Founder Profile: Catalin Mester, CEO Storis

CEO Catalin Mester reflects on digitizing the book industry & the need to be integrated into our modern day lifestyle.


Hello Catalin, it’s great to have you here with us today. To start with, could you briefly tell us your personal story?

Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Catalin Mester, I am a serial entrepreneur and business mentor. I always wanted to build a consumer app here in Romania, using local talents, and extend it all over the world.

I only get involved in projects that are in line with my beliefs, like: books, events (for the implied human connection), minimalism, stoicism. I believe that only with these types of projects one can have the perseverance needed to succeed.

How did Storis come up? What’s its mission?

The Idea of launching Storis came from my co-founder Dan Vidrascu, owner of Litera Group - the biggest publishing house in Romania, and co-founder of the online retail platform I was immediately attracted by it because I am very passionate about books and technology, and the idea of creating a global app for audiobooks and ebooks resonated deeply with my core aim.

Our mission is to have the biggest digital books catalog in local languages & English, in the world. Whatever the book you search for, we want to have it as an audiobook and/or ebook, in both local language and English.

What do you consider the app’s most significant advantages for the user?

One of the biggest advantages for a user is that we have the largest digital books catalog in both Romanian & English.

Another great advantage is the subscription model: for just 48 Lei – roughly the price of an ordinary book in any physical bookstore, you gain access to our standard catalog of thousands of ebooks and audiobooks

What makes Storis unique? How does it stand out from its competitors?

Well, like in every business, there are more than a few players in the market (for example in the transport business you have Bolt, Uber, Freenow) , and our competitors also have solid applications with a lot of books and almost unlimited advertising budget. We will be a player having at least the same number of books, a solid and easy to use application, original content, and a growth-hacking approach to marketing.

Some of our differentiators:

  • Stellar user experience - We are a UX first company and totally care about our user experience, so we employ a mature and user centered design process often found in big tech companies. We run design critiques and reviews, we’ve made feedback a part of our day to day work, and we are frequently in touch with our customers through user interviews.
  • AI Powered recommendations system - As a tech company and as a subscription service, we try to help you find the best and most interesting books and podcasts for you. In this sense, we have created a proprietary, AI based search and classification algorithm. To power the algorithm, we take into account a number of factors such as: the way you use our service (reviews, time spent on specific content), your location and time of day, the weather, members with similar preferences and the book information (title, author, narrator, category, tags, year, etc).
  • Biggest digital books catalog in Romanian & English Our mission is to have the biggest digital books catalog in local country languages & English in the world, so we adapt our business model to accommodate as many publishers as possible.
  • Original content – Similar to how Netflix creates its own movies and series, we create our own audio content and we are always looking for new production ideas. We already produce our own content: Book Summaries, Original Podcasts and Mindfulness Meditations.

You are creating original content, just like Netflix does. How much content are you able to deliver now and with what capacity?

We produce two types of content: audiobooks for the publishing houses that we partner with, and original audio content.

We have: 🎙️ 6 audiobook recording studios

We read: 📖 600+ pages every day

We produce: 🎧 50+ audiobooks every month

We work with: 🗣️ 20+ professional narrators, among which: Șerban Pavlu, Mihai Călin, Cristina Stănciulescu, Daniela Nane.

You have now opted for a crowd-funding campaign on SeedBlink to fuel Storis launch & growth. Tell us more about this: what made you share this opportunity with any investor with 2.500 euros available?

We wanted to get around us investors who care about the same things as we do, investors proud to embark on this journey with us, and SeedBlink seems like a good match for our needs, at this point.

Why is book streaming so important, especially in 2021?

Compared to print and e-books, the audiobooks have seen the most accelerated growth in the world and during the pandemics, the demand has risen even more. The market has already proven its potential for content streaming with movies and music.

What’s on the cards for Storis in 2021 and after?

In 2021, we plan to launch the app here, in Romania.

In 2022, we want to consolidate our position in Romania and aim to expand to Moldova and Estonia.

In 2023 - 2026, we plan to expand to the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Spain.

How do you plan to expand to other countries in Eastern Europe?

The biggest challenge to tackle is the local countries catalog; we have already started the process of acquiring content and making deals with all the major publishers and distributors in the world.

Since we have a limited budget, our marketing approach relies highly on growth hacking and influencers. Having as an investor and partner the biggest publishing house in Romania, we have excellent knowledge about the books industry.

How do you see the future of the audiobooks market?

All the trends seem to point in a very clear direction: audiobooks are more and more popular and the market grows globally, by 7 – 10% each year. I have no doubt that in the not-so-distant future we will have a lot of books published directly in audio format and print will be the second option.

More about Catalin Mester | Storis | Their Seed funding round on SeedBlink

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By Bianca Iulia Simion

PublishedAugust 04, 2021

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