Start-up of the week: CleverBooks

7 Nov 2016

CleverBooks founder Darya Yegorina. Image: CleverBooks

Our start-up of the week is CleverBooks, a company that creates personalised books for kids with educational content and the latest augmented reality technologies.

“CleverBooks is a creative company that creates personalised children’s books with clever stories, as well as books with 3D augmented reality,” explained CleverBooks founder Darya Yegorina.

“Kids themselves are the main character in their own high-quality printed book. We are inspired by our own kids and really happy to share this great experience with you. It is a proven fact that tales help kids in many ways to develop fantasy and imagination, as well as to educate. So why not use tales and make the story personal? This is the concept we have applied in our books.”

‘We are really proud to be one of the first companies in the word bringing technology and smart kids education together through augmented reality’

Future Human

CleverBooks was one of 15 Irish start-ups that made it to the final pitches of the Virgin Media Voom accelerator this year.

The market

Start-up of the week: CleverBooks

“We are targeting parents and grandparents; everyone who wants to make a kid happy with an educational book,” Yegorina said.

“This is a massive billion-dollar market, especially in the niche we have selected: personalised and educative fairy tales.”

The founder

Yegorina has a background in sales. “I have also experience in fitness, retail (e-commerce), import/export management consulting and projects execution, and start-ups; where I have my own bootstrapping experience, as well as mentoring and helping others at early start-up stages.

“In my team, I have a designer and an artist. We have one person working on developing the Russian market and we also have freelance translators and editors,” she said.

The technology

Start-up of the week: CleverBooks

Examples of augmented reality in CleverBooks titles. Image: CleverBooks

Yegorina said the latest book from CleverBook is chock-full of technology.

“This book is a very special one as it combines a classical book that you can keep in [your] hands and read [with] clever stories and technology, which brings book characters to life in augmented reality through a mobile app (available for Android and Apple devices).

“We are really proud to be one of the first companies in the word bringing technology and smart kids education together through augmented reality.

“There are five educational stories in the book: about being courageous, taking medicine when sick, eating vegetables because it’s healthy, not being afraid of the darkness and tooth fairy secrets.

“There will be interactions with 3D virtual characters inside the book [such as] a pirate and his treasure box, a lovely elephant teddy, the tooth fairy who will be showing tricks, a very cute stomach who helps to understand what is healthy to eat. The interactive stomach is a virtual game for kids aged three and older.

“The next book will be covering maths and it is a work in progress.”

Yegorina said the company’s ultimate goal is worldwide expansion and hopefully being a disruptive force in the field of kids’ education and upbringing.

“We are looking to translate our books into other languages. Currently, we have a personalised book module available online for everyone who wants to create a personalised book with photos and name. Customers can also see the book before it’s ordered and goes for publishing.”

The entrepreneurial challenge

Yegorina said that CleverBooks is funded 100pc through bootstrapping, and the product is continuing to sell.

“Everything is being invested for company development. We would be interested in attracting some investment for quicker growth – however, with a fair deal.”

She said the entrepreneurial battlefield isn’t for everyone.

“When you are an entrepreneur, you should love challenges! Otherwise it’s just not for you.

“I personally love challenges and most important[ly], I love to find the way that works efficiently and benefits both sides. I’m a lean management type of person, and I do my best to set up operations in the Six Sigma way.

“We had some problems at the beginning [before] we found a very good quality publishing company. We also had some issues with software module development. The most important quality is communication.”

Yegorina believes this is the best time to be an entrepreneur and, with so many good ideas out there, good entrepreneurs will make their mark.

“I truly believe that with current technologies, great ideas can change the world.”

Her advice for fellow entrepreneurs is to be steady and focused.

“Entrepreneurs need to be patient and persistent to succeed. You must first plant a tree, but to enjoy sitting in its shadow, remember that the tree must grow first.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years