Startup of the week: Simply Prose

Startup of the week: Simply Prose

Box-fresh Alabama startup SimplyProse aims to help writers with arguably the most important part of creating a publishable book: editing.

The pitch

"Your writing group, 24/7." SimplyProse is an online collaborative writing platform that "seeks to empower all writers". It allows them to share their work with trusted friends and acquaintances in order to get the feedback, critique and revisions they need to get to a publication-ready draft. 

Who's behind it?

The young Alabama-based team currently consists of four members, all alumni of Auburn University: CEO Jacob Wright, freshly graduated with a finance degree; CTO Andrew Boos, a software engineer; COO Cole Kinchler and CIO Sharan Kalva.

Cole Kinchler, Jacob Wright and Shara Kalva

What's the gap in the market?

"We differentiate ourselves by focusing on editing," Kinchler explains. "We see editing, as the center of the writing process and currently it is very expensive and time consuming. In order to counteract the traditional way editing is done we decided to utilize crowdsourcing in order to simplify the process. This allows writers to use their connections to edit their work at no cost to them and in a much quicker timeframe."

The site is currently aimed chiefly at the ever-growing self-pub market, but hopes to become a one-stop shop for professional writers too. "Not all writers want their book listed for sale in a bookstore or online, some are writing for themselves or to share with family and friends, and it is particularly difficult for casual writers to find critique, where there’s often little to no money to be made for their projects," Kinchler continues. "But in the future we do hope to curate professionals, and we plan to develop a marketplace on our site that will allow writers to hire literary professionals like editors, copywriters and agents. Additionally, in the future we will be adding enterprise functionality for different sectors including education, public relations, and legal."

Success so far?

SimplyProse launched in beta two months ago with the aim of getting fast feedback on its MVP (minimal viable product), so head over to the site and let them know what you think. "It is important that we are building a platform that writers actually need and not one that we think they do," Kinchler admits. "Currently we are continuing developing features to our website before we start marketing it heavily."  The company was the first from Alabama to be invited to demo at Tech Crunch Disrupt in Silicon Valley last autumn, and has competed at the Collision Tech Conference in New Orleans.

Biggest challenges?

The development process has been a rocky road for the SimplyProse team. "When we first started out we made some mistakes on requesting certain features that we wanted, but did not need to have," Kinchler admits. "The time it takes to produce a quality product with a limited budget a timeline are tough, but we are happy with our current product and ready to start helping users on our site."

Ultimate ambition?

It may make some Futurebook readers cringe, but Kinchler has no shame in admitting the team's aim "to disrupt the publishing industry. We have seen the same players be in control now for decades without much change. We think the way that publishing currently works is exclusive for new authors and requires a lot of inside connections in order to get your work picked up by a publishing house. We are hoping that traditional publishing houses will be receptive and see that quality content can be made from anyone. We also want to help authors to see that creating a novel wont cost you an arm and a leg to produce."

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

"Really think through how are you helping writers. Currently, there are hundreds of websites who further stratify the publishing process, so see if your new idea will actually help or confuse writers. Authors need the process simplified - not furthered in complexities."