Finding the right book to read isn't always easy. Considering the great variety of genres, topics, authors, formats and online bookstores, choosing the right book can be an extreme sport. This is the challenge that inspired BookSloth.
BookSloth is a mobile app that simplifies the book discovery process and generates personalized recommendations based on users' interests and those of like-minded readers. The app creates an online community of book lovers eager to connect with other readers, share information about what they read, and help each other find the perfect book.
Using the app, readers can discover and compare books, customize their shelves, seek and make recommendations, follow other users and join book clubs.
A passion project
BookSloth started as a passion project for the love of books and reading. As avid readers, the founders thought they and other readers could use a better book recommendation system. They assembled a team with more than 20 years of combined experience in iOS, Android, web, UX, UI, design and more.
Target market and competition
Book publishing is a $26 billion industry in the U.S. and a $130 billion industry worldwide. The global online book community consists of about 90 million readers who connect through multiple social media platforms. More than 70 percent of the U.S. population reads books at least once a month.
BookSloth can be used by publishers, authors, book critics, bloggers and readers. The personalized app allows publishers and authors to connect directly with audiences, place targeted ads and measure the success of their advertising and marketing campaigns. The target audience benefits from relevant book recommendations.
Currently, BookSloth’s competition neglects small publishers and independent authors and bookstores in favor of the biggest publishing houses. BookSloth is seeking partnerships with these smaller publishers, authors and bloggers to feature their content in the app via targeted advertising based on machine learning technology and the app's social network.
A tough challenge
BookSloth's greatest challenge is how to establish meaningful connections with key players in the publishing industry. The book industry in Puerto Rico is very limited, with few stores and few libraries.
Rising Entrepreneurs Program Experience
Bravo Family Foundation's Rising Entrepreneurs Program helped BookSloth define its market and expand its vision to one of global growth.
"The support we got from our mentor and participating companies has been immensely valuable," said co-founder Lincy Ayala. "They showed us how to further define our market and the advantages of focusing on the young adult audience before expanding to a larger audience."
The program's collaborative format was impressive and productive, according to Ayala.
"This has been the best experience we've had with collaboration, especially during these times of crisis in Puerto Rico".BookSloth co-founder, Lincy Ayala
Participation in the program enabled BookSloth to triple its user base and increase app activity and events (such as adding books to a profile, reviewing books and posting comments) by 7,600 percent. Booksloth users added more than 130,000 books to their profiles and more than 70,000 reviews during the program.
"BookSloth has taught us a lot about ourselves and our resilience," Ayala said. "A lot can change in the tech industry in five years, and it's hard to tell what the next big thing will be. In any case, we see ourselves learning and improving our technology to successfully expand BookSloth globally."