Pioneered by Snapchat and cloned by Instagram, the “Stories” characteristic has turn out to be a staple for modern-day cell apps from Google search to Pinterest to streaming apps and extra. And whereas the addition doesn’t work for everybody — LinkedIn and Twitter just lately shuttered their Stories options, for instance — there’s sufficient demand for Stories on the market available on the market that an organization referred to as Storyteller has managed to create a revenue-generating enterprise that gives “Stories as a Service.”
The firm’s service permits anyone to add Stories to their app, or even their website, with little coding and setup required. Instead, Storyteller’s purchasers can combine SDKs to add Stories to their app, then leverage a content material administration system (CMS) to creator and publish their Stories, and observe their efficiency.
The concept for Storyteller spun out of the Edinburgh, Scotland-based specialist leisure company Storm Ideas, based by Bob Thomson, which supplies a variety of companies to media corporations together with numerous social merchandise. The company was based in 2009 after Thomson created an early means to customise online profile photographs referred to as Twibbon, which took off quickly. Over the previous decade or so, Storm Ideas has matured right into a 70-person firm that now gives technique, design, growth, and content material for its purchasers throughout the sports activities and leisure industries.
Along the best way, Storm Ideas additionally got here up with different ideas based mostly on its purchasers’ wants — like HailTo, a platform for distributing social belongings to expertise, which helped the company develop its buyer base.
Storyteller emerged from that very same course of. Thomson says corporations — and notably U.S.-based media corporations — would determine the concept to add a Stories characteristic, however would battle to really implement it.
“They need to build the [user interface] for it, and then they need to rebuild it for Android, iOS, and web. And they need to build a whole backend for it to interact with. And then — often the kind of thing that gets forgotten — is that you also need tools to manage all that,” Thomson explains. “We felt there was an opportunity to look at a product that did all that for you.”
With Storyteller, the objective is to do for Stories what corporations like Braze did for push notifications. That is, as a substitute of constructing their own product from scratch, companies can select to implement an SDK for including Stories to their own apps.
The first consumer for Storyteller was Hallmark — an organization Storm Ideas already had a relationship with — which runs the Hallmark Movie Checklist app the place customers can observe the flicks they’ve watched. The firm needed a means to ship updates about new releases, featured picks, and different well timed content material to its tons of of 1000’s of month-to-month customers. Storyteller launched with Hallmark Movie Checklist in 2019, then steadily started providing the identical toolset to its different company purchasers within the months that adopted.
Now, Storyteller — which is spinning out to turn out to be its own, separate enterprise — is serving tens of millions of customers throughout a lot of apps in sports activities and leisure, although the corporate doesn’t have permission to determine its enterprise purchasers by identify.
“We’re into the double figures in terms of those big enterprise-type implementations,” says Thomson.
“That’s a great basis to go from. We’ve taken on some of the hardest challenges first. We’ve worked with these large companies doing integrations. Lots of stakeholders. Lots of internal politics, sometimes,” he says. “[We’ve done] a huge amount of work…But obviously, we want to also open this up to more and more medium-sized clients — those who maybe want to self-serve a little more or have more of a hands-off approach.”
Currently, the main focus is on purchasers in sports activities and media, as these are the markets Storm Ideas already served — not corporations trying to add a consumer-facing product with user-generated content material.
Through Storyteller, the purchasers achieve entry to a backend the place they will create Stories by importing and previewing photographs, movies, and polls. They can categorize the content material, construct out publication schedules, and publish the information into the SDK, then observe analytics. In the works is a brand new studio element that can supply easy-to-use content material creation instruments for smaller corporations that will not have an in-house group producing content material professionally utilizing instruments like Photoshop or Adobe After Effects, as an example.
This characteristic, anticipated earlier than year-end, will permit purchasers to choose templates and customise them with their own content material. This may additionally make Storyteller extra compelling for non-enterprise purchasers.
Today, the corporate is catering to these smaller clients with a variety of plans beginning at free plans for apps with simply 25,000 month-to-month energetic customers up to $849-per-month plans for bigger apps with up to one million month-to-month customers. Beyond that, enterprise pricing will come into play.
So far, Storyteller has been bootstrapped utilizing company earnings, Thomson’s own cash, and early consumer income.
Storyteller’s group features a core group of round 30 folks becoming a member of from Storm Ideas who had already been devoted to the venture. It will proceed to rent individually. And as Storyteller is offered to purchasers, if the shopper wants assist with the content material manufacturing aspect of issues, they’re referred again to the company which supplies this service.
Storyteller isn’t actively elevating funding, however has not determined in opposition to it, given its long-term focus really extends past the “Stories” product itself to embody different methods manufacturers and companies might want to inform their tales.
“The way I see it is that what we’ve done is we’ve built a platform that has these key components — SDKs across the major platforms — iOS, Android, and web; APIs for them to communicate with a backend that is good at hosting, processing, and manipulating text, images, and video; and a CMS — a tool that’s good at authoring and scheduling” says Thomson.
Now that Storyteller has found out “all the hard stuff,” as Thomson places. it, like safety, privateness, and analytics, it is smart to add assist for different codecs, like vertical video.
Numerous apps have begun adopting vertical video exterior of these making an attempt to merely clone TikTok. Netflix added vertical video in its app, as an example. And others within the sports activities and media leisure area have giant libraries of content material and clips that may make sense for an in-app video feed, too. Support for vertical video is now on the product roadmap, Thomson says.
“Storyteller may be a new product, but the leadership team behind it is anything but,” says Thomson. “We have gathered together an exceptional team of experienced and driven people to make this product the best that it can be. With a strong background in providing products and services to the world’s largest in the sports and entertainment industry, the Storyteller team is perfectly placed to bring Stories as a service to the world’s biggest businesses – and the small ones as well,” he provides.