Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Nathan Hull, CCO at Bookchoice .
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Bookchoice is a digital bookclub in your pocket. A curated service offering 8 hand-picked ebooks and audiobooks per month at a super affordable price point. Imagine a Netflix for books where the conundrum of choice is removed. We do that part for you.
The ebooks and audiobooks are available as download-to-own in which case they’re yours forever, or via the Bookchoice app where we act more like an access model. And you can read and listen on virtually any device – kindle, smartphone, tablet, laptop.
We’re all about simplicity. Simple access across multiple devices, one simple price point, simple and easy to navigate app and website and a simplified route into choosing your next read. As your reading curators, we remove that paradox of choice.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
In its earliest guise, Bookchoice was self-funded by a small group of the original founders. Following that we raised capital and received additional support from a major publisher within the Netherlands (where we started out).
That latter relationship has since flourished within the Netherlands, with Bookchoice becoming the figurehead of a group of publishing related companies including the major traditional publisher and a high street book retailer. In doing this we get ever closer to fulfilling our aims of being an omni-channel route for getting more books – in whatever format digital, print or audio – to more people.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
In terms of what the consumer sees, we’re a curated service that cuts through the crap of all-you-can-read/listen/watch. Consumers aren’t time-rich so there’s a distinct place for a curated platform which the consumer gets to trust for its recommendation just like the staff in their local physical book store makes recommendations. We offer the eight books you do want to read, not the thousands you don’t. More than that we’re also an incredibly affordable reading option. At $4.99 per month we’re a no-brainer, even if you’re a light reader.
In terms of how we work with book publishers ,we also have a fundamental difference in how we remunerate them and their authors. It makes us instantly appealing as new revenue stream to them. Furthermore, via our strategic brand partnerships across multiple sectors, we’re super attractive as we place the books and authors in places publishers simply wouldn’t be working with otherwise – telecoms, rail networks, airlines, banks, insurance companies, gyms, hotel chains…
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Arguably the biggest challenge facing any young business is focus. Whether going very well or very badly, each can draw your attention in many directions as you attempt to solve issues or create new positive opportunities. We’re no different. Having dipped our exploratory toes into a few other European language markets, we made the bold choice to then aim our focus solely on a very narrow cluster of countries where the market conditions are just perfect – Australia being one of them – and focus all our attention and resources on them.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Headspace: since I (admittedly reluctantly!) allowed this awesome meditative app into my world, my productivity and positivity has a new lease of life. Just taking that little bit of time each day to clean my mind and switch off has made a huge difference. The irony is that it’s taken an app and a device to make me untether myself from tech at least once a day!
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