Pinterest and other curated content websites have taken the world by storm by allowing everyone from teenagers to moms to save and share the things they like. While users likely considers their pins to be items they’ve saved for themselves, realistically the social features of the site make users’ pins much more of a performance or collection you build for your friends.
Pinterest is obviously doing something right, but they boxy interface doesn’t allow much more room for creativity on top of the content you’re sharing. As Living Junction CEO and co-founder Olli Laesvirta puts it, “There are not any clever ways to bring additions to existing content that would justify borrowing that content.”
Taking this concept of sharing things you like to a much more creative level, Helsinki-based startup Living Junction has created an online magazine editor that allows users to create social magazines around your hobbies and interests. The service soft-launced in March, and Laesvirta says that it has been growing nicely just through the virility from its test users.
The magazine editor was flexible but still easy to use, and takes advantage of the newer HTML5 technologies that allow dragging and dropping content from over the web. Living Junction’s editor also includes search features through Bing images, Youtube, and also your Facebook images (if you’re logged into the service through Facebook). Images and text can be resized and rotated easily, providing some flexibility.
It’s pretty handy for putting together a magazine quickly. Say you’re making a magazine about a band, you could easily search for a youtube video of the song you’re writing about within the page, and drag and drop it to where you want it in your magazine. Finding background images, or images of bandmates are also easy though the editor toolbar.
So far, users have also created recipe books, as well as a lot of fashion or hobby magazines. You can privacy protect your magazines to only certain people, so one use case of the service include private parenting journals that parents can showcase activity to their families and closest friends.
To target the younger audience, Laesvirta tells me they’re hoping to work with schools and teachers to have students compile reports and projects through the service. At least in Finland, Laesvirta says that schools are looking for solutions to add social media to their classrooms to make students naturally social media literate. One girl already made a magazine entitled “Parrots – My favorite birds” which shows how this report concept can be easily moved from construction paper and magazine clippings to the online world.
Users can find magazines to read through the site’s explore and social features. The main stream page gives a social view of what’s going on with the magazines or friends you’re subscribed to. There’s also an explore page which lets people browse magazines based on interest categories. Magazines can also be shared by links through Facebook and Twitter, but the company says that they are likely to add embeddable features soon.
To monetize the service, Laesvirta tells us they see advertising as a main source of revenue in the longer term, as it will scale well. But they’re also working with partnering with brands, and will have co-branded campaigns coming out this fall.
The company’s birth story is not your standard story. Laesvirta tells me he always had his eye on consumer web, but at the time was working at Frosmo at first consulting e-sports in the nordics. He then was a part of building Frosmo Optimizer, a service used to target users individually on websites and in display advertising.
After that project was basically completed, Laesvirta then pitched the concept behind Living Junction to Mikael Gummerus, the CEO of Frosmo, who became interested in the project and eventually an investor. Laesvirta was also allowed to take some of the engineering talent from Frosmo and into Living Junction.
The company raised a €350 000 seed round in November from private investors including Risto Siilasmaa, Jarkko Veijalainen, Hannu Vaajoensuu, Kirsi Eräkangas, TEKES and other angels from the Finnish IT-industry. The company has five employees total.
You can read more about Living Junction in magazine form here.