This app is getting young people Hooked on chat-based fiction

This app is getting young people Hooked on chat-based fiction

This mobile storytelling app has 20 million downloads - and it's reaching that elusive Gen Z demographic.

The pitch

Hooked is an innovative storytelling app that touts itself as "fiction for the Snapchat generation". By presenting stories as text message conversations, Hooked aims to make reading fiction as engaging for teens as using social media.

The team

Hooked is the brainchild of Prerna Gupta and Parag Chordia, married co-founders from Stanford University who are seasoned entrepreneurs with deep expertise in mobile.

They previously built music apps at Smule, including AutoRap and Sing! Karaoke, which have reached over 300 million users worldwide. They have also produced viral videos with hundreds of millions of views.

Prerna Gupta and Parag Chordia

What's the gap in the market?

The Hooked team are chasing that elusive audience of Gen-Z digital addicts, who are big fans of drama but do not naturally gravitate towards books. Stories are an average 1000 words, or a six-minute read, and are currently focused on the horror genre. Most are user generated, but the commissioned work is the most popular.

"We believe there's an opportunity to create a new form of narrative storytelling that, in the words of Biz Carson, is 'native to mobile and designed to capture a person's short attention span'," Gupta reports. "We started Hooked with the goal of rethinking storytelling from the ground up for the younger generations."

Of course, there are other mobile fiction platforms out there such as Oolipo - but Gupta thinks that the focus on chat as the carrier of the narrative will give Hooked a unique appeal. 


Success so far

Hooked claims to have reached 20 million downloads so far. Most readers are between 18 and 24, with 69% under the age of 25, so it looks like they're reaching that target demographic. The average user is 25, and more than half are female.

Biggest challenges?

An opporuntity for authors hoping to diversify beyond traditional publishing beckons. Hooked's main issue at this point is, according to  Gupta, "producing high-quality stories fast!" 

Ultimate ambition?

"To be the next Netflix, designed for mobile natives."

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

"Perseverance is key."