#FrenchTechFriday: read your way to a better life with Glose

Reading is one of the few activities that are both enjoyable and essential. But if picking up a book is an obvious past-time for some, it is a dreaded moment for others. French startup Glose wants to be there on both occasions.

The various joys of reading

For those who have had the chance to grow up in a book-friendly environment, reading is a pleasurable activity. It might well even be your favorite activity. Those lacking the free time might still see the importance of reading in the workplace or for life-long learning.
And there are the others.
Those who might have reading issues. Either because it is too difficult to master the reading process or because of external influences. Some kids live in homes with no books. Maybe they have parents with reading issues. Sometimes they may live in an environment where reading is frowned upon.
Yet, they need to read just like the others to get the same chances at school and work.
Glose CEO Nicolas Princen offers to add practicality and fun to the reading process for all, with a social input.

The beginnings

The story behind Glose starts with a young man who gets quite an impressive first job. Nicolas, then 23, becomes technical advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012. He meets all the top tech CEOs. When the president ended his term of office, Nicolas got many tempting job offers in prestigious tech businesses. But a quote runs in his mind: “A man’s dignity resides in his use of freedom”.
Nicolas chooses to use his newly gained freedom for something that is dear to him: make reading better together.

Reading together with Glose

Glose may seem like “just” a reading app at first. But it is meant as a meeting place to read, annotate, discuss and share views on books.
Through partnerships with the largest editing platforms, Glose has a huge library to offer. And the first 10% of each book is free to read.
Reading is pleasant and annotating a passage is kid’s play. There is room to discuss and debate on the books with friends.
This is what Glose is all about: to share the reading experience with others and gamify the whole process.

What happens when schoolkids read with Glose?

The app was quickly picked up by teachers as they saw there the perfect opportunity to engage students.
The students are not left alone in the reading process. Their peers are with them; they can share their views and help each other out.
This one kid was reluctant to read yet the metrics showed he was reading always at the same time right after school. When the teacher questioned him about it, the boy admitted he read in the bus on the way home. His home wasn’t a suitable place for reading and he thought he could read on the smartphone without being mocked by other kids. Using a smartphone on the bus was cool.
Glose has even gamified the reading process even more by making it possible to share a favorite quote on social networks with a customized visual.

Why read on a smartphone?

The app is available on smartphones, tablets and desktop yet smartphone is the most used platform. This could feel counter-intuitive at first. But it shows how the smartphone has a central role in our daily lives. The tablet is not as central.
We use the smartphone to read/play when we commute, when we go to the loo (go on, admit it!), when we have a moment for ourselves or before night-time. While the iPad is on the shelf, the smartphone is closer, on the bedside table. When people don’t secure down-time for reading they can still manage several micro-reading sessions in a day with Glose.

Why promote reading?

If reading is an obvious skill to master, the requirement goes well beyond. As Nicolas points out, reading helps structure the mind. It teaches the various language registers and develops abstraction. Many of today’s issues concerning – amongst other things – fake news is the result of failing to differentiate facts from concepts. Reading helps in the communication and comprehension between humans. And for Nicolas, who majored in Philosophy, this is a most noble cause to promote.

The startup

The idea for Glose dates back to 2012 and the startup came to be in 2014. The team of twenty works in Paris even if the major part of its revenue is generated by US users. The team is largely made of tech wizards as Glose takes old reading standards like PDF or EPUB to new levels. All the texts are made interactive and pleasant to read.
New recruits will make their way to the team as Glose is looking for tech and marketing profiles (including data scientists, devs, sales managers).

A new partnership with schools

Glose has a new challenge ahead as an Education version makes its way to classrooms worldwide. To do this, Glose has succeeded in raising 3 million Euros.
Apparently, Glose is not done changing how we read books – together.
Top view of a parisien breakfast with croissants and baguette
Glose’s tongue-in-cheek tribute to Rude Baguette