Meet The Disruptors: Blake Hutchison Of Flippa On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Do things today, not tomorrow. It’s so easy to complete something tomorrow. The problem with that, is you could have learned faster or progressed more if you just did it when the opportunity first presented itself.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blake Hutchison, CEO of Flippa.
Blake is the CEO of Flippa, the #1 marketplace to buy and sell sites, stores, apps and online businesses. Blake has worked on leadership teams assisting in fast growth businesses including Xero and Luxury Escapes. Among his start up experience, he also founded a company…he then used Flippa to sell the business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’ve worked in growth, business development and leadership roles over nearly 20 years. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of growing divisions, channels and businesses but more pertinently, I absolutely love building something that customers get real value from. This passion led me to Flippa where we enable the exit and empower business ownership for thousands of business owners, investors and operators each year.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Businesses have been bought and sold for 100’s of years yet the experience for small business owners and digital asset operators has not only been neglected, it’s lacked liquidity, access and transparency.
We are building the investment bank for the 99% and building sophisticated valuation, negotiation and transaction functionality traditionally reserved for the 1%…making the opportunity to exit a possibility for 100’s of millions of site, store and app owners all over the world.
Regardless of size, from $5,000 to $50M, Flippa is opening up a world of possibility, usually reserved for the well heeled and well networked.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I must say, I can’t think of a funny mistake but I can certainly reflect on a funny story…I once pretended to be an external PR company representing a start up, my own startup, in order to secure a story. Journalists are more inclined to listen when it’s a third party…so I sold the firm’s credentials, pitched this exciting start-up (my own) and a specific concept and won some media coverage. I even made up a pseudonym. Anything to win coverage…
I learned that the hustle always works…or at least it has some great lessons.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Whenever I’ve labeled people mentors they haven’t added a huge amount of value. It felt a little forced. Instead, I’ve tried to lean in and surround myself with people I trust, that I feel are equally curious and that want to achieve atypical impact.
Certain members of the Flippa board have been instrumental as a sounding board. Previous leaders at world class companies like Lonely Planet, Xero and Luxury Escapes were equally valuable for differing reasons. Finally, the level headedness of a specific investor (and friend) in my own start-up got me through to the other side. In that case, the impact was awesome. They stood by my side as the venture unraveled and I’m forever indebted.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
It’s usually less good when the switching costs are too high or alternatively, when the disruption is good for some but not for most.
Successful disruptors build better offerings that benefit more people. When they do, we embrace them.
Unfortunately disruption has become so sought after by entrepreneurs chasing greatness rather than customer value that in some cases you end up with a disaster. The best example I can think of is Theranos where the idea of disrupting the healthcare industry became destructive and dangerous. There’s certain industries that are more immune to disruption than others and often for good reason. Examples include the health care system and the judicial system.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Don’t peak when you are 18. Haha. I just love this. We put so much emphasis on being great young. Too many examples to run through.
2. Do things today, not tomorrow. It’s so easy to complete something tomorrow. The problem with that, is you could have learned faster or progressed more if you just did it when the opportunity first presented itself.
3. Hire for urgency. I’m still trying to figure out how to interview for this. Most people who apply for jobs are smart. They can do the job. The question is can they do the job quickly…with a sense of urgency.. I’ve hired some ludicrously clever people who just can’t get things done.
4. Be bold in your decision making. Slow decision making can ruin an organization and most of the time it’s either as a result of fear or misunderstanding. We’ve delayed product decisions due to misunderstanding and we’ve tended to be better off when we’ve just gone for it.
5. Reward your best talent. We almost lost a key member of staff recently. They resigned. Within minutes I reset their compensation plan and retained them. It’s proven to be the right decision.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
It’s going to be huge. We are building an entirely new way to buy and sell. The new negotiation hub rewrites the rules. Instant buyer matches are fed to you directly. You can organize buyers and shortlist preferred buyers. You can arrange and host video calls. You can sync discussions with WhatsApp. You can invite third parties and you can populate a data room. It’s the investment bank for the 99%.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
My favorite podcast is Business Wars. It really digs into how the outcome of these battles shape what we buy and how we live and there are always lessons learned in their decision making processes.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Don’t peak when you’re 18. Life is a marathon not a sprint.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Every day I hear another story of another individual changing paths, finding a new beginning, and taking control of their future. It’s an exciting movement but I do believe that the path to independence and financial security comes from doing what you want, taking calculated risks and finding a passion.
How can our readers follow you online?
Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/blakehutchison/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Meet The Disruptors: Blake Hutchison Of Flippa On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.