TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK and South Africa-based bigFIG, an agency for publishing interactive travel magazines and mobile app development.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
bigFIG publishes and markets interactive media for online, download and Apps - and we manage the social media ecosystems in which they thrive.
We do this from our head office in London and our production office in Cape Town. We have an in-house team of 14 digital designers, IT & web specialists, interactive content editorial experts and marketers.
Our backgrounds include a healthy mix of print publishing, design, UX and logistics.
We don’t do PDF page-flippers – we build our products from the ground up to suit reader context and device.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Our founder and CEO Simon Espley funded the seed period and we then received early stage funding in mid 2010 from a UK private equity cartel.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The evolution of traditional print magazine publishers into the digital space.
Print magazine publishers are stuck in a rut, with legacy assets, overheads, cultures and business models.
Readers and advertisers have evolved from the old broadcast model to a mobile, social, interactive world and yet the large publishers seem unable or unwilling to follow them.
These mobile, empowered and connected readers are evolving away from old broadcast products.
We provide the products, processes and marketing support for print magazine publishers to breach the gap, catch up with their readers and access new readers and revenues.
We not only future-proof print publishers against the threat of digital, we also provide them with exciting new opportunities to increase their readers and revenues.
Describe the business, core products and services?
The evolution of premium print magazine brands into the mobile, social, interactive space.
Our flagship title is SAFARI Interactive Magazine – www.agsafari.com - which we publish for our client Africa Geographic.
The online/download version is on track to breach 25,000 unique readers after only five issues (not bad for a tightly-niched product!), with iOS and Android apps already submitted for approval and eagerly awaited.
Marketing is via a mix of organic and paid-for social media and email campaigns. The revenue model is advertising for the online version and subscriptions for the app version.
Safari portrays Africa as inspirational and aspirational – the positive side of Africa with all the exciting cultural, musical, culinary delights and wildlife and outdoors adventures that Africa has to offer.
Readers include travellers, Africa fanatics and the travel industry - from all corners of the world.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Apart from Africa Geographic, our clients have included Standard Chartered Bank (London), WWF International (Switzerland), IFAW (South Africa), Conservation International (USA) and Nedbank (South Africa).
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we published digital media for several clients and generated revenue before we landed the early stage funding.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
bigFIG’s revenue model is a combination of once-off fees and a share of client product revenue (advertising and app sales).
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Agility plus in-depth understanding of both print and digital media.
- Lack of deep pockets, limited access to the large print publishers.
- Apps, HTML5, massive growth in tablet sales, and the pressure on print publishers to make a move or lose relevance with readers and advertisers.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Dominance of the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon and their locked in ecosystems.
Our CEO met many experts and consultants in the early days (pre iPhone) who said that people would not download large files or pay for digital content.
He listened to all advice but decided to follow his gut.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
- For bigFIG: Add a large magazine publisher to our client list and drive that client into digital nirvana.
- For Safari: 50,000 readers, including 5,000 app subscribers. Continued growth in advertising sales.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.