I launched Bookform 15 months ago, with all the optimism of a determined new founder, oblivious to the harsh realities and the long haul of good business.
The burning problem I was going to solve was: how tosave personal life stories, knowledge and culture, affordably and en masse in a modern format.
Bookform creates a digital and printed book product. Not a book to sell necessarily, but a legacy product for non-technical non-writers to save and share priceless life experiences, and family and ancestry information.
My Bachelor of Communications final Major Research Project analysed: ‘Would an online memoir writing platform motivate seniors to engage with ICT and document their life stories?’ The answer was a resounding ‘YES’, but after 15 months and $200,000 I have discovered I was wrong!
I created Bookform as a B2B business model. I would incentivise businesses with my customer demographic to advocate Bookform to their clients.
For 15 months I tested four main business channels:
Aged Care – Staff and volunteers would use Bookform as a bonding and cognitive activity with residents, to help them create a beautiful memoir product on their life, to give to their families.
Libraries – Would maintain their relevance in the digital age by encouraging their members and community to come to existing venues for fun ‘Save your story’ workshops.
Schools – Would help prepare their students for the 21st century by using Bookform to teach the vital skills of: Critical thinking, Communication, Creativity, and Collaboration.
Death Care – Funeral companies sell a ‘Pre-need’ product to older people. This is a fixed-price future funeral package, ideal for those thinking about their mortality and planning for their family and legacy. Bookform would be a value-add to this package.
The result of all this testing and pilot programs was that the businesses were incentivised. They were optimistic that Bookform would engage their customers in a fun, cognitive activity that produced a beautiful legacy product to be enjoyed for many generations – but the reality was that older people did not engage at all!
The main feedback on why they did not start or continue with writing their book, was:
I have no time
No one would be interested in my life
The future reward of their family reading and enjoying their life stories was just too far in the future to be motivation enough to do the day-to-day drudgery of documenting their memories today.
So, do I fold or pivot? I have decided to FLIP the business model.
Instead of marketing to older people and rely on them to be motivated and disciplined enough to document the stories of their lives as a legacy, I will market to schools, for students to pro-actively collect the stories from their families as a learning exercise.
‘Edu-Tech’ products are becoming very popular with education institutions and teachers, enabling educators to ‘do-more-with-less’. Bookform will become an online resource for schools and teachers to easily assign the Bookform ‘Family Book Project as an assignment or autonomous learning activity to their students.
Students can spend a term or whole year interviewing and collecting stories from their family. They follow the template questions and either type the answers or use the voice-to-text functionality to instantly capture stories, which are automatically transcribed, using Google AI technology, and appear in their book.
Plus, students can invite extended or distant family members to contribute stories, ancestry information and photos. Invited family open the automated personalised link to make their contribution, which automatically appears in the book.
Bookform creates two book files:
Digital book for online sharing
PDF file to download & print or send to professional printers
Bookform’s partnerships with schools enable their students to access the software on any device, at a discount or free, depending on the schools preference. And every book created through that unique link will be branded with the school’s logo and message.
Online templates to guide and structure writing into a digital & printed book
Voice-to-text functionality, kids ‘interview' family members & the spoken stories are instantly transcribed and saved into their book
Collaboration, all the family contribute stories and photos (any language) to build their personal Family book
Books branded with your school's logo - ideal for gifts or fundraising