The world of publishing is changing at blinding speeds and so are peoples reading habits. There is a reason why Vancity Buzz is purely online, writes the way it writes, and intertwines visuals the way it does on posts – people are visual creatures, and that’s a fact. Besides readability, with the rapid surge in tablet adoption and new ways to distribute content, the publishing world is starting to evolve in monumental ways. Ryan Vetter, founder and CEO of Vancouver’s Wundr, explains how they are reinventing publishing as we know it.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
After being frustrated with the lack of creative eBook tools and the complexity of distribution, I decided to create a platform to solve the issues I was facing.
2. What makes Wundr special and how is it designed to put the publishing world on its head?
Wundr makes it easy for anyone to create + publish interactive eBooks and ePeriodicals. Through our control of the creative process with templates, as well as an ePub 3.0 reading experience, readers are going to enjoy unique experiences with every book they read. And publishers are going to find it cost effective and cheap to create + publish their titles across multiple eBookstores. In addition, we’re compatible with every other ePub supported eBook ecosystem with partnerships with Kobo and Apple, with others coming soon.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Wundr?
It’s played a minor role thus far. The startup community in Vancouver seems budding but at the same time there appears to be a lack of real VCs and investors willing to invest in tech companies with the capital they need to become large. There’re lots of tech people running around though and the future looks bright.
4. What kinds of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
Platform challenges. The publishing industry is complex and it’s difficult sometimes to retro-fit your platform with partners and potential partners’ systems. Our platform is scalable and we’ve learned to quickly adapt and pivot based on the realities of the outside world.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
Well… for anyone who’s interested in writing a book, we’re making that easy. We’re also fielding proposals from local authors with book ideas to help them take it to the next level. That’s in the form of custom interactivity.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Steve Jobs. It sounds cliché but I feel like we have so many similar traits it’s bizarre. I don’t put myself on his level but his perspective on life and business I feel… I feel the same way. Having worked with people close to him… some of the stories they tell me about things in the past… I think that those are things that I would have done and do! What I like about Steve is, as he said, he doesn’t care about being right, he just cares about success. The way I see that in business is, the best ideas always have to win, and it’s ok to be wrong, to be willing to drop whatever you believed yesterday for something that makes more sense today. I want people to challenge me and tell me why they think I’m full of it. I don’t care about anything but technology. I’ll sacrifice whatever I have to to try and make technology that makes people happy. It’s a tough business but that’s what we’re in. Failure seems to happen a lot, but success is gratifying because of how challenging it can be. However, I’m not sure how anyone defines success. I don’t even really know how I would define that.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
It’s a tie between Joe Sakic and Jim Pattison. Joe’s a relentless competitor and Jim, a great business leader.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
The best advice is no advice? I kind of think that. I think it’s really up to people to figure it out. But if I had to give any advice at all, I’d say to get a vision and stand by it. Lots of noise out there. So many people who may tell you what you should do… until the point where you get dizzy and don’t even know what you’re doing anymore. You know what you want to do and that should manifest itself in a strong vision.
*End of interview*
It’s great to see how another Vancouver entrepreneur works his magic to rejuvenate an industry. As answered in question five, the tough part is to adapt to the realities of the slow moving change that the rest of the stakeholders in the publishing industry ecosystem are moving at. Like with anything, it will take patience and determination. If Steve Jobs were here, (it’s worth noting that his birthday is on Sunday) we all know that his tenacity and mindset of never settling would be the last key ingredients to changing the industry. Wundr has their work cut out for them but with their innovative approach and strong leadership, things look bright.
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