alternative.
- That’s great! Have you tested the idea before taking on this project?
Yousif: When me and Dani started working on the idea we knew that we’re not the first people to think about this concept, there must have been someone who thought about it but apparently they failed. But we wanted to understand why they failed in the first place. So we searched people who tried to implement this concept. We found a few companies, contacted their founders, spoke to them and we figured out the reason why they all failed. The one thing is that no company has been able to solve the security and trust problem associated to this concept.
We started with 5 months of intense research and development period where we had some amazing discussions with some of the leading actors of this industry who helped us solve this problem and we became the first company in the world to do so. Then we wanted to test this concept even though we had the solution but we wanted to test it that is it just us who are dreaming about an alternative to international delivery is there an actual demand. We did a market test and sent 500 packages to 27 cities from Stockholm and the result was astonishing! It was way above our expectation, travelers and senders loved the service and many of the travelers covered their entire travel cost and even earned money on top! People also sent their parcel across another continent in one day and loved our service. So public response was amazing and they kept asking us when will we launch the platform. That was when we realized the potential of this project and built a team!
- How big is Flype’s team and where does the platform stand at the moment?
Yousif: We are 14 people as of today, we’ve built the platform prototype and we opened our first seed round just about 3 weeks ago. Since then it’s been crazy as we went to Malta blockchain summit and Flype won an award there for being one of the most promising and a unique project. So we got a free booth and VIP tickets to exhibit Flype at the summit. The interest in Flype was way above our expectations as speakers, investors and speculators kept coming at our booth wanting to hear more about us. The word about Flype spread a lot from the summit and we’re termed ‘the innovative delivery company’. We partnered with John McAfee who is a very known personality in tech industry.
- What will be the role of John McAfee with Flype and are you in talks with investors?
Yousif: John McAfee joined our team as an advisor and we’ve received investment interest from international investors that we’re currently evaluating as negotiations are going on. The past few days have been extraordinary and we’re still trying to absorb things as we’ve also been contacted by several media agencies for interviews and stuff.
- Do you think things are happening at the right time for Flype?
Yousif: Absolutely! We’re really grateful specially to Mr. McAfee in joining our team as he’ll bring a lot of value from his knowledge and expertise since he’s a genius promoter and we’re very excited about it.
- Let’s talk about the platform, who’ll determine the pricing of the package as they come in different sizes?
Yousif: The cost will be entirely determine by the traveler, since it’s a free market. There is no need for the parcel to be packed in a box or something like that. I’ve to tell you that we want to get rid of the concept of using cardboard boxes or packaging since it’s harming our ecosystem. Every year DHL and Fedex deliver 11.6 billion packages alone. meaning 11.6 billion card boxes are used annually by just two companies alone and millions of trees are brought down every year.
With traditional service you’ll have to provide measurements of the package that is really irritating at times and an unnecessary hassle even if you’re sending a jacket. Flype has 4 sizes; small, medium, large and extra large, traveler will determine the price of each size before placing an ad over the platform.
- Since you’re using smart contracts and Flype token will fuel the economy, what features will be added on the platform?
Yousif: Well the use of the platform will be very simple, with one click people will be able to cash-out and cash-in. We’re developing wallet and will incorporate an internal exchange on the platform, where a user would be able to cash out very simply with one click without any prior knowledge of cryptocurrency.
- When shall we expect the initial release of the platform and what challenges you are facing currently?
Yousif: Our current estimate for the release of a full working platform is Q3 2019. Challenge that we’re facing currently is managing the crazy amount of interest that we’re getting. The problem all sharing economy platforms face is building the user base. One of the biggest challenge is to build a global community and it’s something that we’ll be able to do is with the help of influencers.
- How the sender will be able to track his/her package since there wont be any postal service involved with Flype?
Yousif: The postal industry is old and it requires innovation immediately. They don’t even have real-time tracking, whereas Flype is going to be the first company to do that where the sender will be able to see over map where his/her package is even if it’s moving in streets.
- So that means Flype will be tracking the traveler?
Yousif: Of course! But everything will be in accordance with GDPR and with the travelers consent. Privacy and security is something that is our priority and is something embedded in our values therefore, traveler will have the option to turn on/off tracking at their free will.
- How big is Flype’s development team and where is it based?
Yousif: So our team is based in different countries and our developers are one of the finest. They all have very solid tech backgrounds, specifically in blockchain development. Developers are based in Russia whereas me and Dani are based in Sweden. I initially thought working with remote teams would be an issue but it turned out to be very beneficial because having international people working in your team, you get different views how the market is in different countries.
I’ve to tell you a very interesting thing; our team in Russia told us that there’s a saying there that states, ” If I want to send you cheese via post, I’ll send a carton of milk”. That gives you the idea how terrible postal services are. Every time we talk about our startup to a Russian, they all tell us ‘you guys are doing amazing work we really need this kinda thing’. That’s why we have a very multi-dimensional team as our development team is in Russia, we’re in Sweden and our community manager and content writer is in the US.
- What are the bottle-necks Flype is facing as far as the development of the platform?
Yousif: Most of the projects you speak to and what they do is that they promise to turn theories in to reality and many of them fail because of that. The beautiful thing about Flype is that we’re not promising to turn a theory in to a reality, we’re not promising to achieve something that is extraordinary or impossible to achieve. We’re utilizing existing technology to build something that has a very high demand. We’ve got a pretty solid tech team thus so far we haven’t face any big problem.
- Being a young entrepreneur, what you think about the future of blockchain?
Yousif: I certainly believe that blockchain is the future. It’s a revolutionary technology that is going to disrupt many industries with immutability that comes with it. Without blockchain, Flype would be very difficult to build. I’m sure as more people start to develop products on blockchain technology, we’ll be able to see some new horizons.