The latest in our series asking startups to share the challenges they face and lessons they learn as they grow catches up with Evan Jones, founder of Toronto-based interactive children's book company Together Tales, which was a finalist in the BookTech Company of the Year Award at the FutureBook Conference 2015.
For Together Tales, the impact from BookTech happened one minute after the pitch session completed.
One of the 'Big 5' publishers had a representative in the audience who saw the project's potential and set up a meeting, so over the holidays we shipped a few sample copies to their office to see if it might be a good fit for one of their authors. The dream outcome would be to partner with a publisher who knows the marketing and distribution side of the industry while we handle the technology aspects. Nothing concrete yet, but the conversation was a direct result of the exposure.
Our biggest news since the conference is the stellar reactions we've received on our books from families all over the world. We've listed our first Adventure Kit - Capes in the Family - on Amazon and you can see the reviews for yourself. We've also been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for 'Best Original Interactive Project' which is a great endorsement from the industry. My new focus for the coming months is on forging those partnerships we need to reach as many families as possible, so I'll be attending the Bologna Children's Book Fair this spring, which will hopefully give us the international boost we need.
The greatest challenge we're currently facing is nothing new to publishers - getting our product in front of our audience. Parents with kids aged eight-10 are some of the busiest people out there and that's our target demographic! So we're growing - but it could always be faster.
Fortunately, the lessons we're learning on our early Adventure Kits are making subsequent production go much more smoothly. The parts that we've had to learn from scratch are complex things like fulfilment channels and customer service, and now that we've got systems in place, we're finding the next book is accelerating.
Since our greatest challenge has been audience development, we decided to launch a new division of our parent company called Threads. We've found that the skills we learned on social media and search targeting are really valuable for other media partners as well. Threads allows us to separate this area of our expertise and offer it to clients, while at the same time increasing our capacity so we can be more effective on Together Tales.