Mirror Books publishes customized learn-to-read children’s books. We are teaching kids to read using their own story. The books are currently written (using templates) and illustrated through our Young Author workshops, but we are planning to add an interactive feature to our website so individuals can customize their books online.
2. When did you start your business?
I pitched the idea at Startup Weekend on April 26, 2013. The idea grew into a business over the next two years. Our first workshop was on April 21, 2015.
3. What inspired you to start your business?
I homeschooled my children from 2005-2011. We were living in Indiana at the time and I experimented with different learning curriculum. I found that my oldest son struggled with phonics but my second son learned to sight read at age three. When my youngest son was born, I wanted to teach him about our family that lived far away, but also wanted him to learn sight words. The first Mirror Book was a 4×6 photo book with pictures of our family and their names underneath.
I have tried to include my children as part of the business. My oldest son did the first drawings which has been the inspiration for all of our characters.
The Startup Weekend competition was amazing. Since then we have been a finalist in a couple of other competitions.
The biggest achievement so far, was receiving acceptance to offer our pilot workshops in all five Darien Public Elementary Schools. We had to pivot from our original idea of offering the books solely online in order to get the business off the ground, but in doing so, we found a new way to reach the market.
A smaller, but very personal achievement was seeing my 2-year-old nephew engaging in his Mirror Book, “My Pet: A Short Story About Dashi.” He is so excited to see the pictures of his dog in a book. That he asks to have it read to him over and over again.
5. Goals for the future?
On June 19th, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign (tinyurl.com/Mirror2Books). We are raising funds for two things. The first is to expand our workshops beyond Darien.
We would like to offer the program to 50 schools for the fall and 100 schools in the spring of 2016. So, we are currently in the process of putting together teacher kits based on our pilot. Part of the crowdfunding will be used to order all of the materials to go into the kits.
The second thing we are using the funds for is to build the interactivity portion of our website so we can deliver books across the country without kids having to participate in our workshops. We anticipate the website to be finished by September.
6. What brought you to the SIC?
The SIC was the host of Startup Weekend where I pitched my idea in 2013. So, the SIC has been with me throughout every step of my journey as an entrepreneur. Startup Weekend prize winners receive a month or more of free co-working at the SIC. Once I started co-working here, I was hooked. I didn’t need to look for any other space.
There are probably more reasons, but here are the top four.
1) My business address – having the address on my business card is impressive and I can pick up my mail here.
2) My office – I have interviewed authors who want to submit work, teachers, consultants and advisers at the SIC. I feel proud to say come over to my office and people are impressed when they see it for the first time.
3) The people – when I get stuck on a problem, I know there is probably someone in this building who has either solved that issue as part of their business, or that problem is their expertise.
4) The workshops and networking events – I cannot tell you how many events in which I’ve participated, but it has been a lot. There is always something going on. The SIC brings great speakers on all topics related to starting and operating a business, and throws a great party!
8. Who are some of the people who work with/for you?
I am lucky to be able to work with some great people. My numbers guy is my co-founder, Hugh Stewart. He and I met at Startup Weekend. Alex Virvo (another co-worker at the SIC) of KidsDrawFree.com helped me with my first cover layout. We have a lot of synergy between our businesses and he gives great advice. He told me: “You really need to learn to use Adobe Illustrator.” He was right. We have attended events together and he been a huge source of encouragement to me.
Andrew Brothers, who also works at the SIC is building a piece of my website. Anne-Marie Mallie is a contributing author, and Gayle Ilario will teach classes for us in the fall.