Before Floww was born, a founder living in Downtown New York, Lisa Winning built HeTexted, a digital advice platform that went viral, reaching 180,000 users on launch day alone. She had wire-framed a prototype on her bedroom floor and used her savings to hire a developer, betting on the strategy that users would flock to a platform that was interactive and engaging.
By growing the millennial user base, the tech platform extended into new categories, landing book deals with both Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster along with representation by Hollywood agents William Morris Endeavour. The website itself created so much user-generated content that, along with the acquisition of the book rights, the film rights were secured by Greg Berlanti of Warner Bros director/producer fame.
Winning says the key to her last startup’s success was building a digital network and community that answered core human needs with a user-first strategy. Media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Good Morning America called the site and app “an incredibly addicting formula”.
Fast-forward several years and now based in London, Winning is back and building another advice platform, this time alongside Martijn De Wever, Founder and CEO of the startup ecosystem, Floww.
Winning was impressed by De Wever’s vision and technical expertise in creating a merit-based network for startups to connect with investors, and the duo has partnered on a media channel interviewing the scrappiest, most successful and resilient founders. Described as “Forbes meets Snapchat via Buzzfeed”, the advice and media platform features interviews with everyone from Amir Dossal of the United Nations to crypto day traders and celebrities who share strategies on building their online businesses.
Learning the power of resilience while creating her first startup in NYC, Winning says initially she couldn’t even find a developer to build her product. She hit up as many engineering meet-up groups as possible, bringing hand-drawn prototypes – and her savings – with her.
“The best founders have a passion to win, but with resilience built into their startup’s DNA.” – Lisa Winning
It is said that tenacity is a core trait among successful founders. Winning has experienced this firsthand while serving on the board of Peter Thiel-backed startup Loomia and says its Founder Madison Maxey is one of the most inspiring founders she has met along the way, owing to sheer grit. “Every entrepreneur has nearly given up after setbacks, but the best rally and rise,” Winning says.
De Wever adds: “We learn so much from entrepreneurs and CEOs who have forged their own path. We know how important it is to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to get advice, see playbooks on how to build unicorns and what it takes to succeed.”
De Wever’s platform Floww is a sophisticated solution connecting founders with investors based on merit and real data, not the ‘warm intros’ the venture capital industry has historically relied upon. Startups are showcased using key performance indicators and real-time data such as environmental, social and corporate governance factors, cash burn rate, diversity and milestones achieved. Having herself raised venture funding in Silicon Valley, Winning admired Floww’s mission to ‘level the playing field’ for all entrepreneurs.
What’s next for the partnership?
“We are interviewing the best founders and investors, highlighting that scrappiness and a love for strategy are the core skills needed to create a unicorn,” De Wever says. With an appetite for risk that saw him personally stake the US$1.3 million to start his own venture capital fund Force Over Mass, the ethos of an entrepreneur runs through his veins.
“The best founders have a passion to win, but with resilience built into their startup’s DNA. You can knock them down and they won’t stop getting back up,” Winning says. Alongside the media channel, Floww includes all of the sophisticated technology needed to launch a secondary market for buying and selling startup shares. “We are just getting started,” De Wever says, with Winning adding, “It’s the right time for entrepreneurship to be more accessible to everyone.”