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One hashtag to rule them all!

One hashtag to rule them all!

Have you ever looked up something on Wikipedia and 40 minutes and 3354 clicks later you end up reading about the mating rituals of narwhals wandering where did it all begin?

Imagine now that you want to explore something and there is a platform that will take you on a similar journey across social media sites, blogs, videos, images and it will be all brought to you by one common hashtag. Then you will be able to make sense of it by putting it together in a logical storyline that is unique to the way you see the world.

Artists say that the blind spot is that moment when they stand in front of a blank canvas and release their creative potential to produce a piece of art. That’s the moment when all the pieces come together, a point of connection and completeness. BLIND SPOT is an online platform that aims to provide this point of connection to creative people who wish to tell stories online. It is the new creative language of 21st century that gives us the opportunity to break down the linear way in which we have been producing content online and make it much more organic and customized.

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A new language to tell stories online

The platform provides opportunity to draw upon fragments of content in multiple formats, from various sources, and connect them in a personal and complete story ‘glued’ together through short links that lead to the original story. “Readers” of the story can track down the sources through the links and interact only with the elements and pieces they find interesting, which this takes them on a unique adventure of their own, sometimes very different from the original one created by the author. Then the consumers of the story can turn into contributors and creators themselves by adding elements and changing it along the way.

So if you want to dig deeper, look for the small graphic dot that represents the link to the source and if you want to gather stories related to specific topic across different media sites, use a hashtag. Then take the fragments you like, add some personal inspiration and compose an entirely new story of your own!

The founder and CEO of the company Bjarke Myrthu gave an example of a photographer who was taking professional pictures in Africa for a social campaign while sharing photos on Instagram taken with his phone. He realized that those two streams of pictures show very different stories of the continent and started using the hashtag #everydayafrica to represent that. Then the hashtag started living a life on its own:

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“Others started contributing. It is mix of professionals and thousands of other people just doing their little contribution. When you see the tag you see the big picture. You have your own version of it, and it becomes part of a bigger whole.” he explains and calls this social stories creation –  “We have major stories that we contribute to, collaboratively. A collective story starts to emerge. Social stories are the next big thing in the internet.” he says.

The story of the storytelling app

It all started 15 years ago, when Mikkel Stjernberg and Bjarke were sitting in the canteen in the Danish School of Journalism, thinking about the way we tell stories on the internet. Both of them being involved in journalism, writing, and creative communication, they wanted to integrate the media available online to empower authors to produce narratives on multiple dimensions.

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“The creative people are the tribe we belong to. We love story tellers, we love creative people. We want to give them the power to tell their stories and even make money out of it. The app tackles the different levels of creativity individuals have and motivates them to produce high-quality content while also re-generating content by using pieces from other sources.” says Mikkel Stjernberg

Driven by the vision of providing space for higher quality content and language of creativity specific for the virtual world, they have developed a business model that simplifies the use of that language and supports the highest level creators of original content. It is based on links and every time a user embeds the link from one media site to another, they pay a micro-micro fee. This means that the content is free, no one charges that, but referencing to content has some minimal costs while being referenced to gives back a reward to the authors. The whole idea behind is to give people the opportunity to learn from each-other while giving credit to the authors.

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“The unique linking is a blue print that leads to you as a creator. It all channels back to the original creator. Create something really great and let it go, if it is really good, people will use it.” explains Mikkel Stjernberg

 

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The courage to play big from the start

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It was a journey to move from the idea of two students years ago and transform it into an actual company. Bjarke lived and worked in New York for seven years while Mikkel had his home base in Denmark because he had kids early on, but he traveled extensively around the world and even lived in India for a while. The two friends kept in touch all along sparred around their different projects to help each other out. When Bjarke wanted to have kids he moved back to Denmark, and he and Mikkel decided to work together on their common vision for BLIND SPOT. The global inspiration and the US experience set them out to start up with great ambition for the platform.

We have talked before about the challenges entrepreneurs in Denmark face when it comes to going global. For BLIND SPOT, the process was reverse. The interaction between their grounding of the business in New York, combined with its positioning in Copenhagen helps it to get the best of both worlds. New York supplies the ambition, network and funding needed, while Copenhagen provides the facilities, quality of life, the Danish simplicity and sense of aesthetics that makes the platform as smooth as it is. The founders believe that one of the strengths of Danish people is that they are able to combine and bring together elements in an unique way and create something special from that. Much like the BLIND SPOT enables individuals to combine fragments together to bring out something unique.

The initial investment was insured mainly by two investors from the US, Joichi Ito and Mohamed Nanabhay, who were individuals mainly inspired by the vision and the values of the startup, rather than prioritising profit and success.  The founders share that the successful way for them to find investments was through their network, people already engaged in the creative business and to reach out for the ones that are inspired by and willing to support the idea.

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“The investors are human as well, they have values, vision and beliefs and we connected with them around that aspect of the business. In exchange, we’ve got extremely supportive investors who believe in our vision and who support us not only because they want profit from the business but because they want this vision to come true.” says Bjarke and Mikkel adds:

 

mikkelstjernberg2“We took that recipe for finding investors and made it our modus operandi. As a result we were able to get more investors like the two initial ones, and we ended up with having a familiy of investors with whom we share our human values and connect with on a very personal level. The end result is a very educating process in which we learn a lot on many levels at once. Not just the business level.”

 

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