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Meet The Women Behind A Multi-Million Dollar Startup

Blinkist, a successful Berlin startup, relies on amazing women to make the company a success. Here’s a look at who they are, what they do, and how they do it.
by Tom Farrar | Jan 7 2022

Launching a startup is tough. Over 90% of them fail, which is why it’s essential to have some extraordinary people to help build it. Blinkist is one of Europe’s hottest startups that’s changing how millions of people read. Behind the scenes, some remarkable people are making success happen, every day.

The Blinkist app transforms nonfiction books into accessible, easy, and interesting 15-minute reads or listens. Blinkist summarizes the powerful ideas from over 5000 of the world’s best nonfiction books and packages them into bite-sized explainers, making it possible to fit a little reading in–even for those short on time.

It was founded in 2012 by four college friends who loved to read, but they struggled to find time for it in their lives. They knew how much knowledge they could get from reading nonfiction books, they just needed to find a way to make it more accessible for busy people like them.

“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

Luckily, they were able to create a world-class team to build Blinkist from the ground up. Among them are the glue that holds the team together: brilliant women, without whom Blinkist’s success wouldn’t be possible. Let’s hear from Laura, Eveline, and Temi, learn about their successes, and explore the app they built.

Laura: Blinkist’s First Female Employee

Laura, Head of German Content

When Laura started at Blinkist 9 years ago, she was the company’s first female employee, tasked with carefully selecting the titles that made it into the app. Now, she manages a team of 90 readers and writers, bringing together a range of experts that ensure Blinkist’s content is as powerful and captivating as possible.

“People use Blinkist because they want to broaden their horizons and learn about interesting topics—but they’re overwhelmed by the amount of books they could and should read. Blinkist helps them cope with this problem.”
– Laura, Head of German Content

Content is the core of our app, but we would simply be lost without some organization…which leads us to Eveline, our project manager!

Eveline: Why Diversity = Success

Eveline, Product Manager

When Eveline started at Blinkist 6 years ago, she was the only product manager. Back then, the app wasn’t well known, but thanks to Eveline’s magic touch, Blinkist has over 20 million users, has been named as one of the best apps in the world by Google and Apple, and recognized by the United Nations as an essential learning app.

In addition to tippling the amount of signups on Blinkist, Eveline is known around the office for her great ideas and organizational abilities. For her, part of the success comes down to the diversity of the team she helped build and the culture at Blinkist.

“The product is successful because of the people who have built it and who continue to improve upon it. Our team celebrates different backgrounds, skill sets, and genders. We know a huge, diverse range of people use our app, so we want the people building it to reflect that.”
– Eveline, Blinkist Product Manager

So, we’ve got our content, we’ve got our project manager, now all we need is a good app.
Even the best app in the world will never get used if it doesn’t look the part. Let’s take a look at Director of Design, Temi, who transformed Blinkist from a generic-looking app to one that wins awards for its look and feel.

Temi: Blinkist’s Award-Winning Designer

Temi, Director of Design

When Temi joined Blinkist as a designer, she had a gigantic task ahead of her: redefine how Blinkist looked and to create an intuitive, enjoyable, and unique app that prioritizes the user experience.

Temi explains, she’s never designing for herself, but the people who use Blinkist.

“Creating a truly enjoyable and rewarding product for our customers is what fuels us to improve the Blinkist experience. We’ve achieved a beautiful, functional design that keeps our readers at the heart.”
– Temi, Head of Design at Blinkist

By placing the customer at the core of the experience, Temi, and the rest of the design team, have made a beautiful app that’s a pleasure to use—as co-founder, Niklas Jansen, explains:

“Temi help to raise our game, making the app way more user friendly and functional. It’s thanks to Temi and her team that Blinkist’s aesthetic is so strong; their passion and hard work has resulted in Blinkist winning some major design awards—which we’re all really proud of.”
– Niklas Jansen, Blinkist co-founder

Before Temi…

After Temi!

A Book Explained in 15 Minutes

The app was created to explain a book in 15 minutes. For example, many people want to read Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. But it takes the average reader over eight hours to read it cover to cover. On the app, the key ideas are explained in a 15-minute read or listen. This means, no matter how busy someone is, they can fit learning like this into their lives.

Blinkist offers 15-min explainers to nonfiction bestsellers like The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

What started with just four friends has now grown into a hugely successful app that’s used by 20 million people worldwide. It’s been featured as one of the 20 apps for lifelong learning in the App Store alongside the likes of TED, Coursera and Udemy. The UN, Google and Apple have praised the app for its design and purpose, it was featured in Tim Ferriss’ latest book, Tribe of Mentors, and the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, is even a fan. He visited the Blinkist offices in Berlin to learn more about the team and their mission to help more people read.

“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!”
– Tim Cook, Apple CEO.

It’s Backed by Science

One way this is done is through the way the content itself is written. Neuroscientific techniques are used to make it easy to understand and hard to forget with case studies and real-life examples. This means each piece of content is relatable, actionable and memorable.

The sleek and simple design makes it easy to learn from some of the world’s best books in minutes — whether that’s through listening or reading.

As the Blinkist library grew in number, so did the breadth of categories. Now, there are titles across 27 categories including those for professional skills, like entrepreneurship, management and productivity, and those for personal life, like personal development, psychology and relationships.

“With Blinkist, I finally got around to reading The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, a book I’ve had on my reading list forever. I loved how Blinkist breaks down the book into 7 short chapters, making the 7 habits much more manageable. It even persuaded me to buy the full book.”
– Alexander, Commercial Manager and Blinkist Customer.

Listen and Learn On the Go

How did this happen? It’s simple, the team developed features that users love. One of these is Blinkist’s audio feature. Each explainer is available in both text and audio form meaning users can listen to content while on the go or multitasking. They can learn while commuting, cooking, working out, or while traveling between meetings.

What’s more, the audio content is written with listeners in mind and made with different narrators and sound effects to make it engaging and fun to listen to.

Find New Books Fast

Another much-loved feature is the app’s personalized recommendations. Here, Blinkist uses machine learning to find out what topics the user is interested in and tailors its recommendations to this, so they can find more authors and titles they’ll love quickly and easily.

Eveline’s quick to share the credit with her team of top-notch developers, designers, and other product managers. Blinkist’s HR department recognizes the importance of women in tech:

“We need women in tech if we want to build products that can benefit everyone. It’s statistically-proven that diversity and inclusivity generates success, which is what we’re constantly aiming for.”
– Mertcan, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Blinkist

It’s Been Recognized by Big Names

Years later, Temi is the Design Lead, managing a team of 12 designers, who are constantly shaping and evolving Blinkist. Unsurprisingly, their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Google, Android, and Apple have all acknowledged Temi and her team’s relentless hard work and innovative, inspiring design.

“Blinkist’s engaging presentation is enhanced by clear and simple text. The end result is a user experience which is distinct and engaging.”
– Google Design Awards, 2017

In 2021 alone, Apple featured Blinkist as an ‘App of the Day’ more than 500 times worldwide.

Laura, Eveline, and Temi are just three examples of employees driving the company’s growth, but they’re representative of the forward-thinking, passionate women who are at the core of Blinkist’s success.

If you’re a go-getter who cares about learning, Blinkist is the perfect app for you. Join 20 million other Blinkist fans and dive into the key ideas from thousands of nonfiction titles. You’ll surprise and inspire yourself with how much there is to learn!

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