A new Armenian startup predicts incomes and losses for beginner businessmen
AI-powered analysis is making its way into business practices. In this regard, Flode can be called a “startup for startups”, which digests complex business data and puts out scenarios, which are simple enough to understand for a person with a basic financial literacy. No financial lingo or rows of formulae, just easily read charts and animation, say Maxim (Max) Barsamyan, a Russian-born Armenian who has recently immigrated to Armenia. His job has been to help startups with perhaps their worst headache, which is turning an idea into a business: for many years, he had been managing Venture IT Platform for funding in a large Russian corporation. Flode is designed to help even those who have little or no financial education and cannot (yet) afford a business analyst.
-Can both existing businesses and startups use Flode? Who are your target customers? Can you make predictions for a startup from an idea to round A or beyond?
-Flode can be used in completely different scenarios. Actually, we hit on the idea in 2021, at a business call with my partner. We discussed a project within his R&D company, where he needed to understand how to make it easier for the company manager to select a component supplier. Each of them has its own terms of delivery, price, volume discounts, and so on. So we thought, what if there were a tool that would allow you to see all the differences between suppliers in a few simple charts, and then to see how working with each of them will give you savings or extra costs. This is how the idea came to create Flode, a tool for visualizing causes and consequences, as well as the opportunity to see how this or that action will affect your business in the future.
-Maybe even sports team managers can use this…
-Well, we intend this not necessarily as a B2B advisor, but also as a personal advisor for individuals. When we say that there’s a huge gap between business plans and reality, this is no less true for our own plans, for students, families, and households.
-Does a user of Flode necessarily need to have skills in coding, 3D design to feed the data into the system? Does the depth of the analysis depend on whether the customer is subscribed to business databases (like Bloomberg or Dow Jones)?
-No, it’s “plug-and-play”, very simple to use, with no additional skills required. For now, we offer ready-made templates for freelancers and startups. Farther on, we will add more templates by attracting professionals in their field. In fact, we are currently working on creating an intuitive constructor where anyone can easily create their own Space, or a template in which they will see the analysis for their business.
As far as data is concerned, this is a very important point. We plan to connect to all known data sources. For example, you want to start a business in another country and instead of searching in sources for market sizes in the selected industry, all you need to do is simply add a statistics element and market data will automatically be pulled into your project and show the effectiveness of your solution for entering a given region.
-What is your business model?
-We have SAAS model and offer four types of subscription:
- Pay-as-you-go allows clients to use our product for free and pay only for downloaded documents such as financial models, job contracts, invoices, etc
- Professional enables the use of the Flode constructor and the selling of solutions on our marketplace
- Team is designed for team collaboration
- Enterprise provides custom solutions for large clients
For now, the product is available for signing up in Beta version,
https://app.flode.it/signup and the final product is coming soon.
-Up to which stage of development can Flode bring a startup?
-The first workspace that we are launching is an interactive model for startups from scratch to round A, where at the end the user receives a set of documents, including a financial model. We help entrepreneurs to see what bottlenecks are available or what markets it is better to develop in. I have worked with startups for many years, and from my experience, for a startup founder with no business background, a financial model cannot help much: it’s all just numbers. It is not clear for them where the formulas come from and how they are calculated. Each financial model is completely different in structure. Flode allows you to bring everything into one form and see where certain data comes from. While in our interface, there are no restrictions on use cases. When I say “for everyone”, I mean not only the template constructor, which I mentioned. We also plan to open up a marketplace where users themselves would generate their own use cases and put them for sale through our platform. the demand is there: think of an aspiring restaurateur who sees a business model made by a Micheline star chef.
-Startups like Miro have changed the way in which teams discuss business ideas. What makes you different?
-Miro has really made it easier to work as a team with ideas and plans. But for me, the problem is not having enough live data. Excel calculations are good, but there is no visual interface, just formulas. It’s still OK, this is what Excel was made for. We just thought: “What if we combined them and made people’s lives a little easier?”.
-Tech giants enter the market too, with examples like Google Looker or Microsoft Power BI. They can integrate those tools with their existing products (MS office, cloud services, etc). Are they direct competitors to Flode?
-Of course, we do have competitors. But I need to stress once again: we offer an easy-to-use interface, which is comfortable for both an experienced company employee (to automate business processes, or plans on live data), and for a student who is planning to change his location or career.
-What are the markets where you are going to expand, and what development plans do you have?
-Our main goal is the US and European markets, but now we see that we are interested in Indian market. Further down the line, when we have the constructor and marketplace, we want to build a community around them and around our software itself. Also, we will expand our AI solutions to develop a “tree of possibilities”, showing how a business may change in future.
-Finally, is your company based in Armenia, and do you have local staff?
-Well, Flode is registered in the USA. We have already closed pre-seed round for $200k, and invested $100k of our own funds. Now we are raising seed round to finish development and start marketing. When scaling up the team, I plan to hire Armenian developers to contribute to the local ecosystem.
Details on the product can be found here