Pickatale, tales become reality in a spiked world

Pubblicato il 07 Dic 2013

When observing children playing with iPads, Ceo Sigbjørn Dugal was thinking how to educate his kids using modern tools. He was finding the publishing industry very old, and not creating engaging contents fast enough. Then, the idea struck him. Meet Pickatale, a multilingual iPad storybook app providing more than one hundred multilingual books. The app aims to teach children new languages, and expand their vocabulary, while having fun listening to their favorite stories. Through a monthly subscription, children can download “all you can eat” stories. “We have already been named the Netflix or the Spotify of children books”, says its Coo Josh Chalm. After his initial success, the company is now focusing on partnerships with educational institutions and airlines for its entertainment offer.

Stories are normally of 2 kinds: original ones, and public domain’s, rewritten with a modern IPad’s twist. “Bright illustrations that talk when tapped are sure to excite curious little fingers and minds” says Pickatale’s slogan.

What is interesting about this startup is its international spirit and model. The company is a Norwegian registered startup operating out of Beijing. Sigbjørn Dugal is an Indian-Norwegian serial entrepreneur based in Beijing, and MD of a London listed private equity fund. Pickatale's stories are the product of a collaboration of experienced authors, illustrators, narrators, and translators around the world. Texts, sounds and images are compiled by proprietary software producing a final digital story.

Thanks to its business model, this start up could be based anywhere in the world. However, Sig, as their colleagues call him, chose Beijing for two main reasons. China has become one of the most interesting markets, and it is attracting talents from all over the world. Pickatale staff comes from Norway, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Israel, Brazil, and China. Contrary to what Thomas Friedman says in his book: “the world is flat”, John Hagel, Deloitte’s Director of Center for the Edge, writes in his book: “The power of Pull” that the world is spiked. There are now megacities or clusters where it is more likely to meet exciting people going after exciting ideas. China is definitely one of those. The second reason is cost effectiveness. From a production stand point, China is still cheaper than for example Silicon Valley. It is a low cost base to compile stories, and source good people. “You get things done quickly in China” says Josh.

However, due to the high level of pollution, Beijing has lately become a difficult place to live. Thanks to its modular structure, Josh has now decided to move everybody to Koh Samui, and transform Pickatale into a truly cosmopolitan startup.

The company now plans to launch Chinese language stories and apply pick a tale’s style to existing ones. Josh says: ”It is our goal to create an ecosystem with libraries, puzzle game, spelling related, augmented reality concepts”.

It is not a fairy tale anymore that startups nowadays can be based in Beijing and operating out of a beach in Thailand.

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