Joe Esposito’s 2015 Scholarly Kitchen post, “When is a Feature a Product, and a Product a Business?” resurfaced in our Twitter feed recently, and led to some interesting discussions here at RedLink. Esposito wrote:

“The differences between a feature, a product, and a business are critical for any businessperson, but in the world of digital media the lines between them are often obscure. . . . [the] creative process is valuable, but it ultimately has to be married to how the new capability will be expressed in an economic context. Hence the defining question of the age: What is the business model?”

These words are important for all businesses, but especially for start-ups like RedLink. Fortunately, the vision for RedLink from the beginning was broader than one “good idea.” RedLink was founded as a business with the goal of solving common issues we saw in the scholarly publishing community, and has developed a portfolio of products to address these needs.  We began with data and collaboration products for libraries and publishers – RedLink Network (a public benefit subsidiary that serves as a free IP registry and COUNTER reports storehouse) and our analytics Dashboards so publishers and librarians can easily analyze usage data. For publishers, we layered on SiteLeads, an additional offering using denial data to identify unmet demand from new places, helping to identify actionable leads and opportunities to grow the audience for valuable content.

This May, we launched Remarq™.  We created Remarq™ to address several needs we saw developing for both publishers and their stakeholders: authors, editors, and readers. As end-users have become interested in online collaboration, article-sharing, and scholarly profiles, the publishing community saw the emergence of tools to address these needs: purely social tools encouraging communication (Facebook, Twitter), focused tools addressing a specific feature ( offers annotation; ReadCube offers an enhanced PDF, etc.); tools that exist within a specific publisher’s remit (AAAS Trellis, IEEE Collaboratec, and others).  Most problematically, tools have emerged that draw traffic away from publisher sites and, at best, turn a blind eye to piracy (ResearchGate,

Remarq™ offers a new path, addressing the needs of authors, editors, and end-users while supporting publishers by bringing traffic back to the version of record. Remarq™ pulls multiple features together into a complete collaboration offering, including personal annotation, public commenting, author and editor updates, article-sharing, and a robust social profile accessible for end-users across publisher platforms. Like our data offerings, Remarq™ is a fully realized product with a robust and growing feature set atop an elegant design that is easily integrated into a publisher site and is intuitive to use, with no need for additional staff or a large technology footprint.

As noted by Outsell in an “Insight” published May 10, 2017, Remarq™ capitalizes on technological advancements that make collaboration among researchers simpler while alleviating concerns about the legality of content-sharing and enabling publishers to keep users on their own website, reduce content leakage, and strengthen publisher brands.

“With Remarq, RedLink has pinpointed a broad industry challenge, taken learnings from best practice examples already out there and combined them with the latest innovative thinking to create a . . . product that . . . move[s] the market forward in a more efficient and streamlined way.”

To return to Esposito’s important question about a sustainable business model, by building a robust product suite, RedLink can address real challenges faced by publishers, and design products in a variety of ways. For Remarq™, this means an appealing and elegant product that is free to end-users while supported by publishers with an affordable and easily scalable subscription model.  We can only echo Outsell’s Jo McShea:

we . . .recommend that publishers test it out and encourage their authors and editors to do the same.

Join us for a complimentary webinar, August 1, to learn more: