Startup of the week: Bibblio

Startup of the week: Bibblio

As champions of the Time Well Spent movement, the team behind London-based search and recommendation platform Bibblio aims to "change lifelong learning for the better."


The pitch

Bibblio aims to make knowledge discovery more simple and rewarding. Its platform provides publishers and edtech companies with a sophisticated recommendation and search experience that delivers truly relevant content to people hungry to learn.

Who is the team behind it?

Bibblio was founded by Mads Holmen (c.e.o.) and Rich Simmonds (chief experience officer).

Mads Holmen, Bibblio founder and c.e.o.

Holmen used to promote some of the world’s largest brands as part of goviral, which sold to AOL for $96.7m 2011. As planning director, Holmen contributed to multiple Cannes Lions-winning video campaigns, was commended for best digital sales team in the 2012 Campaign Media Awards, and has carried out extensive public speaking and written work on online media and marketing.

Simmonds has over 15 years experience in interface and graphic design and has worked internationally as the principal UX designer and creative lead for businesses across communications and media.

Other members of the core team are Michael Clarke (head of development) and Nic Young (head of product).

What's the gap in the market?

"Transformative technological advances have created a world where education and knowledge-based skills are becoming more and more important to people as a source of professional advancement and security, not to mention personal fulfilment and development," Holmen explains. "The sheer amount of quality content coming online is fundamentally changing the game.

"At present, publishers, learning platforms and edtech companies alike are struggling to keep up with this seismic change. Their educational content is dormant and fragmented, with few adequate tools to filter and discover them. Search giants such as Google are promoting superficial engagement on people's platforms, wherein users are kept in 'filter bubbles' that deny them easy access to the breadth of content available."

Bibblio aims to fill this gap by delivering high-quality, auto-generated metadata at scale, as a service, in combination with a discovery engine that "doesn't reflect who you've been, but who you want to become".

Success so far?

"Having a combined enrichment and discovery SaaS product that operates remotely, quickly and at scale, gives Bibblio a unique position in the market and as such, generates a lot of interest," Holmen says. Since launching in 2014, the platform has won clients including National Geographic, The Open University, Oxford University Press, BBC Learning Worldwide, Macat, The Royal Institution, Proversity and The Internet Archive.

Biggest challenges?

"It can be hard to convince people of the benefit of working with external people for metadata and recommendations," Holmen admits. "It's tough to get across that we are not taking those things away from them, just accelerating them."

Ultimate ambition?

The Bibblio team aspires to be a driving force in the Time Well Spent movement, which features a community of design thinkers, philosophers, social scientists, anthropologists, entrepreneurs and technologists that cares about having technology designed to help us live free and fulfilled lives.

"We want to change lifelong learning for the better, enabling users to always get the right content at the point of need," Holmen enthuses. "We hope to do this by making great knowledge content easier to discover on the web in general and having a positive impact on the digital media industry."

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

"Product development is ultimately about earning the right to build the next thing. Focus on one thing and do that well, repeat it and scale it. Don't branch out and think you can do more than one thing well."