Our startup stories now bring us Inkspired, an online platform for readers and writers, where users can discover, write and post creative stories, novels and serial books. This Ecuadorian startup is a member of such important communities as Start-Up Chile and LatamStartups Toronto and it was chosen to participate in Demand Solutions Miami 2017, an event that looks for disruptive talent in Latin America and the Caribbean with global impact potential.

When was Inkspired created and what were its goals?

Inkspired took its first steps back in 2014, but the initial BETA came out in the early 2015. A year later, halfway through 2016, the brand was officially re-launched (without the BETA label), along with an updated ecosystem of apps for iPhone, Android and a web version where users can read, write and post. The apps for Mac and Windows are next on the list. Since the very beginning, the idea aimed at implementing a platform that allows freelance authors to develop and publish their literary texts, novels and stories, without going through the process of looking for publishing companies and being published by them, which usually does not happen. The idea was to democratize the publishing process, make it faster, more accessible and effective for new fiction authors, thus launching a platform where they can not only write and publish, but also attract their initial audience and keep on developing their stories, instead of spending years writing and then trying to publish their contents.

How does Inkspired work?

Freelance writers are looking for a first opportunity to publish their texts, novels and stories. They just have register in the platform for free, go to the control panel, create new story, write the first chapter and then publish it. We immediately connect that story with the thousands of readers we have in our community, so they get in touch with their audience and interact with them. On the other hand, readers can find in our platform thousands of works in several languages and categories. Some of these stories are full works and some of them are “in progress”, which means that the author is publishing them chapter by chapter, with certain frequency. As readers, users can “follow” the stories and their authors, and receive notifications and updates. Likewise, they can interact with their favorite writers by means of “likes”, “comments”, “reviews” and so on. Finally, certain works feature the “receive voluntary donations” option, which can be used by readers to support their favorite works.

What’s your business model?

We have a “freemium” subscription model. In Inkspired, you can always read, write and publish for free. We are about to release a new app for Mac and Windows and we have named it Inkspired Writer, which will offer Premium subscription as an improved version of our free editor on the web. By using the app in your computer, with Inkspired Writer you cannot only write when being offline, but you can also synchronize and have a backup of your texts on the cloud with your getinkspired.com account, manage your writing process, options to publish your contents to Inkspired, WordPress and Medium; and you’ll have smart tools to generate visual maps of the chronology, genealogy and relations of your story, based on the characters, places and events described. The app can be obtained by taking the Premium subscription for $59.99 a year. Moreover, we are working on a membership named Inkspired Reader, which will include paid content and stories in a new interactive format; as well as exclusive stories published by Inkspired and other authors.

What have been your main results?

In product terms, feeling that we have been welcomed by Latin American users, especially from Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador. That has surprising and comforting. We presently have a constant growth rate of about 30 percent. That’s a good start to keep on taking our service to higher levels. Having high rates of writers that stay with us and seeing the growth of our community, which is greatly proactive and provides ideas for our product team, that’s priceless to us. Among other results, we have obtained support from governments with seed capital funds, and attracted “venture capitalists” and companies with investment funds. We are talking with all of them. At company level, we have had the opportunity of being part of important communities made up of entrepreneurs around the world, such as Start-Up Chile and LatamStartups TORONTO, and catching the eye of certain publications. We are proud of these achievements.

Which elements played a key role when it came to joining the group of startups that will participate in Demand Solutions Miami 2017?

We decided to participate because we believe in the potential of our product to generate cultural impact through creative industries: literature in this case. We foster reading and encourage writers to write more, publish and improve their stories. Among the key elements we had our valuable proposal, career and innovation in a space that had kind of fallen into oblivion in our region.

What do you make of the startup ecosystem in Ecuador?

The Ecuadorian startup ecosystem is still taking its first steps, but it is growing. The Ecuadorian people has this enterprising spirit, positive qualities and good technical training. The ecosystem as such is based on ideas, entrepreneurs and startups. We still need institutions and investors to support this kind of projects. The minds of most of them are still very traditional when it comes to investing, mainly because of the lack of successful technological and innovative projects in the region, which would establish guidelines and set precedents, by showing the existence of scale economies in local markets. Despite these aspects, we have noticed significant improvement over the past 2 years, since the startup community has worked hard for it to happen.

5 tips to be share with other startups

  • Create a team with complementary skills and the same level of motivation and commitment.
  • Test the feasibility and profitability of an idea in the cheapest and fastest way possible, before building, investing and going through years of development that could fail.
  • Get the best professionals around you. Your level goes up when you are surrounded by people that are better than you. Do it with people from different areas, different from your field of expertise: you are a programmer? Look for people from the Marketing, Business and Design realms.
  • Find a mentor that is not only willing to help you with expertise and advices, but also guide you and open opportunity doors to meet the right people.
  • Discipline and perseverance. Work with discipline, passion and persevere to achieve what you want.