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Flik’s founders look to strike out Vine, Pinterest and Yelp in order

The UpTake: Flik is an ambitious new video-sharing app with roots in the minor league baseball community. Its founders, wife-and-husband team Tracy and Chris Hayes, say that the long slog of the season is a lot like starting a business.

Video-sharing startup Flik has a lot in common with its social media brethren, but instead of popping up in a dorm room or Silicon Valley accelerator, its roots are in the bullpen.

Wife-and-husband team Tracy and Chris Hayes came up with for Flik, video app that is a bit like a mashup of Vine, Pinterest and Yelp combined, while living the uprooted-lifestyle of a minor league baseball family. Moving sometimes two, three or four times a year.

“You make your own career in the baseball lifestyle, so there is that entrepreneurial mindset,” says Chris Hayes, a pitcher who has played eight seasons in the minor leagues who also studied computer science at Northwestern. “It’s as much attrition as opportunity. There is a grinding aspect to it, to stay persistent and still have the drive.”

Not content to throw out just one of the Web’s power hitters, the Chicago-based Hayes’ are going for an entrepreneurial triple play. The app is a bit like Vine: users post 8-second videos. A bit like Yelp: the videos are mini-reviews of products and places. And a bit like Pinterest: there’s a heavy emphasis on discovering niche content.

Chris Hayes serves as the eight-person company’s CTO. Tracy Hayes, a veteran of management consulting firm McKinsey Company as well as several of small businesses, as its president. Their advisers include Patrick Gates, a former senior vice president at AOL Time Warner and Juergen Stark, former COO of Motorola Mobile Devices.

But the app’s earliest adopters—and some of its first investors—were the Hayes’ friends in the tight-knit minor league baseball community. And several other Flik employees are baseball wives. Tracy Hayes said Flik had a built-in community to field test the app. Players compared cleats. New parents swapped recommendations on strollers.

“We’re gypsies, we never know where we’re going to be living,” Tracy Hayes says. “There is an instant trust and bond among baseball people, so it was just natural for us to launch within the baseball forums.”

If Flik’s approach seems like a wild pitch at first, Tracy Hayes says there is a good reason for it. In her mind, Vine is the video app that’s all the over place.

“Vine is popular with younger people, but to us, there’s no purpose in it,” she says. “Flik is video with purpose.”

Video is undoubtedly hot. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, online video is expected to make up 86 percent of online traffic by 2016. The Web is crowded with video curation tools, not just YouTube, but startups like Waywire, NowThisNews and 5by. Then there are quick-editing tools such as Viddy, Vyclone and many, many others.

Tracy says she thinks the difference for Flik will be in its original, useful content. The videos are meant to be easy to create and consume than say, a written TripAdvisor or Yelp review. And the content is unique, not re-purposed.

“There’s an actual reason to watch it,” Tracy Hayes says. “And watch other people’s Fliks too.”

Tracy says their next step is to start courting strategic investors.

So you could say it’s all going to come down to the field: How well can this team pitch?


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Mystic Maggie

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