The Importance of Making Products People Love: Alek Matthiessen of Booknotes

One of the most difficult parts of the business for any founder is find out what your customers want-but not for Alek Matthiessen, founder of Booknotes. He has always kept the answer to that question simple: make something YOU love. By being part of Booknotes' key target market, Matthiessen is able to make products and features the rest of his users love. We spent time with him to learn more about the app and what he has planned.

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1. How did you come up with the idea for Booknotes?

I was working hard at Snapchat, and slowly started to realize that one of my favorite past times, reading, was taking a back seat to my work. I realized it wasn’t realistic to spend months reading a book anymore, so there had to be a better way.

That’s when I started looking for shortcuts on how I could read faster. One of the first things I remembered was that when you buy a book on Amazon Kindle, you’re shown the most popular highlighted passages in the story. I figured out that if I just read the most frequently highlighted parts of the stories, I could probably get most of the big ideas without having to read the whole book.

That’s when I built Booknotes.

2. Tell us about your process in summarizing the insights from your books.

Booknotes hires professional writers to read the best-belling books every month and distill the key insights. They look at the unique points of view, original tips and tricks, and the voice of the author to make sure their summary reflects accurately what’s in the book. All summaries are fact checked and verified through multiple parties to make sure our community will love the result.

3.What do you feel makes Booknotes stand out from other book summaries apps?

I built Booknotes because I wanted to make it easier for people to read. That’s why we formed Booknotes Gives, a program where for every membership that is purchased, we donate one to a low-income student, veteran, or teacher. Purpose is real in our company, and we feel strongly that everyone deserves to experience the life-changing magic of reading.

4. How do you know if your users love your product? How do you engage with them?

Everyday, we focus on how our users are using our product. That means looking at how many books are being read, how many books are being saved, and how many books people on average complete. That informs us if we’re accomplishing our mission. That informs us of the way forward.

5. What are you most excited for in 2020? 

We’re really excited for our growth in 2020. We’ve recently added Original Summaries of events to Booknotes, so if you’re wondering what’s going on with WeWork on the Impeachment, you’ll find summarized insights you can read or listen to in 15 minutes. We’re confident this will be a strong year.

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