14. xigxag

Founders: Mark Chaplin and Kelli Fairbrother

Website: https://xigxag.co.uk/

Business: An advanced digital reading app to make reading more engaging, accessible and sustainable.




xigxag was created with a vision to build the first-ever fully integrated listen-and-read experience – the most advanced digital book platform ever – as rich as your favourite digital news app and as engaging as leading social media platforms: the Netflix or Spotify of digital reading.

Co-founders Mark Chaplin and Kelli Fairbrother started xigxag in 2019 out of a dissatisfaction for the lack of innovation in audiobooks. The two rediscovered audiobooks in 2018 after 20 years, and were a disappointed to find the experience hadn’t evolved since books on tape. It was available on smartphones, but all the limitations of early audiobooks remained: the inability to see illustrations, to see or lookup words, to take and share notes. Audiobooks were expensive – overpriced relative to other formats, and the two felt forced to sign up to Audible’s inflexible subscription to get a good price.

Frustrated with their experience, the two started xigxag with the ambition to revolutionise and democratise audiobooks, allowing everyone to enjoy more books. The startup has built the most advanced content platform in the publishing industry, integrating human-voice-narrated audiobooks and ebooks at scale, and creating a proprietary new format called the x-book®. For the first time, users can switch between listening and reading in a single format without paying twice

xigxag’s x-book® technology powers first-ever features for audiobook listeners in a market leading app, including the ability to see illustrations, refer-to-the-text, search, quote, share and lookup words.



“We’re an exciting, independent alternative to big tech incumbents like Audible.” co-founder Kelli Fairbrother comments, “Getting publishers’ support has been a challenge. Through persistence, compromise, communicating the distinctiveness of our UK-led innovation, and the importance of channel diversity beyond Amazon, we were able to (over time) get the support we needed to sign those initial publishing deals. These, in turn, led to others. We’ve now signed twelve deals with publishers, including Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins and Faber.”

xigxag’s focus for 2022 is the UK market, with several major targets including:

  • Revamping the app around a more social experience, with social recommendations and community features.
  • Working with the dyslexia community to improve their in-app experience for those who struggle to read.
  • Other customer-engagement-driven features and improvements.
  • Adding more content to the platform.
  • Achieving B Corp status.
  • Raising brand awareness through PR, events, social media and community activation.

The startups raised over £500k last year and are currently well funded, targeting 100k app downloads by the end of this year and 10k paying customers.


Does Your Business Need Funding? Get Funding – Enquire Today >>>