It's no secret that technology has made an enormous impact on the way we read today. Remember that thing called — what was it — "paper," or something? Right, you might not have heard of it because things like newspapers, magazines, and books are all digitized these days. That's exactly why the entrepreneurs behind Beneath the Ink hope the investors on Shark Tank will give their company a chance.
Beneath the Ink is different from most companies you see on Shark Tank every week. Usually, entrepreneurs with some newfangled way to get kids to eat their vegetables or a new tech service enter the Tank. Unlike companies such as these, Beneath the Ink isn't really a product or a service, but a type of technology to enhance the way people experience e-books today.
Plebeians like you and me might not be able to see the big picture of how the Sharks can make money on something that isn't going to sell x number of units or subscriptions like traditional consumer products and services that appear on the show. However, a few of the Sharks (Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary) have made their fortunes in the tech space, so they should know how to scale this business so it can show them the dough.
As for the rest of us, here are seven reasons why you should still care about Beneath the Ink.
1. It Will Change The Way You Read Books
Did you ever read books as a kid that came with little things that you could pull out of them, such as a replica of a historical document or a nifty item like a pair of binoculars made out of paper? Well, Beneath the Ink's e-book technology is kind of like a grown-up version of that. This software allows e-book authors to add complementary content right within their books using Binks, or Beneath the Ink Links, as a way to take the reading experience one step further. For instance, if you're reading a book about, say, Abraham Lincoln, the book could have Binks embedded in the copy that could give you a brief bio of Mary Todd Lincoln, photos of the Civil War, or a map showing how far Ford's Theatre is in relation to the White House. Basically, Beneath the Ink puts whatever you would Google while reading a book right into the story itself. Can you say convenient?
2. Its Inspiration Is Puzzling
As I previously mentioned, when I first heard about Beneath the Ink, this technology reminded me of physical, paper books I used to love reading as a kid. Unsurprisingly, it was the whimsy of children's books with puzzles and ciphers within the stories, like John Peterson's The Secret Hide-Out, that served as early inspiration for Beneath the Ink. This technology was intended as a faster and easier way "for mere mortals to create those kinds of books," co-founder and CEO Sherisse Hawkins told BuildBlog. We're not worthy.
3. You Can Fill Your Digital Library With Beneath The Ink Books Now
You can get Beneath the Ink into your life in one of two ways. If you're an e-book author, you can get in touch with the company to Bink-ify your next great digital novel. Beneath the Ink technology is compatible with a variety of platforms, including Kindle, Nook, and iOS. You can take the software for a spin by making your own Micro eBook on the Beneath the Ink website now. Or, you can buy a book that already uses Beneath the Ink's technology. Some titles include editions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Mistress of France by Emma Boling, and Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. There is a more complete list of titles on the company's website. I can't wait for the day when Fifty Shades of Grey gets the Beneath the Ink treatment.
4. The Company's Founders Have Been At This For A While
Based in Boulder, Colo., Beneath the Ink is the brainchild of the aforementioned Hawkins and Alex Milewski, who met through a mutual friend, as they told the Daily Camera. Hawkins had worked for Time Warner Cable and as a Walt Disney Imagineer previously, while Milewski was a University of Colorado student when he met his future business partner.
At first, Hawkins and Milewski started a company called Cipher This, the precursor to Beneath the Ink that set out to create embedded puzzles in books, according to the Daily Camera. After receiving some incubation and funding from programs and grants aimed at getting start-ups off the ground, Beneath the Ink as we know it today eventually began its first chapter.
5. It Has Inked Itself Some Praise
You don't see books like the ones Beneath the Ink churns out every day, so it's no wonder the company has received some accolades for the way it brings literature to the masses. Beneath the Ink helped Emma Boling's book Mistress of France win a 2014 Digital Book Award and Gold Honoree status in the Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards.
6. The Company May Have Accidentally Revealed It Got A Deal On Shark Tank?
The above tweet came from Beneath the Ink's Twitter account in October of 2014. It's unclear when filming for the Shark Tank episode Beneath the Ink appears on took place, so this tweet could be referencing either preparation to appear on the show and use Barbara Corcoran's book as a way to butter her up, or it means the shark made a deal with the company. Either way, I am so down for Barbara's books getting the Beneath the Ink treatment that I am making some room for it on my Kindle as we speak.
7. Beneath The Ink Is Getting Ready For A Sequel
As if everything you've heard about Beneath the Ink so far wasn't cool enough, the company is planning to launch something called a Page Dip next month, according to the Daily Camera, which describes it as "a digital publishing technology." I mean, that's what Beneath the Ink is, so this really tells us nothing, although Hawkins did suggest that Page Dip will help the company address a whole new market.
This planned expansion can only mean that Beneath the Ink got lucky on Shark Tank... or the company is getting lucky on its own.