ABOUT RUSSELL WILLIS
Russell has been a full-time entrepreneur for over 25 years, specialising in digital publishing.
Russell got into magazines in 1983 at the age of 15, publishing a profitable annual tourist guide for Broadstairs in the UK. At the same time he put out fanzines about comics with contributions from the likes of Alan Moore, Posy Simmonds, Warren Ellis and David Lloyd. After a stint doing community magazines he became the publications editor at North East London Polytechnic (now the University of East London) in 1988. He revolutionised the job and brought Macs to the Union for both the publishing and accounting departments.
Educational Publishing and Business in Japan
In 1993 he set up a multimedia development company in Japan which produced customized language-learning software for universities with Canon. He went on to publish a large number of successful language learning software products, including Finding Out, a joint-venture with Macmillan described by Japan's Modern Education Newspaper as the “best language learning software for children available”. His Speak! software was chosen by Apple to appear with its CEO as part of a MacWorld Expo Keynote. Russell produced CD-ROMs and magazines for the British Government and websites, podcasts and audio books with clients ranging from Tokyo University to the Nikkei Weekly to TIME magazine.
The Bookworms apps he originated and produced with Oxford University Press reached No.1 in both the iPhone and iPad iTunes charts after previously topping the education charts.
He was the managing director of the leading Tokyo-based web portal, eigoTown.com for over 10 years, where he led the original development of the award-winning site. He is the founder of ELTBOOKS.com, one of Japan's largest resellers of language learning materials.
He was acting managing director of Guinness World Records Japan in 2008/9 where he developed the Japan business plan and created valuable new revenue models including the mass-participation certificate for individuals. He has appeared on TV frequently and is an accomplished public speaker.
Russell consults on a range of publishing, production and marketing areas for organisations that include Pearson, Oxford University Press, and the British Embassy.
Most recently Russell founded SEQUENTIAL, the acclaimed iPad app for digital graphic novels. In that area he has created products for the British Library, the BBC and the London Book Fair.
Russell was at the heart of the Labour Party campaign in South Thanet, where he worked with the candidate on presentation, publicity and fundraising and ran an acclaimed online and social media campaign with the goal of stopping Nigel Farage from becoming the area's MP – a goal which was achieved.
Russell is married with two children and divides his time between Japan and the UK.