I've spent the last couple of weeks researching and preparing my most significant article yet. It will genuinely reflect on why there are so few women pursuing STEM careers in specific fields such as coding, and what you can do to help make an impact, starting with your girl. One of the key points I'm going to make is the lack of strong female role models in the lives of our girls is just one reason why so few females think they have the capability to be good at science, technology, engineering & math.
As a new blogger, I've been listening to Pat Flynn's podcast, Smart Passive Income, to learn how to podcast. For anyone interested in making money in the digital economy, he's certainly an expert and regularly features interesting guests who generously share their journey and advice for listeners. While catching up on older podcasts, I was intrigued by the title of his September 2017 podcast, SPI 282: How Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Rocked the Kickstarter Scene. So I gave the show a listen and was glad I did. In the show, he interviews Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, the creators of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, the biggest crowdfunded book launch of all time!
Chasing gold in the silicon valley hills
Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli moved from Milan, Italy in 2012 to San Francisco with the goal of starting a children's media startup. After receiving some initial funding, Timbuktu Labs created the first iPad magazine for children on the App Store. From there, they built a dozen mobile apps designed to inspire children to use their imagination. However, they became disillusioned with their inability to engage an audience on the app store and how hard it was to monetize their work, even though they were winning awards for the design of their products.
The lack of profits was painful, but even worse was the slow realization that too much screen time for kids was scientifically being proven as harmful for children. Designing products to be addictive was almost necessary to breakthrough in a very crowded marketplace. But were they willing to make that compromise? Were they part of the problem?
So Francesca and Elena decided to pivot. In a former life, Elena had been a journalist. Both had loved picture books as children. Why not leverage all the design and knowledge they had learned in creating their apps, to design a children's book? Why not leverage the rapid prototyping and community building inherent to Silicon Valley, and apply that to one of the oldest art forms in the world?
pivot from pixels to print
Francesca and Elena knew that they only had one shot to get this right (the funding had long dried out). So they decided to build a community first, focusing on parents interested in girls empowerment. They used their 4000+ e-mail list to send out one story from the book each week, and then ask for feedback. The reaction was encouraging, and so they decided to ask their mailing list, how many folks would be willing to give $35 upfront to buy the book. 5% said yes!
Encouraged by the response, Elena and Francesca decided to leverage Kickstarter to fund the book on a larger scale. On a shoestring budget over a three month period, the team focused all their energy on distilling the marketing pitch down to an inspiring, positive, female empowerment story. And then they shot the video on an iPhone.
Thanks to a brilliantly calibrated marketing message, a smartly coordinated social media strategy, strategic partnerships with other communities and most importantly, a great product, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls launched to immediate success on Kickstarter, raising over $675,000 from 13,454 backers. It's the most crowdfunded book of all time! Wow.
Learning how the book was created made me appreciate the product even more. The book profiles 100 women from a variety of backgrounds. In the video review below, we'll show you a sample of the wide range of personalities, careers, and time periods that are narrated. Examples include Virgina Wolf (writer), Ruth Harkness (explorer), Nettie Stevens (Geneticist), Maya Angelou (writer), Maria Reiche (archaeologist), Malala Yousafzai (activist) to Harriet Tubman (freedom fighter). Each rebel lady's story is profiled in a 175 to 200-word short story that captures the struggles and success of each lady. The writing will appeal to audiences young and old. For those parents who don't read to their children now (really?? - read my article on how to start this habit), you have no excuses now! In less then ten minutes, you and your children will enjoy being inspired and entertained by each of these stories.
But its not just the written word which makes this book special. Francesca and Elana clearly understand the importance of visual design. The illustrations drawn by 60 female illustrators from across the world could have justified their own album. The Kickstarter program rewarded backers with a poster featuring dozens of these drawings which I'd love to have on my daughter's wall.
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