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Discover how Start Up 24symbols is changing the world of online digital books.

Look­ing for a job is very com­pet­i­tive. If you are only apply­ing to jobs online you will encounter sub­stan­tial com­pe­ti­tion. At our objec­tive is to make it as easy as pos­si­ble to find a job at a great com­pa­ny and with the least amount of competition.

At we have estab­lished our mis­sion of Find­ing the Great Com­pa­nies First. In keep­ing with our mis­sion we have cre­at­ed this inter­view series with some of the newest star­tups in the New York City mar­ket area.   We encour­age you to learn about some of the newest com­pa­nies and think about what might be a good fit for you.

What is the name and loca­tion of your com­pa­ny and who are the founders?
24symbols, a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice for ebooks,  was built in Madrid, Spain by four founders with tech­ni­cal and marketing/sales background.

How did the idea for your start-up come about?
We the founders worked at a B2B start­up and were think­ing of a moon­light­ing project relat­ed to pub­lish­ing. As we thought more about it, the idea of a “spo­ti­fy for ebooks” start­ed to gain trac­tion. When, in Jan­u­ary 2010, Apple intro­duced the first iPad, we knew this was an endeav­or worth trying.

Of the key peo­ple involved what is everyone’s expe­ri­ence and background?
The founders come from the B2B indus­try, with tech­ni­cal back­ground (MS and PhDs in Com­put­er Sci­ence and Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing) and tech, prod­uct, sales and mar­ket­ing expe­ri­ence. But now the com­pa­ny is quite bal­anced between tech, bizdev and pub­lish­ing peo­ple that han­dle all the chal­lenges we have every day.

How do you see your com­pa­ny cre­at­ing val­ue or dis­rupt­ing an exist­ing market?
When we start­ed every­one said we were absolute­ly nuts. A few years lat­er, we are com­pet­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly against star­tups and big com­pa­nies alike. The vision we had was sim­ple: to enable peo­ple to read what­ev­er they want­ed, when­ev­er they want­ed, with no lim­i­ta­tions, and with a fair price. That’s the key dis­rup­tion in publishing.

When was the busi­ness found­ed and how are you being funded?
We found­ed the com­pa­ny in 2010, and we have been pri­vate­ly fund­ed in main rounds. A pre-seed round in 2010, and a seed round in 2013.

If so by whom are you cur­rent­ly fund­ed by?
Our main investor is Group Zed, the inter­na­tion­al leader in pro­vid­ing dig­i­tal con­tent to mobile car­ri­ers around the world. They are also our strate­gic part­ners in pro­vid­ing our ser­vice to many of those carriers.

What is the cur­rent size of your busi­ness, num­ber of employees?
We are 20 peo­ple now, and pro­vide ser­vices to more than 10 coun­tries. We start­ed in Spain, but are now present in Argenti­na, Colom­bia, Guatemala, Rus­sia or Ger­many. In addi­tion, and because of our part­ner­ship with Face­book, 24symbols is present in all coun­tries where is offered (planned to be in 100 coun­tries at the end of this year.)

If you are seek­ing fur­ther fund­ing, how much and for what pur­pose will the new funds be applied?
We have shown that ebook sub­scrip­tion ser­vices work and are a viable busi­ness. Now we want to strength­en our inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion process, push our con­tent acqui­si­tion in select­ed lan­guages, and con­tin­ue offer­ing the best pos­si­ble cloud read­ing and social read­ing app you can pos­si­bly imagine.

What is the prod­uct and or ser­vice you are providing?
24symbols is a ser­vice to read and dis­cov­er dig­i­tal books online, based on a mobile sub­scrip­tion mod­el. A mul­ti-device, mul­ti-pub­lish­er ser­vice that enables users to dis­cov­er, read and share digital
books on the cloud (i.e. no book down­load is required.)

Explain how you are seek­ing entry into your marketplace.
Direct­ly, via mobile car­ri­ers, and many oth­er part­ners that have access to poten­tial read­ers. We already have more than 1 mil­lion users worldwide.

What seems to be the biggest strength of the team so far?
A great mix­ture of qual­i­ty, pas­sion and bal­ance. We are a tech com­pa­ny by heart, which enables us to be real­ly quick and nim­ble, but with an increas­ing­ly stronger pub­lish­ing back­ground, which pro­vides crit­i­cal insights about how to offer the best ser­vice for read­ers, pub­lish­ers and authors.

What was your great­est “Ah-Ha” moment to date?
There are many, but I remem­ber ear­ly in the days we start­ed how our pitch to pub­lish­ers had to change if we want­ed to engage them. While we were talk­ing about cloud read­ing, no DRM in ebooks and new busi­ness mod­els about sub­scrip­tion ser­vices, their main chal­lenge regard­ing dig­i­tal was whether they should dig­i­tize them or not. As a start­up you want to change the world tomor­row, but it takes lots of time to do it.

What was the fun­ni­est thing that has happened?
Some­thing that made me real­ize how fast this goes was when, in 2013, a well-known pub­lish­ing ana­lyst intro­duced us as the “grand­dad­dy of sub­scrip­tion ser­vices”… just 2 years after we launched our beta ver­sion! This is the beau­ty of entrepreneurship 😀

If you can only do one thing in your indus­try what would that be?
Mak­ing them under­stand that as impor­tant as authors are, the real cus­tomer is the read­er, and every­thing the pub­lish­ing indus­try does should revolve around him/her.

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