Interview With Nick Bicanic, CEO of flikdate, Bringing The ‘Next Generation’ Of Dating Products


Name: Nick Bicanic
Position & company: FlikMedia, founder and CEO
Period of time in the role:
1 year as founder/CEO of flikdate.

Flikdate acquired by CrossBox in July 2014.

I became CEO of the new combined entity, named flikMedia.
Twitter ID: @flikdate

Describe your role and what you do.

I am one of the people on the founding team, as well as Head of Product and CEO – which means I’m responsible for shaping how the product behaves when people use it – as well setting the overall vision for the company.

Tell us a little about flikdate.

Flikdate is bringing a unique approach to men and women meeting, engaging, and really getting to know each other online – bringing it much closer to real life. Our mobile apps allow people to rapidly browse photos, or “flik” through profiles of other members, flirt through text and video messages and go on live video dates (think “speed dates”).

The flikdate concept is built on connecting people through live video-enabled flirting and dating experiences right through their smartphone. They have the ability to meet and talk safely and confidentially through our proprietary real-time video chat, video messaging, and secure text messaging, without sharing their phone number.

Our goal is to remove the odd, impersonal experience of looking at static profiles and retouched (or much younger) photos, and instead putting people together through video, so they can tell how much chemistry there is. It’s very hard to fake a live video, the way someone laughs or smiles.

How did you get into the online dating industry?

Almost by accident…

I had successfully raised money for multiple ventures in the consumer mobile space before – most recently from Google Ventures, ProFounders and BullPen, for a location sharing app called Echoecho.

One day myself and my partners were discussing mobile communication at a party and of course dating came up as a context for mobile communication. We found ourselves looking at the landscape and wondering what was working and what wasn’t – and we wondered why.

We quickly realized that the biggest problem with online dating was the static and asynchronous nature of the experience. And the inevitable disappointment when you meet someone for real and they aren’t who they seemed.

There’s a reason why we humans are hardwired to react to someone we meet within seconds, and decide whether we find them engaging and attractive or not. Centuries of evolution have irrevocably indexed us that way.

We were fascinated by this and it wasn’t hard to realise that the whole industry could benefit from a re-evaluation of their products. And we could feel that video (especially live synchronous video) represents the next generation of dating products.

Since the launch of flikdate, how has the dating industry changed? Do you think there is disillusionment towards current online dating models?

The dating marketplace is a fairly large and mature space – even larger if you include the adult marketplace and the many things that skirt both industries, e.g. Ashley Madison, Miss Travel etc.

The incumbent players in the dating space built many successful businesses from Web 1.0 and 2.0 business models. Subscription-based websites and services ranging from IAC’s, OkCupid to eHarmony worked wonders in the world of desktop and laptop PCs, and more and more people began to meet online.

Then the iPhone (and later Android) happened. And the world was forever changed.

Installing free apps became the norm. Paying subscriptions? Out the window. Long, complicated forms? Never again.

New startups popped up.

Grindr came out of nowhere and revolutionised the homosexual dating scene.

Tinder (owned by IAC, who also owns & many other dating sites) launched to great acclaim as a “hook-up” site, where it was easy to meet people for casual relationships. They proved that there is a huge demand for a better way to meet and date online.

That said – no matter how many images you swipe through in Tinder, or how many profiles you read on OkCupid – you’re not actually dating. You’re not actually getting to know people, and the disillusionment in online profiles has made people skeptical of every photo, every person they chat with online.

We believe that there is a better way. Flikdate lets you simulate the spark of what it’s actually like to go on a date, really connect with people online in an authentic way. And avoid the almost inevitable disappointment when you meet someone in person.

Why do you think mobile dating apps have a problem monetising

Consumers on mobile are conditioned for most digital things to be free (or almost free).

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Whisper, YouTube etc… The owners of these services struggle to monetise without destroying the core service and losing most of their user base. They couldn’t scale if they charged for each user or each video. And Apple has made it difficult to charge big subscriptions for “premium content”.

People aren’t conditioned to paying on their phones, and it’s too easy to download the next app with just a few flicks of their finger.

People love using their phones because it’s so fast and easy to use in small increments, waiting for the doctor, your next meeting, or even when tonight’s date is running late.

Those companies that have been successful monetising mobile are those that understand this, and leverage this as a strength.

Where do you think the future of online dating lies?

With flikdate of course 😉

1. Mobile is here and people are on it. Most people would rather use their phone than power up their computer.

2. Products that are easy to pick up and learn, but fun to keep coming back to. You don’t need 1000 features to create a personal connection online. But creating real connections isn’t obvious. Video is just one part of this.

3. Security is critical. We’ve already seen bad things happen on other platforms when people don’t have good intentions, but protecting your members from stalkers or worse needs to be top of mind for every site.

Considering your background in location sharing, what improvements can dating services make in this area?

Lots. Location sharing is still much more of a hassle than it needs to be – but frankly, trying to solve location sharing (e.g. suggesting places to meet for a date and showing people nearby) is putting the cart before the horse. We have to solve helping people discover chemistry between each other first – that’s the challenge we are addressing with flikdate.

Do you think we will see a convergence between the world of social networking/chat apps and dating services, or will the two remain separate?

I think they will never be the same “apps”, but they will continue to share features and learn from each other.

Some of today’s dating sites started out as chat messaging that people used to meet other singles. And the idea of sending “kisses”, “notes” or other emoticons came from some of the popular instant messaging platforms.

At the core, people on dating apps want to know that the other people are there to meet new singles and future romantic interests. Social networks are about sharing and chatting with a wide range of people, from close friends to already-committed friends to complete strangers, without it all being about dating. Each has its focus, meaning and user experience.

Outside of dating, what is the brand you admire the most?

I’m tempted to say Apple, but mostly because they’ve successfully created a tech brand without ever making anything truly revolutionary. Apple is a phenomenal marketing company.

I loved Nike growing up (the book “The story of Nike and the men who played there” by JB Strasser, inspired my college years) and they have managed to successfully reinvent themselves a number of times.

What else have you got planned for 2014?

You’ll have to wait and see. Now that flikdate is part of a public company, we plan to use all available resources to aggressively grow, while learning from our users what makes for an ever-improving experience.

Regardless of how big the company gets, we have no intention of losing our product focused mindset – ultimately that is what will bring us the most revenue and success.

Visit flikdate’s site here.