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SPARK SEASON #1: Rich Martell of Floxx

Posted on Wednesday, 24 August by

In our latest online-feature series, Spark Season will be providing you with interviews with some of the most inspirational young entrepreneurs and talents that would otherwise go unheard.

Kicking off the series is an interview with founders of the Floxx Media Group, the clever people behind the ridiculously popular location-based microblogging flirting social network and more recently MapChat, an instant messaging app that connects you with people based on location.

We chat to Rich Martell, the boss-man of the Floxx Media Group on his recent successes.

Tell us about your team and their background.

There are 6 of us on the team with half of us focusing on the coding and development side of things and the other half focusing on the creative, design and communications stuff. But we’re in a big open plan office, so we all pitch in with ideas about everything. Except for when our social media guy tries to talk about coding; that’s when we switch off.

FitFinder was a raving success – Tell us about how it came about.

The site spread like wildfire because so many people were using it in the library that it got other people who kept seeing it interested in what it was. I think it also helped that people hadn’t really seen anything like it before – this let people put their own spin on it, like using it to wind up their friends, for example.

My friends and I used to text each other when we saw fit girls in the Library, and the site was just an easier way of doing that…

Where did the inspiration for the project come from? Any embarrassing stories you can let us in on?

The project began as a joke – my friends and I used to text each other when we saw fit girls in the Library, and the site was just an easier way of doing that. Girls were never really meant to find out about it, but in the end there were actually more girls using the site than boys. We heard plenty of stories about people faking girls checking out their friends who would then go over to the girl and she’d have no idea what they were talking about. Probably should have asked for video evidence and set up a Youtube channel with all those videos!

You have some pretty huge business-heads backing you, like BBC Dragon Doug Richard and Live Earth originator Kevin Wall. How did you come to cross paths with these guys?

Oh, you know, just met them down the pub. No, seriously, I was astounded when Doug managed to track me down and approached me with investment. Everything sort of snowballed from there!

Think it’s safe to say you consume a lot more Red Bull than most and get to watch a lot less Hollyoaks

Are many of you currently studying full-time at university – if so, how have you found it balancing time between your entrepreneurial ventures alongside your student lifestyle?

Our graphic design guy is still at University, but we only have him over the summer so he won’t have to experience the ‘interesting’ experience of balancing business with studying. The rest of us did all have to balance things whilst at Uni, whether it was coding stuff, developing apps or freelance journalism. Think it’s safe to say you consume a lot more Red Bull than most and get to watch a lot less Hollyoaks, but it can be done if you learn to make the most of your time!

Do you feel you’ve learnt more from starting your own business than perhaps university has taught you?

Difficult to say…I think they’ve taught me different things. Obviously studying at UCL taught me a lot of technical stuff, but Universities’ reactions to FitFinder showed me a lot about the bureaucracy and red tape that can interfere with attempts to make something using all those skills. Obviously running a business has taught me a lot about managing money, making good contacts and time management.

We’re building a number of new apps on the Floxx location platform. By the time this article goes live we should have launched one called MapChat.

What’s the future for Floxx? Any new projects in the pipeline?

We’re actually working on a couple of new things now, actually. Floxx (or ‘Floxx Media Group’ to be more precise) is now an umbrella term for the company as a whole, and we’re building a number of new apps on the Floxx location platform. By the time this article goes live we should have launched one called MapChat, which is an instant messaging app that connects you with people based on location. MapChat is the precursor to another app we’ll be launching very soon that’s focused on sharing things with people in particular areas, even if you don’t
already know them.

Download the new app “MapChat” here and follow Floxx HQ on Twitter

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Lewis Scrafton
22. Co-founder and editor of SQ Magazine. Studying at University of Sussex. Interned at MATTER and published in The Guardian.


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