The Upside of Disruption, Fluree

The Upside of Disruption

In our Indeavor webinar last week, Donna Harris made some really great points about societal and economic disruptions on the scale of what we are currently experiencing.

As the founder of 1776, a nationally recognized innovation community builder, and an investor in many early and growth-stage startups she has developed the keen pattern recognition and has the experience to provide some valuable insights.

One of her main points was that highly volatile times like these are a huge challenge to startups that have not managed their runway, have questionable value propositions, or are chasing well-worn ideas.

The flip-side of that coin is startups with the right timing, in the right place with big ideas for whom the disruption has created the ideal opening to be of extreme marketplace value. They will experience the upside and will have to ride a big wave.

We are staying close to all of our companies in this environment, and we thought we would share stories of companies that fall into the upside category – all of whom have unique stories to tell.

This will be the first in a series of stories about “The Upside of Disruption”. Each company has a unique experience to share.

Fluree – The value of a heads-down R&D culture

Most of our readers are familiar with Fluree, a leading blockchain database company cofounded by Brian Platz and Flip Filipowski, both highly experienced tech company founders.

Fluree is built to power applications where the core value is the data (as opposed process-oriented applications), so they enable data driven applications to be built on a secure platform with the integrity of the underlying blockchain.

Founded in 2016 as a B-Corporation (with social responsibility incorporated into it’s governance and culture), the company has raised over $5mm in seed funding, and currently has 16 employees.

They anticipate doubling staff largely due to a USAF Contract. The contract validates their technology as a secure way to confirm identity of users and transactions and the integrity of the data managed by the platform.

I caught up with Kevin Doubleday, Fluree’s Director of Communications and he said, “The pandemic has not really affected us – we are an emerging technology. Testing with pet projects is free so customers are continuing to experiment with the platform.”

Interestingly, as an R&D focused company, he sees the disruptive environment as opening up significant opportunities in supply chain, healthcare, and aerospace.

Fluree in many ways has become and important center of gravity for the region’s tech community.  “Our platform is very attractive to startups and as a result we are building a cohort ecosystem with companies like One Donation and Benekiva locally”, continues Kevin.

“In terms of top of funnel development, there has been no impact. We just launched our partner program with great inbound partner interest, but some of the startups we are supporting have been affected.”

According to Kevin, working from home has actually increased the company’s efficiency. “We were already power users of Zoom and Slack with channels dedicated to partners. We also use Trello and use Zoho for CRM. On the development side we use Jira.”

The one area where the company has had to pivot significantly is on the business development side. “We put so many eggs in the event basket from a marketing standpoint, we’ve had a loss of opportunity and have had to retool our budget.”

“Now we are focused on content creation – sales enablement for partners, teaching online opportunities for our leaders to get in from of the target audience”

His advice to other startups? “Preserve cash, look for partners, focus on R&D, emerge victorious.”