NARR8 is an innovative, new(ish) content platform and mobile app. Founded in 2011 by Alexandr Vashchenko, NARR8 was inspired by Vaschenko’s love of comic books and entertainment media.
“The name ‘NARR8’ came from the idea of combining story telling, or ‘narration,’ with the number 8, which, aside from being an auspiciously lucky number in certain parts of the world, also resembles the Mobius strip—the symbol of infinity,” Alexis Valerio, Senior PR Manager for NARR8, said. “We wanted to emphasize the idea that NARR8 would offer both infinite breadth in the form of a variety of content genres, and infinite depth in the form of episode after episode of great stories.”
Valerio said that Vashchenko worked with Russian tech investor Igor Matsanyuk to secure $4 million in funding from Matsanyuk’s investment firm, IMI Investing Company.
“Mr. Vashchenko also worked closely with Game Insight, one of the world’s biggest mobile/social game companies to help create NARR8’s unique ‘freemium’ business model, which lets users download, install, use the app, and read content for free,” Valerio said.
How NARR8 Works
Under the freemium model, the NARR8 app is free to download. The app is cross-platform, so NARR8 is available online, as well as Facebook, iOS, Android, Windows 8, and Amazon. Once registered, users have access to stories that are all interactive.
“The app offers a variety of different content genres, including fiction (superhero comics, sci-fi, horror, romance) and nonfiction (educational periodicals that cover topics such as popular science and world history),” Valerio said. “All our content differentiates itself from standard print media by featuring in-depth animations and special effects, music soundtracks, and additional interactive features, such as ‘choose your own adventure’-style branching narratives and even embedded mini-games.”
Users can also chat in the forums.
“We have over a million users in more than 50 different countries, and in four languages—users can change the language of their content at any time,” Valerio said.
NARR8 periodically holds contests, through community channels and social media, Valerio said.
“We love to engage with our users and tap their sense of creativity, so we’ve run contests that encouraged readers to do things like send us alternate endings to a particular series, and have given out prizes such as NARR8’s own virtual currency, ‘NARRs tokens,’ as well as some of the hottest new mobile phones and tablets,” Valerio said.
The most unique aspect of NARR8, aside from great content, is the in-app currency called NARRs. New users get two episodes of every series in the app free, and can use NARRs to buy new episodes and unlock additional features of the app.
NARRs can be earned by regularly using the NARR8 app (think daily bonus).
“Readers receive anywhere from 5-15 NARRs each day for checking in and using the app, and of course, more when they participate in our community contests,” Valerio said.
Users can also buy additional NARRs. $1 equals 100 NARR tokens. One of the features that can be unlocked is the motion comics auto-play feature, Valerio said.
“[It] continuously plays the episodes without having to scroll through each page,” Valerio said. “The effect is a lot like watching an animated feature on Netflix. Each series also has its own set of virtual collectible items that users can purchase.”
Another feature is to build collections. NARR8 users can collect virtual items associated with each series and use them to unlock and assemble a full set.
“It’s a fun way for users to get more into their favorite stories,” Valerio said.
Stories on NARR8
Currently there are 22 series on the platform. All titles are serial, with new episodes released regularly. Valerio said NARR8 has an in-house staff of about 160 designers, writers, and graphic artists.
One of the most popular fiction series is a motion comic, called Subject 9.
“It’s basically a superhero comic with a twist—the characters are all furry animal creatures,” Valerio said. “Otherwise, the story includes all the twists and turns you’d expect from a good superhero book, including secret government conspiracies and mutant superpowers.”
Nonfiction series are also big on the app. Two popular series, Valerio said, are Chronographics, a world history series that offers in-depth exploration of key people places, and things throughout the ages, and Paradigm, a pop-sci series that explores popular science through a full-color, high-definition lens.
Self-publishing on NARR8 with Storybuilder
Storybuilder is NARR8’s user generated content, multimedia editing tool. Users can create their own stories using photos, artwork, music, and special effects, Valerio said.
“Now anyone can produce a story and get published (once they get through our in-house approval process, of course),” Valerio said.
The tool is free to use and easy to learn, Valerio said. More information can be found here, but all users need to do is create an account and upload media. The current version of the editor can be found at https://editor.narr8.me.
Writers and artists are compensated for their work. Valerio said there is a system in place for books that have at least 1,000 downloads for an individual episode.
“In those cases, NARR8 will work with the authors to promote the series on our platform and may also offer the authors a revenue sharing deal,” Valerio said.
NARR8 has plans to expand the tool.
“In the near future, we will be releasing an additional version called StoryBuild Pro for power users and serious creative types looking to create professional-grade comics and interactive stories,” Valerio said.
Other NARR8 Apps
NARR8 has another app, NARR8 Cards. Valerio said the cards are virtual messages users can send to friends and family, using artwork from NARR8 series.
“This feature is free and was originally part of our 2013 Valentine’s Day event,” Valerio said. “Seasonal events are also something we’ve done as a way to offer even more great content to our users.”
NARR8 in the Future
Recently NARR8 launched a desktop web browser, which accompanies the desktop Facebook launch from about a month ago, Valerio said.
“Going forward, we’ll continue to update our series with new episodes and we’ll be preparing StoryBuilder Pro for prime time,” Valerio said. “We’re also pursuing a number of deals at the moment that will bring some well-known licensed properties to NARR8 in the future. Stay tuned for more updates, and thanks for reading NARR8!”