Story Truck is an online children’s library that makes Indian stories and Indian language books available to anyone, anywhere.
It was a great time covering Story Truck with kind cooperation of Mr. Mohan Rao, CEO and Co-founder, who told us more about his unique initiative.
Tell us a bit about your background and the path that ultimately led you towards Story Truck.
A multitude of things led me to realize that there was an opportunity in this space before I started Story Truck. I saw the difference between grandparents and grandkids that live apart. They live far away, meet once or twice a year and don’t have anything common to talk on the phone. As a result, the conversation doesn’t last long and the grandparents yearn to meet their grandchildren. I wanted to bridge this gap and hence StoryTrcuk 1.0 was born. In 1.0 you could record a story and share it with anyone. After running it for about a year or so, I realized that there was a bigger pain point than the one I was addressing. It was the lack of libraries in India. I wanted to do something about it and redesigned Story Truck to address this market.
There were two markets I was trying to address. First and foremost, I was trying to make Indian language books available to all the NRIs and secondly making books available to every child in India. In order to put our limited resources to the best possible use and stay completely focused, I started off with the NRI market. We have more than 200 books today in many Indian languages. We are constantly adding new books and will be doubling this count in the next two months.
How long did it take to put together Story Truck?
It took us about a year to get Story Truck 2.0 to where it is today. About 6-8 months were spent in development and app approval stages.
Has it got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
It has received a very positive feedback from the community. One of the common feedbacks I get is that there is no such app that gives you access to a large collection of Indian language books like Story truck. We are laser focused on quality from every angle. We have carefully selected our content and voice over artists. We spent sufficient time designing our app to be simple yet appealing to the eye. We are far from where we want to be but with each passing day, we are hopeful that we’ll get there.
Who do you see as your target audience?
Our target audience is any Indian parent whose children are under the age of 10. Although we only have an iPad version, which limits our target audience, we are working on a web version and an Android version of the app.
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
Competition is intense but we differentiate on three key pillars – Safety, Convenience and Selection. We want our parents to feel safe when their kids use Story Truck. In order to make them feel safe, we don’t believe in the advertising model where you can get free books and the app displays a hundred ads. We don’t want you to go hunting for books in the app store and download one-book-per-app kind of apps only to realize that it was not worth your time. Thirdly, we believe that our customers are interested in a large selection of books and that parents are willing to pay if you offer them high quality content at a reasonable price.
Where do you see Story Truck after 5 years?
I would like to see it as the one-stop shop for all Indian language books but we have to consider the challenges that face us.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
I think our biggest hurdle like most other startups is customer acquisition. This is one of the biggest hurdles for any startup because we are dealing with a finite amount of resources and are competing for the user’s attention in a crowded market.
Where do you think is the future of eBooks?
The publishing industry is going through a tremendous change. The way we consume content is going to change radically in the next five years. Whether through Story Truck or via other apps, most of us are going to be reading books on digital devices. I don’t see a demise of paper very soon but we’ll be dealing with multiple media. We may choose to read a paper book when we are at home but use our e-reader when we are travelling. Today’s generation may get so comfortable with digital medium that they may never miss paper books when they grow up!
Anything else you wish to convey to the readers via this interview?
I would like to encourage all the entrepreneurs out there to take the plunge and go after their interest! If you are afraid of falling, you wouldn’t have learned to walk, let alone run.
Thanks Mohan! Do visit Story Truck and bring your children closer to classic Indian tales and stories.