Digital Mission Success Story - ValoBox Goes From SXSW to NYC

With just over one month till our next Digital Mission to Social Media Week in New York, it seems like a great time to look back on how one of our Mission alumnae took advantage of the countless opportunities to network and connect with like-minded individuals on a Digital Mission trip and what success it was brought them less then just two years later.  

Anna and her colleague Oli, come along on the Digital Mission to SXSW 2011 to help promote their new start-up a book publishing hub which enables writers to access professional design, printing and distribution services and use the power of the web to promote their books. 

Now less than two years since their Digital Mission experience Anna and Oli have not only started a new company, ValoBox that in itself has experienced a huge increase in their business in the USA and the UK but they have been shortlisted in one of the publishing world’s biggest events, the Tools of Change Conference, New York, in the Startup Competition.

We couldn't be more proud of ValoBox and the success they have had since they come on the mission in 2011, to help them get through to the final they need votes so please do click here to show your support.

Anna has kindly shared her story about their success below. Let this give you the inspiration you need to apply to come along to our next Digital Mission trip to NYC for Social Media Week New Yorkthe deadline for applications is 6pm on Friday 18th January.

So over to Anna...

ValoBox Goes From SXSW to NYC

This week my company ValoBox made it on to the shortlist of the Startup competition at one of the publishing world’s biggest events, the Tools of Change Conference, New York. I’m trying to keep a lid on my excitement at the prospect of getting to the final, but it’s great to see our business getting increasing exposure in the US. It’s been almost two years since we first entered the US market on a digital mission with Chinwag to SXSW.

At that point we had a basic alpha version of ValoBox, our pay-as-you-go eBook reading platform. We’d gathered some interest in the UK but we knew that the biggest challenge facing us was to do deals with big publishers and quite a few of our target publishers were from the US.

SXSW was, as you’ll know if you’ve been, completely insane. So having an organisation like Chinwag there to help us hit the ground running  (often towards mightily tasty, founder-focused bbqs) made it much more manageable. I’d highly recommend the digital mission program: sessions where you could meet investors, other start-ups and hear from experienced UK businesses added some much needed structure to the week. And the rest of the time it was all about the networking.

SXSW was an excellent opportunity to chat over a beer with loads of people I kind of knew from places like twitter but hadn’t actually met. Some of those people we spoke to at SXSW have proved invaluable. Not only did they become, or connect us with, our current clients, but they’ve also been supporting us through advice and introductions ever since.

ValoBox offers a service whereby readers can access book content directly through their browser, and only pay for the chapters they need, rather than the whole thing up front. This is a new model, so it requires publishers to agree to selling and promoting their content in different ways. Having made friends with people who would put us forward to showcase our technology at conferences & events across Europe, India, and the US has been great for building up our reputation as a business, and helping to get the interest of big publishers.

After SXSW we built up relationships with publishers in San Francisco and spent a few months there in 2012. Now in 2013 we’re hoping that being in this Publishing Start-Up Showcase will help us kick things off on the East coast. There will be over 1000 people from top publishing companies attending. There’s another UK-based startup on the shortlist called Bookmachine who we’ll be rooting for too.

Something we found quite interesting is that international interest also seems to have led to a boost in our UK-based business. We now have a growing catalogue of thousands of books from a group of brilliant publishers from both sides of the pond.

To get through to the finals is a mixture of votes from judges and the public so if you like what we're doing over at ValoBox, please head over to the voting page and add a rating for us. It's in alphabetical order so you'll find us towards the end of the page.

We’d really appreciate it!

Photo (cc) Rachel Ford James