Startup Profile: xigxag

At xigxag, they’re leading the biggest-ever innovation in digital reading, shaping the future of books.

The Cornwall-based audio digital startup has built the most advanced digital reading app in the market, with a proprietary listen-and-read x-book® concept and market-first features for audiobooks. For the first time, audiobook listeners can see integrated illustrations and refer to the text, search, lookup words, take notes, share quotes, switch to reading or read along.

xigxag logo

The xigxag model is based on rewarding customers for listening and reading more rather than tying them into a relentless subscription audiobook commitment. With this approach, they are challenging the dominance of big tech in audiobooks to make reading more accessible, engaging, easier, and more sustainable.

xigxag was started by Kelli Fairbrother, former COO of print tech unicorn Gelato, and Mark Chaplin, former Director of Production Technology at ITV, both consumer tech experts and keen readers and listeners. They have a shared love of audiobooks; hearing authors tell their own stories in their own voices is magic, and helps them finish more books. But despite that enjoyment and audio being a massive global trend, Kelli and Mark felt that audiobooks hadn’t really been innovated in decades: they were an incomplete format priced at a premium, missing both basic functionality as well as all the excitement and immersion of modern digital media experiences.



Since launching commercially in December 2020, they have built a growing loyal fan base with over 13,000 people having downloaded the xigxag app. Their catalogue has over 30,000 titles live on the platform. In their first year of trading, they’ve signed deals with 12 publishers, including Penguin Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins and Faber – about 90% of the Sunday Times Bestseller List. Recently, they’ve acquired their first marketing partner, signing an affiliate partnership with mobile tech giant, Vodafone. xigxag have also introduced a gifting feature whereby users can gift a title to another book lover.

Their vision over the next year is to create a social and community platform within the app, including social profiles, social reading recommendations and book club features. They are extending their data and insight infrastructure to publishers and authors. On top of this, they are broadening their marketing channels to include PPC and organic search, powered by the recent launch of their SEO-enabled website, as well as PR and affiliate marketing.