Initiated by Snapchat and cloned by Instagram, the âStoriesâ feature has become a clip for modern mobile apps from Google search to Pinterest to streaming apps and more. And while adding won’t work for everyone – LinkedIn and Twitter recently shut down their Stories features, for example – there is enough demand for Stories in the marketplace that a company called Storyteller has managed to create a. income-generating business that provides “Stories as a Service.
The company’s service allows anyone to add stories to their app, or even their website, with little coding and configuration required. Instead, Storyteller customers can integrate SDKs to add stories to their app, then leverage a content management system (CMS) to create and publish their stories and track their performance.
The idea for Storyteller originated from the specialty entertainment agency based in Edinburgh, Scotland Storm Ideas, founded by Bob thomson, which provides a range of services to media companies as well as various social products. The agency was founded in 2009 after Thomson created an early method of personalizing profile pictures online called Twibbon, which quickly took off. Over the past decade or so, Storm Ideas has grown into a 70-person company that now delivers strategy, design, development and content to its clients in the sports and entertainment industries.
Along the way, Storm Ideas also came up with other concepts based on their clients’ needs, such as Hello to, a platform for the distribution of social assets to talents, which has helped the agency develop its clientele.
Storyteller emerged from this same process. Thomson says businesses – and especially US-based media companies – would recognize the idea of ââadding a Stories feature, but would struggle to actually implement it.
“They must build the [user interface] for that then they have to rebuild it for android, ios and web. And they need to create a full backend that it can interact with. And then, often the kind of thing we forget is that you also need tools to manage all of this, âexplains Thomson. “We thought there was an opportunity to look at a product that did all of this for you.”
With Storyteller, the goal is to do for Stories what companies like Braze have done for push notifications. In other words, instead of building their own product from scratch, companies can choose to implement an SDK to add stories to their own applications.
Storyteller’s first customer was Hallmark – a company that Storm Ideas already had a relationship with – which runs the Hallmark Movie Checklist app where users can track the movies they’ve watched. The company wanted a way to deliver updates on new releases, featured picks, and other content in a timely manner to its hundreds of thousands of monthly users. Storyteller launched with Hallmark Movie Checklist in 2019, and then gradually began offering the same set of tools to its other client agencies in the months since.
Today, Storyteller – which is in the process of becoming its own separate business – serves millions of users across a number of apps in sports and entertainment, although the company does not have permission to. identify its corporate clients by name.
âWe’re in the double digits for these large enterprise type implementations,â says Thomson.
âIt’s a great base to start from. We took on some of the more difficult challenges first. We worked with these large companies to do integrations. Lots of speakers. A lot of domestic politics, sometimes, âhe says. “[Weâve done] a huge amount of workâ¦ But obviously we also want to open that up to more and more mid-size customers – those who maybe want a little more self-service or who have more of a hands-off approach.
Currently, the focus is on sports and media customers, as these are the markets Storm Ideas has already served – not companies looking to add a consumer product with user-generated content.
Through Storyteller, customers have access to a backend where they can create stories by uploading and previewing images, videos, and polls. They can categorize content, set up release schedules and publish data to the SDK, then track analytics. In the works, a new studio component will offer easy-to-use content creation tools for small businesses that may not have an in-house team producing content professionally using tools like Photoshop or Adobe After Effects, for example.
This feature, expected before the end of the year, will allow customers to select templates and customize them with their own content. It could also make Storyteller more appealing to retail clients.
Today, the company caters to these small customers with a range of plans ranging from free plans for apps with just 25,000 monthly active users to plans of $ 849 per month for larger apps with up to to one million monthly users. Beyond that, corporate pricing will be taken into account.
So far, Storyteller has been started using agency profits, Thomson’s money, and clients’ early earnings.
The Storyteller team includes a core of around 30 people from Storm Ideas who had previously dedicated themselves to the project. He will continue to hire separately. And because Storyteller is sold to clients, if the client needs help with content production, they are referred to the agency that provides that service.
Storyteller does not actively fundraise, but has not decided not to, as its long-term goal actually extends beyond the âStoriesâ product itself to include other ways. whose brands and businesses may want to tell their stories.
âThe way I see it is what we’ve done is we’ve built a platform that has these key components – SDKs on major platforms – iOS, Android, and Web; APIs allowing them to communicate with a backend that is good at hosting, processing and manipulating text, images and videos; and a CMS – a tool that’s good for creation and planning, âsays Thomson.
Now that Storyteller has figured out “all the hard things,” as Thomson puts it. like security, privacy, and analytics, it makes sense to add support for other formats, like vertical video.
A number of apps have started to embrace vertical video aside from those that simply attempt to clone TikTok. Netflix has for example added a vertical video in its application. And others in the sports and media entertainment space have large libraries of content and clips that would also make sense for an in-app video stream. Support for vertical video is now part of the product roadmap, says Thomson.
âStoryteller may be a new product, but the management team behind this product is anything but,â says Thomson. âWe have assembled an exceptional team of experienced and motivated people to make this product the best it can be. With a solid track record of providing products and services to the world’s largest companies in the sports and entertainment industry, the Storyteller team is uniquely positioned to deliver Stories as a Service to the world’s largest companies. – and the smaller ones too, âhe adds.