Start-up of the week: Revue

20 Feb 2017

Revue is a personal newsletter tool that is being quickly embraced by thought leaders. Image: Revue

Our start-up of the week is Revue, which has created a personal newsletter tool.

“If you have a voice that you want others to hear, it’s frustrating to realise that it’s hard to get above the noise,” said Revue founder Martijn de Kuijper.

“We make sure more people read the things you’d like to share.”

‘Authors are taking to email to write and publish extensive essays, opinion pieces that provide an in-depth dissection of a topic, or personal experiences in niche areas. This is the audience we want to become the go-to tool for’

Revue is a personal newsletter tool that helps you keep your followers updated on the most interesting articles and various content via email.

“Our mission is to create a network of voices to help passionate people become influential curators. We want to do that by being the easiest tool to share curated content and create a personal newsletter.”

The market

De Kuijper explained that Revue can be used by everyone; from people who have never hit the sent button before to experts, thought leaders and companies who already have a subscriber database.

“But we try to focus mostly on thought leaders who are sending a personal newsletter.

“The personal newsletter is not a new phenomenon. Bob Lefsetz started writing ‘The Lefsetz Letter’, a daily email that addresses the issues that are at the core of music, all the way back in May 2005.

“Yet there is a new emerging trend, a counter movement to 140-character limits on Twitter, fake news on Facebook, clickbait headlines and search-engine-optimised copy.

“Authors are taking to email to write and publish extensive essays, opinion pieces that provide an in-depth dissection of a topic, or personal experiences in niche areas. This is the audience we want to become the go-to tool for.

“So far, we have some big names using our platform including Kevin Kelly, Azeem Azhar, Ryan Hoover, Buffer, Steve O’Hear, MG Siegler, and Blended Beats by Warner Music,” De Kuijper said.

The founder

Start-up of the week: Revue

Revue founder Martijn de Kuijper. Image: Revue

De Kuijper founded his first start-up nine years ago, called Yunoo.

He later sold it to a software company in the Netherlands.

In 2013, he founded his second venture called Fosbury, which he eventually sold to US-based company Verve Mobile.

Mohamed el Maslouhi joined De Kuijper when Yunoo was founded, and later on in 2015, he teamed up with him again to become Revue’s CTO.

The technology

Start-up of the week:Revue

Email is not dead. Image: Revue

“Revue does things differently,” De Kuijper said. “It’s an email newsletter builder that simplifies newsletters by putting the emphasis on content creation and curation, by removing as much friction as possible for users so they can create and maintain an email digest effortlessly.”

To get started, users can connect Revue with Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, Instagram, Medium, Google Plus, Product Hunt, Instapaper and RSS feeds.

“Revue automatically generates a list of links from each source so users can browse through the curated content and add anything they want to their personal newsletter by simply dragging and dropping.

“They can also add the Revue Bookmarklet or extension to their browser, then tap it when they find something interesting online to save it to their Revue inbox. There’s an iOS app to do the same thing on the go.”

De Kuijper said that Revue encompasses so much more than just a simple content curation tool.

“Revue, as it is known right now, is the tool part in the ‘Come for the tool, stay for the network ’  approach. This approach comes down to creating a tool that people love and building a network on top of that.

“Our goal is to become the platform … where people can find interesting content, curated by experts.”

The numbers game

Start-up of the week: Revue

Image: Revue

Since Revue started in February 2015, it has grown to encompass 25,000 registered users, who are collectively sending more than 2.5m emails per month.

“We also just raised €400,000 in funding from angel backers and funds like Behance founder Scott Belsky, WeTransfer co-founder Nalden (Ronald Hans), Sofa (acquired by Facebook) co-founder Koen Bok, Wakoopa and Karma founder Robert Gaal, TAT founder Hampus Jakobsson, WoodWing Ventures and Digital Leaders Ventures.

“People often compare us with MailChimp,” De Kuijper said. “But it is difficult to explain that our product is very different. We don’t focus on bigger companies that want to share their marketing message, or want to be able to edit every single pixel in their newsletter.

“Revue focuses on individuals and thought leaders that want to share content, articles, videos, or their just their opinion and ideas … people who don’t have the time and need to create their newsletter while heating up a pizza, without having to think about whether it looks good.

“Another problem we face is that the reputation of email is often considered spammy or old-fashioned. We still have to defend ourselves for such an outdated and ‘dying’ medium. This is nothing new – people have been predicting the death of email time after time but it’s still around, thanks in part to some unique characteristics.”

The highs and lows of start-up life

“It’s an exhilarating experience to run your own start-up,” said De Kuijper.

“The highs, the lows, it’s all worth it. In the past few years, being part of this tech start-up scene became such a trend and many caught the ‘entrepreneur’ bug. This hype led to the emergence of some really cool start-ups but it also served as a realisation for many.

“Suddenly, it became clear that just ‘living the start-up lifestyle’ isn’t going to cut it and, in order to succeed, you’ll actually need to create products.”

His advice for fellow founders is clear: “Don’t let San Francisco distract you. Be aware of what happens there, but don’t focus too much on the US. Just start!

“Start building, try to get some traction, and learn how your users respond to your product. After that, the rest will follow.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years