This Prague-based startup hopes to connect poetry lovers through a social network driven by free speech and shared values.
Poetizer is a free social network for poets and poetry lovers available as a website and on iOS and Android apps. Founded in 2017, the site currently covers over 120 countries with 40,000 poems already written by its users. Key features include create-your--own poetry collections, a text editor with detailed editing tools, the option to select user anonymity and the ability to choose a minimalist 'creativity-supporting' design.
“Poetizer is creating a space for poetry lovers across the globe that share the same desires and values, like freedom of speech, authenticity and the love of poetry as a form of self-expression," says Lukas Sedlacek, founder and managing director of Poetizer. "We believe that the platform will interest even those who don’t write poetry themselves.”
Poetizer is powered by a nine-strong international team. Sedlacek studied international relations at the University of Cambridge, Charles University in Prague, and Otago University in New Zealand. He is the founder of the European Leadership & Academic Institute, as well as of the Innovation Week Czech Republic. He has been a poetry fan from a young age, having already written poems at the age of 10.
His partner Johana Sedlackova Vamberska, the c.e.o., studied classical piano and later on graduated from the University of Oxford where she focused on the role of culture in international affairs. She has been leading the development of the platform and investment negotiations.
C.t.o. Miroslav Sutera was previously c.e.o. of IT company Blueberry. Most of the team is based in Europe, although the head of PR Sanja Bojovik lives in Toronto and the head of external relations lives in New York.
What's the gap in the market?
The Sedlaceks were inspired to launch Poetizer by two main observations: the popularity of poetry online, and the recent and predicted to be long-term trend of millennials leaving traditional social media sites.
"Poetry is growing in popularity thanks to modern poets on social media, especially on Instagram. Among the best-known are American poet R. M Drake (1.8M followers), Australian poet Lang Leav (475K followers) and the queen of instapoets, the Canadian-Indian poet Rupi Kaur (3.2M followers)," Sedlacek says. "These instapoets are taking both social media and the publishing market by storm. However, according to more and more poets, Instagram is no longer enough for them as a platform as they have to conform to its limitations.
"Research has also shown that 34% of respondents from Generation Z have deleted their accounts on traditional social media platforms and nearly 64% are taking a temporary break. More and more people don’t feel free to be fully themselves on current social media, as they feel pressured to live up to other people’s expectations - we want to be a platform for those who dare to be authentic and who are fed up of the social media pretense."
“When we were creating Poetizer, we primarily listened to the wishes and needs of poets," Sedlackova Vamberska adds. "The community of people interested in poetry is rapidly rising globally and they deserve their own social network built around their wishes and with no limits to their artistic expression.”
Success so far?
Since launch in 2017, Poetizer has managed to attract tens of thousands of users globally, secured investments from private investors, and built a strong global team.
"Our biggest challenge was securing an IT team that would be capable of creating a perfectly functioning social media platform," Sedlacek reports. "Top IT programmers are pretty hard to find these days as they are in high demand. For the future, our biggest challenges will be tackling the upcoming tightening of regulations on social media platforms and scaling our business fast enough to establish our presence as the dominant social network for poetry globally."
The Poetizer team's ultimate ambition is for the platform to become the preferred choice globally for anyone who wishes to read, write and publish poetry.
"Our vision is for people to better empathize with one another through poetry by tearing down those walls we so often have up and that are so often reinforced by harmful ideologies and lack of exposure to otherness," Sedlacek adds.
Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?
"Don’t be afraid to have big dreams, even if everyone around you thinks they are too big. As someone once said, 'If people don’t laugh at your dreams, they are not big enough.'"