Summly: How a simple idea became $30million

18 NickDA

This article looks at the journey of Nick D’Aloisio, a famous success story from the world of tech start-ups who managed to invent, protect, raise investment for, develop and then ultimately sell his ‘Summly’ application all before his 18th birthday!

Summly is a news summarisation service that analyses stories from a number of sources and condenses the information into a couple of sentences. If the user is interested in the summary, they can click through to the original article and read the whole piece.

Summly’s predecessor was an app called Trimit which D’Aloisio created in March 2011 for iOS, and which was featured by Apple as a new and noteworthy application. The potential of Trimit also caught the attention of Hong Kong billionaire and serial investor Li Ka-shing who gave D’Aloisio $300,000 in venture capital funding. D’Aloisio used the consumer feedback from Trimit, as well as the financial investment, to completely re-design the application and prepare for its re-launch as Summly.

As part of this process Nick also used his investment to protect his innovation by filing a patent application titled a “Method and apparatus for automatically summarizing the contents of electronic documents.”WO/2013/066497. He filed his patent in October 2011, and re-launched the app as ‘Summly’ in December 2011. He filed his patent in October 2011 and relaunched the app as ‘Summly’ in December 2011.

With his patent protection securely in place D’Aloisio successfully raised a further round of investment of $1m from several investors including Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry to continue to develop and update the app. With the extra funding in place he recruited a number of new staff and collaborators, and began commercial negotiations with several news organisations.

In March 2013 after over a million downloads and having received Apple’s Best Apps of 2012 award for ‘Intuitive Touch,’ it was announced that Summly would be aqcquired by Yahoo for around $30m making D’Aloisio one of the youngest ever self-made millionaires at just 17 years old.

Far from taking time out and spending his money he now plans to do it all over again, hopefully many times in his lifetime; as he himself says, “In the Summly version of what I do in the next 20 years, this will only be the first half sentence.”

For any aspect of Intellectual Property advice and overall strategy, please get in touch with the ip21 team.

Richard Jones, Business Relationship Manager for ip21 Ltd.