Created by former Skype employees, Fleep is a new messaging tool that provides a more flexible and productive alternative to emailing. Taking communication into the unexplored territory between emails and instant messaging with pinboards, advanced chatting functions and file sharing, the Estonian service has been welcomed by TechCrunch, GigaOM and The Guardian.
We spoke to founder and CEO Henn Ruukel about where Fleep came from and where he wants to take it.
WebMagazin: Tell us how you come up with the idea for Fleep?
Ruukel: The very start was easy – while working at Skype we used Skype IM as the main collaboration tool. We saw the advantages of the chat collaboration over email. At the same time Skype IM had several shortcomings with message delivery so we thought, why not build a better chat service ourselves?
WebMagazin: You’re not afraid to join a market with competitors like Facebook or WhatsApp?
Ruukel: Not really, Fleep is aimed for work conversations which people still mainly do over email while Whatsapp and others compete on friends & family messaging segment in the market. I think people will continue using several services in parallel and they use them for different discussions and for different audiences. We are building Fleep for working teams ad I think this segment has great potential for us.
WebMagazin: Did the latest privacy scandals open up opportunities for smaller messenger clients to make it big?
Ruukel: Maybe it affects a bit, but I dont believe it’s the main driver. Protecting customer data is base expectation for existing and new services. I think the main driver is people trying to find optimal tools for their different purposes. And that’s where new services find opportunities. There won’t be One And Only Messenger. There will be many and those who are good for certain purpose will win on that market.
Several Fleep employees previously worked at Skype, where the idea for Fleep was born (Image: Ⓒ Fleep)
WebMagazin: Are you planning on expanding to the German or European market?
Ruukel: We are building Fleep as a global product from day one and we have users accross the globe, from Japan to Brazil. As our home market, Europe is definently the best place to start but we don’t want to limit ourselves into any specific location. Our user interface is only in English at the moment, but this is due to limited recources on our side, and not due to any decision to serve only English-speaking users. Apologies for that to all Germans!
WebMagazin: How come you’re not financed by ads? Wouldn’t there be a chance for more profit if you worked with ads?
Ruukel: One thing we decided early on is not to go for an ad-based revenue model. I think the advertising model has lived its life in the internet and will soon decline. We’d rather build great service that people use for their work every day. While we are in Beta, our service is free to use. After that we would like to keep basic features free and launch a paid subscription for advanced features.
Fleep can be downoaded for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android at fleep.io/downloads.