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Press release: BotTalk and READ-O are the Content Startups of 2021 21.10.2021

Two startups share the CONTENTshift accelerator first place and the innovation prize of 10,000 euro / Sponsorship programme for startups to be continued in 2022 / Companies from the industry can sponsor the programme and take up a place on the jury 

New innovation champions: The German startups BotTalk and READ-O were named the "Content Startups of the Year 2021" at the Frankfurt Book Fair today. They share first place in the Börsenverein Group's sponsorship programme. Their business ideas:  

V.l.n.r.: Jonathan Mondorf und Ben Kohz (Read-O), Jurysprecher Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen), Andrey Esaulov (BotTalk) Foto:
F.l.t.r.: Jonathan Mondorf und Ben Kohz (Read-O), Jurysprecher Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen), Andrey Esaulov (BotTalk)  Image:
  • BotTalk converts text into an audio format at the touch of a button – and thus not only saves publishers the costs for speakers, but also makes texts accessible and easy to use on the go. 
  • READ-O uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse book reviews on the internet to find out what people felt when reading a book. The app provider uses this information to generate reading recommendations for potential book customers. READ-O is also incorporating this information into a new project with the technology and information provider MVB. There, it will be merged with the MVB's new classification of books - the "reading rationales", which describe the subconscious customer needs that prompt people to buy books. 

In today's final round, the two startups came out on top with their pitches against the other finalists. A total of 44 startups from ten countries applied for this year's competition. The winners will share the innovation prize of 10,000 euro. 

Jury spokesman Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Verlag) explained the jury's decision: 

"We decided to award first place to two startups as they address very different yet equally important topics in the industry: BotTalk has the potential to give the trending topic of 'voice' a substantial boost in the book industry with its business model. This startup offers publishers a smart text-to-speech solution 'made in Germany' away from Amazon and Google, which can be implemented in an uncomplicated, professional manner while also offering a highly competitive price. This simplifies the format change for readers and makes the book accessible in various life situations. READ-O, on the other hand, convinced us with a concept that counteracts the loss of readers: Their recommendation algorithm based on needs-oriented metadata opens up a new level of accuracy and content quality in book recommendations. This will enable the industry to rekindle enthusiasm for reading and increase reading frequency. We will also be keeping a close eye on the next steps planned by READ-O, which are intended to create a digital community platform for books by expanding the app's features". 

In addition to BotTalk and READ-O, the following startups also made it to the final round and were able to benefit from the individual mentoring of the jury and other experienced experts in the industry: 

  • Buuk: Helps to improve the digital presentation of books using metadata and market analyses and to increase their findability online. 
  • DayOff: Trains soft skills via web-based microlearning - collaboratively and with incentives such as extra days of holiday. 
  • talking hands: Flipbooks which, thanks to their illustrations, make it possible to learn sign language in a playful way 

The members of this year’s jury included: Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Publishing House) Detlef Büttner (Lehmanns Media Specialist Bookstore), Dr. Leif Göritz (Thalia Bookstore), Dr. Stephan Dietrich (Junfermann Publishing House), Sabine Haag and Hartmut Gante (Wiley-VCH Publishing House), Ronald Schild (MVB), Karin Schmidt-Friderichs (Börsenverein) as well as Deepa Gautam-Nigge (SAP Next-Gen Innovation Network) as a partner of the programme from outside the industry. 

The CONTENTshift accelerator will be continued in 2022. Companies can participate as investors which gives them a place on the jury and exclusive access to all the startups that apply. 

The CONTENTshift accelerator, along with the CONTENTshift startup club, is part of the Börsenverein Group's CONTENTshift initiative, which promotes innovation and new business models in the book and media industry. 

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