It's not too often that a startup from ‘down under' up roots to join an accelerator in Europe and then gets funded before graduating. Enter online book publishing platform 7write, which originally hails from Australia but has since relocated to the Netherlands after being accepted into accelerator Startupbootcamp‘s Amsterdam program. Graduating teams don't present until Demo Day this Friday, but that isn't stopping 7write from making an early grab for the limelight by announcing that it's raised $250,000.
The seed funding comes from a group of investors that includes early PayPal investor and fellow Australian Peter Davison, and serial entrepreneur Janneke Niessen (currently co-founder/CIO of Improve Digital). In addition, I'm told that a number of Netherlands' leading poker players also put some money on the table. Investing in a startup is a gamble after all.
Founded by Paul Hayes, Mark Harrison and Tiffany Hart, 7write has three strings to its bow. Firstly, it wants to provide better writing software for wannabe authors. This comes in the form of The 7write Writer's Studio. Described as narrative fiction novel writing software, it includes a “suite of inspirational creativity features” to help authors during the process of writing a novel, such as mind-mapping, tools to help develop the personality traits of fictional characters, and an interactive thesaurus. The app is underpinned by the cloud so that work-in-progress can be accessed anywhere, but also claims support for offline writing.
Next up, the startup wants to help authors better market their work. With an abundance of new eBooks being published everyday (having overtaken print), 7write has rightfully identified that building a readership and being discovered as a new author is a major problem. Its online publishing tool enables an author to publish one chapter at a time and push it to various reading and writing communities. The idea being to build a community around an unpublished book in conjunction with actually writing it - a fairly tested and proven trick for independent authors.
Finally, and how the startup plans to make money, 7write provides the ability to publish a finished work on the major eBook platforms (and will also offer print-on-demand and dead-tree distribution). The pull here is that it claims to have significantly simplified the process, specifically in terms of meeting the various and fragmented formatting requirements for each platform it's partnered with, including the Amazon Kindle Store and Apple's iBookstore. Authors write once and can have their work appear on any of the 14 eBook platforms supported by 7write without having to spend hours reformatting their manuscripts. That's the claim anyway. For the privilege it charges a submission fee and takes a 10% royalty on any subsequent sales.
7write isn's alone in its mission. Competitors in a crowded space include Lulu, Blurb, Feiyr, Booktango, and Smashwords. Interestingly, however, 7write is being advised by Derk Haank, CEO of Springer, the fourth largest book publisher worldwide. Meanwhile, new investor Davison has previously founded an eBook company too.