Norwegian CMS startup Sanity wants to kick content creation out of the 90s

As a digital marketer, you’ve more than likely to have had a run-in with a content management system (CMS). If you’re lucky, you might even get to use one every day.

Whether it’s Wordpress, SilverStripe, Drupal or Django, tucked away in the backend, it’s easy to take these painfully functional workhorses for granted, but one Scandinavian startup thinks the status quo is well overdue for an overhaul.  

Sanity is the product of Norwegian digital agency Bengler and co-founders Øyvind Rostad, Simen Svale Skogsrud, and Even Westvang, who want to build a CMS native to the connected world its forebears were never designed for.

“Most people working today don’t even want to think about their CMS systems,” said Westvang, Sanity’s CPO, to Business Insider Nordic; “I think it’s obvious that existing solutions [have] been stuck in the late 90’s for many years.”

The idea for Sanity stemmed from its founders’ own “personal discomfort” with CMS, who found the most common platforms were time-consuming, and ultimately, no longer fit for purpose in a digital ecosystem built on seamless connections between website, smartphones, social media and video.

Sanity is trying to eliminate a reliance on page structure as the governing principle of content creation. The product acts to centralise all content within businesses while taking into account new technologies and platforms, and also caters for real-time edits to the same content across numerous sources.

“For many companies, the website becomes the primary source of truth on what they’re doing,” said Skogsrud; “What you should do is structure your content around what your company actually tries to achieve – the projects, the people and the clients – and get rid of the page as the organising principle.”

Enabling for real-time content collaboration across teams, Sanity stores content in one database, allowing for distribution via integrated APIs to smartphones, web pages, or even brochures or coffee tables books - the key point being, that where the content ends up should not need to be predefined.

According to BI, the idea came about at Bengler when working for client OMA, a Dutch architect. Using one data source, a combination of “architectural images, presentations, books, crediting and timelines”, the team were able to create a website, business development tools and print-ready portfolios.

“Working with structured data let us unlock achievements like looking up their buildings on Instagram over APIs and adding a content curation interface to the CMS to allow adding them into the data repository, and onto the website,” explained COO Øyvind Rostad.

“Along with external news sources and their own activity we created a real-time narrative of how their works are being used.”

Backed by a suite of clever features and integrations, what Sanity really gifts to the market is a refreshed (and well overdue) perspective on content creation and its place within branding strategy and communications.

It’s not a stretch to imagine forward-thinking agencies adopting Sanity for their clients. At the same time, however, it’s also easy to imagine that many companies will be reluctant to kick their old addiction to the archaic.

Sanity is now looking to expand what it hopes to be a “category-defining” offering following a $1.1m (£880k) seed round from tech investors and founders in its home market, with sights set on San Francisco.

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