Propel programme - Beacon, Pushing the boundaries of the digital magazine industry

With a background in web design, Kevin McGrath was intrigued by the new reading experiences that the latest tablet devices offered and was curious about the design and development process behind them. It was this curiosity that led him to create ‘Beacon’ a solution for publishing and selling digital magazines.

In his own words Kevin describes his product,

“Since the iPad was first launched, digital magazines have become more and more popular but the tools used to create them are the same as those used for printed magazines. Beacon offers a simplified workflow with a flexible output so you can publish your magazines on more platforms and reach more readers.

With the low overheads of micropublishing, a small distribution can still be profitable. Using this model a writer with an existing following from social networks like Twitter can sell directly to readers at a reduced cost, therefore retaining more of the profit.”

By borrowing techniques from the web design industry and applying them to magazine production, Kevin was able to create early prototypes that made him realise it was a business idea worth pursuing. It was then that he applied for the Propel Programme.

“We read about Propel in the local press and immediately applied to the programme. Phase One has helped us to think about all the necessary but unglamorous things involved with a start-up. It’s easy to focus on the parts you enjoy – the product design and dream features but that’s all time wasted if there’s no market for your product or if you don’t understand the motivations of your customers. Propel has given us that blueprint so we have an overall strategy for the business.”

Working out of the Belfast ‘Hub’ alongside the other start-ups has given Kevin the opportunity to cross fertilise ideas with fellow entrepreneurs.

“Speaking to other Propel participants has been really useful; you always know that of the 26 participants at least one person will have had some experience in the area you might be struggling with. We have also just had our first mentor session which has provided us with the opportunity to speak to an experienced entrepreneur who can give advice based on personal experience which has saved us a lot of time in trial and error.”
Kevin hopes that Beacon will allow a new generation of content creators to push the boundaries of the digital magazine industry.

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