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The Founders of Blinkist Just Wanted You to Read More. What They Ended Up Doing Was So Much Bigger

From wanting to help you read a few more books to triggering a global movement in self-improvement: here’s how Blinkist brought micro-learning to the masses and supported a whole new generation of learners.
by Tom Farrar | Jan 7 2022

Eight years ago, four friends decided to build an app to help people read more. This handy tool offered short 15-minute explainers of popular nonfiction books, which made it easier to catch up on reading and discover new titles. Little did they know it would pave the way for a whole new generation of learners who now flock to the app in their millions to fit learning into their life. This trend became known as micro-learning, and Blinkist was the company at its forefront.

When the Blinkist app launched in 2012, micro-learning was something few people knew or spoke about. In 2020, it’s a fast-growing industry and a 2019 market research report estimates it will be worth $2.7 billion by 2024. Now, over 20 million users have downloaded Blinkist because it’s an incredibly efficient way to acquire knowledge. The explainers of each book are quick, easy-to-understand and memorable, meaning that learning can fit into everyone’s life, even those who feel they don’t have much time.

“Blinkist encourages you to read more nonfiction books. The app contains cleverly written digests—called Blinks—where books are broken down into their main arguments.”
The New York Times

The Blinkist Founders; Holger Seim, Niklas Jansen and Tobi Balling. Not Pictured: Sebastian Klein
Blinkist founders: Holger Seim, Niklas Jansen, and Tobi Balling. Sebastian Klein not pictured.

Since launch, Blinkist has won a major design award from Google, been praised by the United Nations for its global contribution to education and learning, been repeatedly featured in the App Store, made headlines in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and TechCrunch, and Apple CEO Tim Cook recently stopped by the office to see how Blinkist helps support this new generation of learners.

He later commented on the visit that he was, “impressed with the growing and talented team at Blinkist. Helping everyone understand and experience some of the best non-fiction books is a great example of how a single idea from college can evolve into a solution for a problem we all share — too little time!”

Creating an App Wanted by Millions

Blinkist has rocketed to the top of download charts all over the world because it’s solving a problem millions of people have –– not having much time to read or learn.

“Everybody loves reading, but no one has the time. We’re trying to fix that, by getting more great books to more people.”
– Holger Seim, Blinkist co-founder

The idea was sparked when Sebastian Klein, one of Blinkist’s founders, noticed that full-time work left no time for reading. He and three friends thought of ways this could be fixed—they knew they couldn’t speed themselves up, but they thought about ways they could speed up the reading process itself.

Building an app filled with 15-minute explainers of the world’s best nonfiction books was the solution they landed on. With it, learning is never deprioritized because trustworthy content can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.

“If you enjoy nonfiction reading and are short on time, Blinkist will be your new favorite app.”
– Karen Trepte, Huffington Post

The World’s Best Books –– Accessed in Minutes

With Blinkist, millions of people have been able to become well-read and find out more about motivating and inspiring topics. Whether that’s learning from timeless classics like The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, or staying on top of must-reads like Thinking, Fast and Slow, the new generation of learners can understand more books than ever before. Busy people including top CEOs, full-time parents and leading academics turn to Blinkist to keep on top of their reading.

“I use Blinkist when I’m in between meetings and can’t get a giant task done, but at least I can be productive.”
– Sarah Schupp, Professor & Founder of

The best part is that there’s always something new to learn. Every month, 40 new titles, including those from The New York Times bestsellers list, are added to Blinkist’s existing library of over 5000 titles. This way, Blinkist ensures there’s always new, powerful things to learn from some of the world’s most important books.

“With Blinkist you can boost your knowledge and gain new perspectives so that you can be a better professional, a better partner, or a better you.”
—The United Nations

Why Audio Was The Game Changer

Audio is the keystone of good content in the current “golden age of audio.” Blinkist realized this many years ago and has been leading the charge with audio first content that makes for a personalized listening experience as pleasurable as it is informative.

Audio content makes learning as and when you want to easier than ever before, whether you’re walking the dog, commuting to work, or working out at the gym. No matter where you spend your time, time with Blinkist is time well spent.

“With Blinkist, every time a spare 15 minutes presents itself, a new opportunity to learn from an amazing book also presents itself. We’re proud to help millions of people access such powerful knowledge everyday.”
– Holger Seim, Blinkist co-founder

Join The New Generation of Learners

If you’re curious and eager to learn but struggle to find the time, join the 20 million people who use Blinkist. Become a proud member of the next generation of learners, download the app today, and surprise yourself by how much you can learn right away.

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