First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Shadi Bitar: So far, me and my family have thankfully been able to stay well and healthy. We have followed all restrictions very carefully and I have worked from home now since the beginning of March. It’s a new way of life, but everything is actually working splendidly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Nextory?
Shadi Bitar: Nextory was founded by me and my cousin Ninos Malki. We came to Sweden from Syria when we were ten years old. Since then, books have always had a great impact in our lives and for our personal development. My passion for reading is one of the main reasons why I studied Masters in both engineering and economics. Ninos and I teamed up as business partners when we studied at the university and since then we have started several companies together. We founded Nextory, an app for digital books, because we want to give people easier access to literature and make people read more.
How does Nextory innovate?
Shadi Bitar: We have a very strong technical platform and a well developed back end system, which makes it easy for us to focus on innovation and develop unique features that can help our readers and listeners create better book habits. We also have a very agile and fast moving team of developers that are quick to solve technical issues that may occur and at the same time pick up on new digital trends.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Shadi Bitar: We can see that interest in audio and e-books has increased significantly during the past months. The growth has been strong in all our markets. Just during the second quarter of the year, Nextory’s total revenues increased by 95 percent compared to the same period last year. These numbers show that many people want to read and listen at the moment and we are happy that we can deliver a service that hopefully can spread some joy in these difficult times.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Shadi Bitar: The decision to let the whole company work from home was easy, but at the same time a bit difficult. Easy because we wanted to do everything that we possibly could to help stop the spread of the virus. Difficult because we didn’t know how the new working conditions would affect our employees. However, we have learnt that it works well to work from home. It does not affect our business or results, but all of us really miss having face to face meetings and hanging out with each other in the office.