Research Foundation News

July 27, 2017

Mobile sharing app seeks to increase engagement, interest in poetry

Trubadour roach Trubadour, a Purdue-affiliated company, is developing a poetry-sharing platform that aims to increase engagement and interest in poetry. Users of the Trubadour app will be able to view an individualized profile that showcases their own publications, while engaging with other users via the feed and read spaces which gives suggestions for poems the user may be interested in based on a specialized algorithm. (Trubadour Image) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Trubadour, a startup founded by a former Purdue University student, is developing a mobile poetry-sharing platform that aims to increase engagement and interest in contemporary poems by providing personalized recommendations to users.

Using an algorithm dubbed the Poetry Genome Project, the application identifies and analyzes the characteristic properties of a poem in order to provide personalized reading recommendations to users. In April, Trubadour also placed second at the Boiler Business Competition, an annual seed accelerator competition hosted by the Anvil, a co-working space on Purdue's campus. 

Earlier this year Trubadour was named a finalist in the four-month MassChallenge Boston competition and accelerator program. As a participant, Trubadour will receive access to MassChallenge's global network, world-class mentoring from industry experts, tailored programming, free co-working space, and unrivaled access to corporate partners. One of 128 finalist startups, Trubadour represents the top 7 percent of over 1,500 companies that applied.

 Rebecca Roach, a former graduate student from Purdue’s Master of Fine Arts program and Trubadour’s founder, believes other poetry-sharing platforms can add benefit, but her application enhances the readers’ experience.

“Just like music, there’s a lot of variety in contemporary poetry. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or miss the poem you might love to read. By focusing on a poem’s individual identity, its DNA, we can use this information to suggest a poem based on a reader’s preferences,” she said. “Like Pandora’s Music Genome Project, we are trying to break poems down in order to figure out how they operate, and then leverage this data to attract and engage readers.”

Roach hopes that Trubadour will broaden the appeal of poetry among the general population by increasing the possibility that a poem will resonate with a reader by using today’s technology.

“I believe the idea has gained traction because something like this would allow people to make connections through poetry in new ways, even if they have limited time,” Roach said. “If you think about poetry’s form, short yet powerful, it’s conducive to the way people are now consuming text on mobile platforms. There should be a way to quickly determine whether or not you want to invest in a poet’s particular voice.”

Roach seeks a long-term co-founder and or a tech expert who can help her refine the Poetry Genome Project’s algorithms.

Roach believes individuals with negative perceptions of poetry will reconsider their view if given an opportunity to connect with a specific, relatable poem.  

“A lot of people have negative feelings toward poetry, because they had a bad experience with interpretation in school or were just not able to find something relevant,” Roach said. “That’s why Trubadour is important, because it would help people who are looking for connection or meaning in their lives, and show them poems that meet them where they’re at.”

Trubadour seeks to financially empower poets through varying styles. Roach claims this will allow the app to maintain high-quality content and attract more readers.

“Current markets for poetry rely on the contest model, literary magazines, or nonprofit organizations which can overemphasize aesthetics and pose challenges for poets with submission. Even today’s top poets experience 80 to 90 percent rejection, and this creates a lot of waste in the system,” Roach said. “I think a good business model would incorporate the best aspects of social media: the ability to be your own advocate. A person is the curator of their online and professional presence; why not translate that to the world of poetry? Trubadour can be a place, like LinkedIn, where poets can host their work and where interested readers can subscribe.”

The Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurial accelerator located in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, aided Roach’s startup.

“As an emerging artist at Purdue, I wanted a way to quickly find poems I would like by other artists at my level, so I could learn from them,” Roach said. “I hope Trubadour can support emerging poets by giving them an opportunity to easily find new styles as well as to make their work readily available.”

Roach hopes to support poets’ careers and encourage readers’ interests through a modernized and mobilized poetry network.

“Through Trubadour, I hope people can find the poets that are really doing great work and then talk about them and share that piece,” said Roach. “Ultimately, I hope Trubadour helps more people find content of significance, a temporary respite from the demands and distractions competing for one’s attention. I want it to be normal to read and share poems.” 

About the Anvil

The Anvil is the largest co-working space operated by university students in the U.S. and is used by Purdue University students as well as the surrounding community. The Anvil is located at 320 North St. in West Lafayette, Indiana, adjacent to the Purdue campus. 

Writer: Kelsey Henry, 765-588-3342, kehenry@prf.org

Purdue Research Foundation Contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org

Source: Rebecca Roach, rebecca@trubadour.com


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