Interview by Alessandro Vercesi
What is Blinkist and how did you come up with the idea?
Blinkist is a smartphone-tablet app that answers the need of using spare time in a useful and rewarding way. The goal of the app is to give users the possibility to read the core ideas of non-fictional books in their free time, for example: waiting for a train, during a short flight, on breaks. The cofounders believe that each non-fictional book contains around ten to fifteen core contents that can be extracted and re-write in about one page each. Therefore, people do not have to buy a book and spend many hours reading it when they can read the main points and have the same outcome knowledge of reading the whole book. It is a way of time saving in our fast-paced life. In fact, this is why the co-founders came up with the idea. After finishing university, all of them were working in corporate jobs and realized that they did not have enough time to read and found difficult to gain an additional knowledge from reading a non-fictional book, which could have also been helpful in their job. Therefore, they decided to create this service to people like them, professionals that want to increase their knowledge, keep themselves updated, but, don’t have enough time to read anything in between the main contents.
Why did you decided to participate in the hub:raum incubator program?
After we came up with the idea for Blinkist (Jan-Feb 2012), we started looking for investors to help us. However, most of them offered only financial support towards a portion of shares of the company. On the other hand, the hub:raum incubator offers financial support, space, and mentors. Therefore, we thought it was a better solution for us. Another important reason is the importance of Deutsche Telekom in Germany. This would give us a bigger network, and the possibility to be market partners when the incubator program ends.
How is the coworking and “betahaus” environment affecting you?
We started working in betahaus last Monday, November 12th, in a meeting room in the first floor where only our team works. From this Monday we will be working in the open space at the brandnew first floor with all the other startups from the hub:raum accelerator and incubator program. We believe that the coworking environment is the right environment to work as a startup because you can have direct feedback from other people that work in the same space, as well as relevant advices.
What are the main difficulties that you faced so far?
Most of the people think that the biggest challenge we faced and we might still face is copyright issue. However, copyrights is about sentences, whereas, Blinkist is about concept and contents. In fact, what the user will read on the App are the contents of books crunch in the Blinkist format. The real difficulties that we are facing are sourcing content, difficulties to find people that can crunch interesting books’ contents into our format, and App developers that can face the high competition of the market we are entering. In fact, we do not enter only in the reading and informating market, people that will use our App are mostly professionals, that do not have much time to read non-fictional book and decided to use their spare time in a more rewarding and knowledgeable way. Therefore, we will compete against any App that people use during their spare time.
What are your future goals?
Our first goal is creating a knowledgeable accessing and rewarding app that can successfully compete in the market. In addition, we want to have a reliable amount of content that would come each month in order to expand our database. Lastly, the beta version of the app will come out in December and it will be in German; however, we would like to create an international app by the beginning of next year in order to reach a bigger market share.