Getting To Know You: Chris Book, CEO, Bardowl

What do you currently do?
I’m CEO of a new audiobook business called[ilink url=”http://www.bardowl.com”]Bardowl[/ilink] . We offer unlimited instant access to an audiobook library for iPhone users for £9.99 per month.

What is your inspiration in the business
I have always been a huge audiobook fan, always found it the most productive and enjoyable way to be entertained, enlightened and learn about new topics. I found I was not reading as many books with my eyes as i wanted so started to listen to audiobooks to supplement my reading.

As a technologist I was frustrated by not being able to stream audiobooks to my smartphone and having to buy books I may never complete outright. So I set about creating an app and a business model that would solve my problem. I have learnt so much about the Book publishing and Start-up world since beginning the jouney in 2009.

Who do you admire?
It’s tough to only pick one, so I’m going to point out two.

Bob Geldoff. He strikes me as an excellent Entrepreneur and Philanthropeneur. He has the right balance of Pragmatism and Vision to change the world. I think thats what all start up people need to have, the ability to set the vision to solve a big problem and be so determined to see it through. I am inspired by the way he used his limited talents and ability to talk to anyone to make a big difference to world. Being 10 in 1985 Live Aid really changed my world view, Bob along with Midge Ure and the others did that.

Gary Vaynerchuck Gary is the one person in technology I really look to for inspiration. His Audiobooks are fascinating and has a great understanding of what the tomorrows world of business looks like, centring social media as the pivotal point for all purchasing decisions.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I would have times by at least 3 the optimistic view I had of how long and how much money it would take to launch a business like Bardowl. As a start up person once you start down the path of a particular business its hard to get off the roller-coaster. I wish I had a more realistic view of the effort it would take to get a business off the ground. I will know for the next one.

What defines your way of doing business?
Transparency. I believe in a world where opinion of your business spreads at the speed of a tweet you need to be 100% transparent to your customers and partners of the business. If you ‘eff up a software release you need to apologise publicly and seek forgiveness. Everything develops so fast in 2013 everyone makes mistakes if you are transparent and you personally have conversations with your customers you will learn so much and be forgiven for any mistakes you mistake.

Importantly for our business the financial model we use is transparent. Every publisher gets the same revenue share whether they have one audiobook or one thousand on Bardowl. The way we share revenue to publishers and authors is in the public domain. This is vital in my opinion for a streaming “all you can eat” business model that Authors, Agents and Publishers all understand the democratic money is shared from our users down the chain of people who have worked so hard to create the content our users love.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Talk to everyone and anyone about your business idea. If they stare back blankly you problem have something wrong with the idea. Nothing about your idea can be protected, socialise it, get expert feedback. If someone steals it and executes it better than you the so be it, you were never going to win anyway. Hiding an idea under a bushel and not doing anything about it is the only way to ensure you fail.

If you try to start up a business and it doesn’t work then that is not failure, thats experience you will take into the next one. On the flip side of that don’t ever underestimate the effort and personal pressure you are put on yourself when you start, there are plenty of Divorced, Depressed or Dead Entrepreneurs out there, they just don’t write the books!