After investing millions into their mobile information startup Pop! founders Chris Koch and Chad Stephens have decided it is time to pivot away from the idea and are launching Fillr.
In January 2014, Koch and his business partner Stephens offloaded their startup 1Form to the REA Group in a $15 million deal.
For many people that exit would be enough, but not for these two. They took what they had learned, invested a significant amount of their own cash and established Pop! a startup which wanted to ensure consumers never had to fill out a form while transacting on their mobile device again.
Growing to a team of 12 people, close to $4 million has been tipped into Pop! to date, most of which is personal investment from the founders.
But it wasn’t that simple. The concept these two came up with reared a nasty chicken and egg problem: they couldn’t get around the fact that businesses wanted to see consumers using the app before they would install it on their sites but for consumers to get a benefit from the app businesses need to embrace it.
“Things went well at first. We had thousands of app downloads, and businesses everywhere were knocking on our door to talk to us. But we soon realised the product was way too complicated — great ideas typically do one thing exceptionally well, and for consumers, the primary function of Pop! wasn’t at all clear,” Koch said.
No matter how many additional features they added to the app, they just couldn’t find a work around. Pop! even built its own mobile web browser but found consumers were so trained to use Safari or Chrome that they would forget to use the company’s one.
Koch said: “We were a mobile first company and yet you weren’t able to transact on your mobile – what we’d just done was helping you transact on your PC.”
It needed to figure out a way to get users and businesses on board all at once.
In an attempt to secure media attention, gain users and onboard businesses, Koch even swallowed a small computer as part of a launch stunt last year where consumers could “pop” their entry inside him for a chance to win a bunch of prizes, including $10,000. But the crazy, confusing stunt and attention wasn’t the solution to the company’s user/business problem either.
“Pop! helps you take control of your personal data. We wanted to demonstrate to people that with Pop!, you can send your data to absolutely any location – even inside my digestive system – and keep track of it,” he said at the time.
But then something happened – late last year Apple opened up iOS 8 to allow extensions in the Safari browser for iPhones which meant Pop!’s mobile autofill functionality could be used within the web browser they were accustomed to use by default.
It was this change which has driven the company’s pivot and rebrand which is being launched today. From now on it will be known as Fillr.
“The core problem we wanted to solve still remains: Shopping on your mobile sucks. Conversion rates on mobile, compared to desktop, are embarrassing to say the least! You spend all of your time pinching and zooming your tiny smartphone screen to fill out your information, your keyboard’s autocorrect misspelling your name and address, for what? We’ve got better ways to spend our time and so do you,” Koch said.
Fillr is a much simpler offering compared to its Pop! predecessor, once the extension is installed in Safari, it works by hitting one button at the bottom of Safari and BOOM! that pesky form is all filled out.
“It’s a big change but a great change,” Koch told Business Insider, adding they knew this time around they would need to start from scratch again.
Developing the new offering, the Fillr team has tested it on more than 1.1 million forms across the web. It’s also designed to evolve as you use it and to get it right, the company has also launched a public beta to speed up the fine tuning process.