Startup of the week: Joosr

Startup of the week: Joosr

British book summary app Joosr is one of five finalists in this year's BookTech Company of the Year Award. So why is it so exciting - and what are the ambitions and obstacles for the team behind the tech?

The pitch

Joosr enables rapid self-development through 20-minute summaries of the best performance-boosting books. With a carefully curated library spanning leadership, entrepreneurship, health, parenting and much more, Joosr's independent summaries bring out the most actionable aspects of books written by the world’s leading thinkers, helping busy people to make big advances in their lives everyday. 

The team

Darren Boyd-Annells founded Joosr with Becci Edmondson: "two busy parents with demanding professional lives and a life-long passion for learning". Boyd-Annells spent the ten years prior to starting Joosr leading business change for leading financial services brands, while Edmondson worked as a commissioning editor at Psychology Press and Routledge. It is this blend of editorial insight and business experience that puts the pair in a prime position to launch a forward-thinking digital publishing business.

What's the gap in the market?

As busy working parents, Boyd-Annells and Edmondson found themselves with very limited time to read, and they knew that they were not alone. "The world today is a busy and demanding place," they explain. "The amount of information available to people is increasing at an overwhelming pace yet attention spans are dropping to mere seconds. For so for many, it can seem impossible to find the time to keep up with professional learning, explore how to handle big personal challenges or simply to finish a book. Whilst condensed knowledge is not new, we saw a gap in the quality of bitesize content and the digital channels through which it was being delivered. And so Joosr was born."

Success so far?

Since launching Joosr ebooks to digital marketplaces in July 2015, the summaries have been read by over 35,000 people in 75 countries. The launch of the app this summer got plenty of press buzz from the likes of The Guardian, Daily Mail and Trend Hunter, while a new and improved update launches this month.

"With a whole host of exciting new features and enhancements planned for the end of the year,"  Boyd-Annells and Edmondson enthuse, "we’re excited for what we can achieve in 2017."

Biggest challenges?

Saying no. "There are so many exciting things we can do with our proposition, but they cannot all be done at once," the pair admit. "As a result we have to prioritise and defer some opportunities until later. This is common for an early stage company working with limited resources. Joosr is in the process of raising external capital to expand its resources and accelerate a number of opportunities."

Ultimate ambition?

The Joosr team is a far cry from the ruthless new-captialism Silicon Valley cliché. "We want to be seen as the brand that helps people learn rapidly and really makes a difference in their lives," Boyd-Annells and Edmondson explain. "Learning helps individuals to perform better in their personal and professional lives, and in turn helps all the people around them. In many communities reading and learning can be the difference between being a valued member of society and being an outcast, potentially turning to crime to survive."

The company pledges 1% of its annual subscriptions to the World Literacy Foundation, which is dedicated to lifting young people out of poverty through literacy, and Boyd-Annells and Edmondson aim to make Joosr one of the Foundation’s largest donors.

One piece of advice you'd give to other publishing entrepreneurs?

"Be clear about the ‘Why?’" the founders insist. "In other words, why this business should be in the world. There are so many instances of large corporations putting profit before principles. In contrast one of the advantages of a startup is that it can start out with the right mindset. An entrepreneur who is focused principally on truly delivering service and value will do good in the world and be economically successful."

To see Joosr pitch for the BookTech crown in front of a panel of industry judges, join us at the FutureBook Conference on December 2nd. at In the meantime, catch up with the profiles of two of our other finalists, Publishizer and Kadaxis.