Screwpulp Update

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Last time we checked, business partners (and Memphians) Richard Billings and Will Phillips Jr. were fine-tuning Screwpulp. The idea behind the online startup: matching new e-books with new readers to benefit both writers and audience. And now, Billings has checked in to announce that in just over three months, the Screwpulp site has already published 60 books and earned 930 users. As he pointed out in a recent email, "This is significant because Smashwords, who is second only to Amazon in self-published e-book sales, only published 140 books in their first year." Billings was also writing to announce that Screwpulp is introducing what he calls "a new in-browser reading experience," which will make a purchased book easier to read on a tablet or other mobile device.

But it's Screwpulp's business model that's been really attracting attention. This past July, Screwpulp was one of only three startups to be invited to participate in a panel at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in New York. Topic for discussion: "From Author to Reader, Publishing and Selling Direct." (Translation, according to Billings: "Creating an eBook Marketplace That Doesn't Rely on Amazon.")

"The event went well," Billings says. "Our approach was well received, and of the three startups on the panel, ours was the only one that the audience engaged during the Q&A."

What's more: In mid-August, Screwpulp received word that it was one of the finalists in a program designed by Launch Tennessee to highlight the best of the state's startups. "Demo Day" was August 27th — a good day. At the end of the day, Governor Bill Haslam announced that Screwpulp had been picked to join nine other companies for an across-the-state road trip September 9th-13th. That's when startup representatives from "The Tenn" will meet with executives from Tennessee's top corporations, present short "elevator" pitches, get feedback from investors, innovators, and business leaders, and, in general, network. (In Memphis, the road show will visit First Tennessee and FedEx.) And that's not all: Members of the TENN will then travel to California and the East Coast for another round of networking opportunities with business leaders, venture capitalists, and "angel" investors.

But despite the across-the-state and cross-country attention, Billings wants Memphians to know that the Bluff City remains on his mind:

"No matter how much success we find in connecting authors and readers, our ultimate goal is to bring jobs, innovation, and attention to Memphis."

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