Startup of the week: DOGObooks

Startup of the week: DOGObooks

DOGObooks wants to become a destination for children to review and discover books.

The pitch

DOGObooks is the largest destination for book reviews by and for kids. Its platform allows kids to safely discover, rate, review and share their thoughts about books that inspire them.

Who's behind it

A few years ago, Meera Dolasia was helping her young daughter with homework and began looking online for child friendly content. She found many game sites but little in terms of engaging child appropriate content. Sensing an opportunity she founded DOGOnews, which quickly grew into the leading source of current events for children. Shortly after, she saw a similar void in the book space and founded DOGObooks.

Dolasia previously spent her career in finance at Barclays, Bankers Trust and a few hedge funds.

What's the gap in the market?

DOGObooks is the "first web destination to empower kids to discover books and express their opinions in a safe and moderated environment", says Dolasia. "There are many places for adults to opine around books, but nothing like this exists for younger readers.

"The social influenced discovery is another big value DOGObooks provides. Like adults, kids value peer recommendations more and thus the site inspires younger kids and reluctant readers as well. Surprisingly, there is also an entire external audience of librarians, teachers, book buyers, etc that also highly value kids perspectives on books. For example, users can find our book reviews on WorldCat, the library search engine and on Edelweiss, where book buyers and librarians can see how popular a book is among kids before making a purchase.

"In addition, as a result of the audience growth, DOGObooks is also the ideal online brand for publishers to speak to young readers directly and build community around their titles.

Successes so far?

"Success comes in a number of ways," says Dolasia, from audience growth, number of reviews and overall engagement to publisher support, partnerships and more. "Last month over 2m kids and teachers accessed DOGO Media sites which is amazing.  Our catalog of over 30,000 books followed by kids is also an  important measure of success. From the publishing side, we’re starting to see a strategic shift in marketing as publishers like Macmillan and National Geographic recognise our size and position in the market and are creating year round destinations on DOGObooks to build a community around their titles. Another clear measure of success is our adoption by the top LMS providers in schools from Google Education, Microsoft, Edublogs and more who make it easy for kids and teachers to use our content and offerings in the classroom.

"While we continue to extend our value within the entire children’s publishing eco-system from publishers, authors to librarians and teachers, our biggest measurement of success comes from the feedback we receive from kids and their parents that we helping make reading enjoyable and offering young readers a place to express their love of books."

Biggest challenges?

"By far, our biggest challenge is adding more value all the while keeping things simple and engaging. A good example of this is our recently launched series pages. We wanted to make it easy for kids to discover books in a series, yet we did not want to upend the simplicity of our platform. The final product turned out simple and elegant, but it was a tough trade-off."

Ultimate ambition?

"Create the largest media engagement platform in the world for kids to discover, review and share their thoughts with their peers."

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

"Have a relentless focus on your primary audience and find ways to keep them excited and engaged. Once you achieve this, everything else falls in place."