How engineering the engineers out of their product helped Fliptop grow quickly

Fliptop, an online data analytics provider, is seeing record growth by delivering easy to use tools that allow customers to act like data scientists.

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Credit: Fliptop
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For any data analytics company, the measure of success is how many data sets you process per month. As a side benefit, the growth chart often looks incredibly impressive.

That’s the current position that Fliptop, a company that creates predictive analytics tools for Salesforce, finds themselves in. In June of 2014, they processed just under 38 million marketing automation tasks, which help sales and marketing folks predict sales leads. In June of this year, they processed over 1.1 billion of those same tasks. In addition, the company ran data sets for 100 million predictions for lead generation. They’ve reached additional milestones with their Fliptop Data Cloud service, which analyses data from 300 million contacts at 20 million companies. This growth is the result of a strategy that intends to “engineer the engineers” out of the product. This is the only way to grow beyond the typical scenario where a corporate client has to deal with a data scientist or have the know-how to run data processing tasks, as they say.


In Q3 of 2014, Fliptop’s leadership team actually purchased a gong and installed it in their office. They told employees that they would not ring the gong until the team had figured out how to make Fliptop so easy to use that any customer could generate their own complex business analytics data set. They built new apps that allowed new customers to on-board themselves, use the data analytics engine, run the automation tasks, and generate reports all on their own.

“The gong ring represented a product milestone, when we were able to onboard and manage new customers without the involvement of the engineering team. The dirty secret of most predictive analytics companies is that they're a professional services provider in disguise,” says Doug Camplejohn, the CEO and founder of Fliptop. Since ringing the gong for the first time, he says they have built additional tools into Fliptop that allow customers to act like data scientists.

“Model builder allows our customer success team to configure a new customer in the course of a one hour call and kick off the model building process automatically,” Camplejohn says. “FOCUS is an internal monitoring tool that lets us continuously track how each customer's model is performing and allows our customer success team to report back the results to customers, again without involving anyone from engineering. These two systems, along with ongoing new product features have allowed us to ramp up customers much more quickly.”

It helps that Fliptop itself is also scalable, built on Amazon Web Services, a lesson in not just engineering the engineers out of the equation, but also in choosing a platform which allows you to scale after the growth happens. While Fliptop won’t release actual revenue figures, the number of data sets processed really makes the case (and makes for a really compelling growth chart).

Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.

This story, "How engineering the engineers out of their product helped Fliptop grow quickly" was originally published by CIO.