Smarter in 15 minutes

The Blinkist app from Germany sums up international bestsellers in a nutshell. The idea is particularly successful in North America.

Blinkist founders Holger Seim, Tobias Balling and Niklas Jansen (left to right)
Blinkist founders Holger Seim, Tobias Balling and Niklas Jansen (left to right) Blinks Labs GmbH

Reading books without reading books? Blinkist makes that possible. Founded in Berlin in 2012, the business start-up condenses the central ideas in a book so that users can read them in only 15 minutes – with the aid of an App on their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Blinkist is especially popular in North America. The start-up only reached a total investment volume of 35 million US dollars in summer 2018 – thanks, among others, to American private equity firm Insight Venture Partners.

How does Blinkist work?

Blinkist divides the most important aspects of the respective non-fiction book into short, succinct subsections – so-called blinks. These consist of only 200 to 300 words and can be read one minute at a time. That is how readers can work their way through specialist literature section by section and to suit their own personal reading pace – for example, on the way to work. As a result of the increasing popularity of podcasts, Blinkist also offers the summaries as audio files.

Our customers want to learn and educate themselves.

Blinkist founder Holger Seim

Who finds Blinkist interesting?

Initially, the concept was aimed at young professionals looking for answers in non-fiction books within the context of their work. Meanwhile the target group has broadened considerably, although on average users continue to be between 30 and 40 years of age. Holger Seim, one of the Blinkist founders, explains what users have in common: “Our customers want to learn and educate themselves. They’re looking for inspiration and want food for thought.” That’s why search inquiries vary depending on age – from business manuals to books on bringing up children and nutritional advice.

Can Blinkist work on fiction?

“We are focusing on non-fiction, and that’s how things will stay in the future,” says founder Holger Seim firmly. The most popular of the total of 27 categories include entrepreneurship, productivity and time management, as well as health, nutrition and fitness. A team of experts curates the steadily growing range.

How is Blinkist growing?

According to Blinkist, some 40 new book titles are added each month. “We’re always on the lookout for the latest non-fiction works. We rely on past experience or collaborate with publishers,” says Seim. Not all non-fiction bestsellers are automatically added to the list of new Blinkist titles: “The books must fit in our portfolio,” says the company founder.

Why is Blinkist so successful in North America?

The German start-up now has roughly ten million registered users worldwide. Almost from the beginning Blinkist positioned itself globally with a German- and English-language offering. That is now paying off for the company. Approximately 40% of users come from the United States and Canada. One important reason for the app’s popularity on the North American market is the fact that systems for self-help coaching and personal study are more established there than in Germany – and there is also a greater readiness to pay for them.


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