Image | Matthew G
In the media world, many believe that newspapers will soon be a thing of the past and that the future lies in digital communication. However, only the latter part of this belief is true. The future is clearly going digital, yet traditional newspapers will never disappear. The key to succeeding in this sector is to adapt to new times. How? By thinking mobile and tablets.
That is what Juan Margenat and Xavi Beumala did in 2011. They founded Marfeel, a Catalan startup that ‘mobilizes’ media communication sites. They went through accelerators like SeedRocket and Wayra and in 2013 they closed a venture round of 1.6 million euros with Nauta Capital, Elaia Partners and BMDI.
Currently, they boast more than 300 clients across five continents. El Confidencial, Daily Caller and National Geographic have already been ‘marfeelized’ as they like to say. As is the case of most startups, the beginning stages weren’t easy. In fact, their business model was different than their current one. “In 2012, we were very excited, willing to work our way through and naive, but through perseverance and working very hard, we have gotten to where we are today, with more than 600 million readers around the world,” says Margenat. However, the two founders say they still haven’t achieved success. “We’re simply growing well and fast, although we have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves successful.”
Marfeel’s business model is special. As Margenat points out, it’s a win-win. “We offer the technology for free and manage the advertising. A percentage goes to us, and another goes to them. Everyone wins.” Margenat claims that with their technology, media will be able to multiply their earnings through advertising by two to six times.
The startup was also recently recognized by Google; the search engine selected Marfeel as one of the most recommended companies creating mobile versions for web pages.
Marfeel’s short-term goals are clear. Apart from opening an office in New York after the summer, they want to triple the size of their team to have 70 employees. “We want to strengthen our presence in Europe and the US.” Marfeel’s long-term goal is to be “more romantic.” Both Xavi and Beumala affirm that they would like Marfeel “to be the standard ‘go-to’ in mobile devices. That is to say, that whenever any site or media organization wants to make a mobile version for their web, they’ll come straight to us without considering any other options.”
What we can be absolutely sure of is that the future of media lies in mobile devices (tablets and smartphones); for Margenat, the only question is whether we can speak of the future or the present. “Late last year, more than half of most sites’ traffic came from mobile devices. This year, the trend is unstoppable, so I think mobile technology is already the present. Desktop websites aren’t going to disappear, but we are going to have so many opportunities to browse through mobile devices that traffic via desktop websites will lessen.”
The future is already here, and it’s here to stay. But are we fit to adapt?
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