When selling cars did not work out, Cape Town entrepreneur Conor Copas flipped into selling a much smaller — but just as desirable — product: Cellphones.
Today his Flip Phone business is growing and he is ready to take on the tech world with the online cellular sales service.
The 28-year-old businessman graduated in 2015 with a BCom degree in marketing management sciences from IMM Graduate School. Then he began his career in eCommerce “working with small and large companies”, such as Groupon.
In 2018 while working for Faithful to Nature, Copas started his tech company Flip Phone. Since then he has seen it grow and by the end of May 2020, he decided to work on Flip Phone full-time.
From cars to phones
Copas said he originally had set out to develop a “platform that catered to selling vehicles hassle-free and safely”. However, this quickly turned into an idea to capture the secondhand phone market.
When commenting on the drastic concept change from cars to phones, Copas said “the input costs and capital required were exorbitant”.
“I luckily had great mentors who, after I raised the car-selling dilemma with them, suggested mobile phones.”
Flip Phone sales rocket
During the first year, Flip Phone sales surpassed “thousands of phones bought and sold” on its online store.
Copas sees this as a huge milestone for the team of six, and says it set the trajectory for aggressive growth targets.
He identifies the competition as “existing established chains”, such as Cash Crusaders, and “traditional brick and mortar stores” with an online presence.
However, he said they may offer lower price points or ask you to trade-in your device instead of giving you cash.
“We’re also the only platform that gives you a price guarantee and sticks to it; made possible with our machine-learning-based pricing algorithms,” Copas said.
While RICA is not a required law with sale of secondhand telecoms, Copas said Flip Phone is fully aligned with the South African law that regulates the interception of communications.
“We enforce internal strict protocols to ensure the ethical and legal acquisition and sale of all cellphones on the platform.”
What is business success?
Copas defines success as “having the service work seamlessly for the customer and the team behind it”.
He measures business success rate through feedback from new and returning customers, saying the business has received “overwhelming” positive feedback.
The growth rate is also a measure.
“It’s one thing to create a service that fills a gap in the market, but seeing Flip Phone in use and the reviews from customers is the biggest driver.
“We place the customer at the forefront of every decision we make and as a result, we have seen great success and adoption of the model.”
Advice to entrepreneurs
His favourite part of being an entrepreneur is the sense of accomplishment and ownership.
“Put in the work and reap the rewards,” Copas believes.
“If you’ve got a good idea, run with it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect, it will never be.”
For those who are looking to go the entrepreneurial route: “Simply get a viable product or service out there and take it step by step.”
With the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, 2020 is an uncertain time and consumers continue to head online to satisfy their needs.
“So if you are in the fortunate position where you have extra time on your hands, put it to good use,” said Connor.