Mike Lysko
On Building Event Management Software And Apps
product
Flock Eventing Pl...
from Johannesburg
started
1
Founders
5
Employees
3.11M
alexa rank
495
followers
252
followers
0
subs

Hi there, I’m Mike Lysko and I’ve built a business called Flock Eventing Platform. I started the business originally because I wanted to improve the way event managers communicated with their internal teams, as well as how they communicated with their guests at events. Coming from the events industry myself and knowing the pressure first hand that event managers are under, I wanted to be part of the solution to bridge this gap and be able to provide easy, digital access to info from the guests' point of view.

The software we have built over the last 5 years has evolved a lot since the initial intention, and is designed to be an end-to-end solution for event managers & planners to create professionally branded event websites, send out branded email campaigns for save-the-date, invites, reminders, thank-you’s etc, to consolidate all RSVP’s digitally and manage the event from a user-friendly back end, and finally, for creating a custom mobile app for attendees to be able to access all the event information from the palm of their hands.

We operate from South Africa where the business was originally founded, but have done events in more than 25 countries around the world and had thousands of attendees download our various apps. We have tried hard to listen to what the event managers need as part of the platform, as well as how to bring it to them at a reasonable price. Being from South Africa already means that works in our favour as our international clients can take advantage of the exchange rates, but many local clients give us positive feedback on our pricing as well.

on-building-event-management-software-and-apps

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I was entrepreneurial from a young age, born to immigrants I understood the value of making your own way in the world and would try ways of making extra money by selling snacks on the school bus, DJing and hosting events in the local area where I grew up. I started my first real business (Hot Soup) whilst studying at University and grew the company from hosting events for a handful of keen party goers to more than 10,000 people at our biggest event to date, Flock was started a few years later after identifying a gap in the market to provide content in a digital solution.

Entrepreneurship is something that is difficult to shake if you are someone that enjoys building something of your own, so even if it feels uncomfortable and stressful, keep in mind that that’s where the growth and learnings happen the most.

I’ve generally tried to spot the gaps/problems and then fill them with a solution that I can provide, and the businesses have grown more each time I’ve believed in something enough to give it a try. Believe me, there have been many learning curves from each of them, and many ideas have come along that didn’t make it to execution phase, but there was research and learning from those as well.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

When I was still in the beginning stages of building up Flock, I did have a full time job and kept savings for the first six months that I knew when I crossed over to Flock full time, I would need in case I didn’t make any income. I was very happy I did that as it certainly alleviated some stress in that time when you’re concentrating on getting the wheels turning in the start-up.

I decided to bootstrap Flock initially based on two reasons, one to validate the idea and two to grow organically until I felt the time was right and raised seed funding through angel investors that took a keen interest in what we were doing, this approach helped in keeping a lean mindset to the business and to scale at the right time.

It can be hard to know if what you think you could provide to fix a problem, will in fact fix it and if you will have a market for it, but I often ask close friends, peers and family for their input and insight to validate ideas, as well as use my network of experienced business people to check in with – sometimes though you may have to trust your gut on an idea that you can see the vision for, even if no one else sees it. With Flock, I did have first hand experience of being an event planner myself, so I knew what some insights were, but you can’t rest on that biased sample, so I also spent time on a survey and sending it out to event managers in the industry to get their perception on the system and event apps I wanted to provide.

There were a lot less competitors at the time I started Flock, the industry has really grown since I started, and because of that, I was a bit nervous that people had found no value in similar systems, and that paper agenda’s and traditional communication methods would always continue, but it was only 2 years after starting that the industry really started to boom.

And then it all starts with wearing every single hat that is needed in the business, from Sales, to Project Management, to Support, to Product Owner, and growing the business from one satisfied customer to the next. I always kept in mind that repeat business is best as 70% of the work is done in terms of acquiring that customer, and that word of mouth marketing is incredibly powerful, so it’s one of the most important things to keep customers satisfied with strong relationships.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently we are profitable and growing steadily year on year in terms of acquiring new customers, channel partners, maintaining relationships with existing clients, and building on our existing platform.

We have turn over and profit targets and so far are on track for this financial year which can be attributed to many months of satisfied customers, an increase in sales activity, and being aware of our marketing activity.

We are constantly listening and making improvements to our product so that we can be sure that we are providing the best for the event managers that rely on us, so new features are always in development for us.

Our team has grown substantially to have more senior individuals, and the right type of employee that fits the culture of the company.

I’d love to see Flock become even more of a global business than it is now, even though the product is already being used around the world and can easily cater to events happening around the world simultaneously by event managers.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Embarking on this journey has taught me the value of continuous self-improvement through reading, learning from mentors and other entrepreneurs and online courses.

I have also become more mindful and incorporate daily habits which starts with waking up at 5am, meditating for 10 minutes, taking my dogs for a 20 minute walk whilst listening to an audiobook on the Blinkist app and then learning Portuguese for 20 minutes through the Memrise app. I’m usually in the office around 7am and then exercise by 5pm for an hour and carry on working at home.

One thing that has really helped at Flock is to start the morning off with a Daily Huddle, where each team member gets the turn to run it, the Huddle consist of 4 points:

  1. How is each team member feeling

  2. What did each team member get up to the day before

  3. What is each team member getting up to for the day

  4. Is anyone stuck and do they need help or is a particular task urgent

It’s a great way to check in with the team each morning and get notified of any challenges or urgent issues.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One of the most vital tools for us so far has been Trello and WorkflowMax for project management of events, resources & marketing. We also use Slack a great deal for communicating with our internal team and contractors as well.

Mailchimp has been one of the best tools we have made use of as well, and we have looked forward to their upgrades as they generally bring out improvements that we make use of.

We have recently started using Clubhouse for our development team to manage an agile approach for our platform and mobile app.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Books

  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  • Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
  • Biographies (The House that Jack Ma built, Elon Musk, Shoe Dog)

Podcasts

  • Startups for the rest of us
  • Seeking Wisdom
  • Ted Talks

We encourage constant learning & growth in the team, and we encourage using Blinkst as a main source of information, but have also put some employees on training courses in Udemy, Coursera, Lynda and others.

One of the best video’s I watched the other day was about a lobster and a rabbi, and how growth happens (hint: it happens right after you feel really uncomfortable with a situation, so if you are feeling it, then it’s probably time for growth for you. It’s a great 1-minute video to watch.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

If you feel strongly about something, and it makes rational sense to you to go for the business idea, even if you are met with negativity about it, give it a go (especially if you can keep your costs low whilst trying it) as you may end up learning something new even if the idea doesn’t work out to the big business you had in mind in the first place.

Entrepreneurship is something that is difficult to shake if you are someone that enjoys building something of your own, so even if it feels uncomfortable and stressful, keep in mind that that’s where the growth and learnings happen the most.

Lastly, reach out to a mentor or business coach that will be able to provide advice and be a sounding board for those times you need a different perspective.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about Flock by visiting our website, following us on Social Media and watching our short 90 second video, we were also featured on Silicon Republic as one of the 9 amazing start-ups from Johannesburg to watch:

Flock 90 Second Video:

Interested in the event management system or a mobile app for events, email us on [email protected]

-  
Mike Lysko,   Founder of Flock Eventing Platform

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