Reading is fun but what makes it exciting are the lively images that bring out readers’ imaginations. Now Pickatale app takes it to a much more interactive level for kids up to 8 years old. It features over 1,000 audio-visual storybooks, translated in English, Chinese, and other languages. Pickatale app founder Sigbjørn (Sig) Dugal has 15 years experience working with startups in China. He visited Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) and shared with Year 8 and 9 students his entrepreneurial expertise and a back story about the app.
Guy, 13, US
Are you interested in putting games in Pickatale’s new system to attract more people to use the app?
SD: Yes, definitely. Putting games in a reading app is called gamification. But we don’t want to just gamifiy the app, we want to continue to have kids read.
Emmie, 13, US
Will you eventually try to publish the books in every language?
SD: We have plans now for Spanish, German, and French translations. It takes time and costs a lot of money to get them into a different language. Probably this year we will add more languages. Our focus now is China.
Cesare, 13, Italy
What are the key things you need to learn in school to become a good entrepreneur?
SD: I think it’s important to address what’s being taught in school today. When we rethink how to teach children, it’s important to prepare them for what’s happening next in the world. I think multitasking, knowing a little bit about everything, and then finding your own ways are the key.
Leighton, 14, US
You mentioned failure as your first attempt in learning. Are there major failures you’ve had in your businesses? How did you cope with them?
SD: Yes, many, but the furniture company was the biggest because I was very passionate about it. How I marketed on the internet to so many people cost me so much money. I wanted to democratize how furniture designers sell their product in the market. But it just didn’t work, and I had to lay off a lot of people. Most of them were my friends, and I had to go to them and say sorry. That was tough, but I learned a lot from that, and I will never make that same mistake again regarding how to get customers.
Alicia, 12, Singapore
What made you feel like you needed to make the app?
SD: I wanted my kids to read books and especially to buy digital books. There was nothing out there then. The publishing industry has been doing the same for a lot of years and they don’t need to renew their business. And that’s why we thought, “Oh, this is an opportunity.” Nobody has collected so many books in the world and put them together, in several languages, not only PDFs but something more behind them that can help a child to read.
Ethan, 12, New Zealand
When you were at our age, what was your dream job?
SD: Both my parents are doctors, but when I was young, I ran a business as a nightclub DJ. I think I’ve always enjoyed doing business.
Steven, 13, Canada
Does Pickatale have a large server in which all the books are stored? How do you run them?
SD: Today, you don’t need a large server. Now we can rent a cloud-based service from Amazon. Our main server is in Ireland, but then we say to the server, “Okay we want to put you in Shanghai as well,” and then they are.
Jane, 13, South Korea
Do you plan to make books for older readers?
SD: Since we officially launched in China in August last year, we’re working with more than 1,000 schools, most are kindergartens and private learning institutions. The natural expansion path is to take on books for older readers. We also want to start a program where we encourage young people to write books.
Chiara, 12, Italy
How long does it take to create an app like Pickatale?
SD: It took us a lot of time because of the amount of content. We took an approach called “lean startup.” With this style, it took us 3-4 months to program everything, but then the content took a lot of time.
Stella, 12, US
What was the first thing you ever sold?
SD: I sold magazines to my friends. I was maybe 8 years old.
Leander, 15, Germany
Creating Pickatale is obviously quite a huge achievement. Have you studied design and technology before?
SD: No. This is why I said teamwork is so important. Your future is not about what you know, but what you need to have are relationships. Treat people well and know the best one in doing design, the best programmer and so on, and put them together and explain your vision, what you want to do, and then you’ll have a great team.
Photos: Lens Studio
Download the digital copy here.