Geek Speak: Molly Schneeberg, CEO of Kibooco Interactive
Molly Schneeberg says Kibooco Interactive is building a book-making platform for kids along the lines of “Choose Your Own Adventure meets Mad Libs”. Born in Toronto, the North Vancouver resident is the 40-year-old CEO of the Vancouver-based startup.
Schneeberg cofounded Kibooco with Earl Hong Tai in 2011. The company debuted last week a “holiday pop-up shop” as a public beta, ahead of the expected launch of its full website in February or March 2013. In the online pop-up shop, kids can design T-shirts, notebooks, and greeting cards, which their parents can pay to have printed and shipped. After launch, the Kibooco platform will allow kids to create custom books using templates.
Kibooco—the company’s name is derived from “kids’ book company”—has received funding from the Canada Media Fund, Mitacs, the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the Interactive Fund offered by B.C. Film and Media and the B.C. Arts Council. Earlier this year, the startup raised $15,589 of its $50,000 goal on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Kibooco has three full-time employees and five people on contract.
The Georgia Straight reached Schneeberg by phone at Kibooco’s office in Gastown.
Why did Kibooco launch a holiday pop-up shop ahead of its official launch?
On the way to creating the interactive book-making site, in order to do so, we had to develop really intuitive tools for kids to be able to do the type of creating and design and activities we wanted them to do. What we realized is we had actually come up with this really super-fun creation suite for kids. As a startup, we want to get that feedback from our market as quickly as we can. So we decided, as opposed to waiting to test the tools until we had the rest of the book-template interface ready to go, it was a perfect opportunity to put just the tools out there and solve a bit of a problem for parents, which is the custom gifts from kids. “What are we going to give from our kids for gifts?”
What will Kibooco offer that sets it apart in the kids’ books space?
It’s absolutely unique. There’s a lot of books out there that you can personalize by putting in a kid’s name. That is an activity that parents participate in, and the output is for kids. This is actually a kids’ online experience, where they participate in the creation of a book or some other product and then receive the product offline as well. So it’s really an activity that allows kids to connect the online and offline worlds in a meaningful way.
Where does the content for the books come from?
Right now, we’ve developed it. We’ve developed all of our assets and content. Eventually, we’d be looking at different content partners.
What exactly would a kid do with the content to make a book?
Right now, the templates are book themes. So there’s a book storyline, and the child is guided through the building of the story. They make key choices about who the characters are, what they do, where they go, what activities, what they find. So they make choices about those things, and then they get to participate in the actual graphic or visual creation of the story. It’s like there’s almost a game-like activity that they have to go through for each page of the book to advance the story, and then they get to use the art and design tools to actually decorate the visual imagery of the storybook.
How much will it cost to make one of these books?
Well, it won’t cost anything to make one. To order one, a softcover book will be around $15 and a hardcover book will be around $30—kind of the same price as on-demand photo books.
How is your company endeavouring to be socially responsible?
We actually very much envision using the platform that we’re creating to create sort of a social connection. So we really want to see it create shared storytelling around the world. We would love to see kids in Vancouver co-writing stories and sharing experiences with kids in other countries all over the world. So we really do want to leverage it in a way to help children share their stories around the world.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.