If someone came to me a month ago and told me that reading the future can secure over a million dollars I would have called them nuts. Turns out it is quite the opposite — you can make millions of reading people’s futures, and the only nuts in this story turned out to be me!
Here’s a brief background: In Turkey, they believe in reading your future from your Turkish coffee cup. There’s a proverb Turkish people use to describe fortune or ‘fal’: “You don’t have to believe in it, but don’t leave home without it.”
Here’s how reading your future goes:
- You drink your Turkish coffee.
- You flip your cup over its holder.
- You wait.
- A professional lady reads your ‘fal’ — aka the headen future between the layers of the portrait drawn by your coffee.
Sertaç Taşdelen was a Turkish ordinary man living in Ankara. His mom was a profound lady that everyone knows in the area as the “Future Reader”.
His mother Binnaz, who authored a popular book on the subject, ran a pharmacy in the Turkish capital of Ankara. As she filled the patient’s prescriptions, she would make Turkish coffee and tell their fortunes. All her customers agreed to one thing: ”It is your fal that cures us, Aunt Binnaz, not the medicine!”
Sertaç, who was oblivious at this point of the treasure under his nose, studied business and traveled o Dubai to work at Ernst & Young. shortly, he resigned and turned into full-time entrepreneur.
A Unicorn Was Born
Sertaç friends started hearing about his mom’s astonishing ability, and they wanted their future read as well. Problem? They were living outside Istanbul.
The friends, who were keen on knowing the best time to invest, or whether to propose to their other halves or not, sent Sertaç a photo of their coffee cups to show to his mom, and get the approval they needed for their plans. That was all Sertaç needed — why not take this to the next level by using technology? And Faladdin was born.
More than 1,000,000 daily Faladdin users upload photos of their flipped coffee cup, and Faladdin’s team provides the prediction of their future. The language pie chart is 70% Turkish, 20% Arabic, and 10% English.
The app ranks first on Google Play store’s Lifestyle category, surpassing the previous number one app — Tinder.
Read Your Market
The one thing Faladdin did that I believe got them the ditinguished position they have right now, not only in Turkey but over new markets they are entering currently, is the fact that they made themselves fit in where the market need was. Sertaç saw an opportunity, but that alone wasn’t enough.
He read the market very well before taking the next step in setting his marketing campaign.
- What is that people actually need?
- Why people care about knowing their future?
- Is it the read itself, or the phrasing of the results?
- Would positive future-reading be more attractive than negative one?
- What is the Persona of the target market?
Only after collecting full details of the market he is addressing, that marketing strategy was built, and Faladdin became a sensation of the Turkish nation.
Scaling-Up is The Only Way Up
After six years of his first launch with the first version of his product ‘Binnaz’, Serta needed to scale up:
“On Binnaz, we had limited resources. A real fortune-teller can deal with one customer at a time. We wanted something like a self-driving Uber; we’d get rid of the driver and only keep the vehicle.” — Sertaç Taşdelen
So Faladdin developed an in-house AI engine that is fed with data from 30 contributors from different expertise. To make it even more compelling, they started feeding the ‘readings’ from the different horscope readings to OpenAI, the artificial intelligence platform cofounded by Elon Musk, in order to train Faladdin to autonomously produce fortunes. Taşdelen says that he is just warming up, and we have to wait for bigger breakthrough announcements soon.
The Relatable-Idea Theory
This is a straight forward theory: your idea may be big like the next battary that works on the sun and needs no recharging, or simple as reading customers’ future and horoscope. The first may flat fail while the second may make it big, and that is because of the above theory: if your innovative idea is not relatable, you will not win the market.
Some may argue that there are exceptions, and there will always be an exception. Yet, if you want to make it big with ods being on your favor, you need to bring value that relates to your customers’ needs, desires or future problems.
That’s why I believe this startup in particular is tremendously innovative — reading future from tarots or coffee cups is ancient as the pyramids. Yet, a normal guy was able to take an existing tradition lived and breathed by millions of Turkish people among other nationalities, to create a new channel for an existing market. The best part is that most of the customers didn’t even know they wanted their future read, but once the new channel provided by Faladdin delivered the results to their doorsteps, they were more than willing to try, and then get hooked to the app.
Knowing about the story of this startup made me dream again. Anything is possible! You shouldn’t go under seas or on top of the mountains to come up with an idea for your next six-figures startup.
“Faladdin is my alter ego — If I quit business today, I’d be a gypsy fortune-teller living in a caravan.” — Sertaç Taşdelen
All you need to do is wear your detective Gadget hat, and monitor people around. But this time, you will monitor closely, and you will pay attention. When the moment comes, you’ll realize your next startup idea that lived in disguise under your nose for years.
Let us know when you find it. Best of luck!