Growing up, I dreamed of managing the news with grace, which meant being able to flip through a newspaper at breakfast without shattering the sound barrier or spilling coffee on the hot young professional by my side. Like most everyone, I now grab my news online, so I’ve been striving for sophistication once again. Until today, when I discovered Skimr.
Skimr is simply the easiest-to-use and best news reader I’ve found on the web. A straightforward homepage presents an alphabetized list of news sources. Click on the sites you normally visit, skim the headlines and excerpts of recent articles or blog posts, and then click on the titles if you want to follow links to the full articles.
In fancy speak, Skimr is an RSS reader, RSS standing for Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication, or (if I might add a definition) Royally Stupid Shorthand – seriously, unless you already use RSS, what the hell does it mean to anyone? Well, with Skimr, it now means that I no longer have to visit twenty sites a day just to scan for stories of interest.
Don’t let the minimalist design fool you. This is not a half-baked website in early beta. A crew of devoted Google Reader users put a great deal of thought into offering a better way to handle RSS feeds. The trim shape means that Skimr fits nicely on desktops as well as tablets and smartphones, without any downloads. Cue angelic “aah!”
Skimr is also extremely fast and easy on the eyes. What’s more, it’s fair to both readers and website owners. Unlike other readers, users still visit external sites to read full articles, so publishers aren’t cheated out of traffic. Readers are spared the time, waste,s and hassle of journeying across the web before arriving at desired material.
For those that want to keep things very simple, Skimr is free and works without an account. There’s a large directory of sites, so there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll find your favorite news sources without much fuss. An account of course allows members to customize the news feeds that greet them on the homepage each time they visit. Add websites to the list using URLs or by incorporating sites already in the directory.
The Skimr founding team is comprised of Petr Kral, Josef Sima, and David Svedja – three seasoned internet veterans from the Czech Republic. Check out the blog they maintain onsite or contact the trio here.
We recently had a chance to chat with co-founder, Petr Kral, about the origins of Skimr. Check it out:
How’d you come up with the name “Skimr”?
Originally, I thought we were working on a web-based RSS reader. We wanted to do something like Google Reader only modern. But then I realized we did not have to pull in the whole articles but create a feed of snippets (headline + perex). Pretty much like Twitter, but for websites. I was then looking for a name that described this quick look at the snippets. And Skimr was born – skim through the headlines.
When do your best business ideas come to you?
[On my] fourth beer and third vodka. Or simply when I observe the world around me, e.g. on the tram.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
It’s a side project really. Me and my colleague work from Seznam.cz here in Prague. Seznam is one of the very few companies in the world that has not been defeated by Google in search. We work on cool local projects, but read international blogs and news sites. That’s when Skimr was born – out of necessity to quickly learn what’s new in the Tech world.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
Skimr is a neat little tool. No grand ambitions. Me and my friends find it extremely addictive and useful so I thought we might have a fighting chance finding other people who might also find it helpful.
How’d you fund this venture?
Self-funded. It’s just a couple of weeks of coding in the evening after work really.
What has been your biggest professional frustration?
Living in a small country in the middle of Europe, there are not that many opportunities to work on international projects. I went to the Silicon Valley a couple years back to learn more about startups and realized how different the Tech scene over there was. Have been thinking about starting a project ever since.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I guess Twitter started as a fun project and see how long they have come so far. I am very interested in the digital publishing area and Skimr is a fun project to solve one little problem – how to quickly learn what my favorite websites are posting right now without visiting each and every one of them and without using traditional RSS as I do want to read the content on the original site, not within some reader.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
I have started a few companies so far. I learnt a lot, I made some money. And look, I am doing it again. So I guess the most important part of being successful is whether you enjoy doing it. And I certainly do.
I never quite mastered the newspaper page-turning, which is why I’m so thrilled about Skimr. Permit me my coming of age, tech-geek moment. I get it. It makes perfect sense. It makes reading the news a simple, direct, and pleasurable experience again. Happy reading, friends.
Courtesy of startup founder | Skimr