Small Business Profile: How Flexibility Helped Flypaper Get Ahead

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Don Pierson, from Flypaper, a small business based out of Phoenix, Arizona. In today’s economy, it seems that success stories are hard to come by. So when Don shared Flypaper’s successes story with us, along with some tips for how small businesses can make a go of it in a turbulent economy, we jumped at the chance to relay some good news to the world.

What does Flypaper do?
Flypaper is a Flash content creation platform that lets businesses create, edit, share, track and reuse Flash and video content. The majority of our users are digital content developers who use Flypaper to produce Flash content faster and more efficiently that with other tools. Content created with Flypaper has the same level of interactivity and quality as custom Flash development, but at a fraction of the time and cost.

Tell me how Flypaper got its start.
Flypaper was started in 2003, originally as Interactive Alchemy, a services company that created Web-based marketing and training content for Fortune 1000 clients. We saw the need for faster development cycles, an easier “do-it-yourself” option, and the ability to easily edit and reuse Flash content on your own, and began developing Flypaper. In 2008, we sold the services portion of the business to focus on Flypaper development. We rapidly gained recognition in the eLearning industry, and then in 2009 expanded to serve the digital signage industry, which has proved to be a wise decision. In August of 2011, Flypaper was acquired by Trivantis Corporation, which had previously been including a version of Flypaper in their Lectora Inspire software. At Trivantis, we now have the best-of-breed tools for building both HTML-based content and Flash-based content.

How has the company evolved over the last 5 years?
Over the past five years, we went from being a content creation tool for eLearning, marketing, and sales professionals to being a tool specially designed for the eLearning and digital signage markets. In truth, Flypaper stumbled into the digital signage arena when that industry was just beginning to really take off in 2009. At that time, there was a lot of pain with content creation and no software tools to address the problems. The lack of a product like Flypaper was widely seen as holding the industry back. The timing was great for us because channel resellers, hardware developers and content developers all turned to Flypaper when digital signage started booming. This is why we have succeeded in an economy when many small businesses have struggled.

How has acquisition changed the environment at Flypaper?
The partnership with Trivantis is a great fit and has already helped Flypaper quickly accelerate our growth. Trivantis is a known leader in the eLearning world, and has worked with us to integrate our software into their existing and soon-to-be-released products. As a result of the partnership and resources now available, Flypaper has been able to further penetrate eLearning while building a strong distribution channel in the rapidly growing digital signage market.

What has been the key to Flypaper’s success?
Flexibility and listening to our users. We had to realize that the needs of the market were changing and so our place in the market would change, too. If we had resigned ourselves to eLearning and had tunnel vision on that market alone, we never would have seen the kind of success we’ve experienced in digital signage, and the opportunity to partner with Trivantis might not have arisen. Additionally, we listened to our customers when they shared their content challenges with us, kept a close eye on what competitors were doing, and were alert to new market opportunities, such as digital signage. We stayed flexible with how our product evolved and where it fit, and because of that have had great success.

What tips do you have to share with other small businesses looking for success in this economy?
This is a tough balancing act because you need to be able to stay true to your vision while being flexible at the same time. With Flypaper, we had to adjust course several times to survive and ultimately thrive, but we always had the conviction that the market needed an easy-to-use but powerful way to create top-quality content.

There are four key points that small business owners and entrepreneurs should never forget:
1. Listen to your customers, they know better than you
2. Constantly evaluate your market – it can change fast!
3. Stay flexible on where your solution is a good fit
4. Never give up or lose sight of your vision and ultimately things will come together

About the Author
Don Pierson is the founder, President and COO at Flypaper Studio, Inc. where he is responsible for leading company operations. Pierson has two decades of experience in the interactive communications industry. In 2003, he founded Interactive Alchemy and as CEO drove a successful services business that fulfilled the communication and training needs of marquee clients including MetLife and United Airlines. Using the proceeds from the success of Interactive Alchemy, Pierson created a collaborative development tool called Catalyst. By 2006, Pierson identified a broader applicability for the Catalyst solution, and set out to develop what is now Flypaper. He holds a bachelor degree with honors in management from Arizona State University.

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