Berlin-based Blinkist, a micro-learning app and platform, has raised $18.8 million in Series C funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round.
Berlin, 20 June 2018 – Blinkist, the micro-learning app and platform providing personal and professional development, today announces it has raised a Series C round of $18.8 million, led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Greycroft, IBB Bet and e.ventures, to expand its global operations.
The company, which boasts an international network of over 6 million users, will use the funding to grow its Berlin-based team, establish Country Managers for individual markets, scale its international customer base, and continue to improve a product which is increasingly popular with time-poor, and information-hungry young professionals. Blinkist is currently available in English and German, but is planning to use the investment to strengthen its footprint across the globe and increase localised efforts in core markets, with plans to offer the service in additional languages.
Blinkist CEO and co-founder Holger Seim comments: “We’ve experienced exciting growth over the past five years, but as a company, we are only just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to the international opportunities that lie ahead of us. The problem that we are solving for millions of people across the world is one that we see every day; the significant gap between people’s desire to read and learn more, and the actual time they spend doing so.”
Holger continues, “The new investment from Insight Venture Partners will help us to realise our company’s potential and establish Blinkist as a leading destination for lifelong learning. We’ll use the funding to deliver a broader set of topics and formats to our ever-growing and diversifying user base, in addition to localising the Blinkist experience as we move into new markets.”
One of Berlin’s fastest-growing startups since its foundation in 2012, Blinkist offers users audio and text-based topline insights from best-selling, as well as undiscovered (and often under-acknowledged), non-fiction books. These 15-minute digests, or “books-in-blinks”, feature the key ideas extracted from over 2,500 non-fiction books, in multiple genres including entrepreneurship, politics, science, psychology, investment, and parenting. Each title is carefully selected by a dedicated editorial team, providing authors with discoverability and access to an eager, carefully targeted audience.
“As a concept and an investment opportunity, Blinkist offers something genuinely unique. The company presents an exciting model which is defining and spearheading a whole new category of self-development.” comments Harley Miller, Vice President at Insight Venture Partners. “We only want to work with the brightest and most ambitious teams, and we know that Blinkist and its founders share our vision for making a positive, global impact.”
Nicolas Wittenborn, Vice President at Insight Venture Partners adds: “The Blinkist founders have identified and created a product that is truly transformative, and one that harnesses the growing thirst for short-form, mobile-first information. With audio content continuing to boom, and as the huge scale opportunities for Blinkist open up, we are excited to reaffirm our commitment to their growth at this pivotal moment in their journey.”
The Series C funding brings Blinkist’s total investment to $35 million. Joining the board from Insight Venture Partners are Harley Miller and Nicolas Wittenborn, while Markus Witte, CEO and co-founder of language learning app Babbel, joins as an independent board member.
Blinkist presents a disruptive model that is increasingly being embraced by a publishing industry eager to engage with digitally-savvy millennials and young professionals seeking continued learning and self-improvement, yet untouched by traditional book promotion models (and certainly never reached by reviews of specialist non-fiction titles).
A 2018 report by the International Federation of Periodical Publishers found that millennial readers are the biggest receivers and supporters of subscription-based information; a market which traditional publishers can tap into through services like Blinkist.
Blinkist can be downloaded and used for free, with users getting access to one free book-in-blinks which changes on a daily basis. Through a Premium membership (UK – £59.99/year or £11.49/month; US $79.99/year or $12.99/month), subscribers can browse and enjoy over 2,500 titles subdivided into the following primary categories: Entrepreneurship & Small Business, Politics & Society, Marketing & Sales, Science, Health & Fitness, personal Growth & Self-Improvement, Economics, Biography & History, Communication & Social Skills, Corporate Culture, management & Leadership, Motivation & Inspiration, Money & Investments, Psychology, Productivity & Time Management, Sex & Relationships, Technology & the Future, Mindfulness & Happiness, and Parenting.
Holger Seim (CEO), along with fellow co-founders Niklas Jansen (Managing Director) and Tobias Balling (CTO), identified the need for Blinkist in 2012. After graduating from university, the three friends found that being in full-time employment left them with less time to read than ever before.
They knew there had to be a better way of educating and developing oneself, without sacrificing one’s career, which is how Blinkist was born.
Each title listed in the Blinkist app is carefully chosen by a dedicated editorial team, which then identifies the key ideas and messages of the book, condensing them into a 15-minute audio file with accompanying text transcription. Because the digests are available in both audio and text format, users can begin reading them at their own pace while at home, switching to audio when on the go. Upon completing each book-in-blinks, the user is provided with actionable advice: aiding the real-world application of the new ideas encountered.
The Blinkist library is continuously updated, with 40 new titles being added monthly, supplemented by Blinkist’s online magazine, in addition to a dedicated podcast, Simplify. Both sources of additional content are focused on the further development of complex and exciting ideas contained in the books-in-blinks, while the podcast also hosts discussions with authors whose works have been added to the Blinkist platform.
About Insight Venture Partners
Insight Venture Partners is a leading global venture capital and private equity firm investing in high-growth software companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 1995, Insight has raised more than $18 billion and invested in over 300 companies worldwide. Our mission is to find, fund and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with practical, hands-on growth expertise to foster long-term success. Across our people and our portfolio, we encourage a culture around a core belief: growth equals opportunity. For more information on Insight and all its investments, visit www.insightpartners.com or follow us on Twitter @insightpartners.