Heading into the future with innovative content: A total of 44 startups from ten countries including Finland, India, Canada and the UK applied for the CONTENTshift accelerator 2021. Ten startups have been selected by the jury for the next round. Here are the top 10 and their ideas in more detail - sorted alphabetically.
The BotTalk team - consisting of Andrey Esaulov, Kirill Kholodilin, Rebecca Wahrlich, Vsevolod Chernikov and Pavel Kobzar - is already riding a wave of success and has brought a major partner on board in the form of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). BotTalk is a text-to-speech software that converts any text into an audio format at the touch of a button. This is not only inclusive for people with visual or reading impairments, but is also perfect for those who are frequently on the move but want to remain up-to-date or be entertained while doing everyday activities such as cooking. For publishers, the software means a huge cost saving compared to using professional speakers. BotTalk has excellent audio quality and currently has 150 voices in 26 languages.
It's no secret that algorithms are already being used intensively in many different areas of life. This makes it all the more important to use them skilfully in the book industry to increase the discoverability of one's own products. This is exactly where Buuk comes in: Founded in 2020 by Christopher Klein and Jens Helbig, the startup helps publishers and authors, who lack know-how, technical understanding or sufficient time, to better present their books digitally. In addition to entering metadata, the development of the range can be monitored in real time via the app for the purpose of market analysis. What's more, self-publishers have the opportunity to publish their books in three simple steps.
The startup Chaperone, founded in 2021 in London, explores the idea of turning the solitary activity of reading into a social interaction. The social reading app will make it possible to display other people's notes on the book you are reading in order to deepen your own reading experience. In addition, hosts of book clubs can use the platform for their discussions and interactions. Founder Anthony O. Thomas and his team colleagues Arjit Sengupta and Jack Alcock are convinced that reading circles will become as popular as newsletters currently are. The plan is to also integrate newspapers and magazines into Chaperone in the future.
Back in 2018, Tanja Haller and Julia Habermaier already realised that there was a big gap in children's education: How could learning, augmented reality and being actively creative be interlinked? Home-schooling during the pandemic has clearly highlighted the need for digital solutions. The Stuttgart-based startup dot on has developed "dots boxes". These contain colourful adhesive dots that kids first stick and then scan to get more information on the chosen topic. Afterwards, they can paint, exhibit this picture in a virtual gallery and test their knowledge in a quiz at the end.
Since the Ice Bucket Challenge, which became widely known on social media, challenges have become extremely popular on the internet - people love competitions and use them to motivate each other. DayOff by Corin Freyer and Lino Toran, allows you to set yourself small challenges in order to improve your skills and stay on the ball for the long term. Of course, the concept works collectively and with incentives: different teams can collect points by completing challenges and exchange them for holidays, for example. The aim of DayOff is to train soft skills in a web-based manner via microlearning.
The startup Innolibro by Gregor Pchalek and Bastian Schütz aims to take the e-book format to the next level with its publishing programme Appbook: The platform-independent app gives readers access to individualised, up-to-date and multifunctional reading content on almost any device. Innolibro also merges various processes for the publishing side - from direct exchange with readers through chat and the integration of topic-specific advertising in the book to the presentation of the publisher's own offers in reseller portals.
Traditional journalism and social media continue to compete with each other to a certain extent. But that doesn't have to be the case: Newsadoo, founded in 2017 by David Böhm, pursues the solution of combining both forms of media with their function “topics”: newspaper and magazine articles and qualitative content from social media. Established knowledge transfer from the former, corrected, supplemented or with personal anecdotes from the latter, are thus logically brought together. Readers can find all relevant information bundled in one service, rather than spread across different platforms and websites. A kind of Netflix for news.
The world may be driven by algorithms but that doesn't mean it’s the only way to do things. The Frankfurt-based app READ-O, created by Jonathan Mondorf, Ben Kohz, Michael Pomogajko, Simon Farshid and Andreas Weiser, enables readers to filter through the vast number of new publications to find books that suit their preferences. The AI-supported search engine analyses millions of reviews, and books are matched on the basis of self-selected categories and tags - similar to a dating app. In the long term, the plan is to establish READ-O as a social media platform.
Home-schooling has forced people to be more creative: In the summer of 2020, Sabine Streich and Susan Schädlich launched startseiten.school. The idea is as simple as it is ingenious - it brings authors and school classes together. This not only provides the authors with a source of income (the app is already supported by the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Junges Literaturhaus Frankfurt), but also provides the pupils with content in an innovative way and motivates them to read and write. The digital book workshops function via a virtual pinboard on which the school classes can collectively solve writing tasks.
The startup talking hands has already sold 11,000 flipbooks in its first eight weeks. The highlight: thanks to the illustrations, sign language can be learned in a playful way. The founders Laura Mohn and Maria Möller were inspired by Mohn's sister, who has Down syndrome. The flipbooks not only promote integration and inclusion, they also teach motor skills. And they look fantastic!
On 23 June, all ten startups will present their pitches at a digital event in front of the expert jury, which is made up of Detlef Büttner (Lehmanns Media Specialist Bookstore), Dr Leif Göritz (Thalia Bookstore), Olaf Carstens (Cornelsen Publishing House), Dr Stephan Dietrich (Junfermann Publishing House), Sabine Haag (Verlag Wiley-VCH Publishing House), Ronald Schild (MVB), Karin Schmidt-Friderichs (Börsenverein) and Deepa Gautam-Nigge (SAP Next-Gen Innovation Network).
This jury will select five startups for the shortlist, which will then be connected with investors and experts from the industry and receive digital coaching. At the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, the expert jury will then select the "Content Startup of the Year", which will be awarded 10,000 euros in funding.
Text: Isabella A. Caldart
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