From the point of view of one of the founders.
I’m Olaf. Despite my name, I’m British, but I moved to Berlin in the 90s. Until a couple of years ago I worked for big German publishers. Like (I suspect) many people in publishing, I harbored the secret desire to be an author. Such was my ordinary world.
One day I met my friend Amos for coffee. He is a filmmaker, and we spoke about a movie he was working on as well as the novel I wanted write. We discovered that we knew of no online tools conceived to help authors structure and outline their plots. This was the inciting incident for my own story.
After I had spent a few days ruminating, I noticed that I had a clear idea of what I expected of an outlining tool. So I started researching what was on the market. And I found … nothing. At least nothing that came close to what I saw in my mind’s eye.
So I went to Robert, whom I knew professionally and respected for his integrity and acumen. I told him I was thinking of a web-based software for authors, but that I would only conceive it if he would be my partner.
To my delight, he needed merely a few days to agree. Our journey had begun.
It turned out to be full of more obstacles than we ever imagined.
The concept behind the software is simple, but it took time to work out the details. Writing the initial business plan was not so hard. We even reached the finals of Berlin’s biggest business plan competition. But our first major problem was time. The more we worked on the project, the bigger it got. We hardly had the capacity to handle it.
The second obstacle was more technical. We wanted a tool that is easy and fun to use, which would allow authors to concentrate on their material without having to read instructions to a complicated software. Just as we were despairing how the author should highlight and filter their story attributes and switch between view and edit mode, we received help.
Martin came on board. Martin is a UX-designer. His specialty is designing the user experience of websites and apps.
But there was another pressing problem. We were running out of money.
An investment firm had made us an offer to buy a sizable percentage of the company that we had not even founded yet. But after much soul-searching, we declined. We felt the deal was too safe for the investor and too risky for us.
We decided to go it alone. And founded Beemgee without funding.
At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 we showed a prototype of a plot-outlining tool. By this time we also had an alpha version of a character development web-app. Authors of all sorts were using our tools, but we felt that functionality was not sophisticated enough for us to charge anything. We weren’t making any money, and we were nearly broke.
That’s when we met two angels. Business angels. Private investors.
With their help, and the support of CONTENTshift, the German publishing industry’s accelerator program, and ACE Creative, a European accelerator, we have managed to reach our biggest milestone yet. We now have full functionality with premium features.
The first paying customers are enjoying the benefits of structuring their stories with Beemgee Premium.
We don’t charge much, only 59,- Euro for an annual subscription (see our pricing). That’s not enough for us to recoup the savings and the years of work that we have put into Beemgee. Or to pay back our investors.
But Amos, Robert, Martin and I have a vision. We believe anyone should be able to outline a dramatically sound and emotionally engaging story, and we think many potential authors fail for lack of planning. That’s why we provide so much advice on the craft of storytelling, accessible contextually directly out of the tool by clicking the | ? | button. We want to provide the foremost author tool on the web for dramaturgy and story development.
“Story is language and structure,” a famous filmmaker said. Authors already have a choice of software for writing, so the language part is taken care of. Now they have Beemgee for composing the plot and developing the characters. Our core competence is story structure.
Today our software exceeds what I had in my mind’s eye over two years ago. And we intend to offer lots more.
Still, I have the feeling that the story of Beemgee is only just beginning.
We’d like you to be a part of it. Have a look at it, and tell the world about it. Authors anywhere can use our standard features for free.
If you haven’t done so already, open your own free project on www.beemgee.com.
And take a look at our story as a Beemgee project. You can try out all the free functionality – any changes you make to the project will not be saved. Click here:
Please get back to me with your thoughts and impressions. We’re sure we can learn from you.