The Glossi Treatment
DIY publishing platform Glossi, which allows users to assemble text, images, GIFs and video onto swipeable pages for tablets and e-readers, was born on the whiteboard.
CEO Matt Edelman, prior to Glossi's beta launch in December of 2012, was involved in an early-days social shopping website, ThisNext, where users bookmarked to a central location their favorite product imagery and populated the page with content and conversation. The idea, naturally, was to drive sales.
In other words, says Edelman, “a precursor to what Pinterest eventually became.”
The company ultimately couldn't overcome technical issues and soon joined the scrap heap of tech startups. And although the business died, the inspiration didn't, so out came the whiteboard.
“We thought the incredible growth of tablet and mobile devices was rooted in how visual content really stands out on smaller screens.”
“We saw what was happening around the mobile web and understood that visual content had really become the primary driver of communication and connection,” says the Los Angeles-based Edelman. “Between the rise of Facebook as a platform around photo sharing—which was the signature experience that helped them rise to such prominence—and looking at the meteoric rise of Pinterest, we thought the incredible growth of tablet and mobile devices was rooted in how visual content really stands out on smaller screens, and becomes this incredibly emotional item in front of you, compared to when you’re asked to read a number of lines of text.”
Edelman and team recognized that content consumption patterns were changing. “But content creation tools were not. We wanted to build a platform that could match how people were consuming content.”
Targeting marketers on a budget as well as big brands, Glossi designed its customizable templates with the ability to embed content on a website, blog or Facebook page, accommodating re-purposed material.
The value is its simplicity. “If you are the content creator inside of a marketing department at Proctor and Gamble, or Unilever, or Coca-Cola,” says Edelman, “or if you are a social media director, you have limited bandwidth, you don’t have endless design resources, you don’t necessarily have the time or someone on your team who has the time to learn a new software package; so, with Glossi you don’t have to worry about any of those things.”
Those who have signed on include fashion-forward Nine West, DKNY, Cosmopolitan and House Beautiful. “We look at what’s happening in the fashion space, and in the past number of years it’s been one of the categories where you see more progressive technology products and solutions and user experiences than in other categories,” says Edelman, who notes that many teenage girls have been creating their own fashion magazines. “We have customers who will take content they find on YouTube or Vimeo and images from different places and package them together with some of their own commentary and editorial, and put it in front of their audience on a regular basis, multiple times a day.”
Truth be told, the Glossi editor requires minimal design expertise and, for now, it's free. “We're really focused on understanding what brings value to content creators. Over time, possibly late this year or into next year, we will release subscription packages, premium offerings where there will always be a free level of service. There are going to be some features that we think content creators will want to pay for and they will be in categories around marketization capabilities and broader distribution capabilities, broader analytics, packages, and even deeper personalization components.”
With tablets recently surpassing mobile phones in terms of driving Internet traffic (despite far fewer number of tablets), and tablets expected to outsell PCs next year, buckle up for the acceleration of lean-back DIY content creation and curation platforms. “What is exciting and in a sense has taken us longer since we launched in public data is to satisfy the varied demands of a very broad user-base,” says Edelman. “And so I think that’s the opportunity that every company hopes to experience—where there is greater demand than you have capacity to address. That’s probably where we’re most challenged at the moment, but that’s also what makes it most exciting.”