Readbug, the magazine subscription service recently opened what I believe to be their fourth crowdfunding round on Seedrs; all previous rounds overfunded and I invested in two of them. This time things don’t seem to be going too well; over a week in they are up to just over £11k (14%) of their £80k target.

To me, the pitch just doesn’t feel very compelling, there’s a distinct lack of detail and they seem to be focussed trying to quickly pivot their model from a failing? B2C (business-to-consumer) to a B2B (business-to-business) offering. Much of the verbiage is re-spun from their November ’16 shareholder update, things didn’t feel great when I read that, and my mind hasn’t been changed.

Added to this, there are no figures to support their (admittedly modest by crowdfunding standards) increase in valuation. Zero indication of how the B2C business is doing, are we to assume it is dead, even though their website is accepting new sign-ups?

Scratch the surface and things don’t get much better. I thought I’d try out a subscription to get a feel for the product. Sadly I didn’t get very far as I didn’t fancy entering my personal details (credit card number and all) on an unsecured website.

If you want to stand a chance of making any money at least give people a chance to spend it without putting their personal and financial details at risk. The major browsers all make a secure site easily recognisable, everyone should know how to look for those signs and if they don’t see them they should vote with their feet.

I also ran a quick security check using Mozilla Observatory and they scored a 0, passing only 3 of the tests, for a service purporting to be the equivalent of Spotify but for magazines they’re a long way off Spotify for security. I’ve raised these points with Readbug, I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Their new ‘reader’ site fairs marginally better in that it uses HTTPS so if you already have an account you should be fine. However, if you don’t you still have to go back to to nervously enter your credit card details. Perhaps their app fairs better in terms of security. I wouldn’t know as I don’t have an iPhone, just like over half the population.

The first time I invested the product hadn’t been launched, the second time it might have been (I forget), I probably just topped up based on the first round and didn’t really do any additional research. This time, now that I’ve had time to look at things properly I think I’ll give it a miss.

The Crowd Punter.


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