Online publishing platforms abound, but they vary in terms of how easy they are to use, and how temporary or permanent content published to them is intended to be. Checkthis, a startup out of Belgium, wants to bridge the gap, with a super simple publishing tool that can be short-term when it needs to be, and longer lasting when it suits a user. Checkthis offers less friction than either Twitter or Tumblr, but it can support text posts, classified postings, event invitations and surveys, making it handy for a wide variety of different uses. The startup is announcing a $910,000 seed funding round today, and expansion to New York offices.
The oversubscribed round, led by Lerer Ventures and including other notables like SV Angel, Index Ventures, Betaworks, Seedcamp and select angel investors, will help the previously bootstrapped company expand its team and make a number of upcoming product additions. Checkthis founder and CEO Frédéric dela Faille said in an interview that selecting investors was tough, but in the end he feels he got a group who really get his vision of a publishing platform so easy to use it doesn’t even require a login. It’s a promising vision in a service market where the race to the least amount of friction possible seems to be a key route to growing a user base.
The site’s value proposition is simple: it asks users whether they want to tell (write), sell (create a classified posting), ask (a survey), or invite (event invitation). Users can create any of those options without creating an account, and can publish almost immediately, and share to a variety of social networks. Checkthis still faces considerable challenges to adoption, however, not least of which is convincing users that they even need another online publishing tool. But its design is aimed at being the web-based content creation platform unmatched in terms of simplicity and appeal: anyone can use it, and it can be used for anything. Or at least, it will be able to, as it matures, according to dela Faille.
“Lerer, our lead investor, were also investors in Geocities, and we feel really into that space,” dela Faille said. Like Geocities, Checkthis wants to be a one-stop publishing tool designed for the masses, but with more of a specific, for-purpose vision that can be tailored more easily to different ends. The site’s current publishing options actually make it more feature-rich than a lot of other simplified publishing platforms, but a focus on clean, simple design without many customization options and the ability to post things without any kind of registration process make it ultimately simpler than tools without a variety of publishing formats.
In terms of the site’s revenue plans, dela Faille said Checkthis will always remain free to use, and instead the site and the user “will make money together.” “You’ll never pay to create stuff,” he said. “It’s more about, for example, you could promote your page by paying a little more money to drive more traffic.” There are also revenue opportunities on the classifieds side of the site, especially if the site goes deeper into ecommerce than the simple use of PayPal’s API it employs now.
As a platform, the biggest challenge for Checkthis will be converting users from other platforms, since even if it is easier to use, most will be entrenched in the tools they currently use. At a certain point, after all, simple publishing becomes simple enough, even if something out there is easier still. But for throwaway uses, like organizing an informal survey about a purchase decision, or setting up a one-time meetup that doesn’t require the heavy lifting something like a Meetup can provide, or posting thoughts that won’t fit in a tweet but don’t merit a full blog post, Checkthis has a chance to supplant and eventually replace more broadly used apps.