A personalised book about children has received backing from none other than one of the famous dragons in Dragon’s Den. Piers Linney, a new dragon in the den, has stumped up £100,000 as an investment for Lost My Name, a publishing company that makes personalised children’s books, making this the biggest investment to date from the Den.
It all began two years ago when father Asi Sharabi bought his daughter Thalia a personalised book as a present:
“That book was the first time I’d seen a present like it and I was intrigued,” says 40 year old Sharabi, who hails from Israel. “I thought it would amaze Thalia, a book all about her, but it hadn’t been made with any imagination. They’d just changed the name of the protagonist to the name of the child, and it was a boring book.”
Sharabi realised that there was mileage in personalised gifts and decided to take the idea of a personalised children’s book and make it better:
“It sparked an idea which I realised had commercial potential — to create the best personalised children’s book on the market.”
Sharabi got together a couple of friends, his tech colleague Tal Oron and David Cadji-Newby who had written for various comedy shows such as The Armstrong & Miller Show and Alan Carr: Chatty Man:
“David came up with the story of the child who had lost their name, then we trawled through illustrators’ portfolios online to find someone to draw the pictures to bring the story to life,” Oron said.
They found Pedro Serapicos, a Portuguese illustrator, who helped bring the stories to life with his brilliant and inspired pictures. All the books main premise feature a character (male or female) who have lost their name and have to make their way through various adventures in order to find the letters that make up their name. This means that every single book is different, depending on the name of the child:
“We made a pilot book for one child’s name very quickly,” Oron says. “Our friends and families told us it was so marvellous, that we asked ourselves: what would making a book for every possible name actually entail?”
But although the idea for the books was a pretty unique one, once the entrepreneurs realised the scale of the amount of names they had to cover (some 14,000 in the UK alone) the enormity of the project began to hit home:
“Our first reaction was ‘holy crap’,” they laugh. “We needed to be able to create personalised stories for each one.”
The guys had to come up with around 230 more illustrations, which included several different ones for each letter, in order to be able to make a specific book for each child.
“But we did, and then developed a proprietary technology for this storytelling,” Oron says. “We then worked with people in Yorkshire who could print these high-quality books on demand, and per order. We’ve been told by a publisher that makes it the bestselling debut picture book in 2013,” Sharabi says. “That’s all via word-of-mouth recommendations, mostly on social media. We’ve virtually no marketing budget.”
The books have proved to be so successful that Lost My Name is now being translated into French, Spanish, German and Portuguese after receiving an additional funding of £500,000. Co-founder Asi Sharabi said company is using the funding to extend its personalised book service into other languages.
The book, which is available as The Little Boy Who Lost His Name or The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, will be available in French or Germany later this year, he said. Spanish and Portuguese versions will follow at a later date.