Book Smart, Tech Savvy

How one Mom (with no tech background) developed a promising new reading app



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Laviolette wrote Brush of Truth, the equivalent of a 125-page book, in about two months. Illustrations and coding took another two months, followed by de-bugging and testing. The book was released in February 2012, but creating the product was just the beginning. The challenge was how to make this book stand out from the 40,000 other book apps.

Initially, Laviolette spent long hours writing press releases and trying to generate a buzz on social media and review sites. She had to figure out how to navigate her way in an industry that is just in its infancy. She created teacher lessons plans and connected with other app developers and writers online for support.

“I would get to the end of the day and realize that I’d spent 12 hours on the computer,” she says.

But she was also juggling her paying assignments — yes, she’s still a freelance journalist — and caring for her family, which includes daughter Chloe, 10, and son Ian, 12. That meant carpool and keeping house, homework, laundry, and dinner at night.

She realized had to manage her work hours better and has since cut back. “I had to ask, ‘What’s my overall goal?’ That was to get kids reading.” But she admits, “Finding the time to do everything is a challenge. I’m a mom, freelance journalist, children’s fiction writer, and the CEO of a tech company.”

The company is not yet profitable, but Laviolette is confident they’re onto something big. “Book apps are an emerging trend in children’s literacy. Some teachers are using them in the classroom, and parents are using them to get kids excited about reading,” she says. “This is clearly the future.”

The beauty of a reading app like Brush of Truth is that for $1.99, kids can enjoy it again and again. Its interactivity makes it a better buy, says Laviolette. “You can spend hours and hours with this book and still have new paths to explore.”

To other moms considering a venture outside of their comfort zone, Laviolette, now working on her second book, counsels: “Don’t get discouraged by small setbacks. Keep your head up and find a support network. My motto? Be fearless.”

• To learn more, go to storybayou.com.

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