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October 28, 2010 / TechFemme

Kristen McLean is Going to Upset (ie. Fix) the Publishing Industry

Kristen McLean, Co-Founder, Bookigee

Recently, I’ve been more active than ever on social networking sites.  I am, after all, trying to get the word out about all of you TechFemmes doing awesome things.  And I’ve gotten to virtually meet some interesting people online through twitter, SharpSkirts and Quora conversations.  Miami doesn’t exactly have a bustling, growing  female tech startup scene (or any tech startup scene, for that matter) so when I found Kristen McLean on SharpSkirts, I was really excited to meet her in person.  You probably haven’t heard of Kristen yet. But I’m willing to make a sizeable bet (ie. I’m considering investing in her) that in the next few years, you will at least have heard of her publishing startup, Bookigee.

In the interest of keeping her startup stealthy – disclaimer: I am considering investing in it – I won’t disclose details except to say that it has the capability of completely disrupting the highly-flawed publishing industry.  Even though I know very little about Bookigee’s business model and even less about the publishing industry itself, if executed properly (a huge ‘if’, I realize) I can’t forsee any market entry, competition or financial model challenges that cannot be overcome.

Kristen has already been told she should replace herself with a technical CEO.  Whether or not the potential investor who said this really meant that she should seek a male CEO is up for debate, although it’s clear that he wouldn’t have made that recommendation if she had the exact same qualifications but was a man.  It’s true that she’s not from a highly technical background and doesn’t write lines of code.  But she’s well aware of how technology can help fix the publishing industry.  And is she a publishing person?  Boy, is she ever.  She has spent her entire career with her hands in all aspects of the industry and is perfectly poised – with her knowledge, desire, ideas and most importantly, high-level connections – to make Bookigee a reality.  And she’s open to advice and suggestions.

TechFemme:  How did you get the idea for Bookigee?

Kristen McLean:  I was asked to write a book about the book publishing process, from the moment a manuscript leaves an agent’s desk to when it falls in a reader’s lap.  By the 3rd chapter, I realized how flawed and broken the publishing system really is and I didn’t want to write the book anymore.  I wanted to write a different book, about how it could be better in the future.  The publishers weren’t interested in that book.  So we called off the contract.  And I started developing my ideas about how the industry can be fixed.  Right now, authors have no way to gauge and interact with their audience.  They’re dying for a way to do that.

I would love to write more about how Bookigee is going to allow authors to do that and so much more, but I imagine there will be plenty of time for that in the future.  I really do agree with her that Bookigee has the potential to be revolutionary, not just in the publishing industry.  I can see how it might have a significant impact on media sharing and social media as a whole.  What hooked me as a potential investor, though, is that Kristen is well aware that having a revolutionary idea is only the beginning of causing an industry disruption.  Over lunch we talked about Eric Reis’ Lean Startup model and 37signals’ business philosophy and agreed on every point that I can remember.  And although Kristen is confident, she’s well aware of the areas  in which she’s not well-versed (technology, planning, etc.) and is committed to finding the right advisers and resources help her and her co-founder along the right path.  Obviously I’ll have to learn more before making a real investment in Bookigee, but Kristen is off to an incredible start.

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