18 September 2015

Emma Rydell


Today, we more than ever see entrepreneurial ideas turning into success stories. The last decade of new digital innovations has not only changed the way we communicate with each other, but also the way we consume content. The rather traditional publishing industry is now facing the challenge of adjusting to the newbies on the market, changing the rules of the game with their revolutionary solutions. One of these newcomers is Readly - The LINK met with them to hear their story.

“I have publishing running through my veins, I am a real magazine junkie, I love magazines”, says Ranj Begley, UK Managing Director of SCC Member Company Readly to the LINK.

Readly, is a company that in a short period of time have experienced the journey of being a new start-up breaking through in the competitive and traditional market of the publishing industry. Begley highlights that timing definitely was key, admitting that a company with a similar business model as Readly had tried to launch its idea in the UK market five years before the Swedish Readly founder Joel Wikell launched his company in 2013. The earlier company failed to succeed whereas Readly has experienced rapid growth since it started only two years back.

Dubbed as the Spotify of magazines, Readly is offering a new way of reading magazines on tablets and smartphones. The solution allows for people to subscribe and get access to over 1000 magazines ranging from Swedish to UK and US based content. Readers are able to read, search, bookmark and share articles in a fast and easy manner. With headquarters located in the Swedish towns Växjö and Stockholm, the company launched in the UK in March 2014. The journey to success was, however, not as easy as it might first appear.

Begley, herself having worked for a long time in the UK publishing industry, describes it as being in some cases quite traditional, with some publishers being very protective of their content. She met a lot of scepticism from her colleagues when deciding to jump on board this new Swedish start-up, and was warned that it would be a hard sell - it would be difficult to get publishers to buy in.

“The first few months were tough - there were a fair few knock backs and the lines between professional and personal rejection became very blurred”.

Despite this, she says that the general beliefs around running a start up and having a lot of self-belief is cliché for her.

“For me the biggest thing is resilience, and being really tenacious”, she says.

The Challenge of Winning the Publishers Over
Despite the scepticism, many publishers soon realised that Readly can be used as an additional distribution platform of their content, that would not necessarily compete or cannibalise their business. However, what finally won the publishers over was the possibility to watch live statistics of how their magazine was performing.

“I usually call Readly Analytics the sexy part of Readly - this is our USP with the Publishers and gives them valuable insight on customer behaviour and how they consume content”, says Begley.

The possibility to see exactly how many seconds, by who and in which territory a specific ad, picture or article have been read, definitely changes the rules of the game. 

Sweden - the Country of New Tech Solutions
Many wonder how come Sweden has delivered so many of the latest successful tech solutions (such as Skype, Spotify, Truecaller, Izettle, TradeDoubler, Klarna and now Readly). According to Begley, Swedes are very passionate about their technical knowledge and generally very tech savvy, which might be one reason.

“I remember my first trip to Växjö, I was the only person reading an actual book on the train from Denmark to Växjö. Everyone was plugged into a device of some kind. I think they are ahead of the game when it comes to start ups and technology”, says Begley.

She also adds that the Swedish governmental system can be perceived as very supportive, giving the younger generation the opportunities and provision to develop and embrace technology. Britain is learning from the Scandinavian countries in that they have to start young. In schools, children as young as eight are now being taught how to code and create apps and websites - which will definitely give them a head start with their careers.

The Future of the Publishing Industry
There is no doubt that the kind of solution Readly offers indeed changes the ways we consume content, in a similar way that Spotify changed the way we listen to and explore new music. We asked her what her thoughts are on the media industry and where she feels it is heading next:

“Subscriptions are the way to go, I really do believe that”.

One can also see this trend in the way newspapers, television- and media channels have evolved during the lasts years as well, offering premium subscription services online to their customers.

“Everyone is on the hunt for a bargain, whatever it may be, music, books, newspapers etc. Everyone wants more bang for the buck”, Begley says.

The younger generation, who are growing up in a world of freemium and subscription based products, also take these solutions for granted and expect to be able to consume content in this manner.

“The Millennials are extremely savvy, wanting smart, fast and innovative products that are good value for money. Readly provides such solution, and this is what people want now”, Begley tells the LINK.

If interested in exploring the newest way of consuming magazines, Readly is the app to check out next. However, as with most things, everything changes fast and one cannot expect things to stay consistent forever. Being aware of that, Readly is already planning the next move. As Begley states:

“We have some exciting new developments in the product roadmap - we have to move fast as consumer behaviour is constantly changing. Who knows what is around the next corner”.

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