Startup of the week: Beemgee

Startup of the week: Beemgee

Struggling to untangle that gnarly plot or nail your character's arc? Beemgee, the first writing software dedicated to story development, wants to be "the go-to online resource for anyone conceiving a story."

The pitch

Beemgee is the first web-based author software dedicated to story development, such as outlining plots and developing characters. With Beemgee browser tools an author can structure intricate plotlines, either alone or collaboratively in a virtual writers room. The software also improves the workflow between author and editor, and reduces the amount of rewrites and the risk of writers’ block.

Who's behind it

The Beemgee team comprises a mix of techies and story experts. The idea was hatched by British-born publishing professional Olaf Bryan Wielk and Israeli filmmaker Amos Ponger. Before founding Beemgee in 2015, Wielk spent years marketing books for two of Germany’s most renowned publishers, Rowohlt and Carlsen.

Co-founder Robert Becker brings business experience and technical knowledge alongside chief developer Samir Rachidi. Martin Jablonski is in charge of user experience, while designer Mirja Dittrich has defined the Beemgee look. 

What's the gap in the market?

“While I was still working for publishers, most talk of digitisation was either about how to use it to help market print books or how to distribute ebooks,” Wielk explains. “But I was always more interested in the authors, and the creative process behind thinking up stories. I had a vision of an online tool that would be dedicated to the craft of building plots and developing the dramatic function of characters.” 

“The tools already out there are mostly older programs you have to install on your computer, so since they’re not online it’s hard to use them as a team," Becker agrees. "And most of them focus on processing text. There are a couple of outlining tools for filmmakers, but they are difficult to use. We make it easy for people to just get their stories into shape. You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy using Beemgee.” 

Although there are dozens of books on the market providing writing advice, Beemgee’s extensive help blog aims to give users explanations about specific aspects of storytelling at exactly the moment they are dealing with them. 

Success so far?

The Berlin-based Beemgee team was one of the first to win a place in the ACE Creative EU accelerator, and has made it into the finals of a couple of the larger German business plan competitions.

"But we're far more proud of our free character-building tool and our newly completed plot-outlining tool," Wielk insists. "In a few short weeks, these two tools will be merged into one and opened up to the public with an annual subscription model. There will be a special introductory early-bird price for authors who subscribe before October 2016."

Biggest challenges?

“Hardest is maintaining the clarity of our vision, on the one hand technically, on the other in terms of business,” Becker says, adding that one of the biggest challenges is the user experience. “We want to give authors a tool so easy and fun to use that it doesn’t distract from the art and work of an author any more than pen and paper does. Despite the wealth of Beemgee’s sophisticated features, we don’t want to overwhelm the user with an array of functions and buttons.”

Ultimate ambition?

Beemgee aims to be the best story development software on the market, and wants to be the go-to online resource for anyone conceiving a story. According to Wielk, “thinking about character and story structure is integral to good storytelling, whatever the medium or genre – and we want everyone in the content business to try us for this part of the process. Perhaps more importantly, we want to help people who have never managed to get their stories straight to find the structure of their narratives, so they can finally write their stories to the end.”

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

“You need a team you trust absolutely and that you like working with,” Wielk says. “You can’t build something good on your own. You need good people, and you need to have complete faith in your idea.”