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In short, Readz is a platform designed to spell the end for hosted PDFs.
It's a drag and drop content creation platform that can be used to produce magazines, reports, portfolios and the like.
I spoke to CEO and Founder, Bart De Pelsmaeker about the company and its journey.
In one sentence, what is your product/service?
Readz is a SaaS content creation platform, allowing brands to rapidly create beautiful online content.
What problem(s) does it solve?
People (and brands) like to tell stories. We help them do that.
Content with a storyline typically is ‘guided’, ‘long-form’ and often semi-permanent. The current toolset to make content available on the web is geared towards ‘non-guided’ content such as websites, or blogs.
Not surprisingly, most content from the ‘old’ printed world which contained some form of storyline or editorial guidance, is placed on-line as... print (PDF). People are looking for better ways to express their creativity, their stories.
Today we are in a new wave of innovation as new platforms such as Medium or new projects such as the New York Times’ Snowfall or The Guardian’s Firestorm show how stories can be told better on the web.
With the Readz platform, users don’t make websites or blogs, but they make beautiful interactive web content like the examples mentioned above. The tool is flexible enough to support many manifestations of this type of content.
Looking at content with story lines, Readz can act as a mini-site: single stories, presentations, and also some brochures or guides. Looking at editorially guided content, we see magazines, mostly customer and internal magazines, created on the platform.
So in terms of capabilities, we solve the problem of readability with our responsive design. We solve the challenge of being found with our SEO optimization. We provide a solution to measurement with our in-depth, detailed analytics. Our platform also is completely code-free with its drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG interface.
Simply put, Readz offers designers and marketers a faster and easier alternative to the traditional Adobe/coding process.
What are your immediate goals?
We would love to see more brands experiment with new approaches to market their content and values.
There is no out-of-bounds on the web, no rules and restrictions. As long as it works and communication happens.
Obviously, we would love to be part of that journey. Ultimately it is our goal to lower the threshold to making cool exciting stuff on the web in lieu of placing print PDFs online.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?
We have had our share of technical conundrums and employee challenges, and we even had to pivot about a year ago. But on a higher level, creating the Readz solution and working with enthusiastic employees and customers to get to where we are, has been a life-altering experience.
I know this might sound corny, but it really is the truth. The biggest challenge is often oneself and we/I have been no exception.
How will the company make money?
Luckily for us we are already making money today, and are having a tremendous summer so far. We have seen several large enterprise customers join our community, such as Costa Coffee, Verizon, Mead Johnson, and others.
The business model is based on a monthly fee which starts as low as $30 per month.
Who is in your team?
After starting, Peter (De Loof) and Ariel (Yaar) joined very fast and we’ve built everything ground up together.
We got to know each other working different roles in publishing and newspaper sector. Peter is VP of Possibilities, Ariel is VP of Realization.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?
One year: more and more experimentation with how stories can be told on the web. Readz as a company has helped brands achieve a higher ROI and higher conversions offering these new formats to their customers.
Three years: the industry as a whole starts embracing this new way of communicating stories and brand messages. Readz is at the forefront of this movement, one of the leaders.
Five years: wide-spread adoption. Using Readz (or other players who came into this field) is a no-brainer. Nobody places PDFs online anymore and thinks that’s a good thing.
Other than your own, what are your favourite websites / apps / tools?
I mentioned some of them already, but I really like Medium, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and projects like The Guardian’s Firestorm, and the NYT’s Snowfall.