Mampoer Shorts launches test site, user uptake critical for business model

Mampoer Shorts, a startup looking to revolutionise journalism, last week launched its much anticipated test website with six long form articles on sale for US$2.99.

As earlier reported by HumanIPO, the critical part of the startup’s business model is how many users purchase the “shorts” and how quickly they do that.

A Mampoer Short is defined as a piece of writing that is “shorter than a book, but longer than an article” and is well researched, in-depth and delivered in e-book format.
To read one, one has to assume a “lean back” mode (as opposed to “lean forward” mode), meaning it takes more time to read than a normal online news article.

Speaking to HumanIPO, Liana Meadon, Project Manager at the long form journalism startup, highlighted the importance of milestones being achieved to show their business model is thriving.

“Our business model includes a long and lengthy spreadsheet around recovering costs, and hopefully, we’ll be able to start to go into the green,” she said. “Ideally, we would need about 2,000 sales per week, but as we only have 6 products, we’ll get there slowly. We are going to launch another three titles in the next few weeks, and develop a back catalogue.”

Meadon also explained that the site will not be the only point of distribution for their titles as they are also in negotiations with other publishers to secure more joint ventures to sell and distribute their titles.

Getting other interested publishers to sell their titles is likely to increase sales numbers, but this is only a short to medium term strategy as it may not yield the same profit margins as selling directly to readers via their own platform.

The startup is not looking at South African authors or South African related content only.

“We’d love to have authors from all over – currently, Poplak lives in Canada and Garson in New York. So African writers are very welcome, and if they can write about topics South Africans want to read, that is first prize. We’ve been looking at a few, that is to say Carlos Amato wanted to write about the Zambian soccer team, and also, China in Africa,” Meadon said.

Another key factor that ensures the startup meets its targets and the business is viable relates to marketing. It is on this critical front that it seems to be lacking, although its coming advertising in the Mail & Guardian should see them reaching their target audience.

“Advertising, we’re mostly relying on PR at the moment, but we have an agreement with M&G (Mail & Guardian) in place, so that will be through print and online. We also have email lists – so again, online. Then, we’ll fill the gaps where needed. So a mix of everything however, with the focus on online marketing,” Meadon said.

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