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How EFSI benefits SMEs in Europe - Frontline Ventures case study: Inkitt (Germany), product development


“Every author should have an equal chance to succeed, from a teenager writing her first novel, to established authors like J.K. Rowling. We want to be the fairest and most objective publisher in the world” says Ali Albazaz, CEO of Inkitt.

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher that uses an algorithm to predict future bestsellers. It offers a platform where authors can post their work, readers can read them for free, and the best performers are offered a publishing deal. The key is in Inkitt’s proprietary algorithm that analyses reading behaviour of its users, predicting the potential of novels.

“Inkitt is where data meets creativity,” Ali adds. It started as a hobby, initially offering writers access to objective feedback, but as interest boomed, it quickly turned into a community and then a business. “We believe that when picking books for publishing, data-driven objective decisions are better than relying on subjective opinions,” he explains. With 70,000 authors on the platform and more than 1 million readers every month, it’s clear that this opinion is shared by others as well. “Lots of great authors got rejected many times before their best-seller was published. And publishers will often prefer the safe choice of an established author rather than taking a risk with a debutant. We want to give first-time authors a fair chance too.”

Inkitt is constantly fine-tuning the software, exploring reading patterns, looking at new ways to analyse behaviour and improving their predictions. That said, with 46 of the 50 books they published in 2017 making the top-100 list on Amazon-US, they’re not doing too badly right now either.

In late 2016, Inkitt received an equity investment from Frontline Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by the EIF, under the Investment Plan for Europe. This allowed Ali to grow his team and develop the product further. In fact, the team has more than doubled in the space of two years to 25 employees.

Despite being based in Berlin, only three team members are German, having attracted talent from all over the world to this exciting project. “In a few years’ time, when you open the New York Times’ best seller list, a majority of those books will be from debutant authors who wouldn’t have had a chance to get published if it wasn’t for Inkitt. That’s where we want to be” Ali explains with confidence.

Company: Inkitt (Germany)

Type of business: Product development

EIF financing: InnovFin SMEG, EFSI

Financial intermediary: Frontline Ventures

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Germany, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/de


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