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'Spotify for textbooks': BBC Labs-backed Flooved launches in beta

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A new service has launched in beta that promises to be 'Spotify for education', offering a range of academic papers and resources for free, or premium textbooks for a monthly subscription.

Flooved was among the first crop of tech startups to be backed by BBC Labs, the initiative developed by BBC Worldwide's new digital ventures head Jenny Fielding.

Flooved logo

© Flooved



It was founded by Hamish Brocklebank and Nicolas Philippe after a "drunken idea in the pub" actually became a reality. Both Brocklebank and Phillipe studied at university and then later worked in finance and PR, giving them an understanding of both academic and business worlds.

Brocklebank said that they decided to launch Flooved because textbooks and university study materials was an area where "the power of the web was not being used".

There are various online education services already on the market. JSTOR is a database of academic papers and journals online, while Apple offers digital textbooks on iBooks. Clegg.com, Inkling.com and Know.com all offer online education resources of some description.

But Brocklebank feels that these services all adopt the "iTunes model" of individual purchases, whereas Flooved offers a more social experience based around a subscription.

"It is not just a library, it is a service library," he told Digital Spy.

Flooved

© Flooved



Flooved allows people to see PDFs of textbooks, lecture notes and academic papers online, but they can also get chapter links and recommendations around what they are reading, as well as ask questions and people will answer them.

As social interactivity is at the core of Flooved, students will be able to view, share and edit each other's content, as well as eventually upload their own content.

The service has now launched in beta with just Vets Science materials available, but there are plans to introduce Maths and Physics soon, followed by Biology, Chemistry and Engineering.

Flooved works on a freemium model, meaning there are thousands of academic papers, lecture notes and soon videos available to access for free just by signing up.

But users can also take a subscription service that costs £7.50 per month, enabling them to access a range of premium textbooks on an "all you can eat" model", similarly to entertainment services Spotify or Netflix.

Brocklebank said some textbooks can cost "£80 or £90", meaning the monthly subscription can quickly pay for itself. The startup also plans to target parents with a view to them signing up for their children.

Flooved

© Flooved



Flooved intends to take a 25% cut of sales, with the remaining 75% going to the publishers who make their content available, including Momentum Press and Manson Publishing.

Brocklebank said that getting the publishers on board was "hard" - and many are still yet to sign up - but he feels that as the platform grows, the media giants will be won over.

Flooved certainly has a good pedigree. Stephan Shakespeare, the founder of polling firm YouGov, is among its backers and acts as chairman, while former Conservative politician Lord Ashcroft has also invested. The Technology Strategy Board awarded the startup a matched funding grant of £121,000.

While it hasn't taken any equity, BBC Worldwide selected the startup to receive support under its BBC Labs project, including legal advice, R&D and more than 10 months of free office space.

The BBC also introduced Flooved to various major tech players, including Samsung, Microsoft, and Google. Flooved is also in advanced talks to offer the BBC's educational resources to its users.

Brocklebank said that Flooved has already seen a decent takeup on the beta, including 10% of students at Glasgow University signing up. You can try out the online service here.

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