Flip: The Revolution of E-Commerce

By: Racheli Jian  |  November 22, 2023

By Racheli Jian, Arts and Cultures Editor

Free money. Something everyone wants. Something everyone suspects. But one app used it to gain critical mass.

Anyone who’s taken a Principles of Strategy course is well aware of the fact that every platform-based company needs the largest amount of users it can get. This is because of the demand side economies of scale aspect of apps. This phenomenon is one in which the value of a product can increase with the amount of people using the product. For example, Instagram. No one would spend countless hours on Instagram if it was just you and your friend Joe. The whole value of Instagram increases when there are more users on the app itself.

The big question is: how do you get more users? How do you attain critical mass? A new platform called Flip used something everyone loves: money.

Each user on Flip is able to send free money to someone off the app, in the form of a referral. The money is accessible to them as soon as they join and make an account. This money is also awarded to the original user for graciously inviting their friends to use the app. But what does Flip even offer?

Imagine all the TikTok product reviews that convinced you to buy those string lights or maybe the shark slides you never wear. Or even the NYX Jumbo Eyeliner you haven’t yet figured out. All those reviews in one place along with the capacity to actually buy the products.

Flip was founded by an Iraqi Refugee, Noor Agha. He landed in the U.S. in August 2019, and 3 months later he started Flip. His first investor was an Israeli Venture Capital (funds or services provided to start-ups). That Israeli VC was what got him, a Muslim Iraqi, started in America. 

Flip has grown tremendously over the past year. Between its launch in late 2021 to summer of 2023 it amassed 2 million users. The success of the app can be partially attributed to a recent e-commerce phenomenon. Customers previously would (and many Stern girls still do) spend hours online shopping, discovering new finds, and curating specific items. The majority of our time was spent actually looking through the hundreds of products the website sold. However, recently online shopping has become a place where we merely complete the transaction. We spend our time scrolling through social media finding product reviews from creators we don’t even know, but we trust will tell us the truth about the item we’re on the fence about. We have exchanged the countless hours spent scrolling on SHEIN to spending countless hours on Instagram. But what if they were combined?

Agha, after working in the engineering field, started a digital design company and an e-commerce business. While working in the industry, he discovered that user-generated content worked wonders for companies trying to grow online. He would rent a warehouse and put out an ad for people to come and shoot videos as if they are users of the product. Ultimately, Agha used his expertise in e-commerce and marketing to create something fascinating. He came to realize that user-generated content is what helps brands sell, but he wanted something more authentic. That’s where Flip comes in.

Flip is not only a social media platform where anyone can upload a video, but it is also a way to buy products from brands such as Dior, JBL, Glossier and more. The videos uploaded are primarily, if not only, product reviews that customers can use to decide whether or not they will make the transaction. The users who post videos are only allowed to post about a product they have been proven to have purchased through the app. Also, these users who choose to upload product reviews get paid when people buy through their review. More free money!

Companies can sign up to sell on the Flip app through a simple form found on the Flip website. This gives many advantages, but mainly it’s quick and easy marketing. Think of all the McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys that are in close proximity to each other. They are benefiting from something counter-intuitive: when competitors operate in close proximity to each other, it can actually increase consumers all around. On Flip, since the consumer is already “in the area” it will increase buying for all companies on the app. 

Essentially, Flip deletes the gap between our scrolling on social media to the final transaction made on the website. It also allows shopping to be gamified by having a following and the option to post on your account. Overall, Flip is a very unique company that takes advantage of basic concepts in a fascinating way. And remember, if you are interested make sure to use my referral.

(Special thanks to Lily Sassoon for sending me a Flip referral and also adding her input.)