(photo by Rosa Park at www.whitelionnessmedia.com)

ScribbleLive: U of T entrepreneur revolutionizes delivery of breaking news

Computer science alumnus turns “bits of code” into international success

When Jonathan Keebler graduated from the University of Toronto's department of computer science in 2003, he didn’t really know what the future would hold.  

“I loved coding. But the dot.com bubble had burst. I wasn’t sure where I’d fit in," he says. “I wanted to be part of a small company where I could make a big impact.”

Today, as co-founder of ScribbleLive, Keebler’s impact is massive.The company has already revolutionized the way breaking news is delivered. Now, it’s changing the face of digital content engagement.

Writer Sandra Kahale caught up with Keebler to learn more about ScribbleLive and U of T’s role in his success. 

What is ScribbleLive?
We’re an end-to-end content engagement platform. We help brands, sports organizations and media companies engage with their online audiences powerfully, in real time.

Our clients include Red Bull, Ferrari, Bayer, Global TV, CNN, The Associated Press, Reuters, Rogers, Samsung and ESPN. They use ScribbleLive to deliver information: news as it unfolds, coverage of live events and conferences, real-time sports coverage, Oscar nights, Q and A’s and other content initiatives.

How is ScribbleLive making the world a better place?  
When big things are happening in the world – like natural or man-made disasters – ScribbleLive makes it possible to communicate, in real time, right from the ground.  News can be shared instantly.

Reporters can log into web pages to post stories, pictures and videos, or give updates via email, voice mail or mobile apps.

So, when the 2013 Boston Marathon suddenly turned from a marathon to breaking news of a bombing, people were able to learn exactly what was happening, right as it unfolded, keeping them safe and informed.

How did ScribbleLive come about?  
My co-founder and I got a first-hand view of how media was telling stories when we worked in television. We saw that reporters were out there, on the ground, watching the news happen in front of them. But the media organizations couldn't capture it like that. They had to wait for reporters to come back to their office and file their stories.

We created ScribbleLive from some bits of code I had been working on to publish content in real time.

Since then, we’ve evolved into a content engagement platform. Brands are acting more and more like newsrooms. ScribbleLive connects them powerfully with their online audiences.

What was your time at U of T like? 
I was really inspired by how smart everyone was! I came from a small town, and I did well in high school, but it was just so exciting to be surrounded all the time by smart, interesting people. U of T does a great job of bringing those kinds of people together.
Did your computer science degree help prepare you for your success?
Absolutely! For me, one day is never like the last. I’m always solving new problems and learning new things – it’s an aspect of my work I really love.

At U of T, I learned how to learn. Now I pick things up quickly because I have a framework.

U of T also taught me critical thinking. That’s been key to my ability to solve problems, innovate and recognize opportunity as an entrepreneur.

Do you have a message for current computer science students?
We interview a lot of new grads. The ones I’m interested in are the ones who are hacking around in their spare time.  
A computer science degree gives you a lot of skills. But you also have to get in there, try things, hack around, experiment and play with technology – that’s where you really learn to solve problems.

That’s what I look for when I’m hiring. And it’s what has made the difference in my own career.

With three rounds of financing under its belt, ScribbleLive has offices in Toronto, London, New York, Dubai and Melbourne. Keebler says he looks forward to the next major milestone: growing to 100 employees. Find out more at www.scribblelive.com.

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