Star Struck — a story about discovering the answers for yourself.

Every startup pivots. This is ours.

Jun Loayza
May 2, 2017 · 4 min read

We were 11 drafts into our story about Steve Aoki. It was time to test it again with kids.

We presented the prototype to classrooms of 2nd graders and 3rd graders.

Maria reading our story to 2nd graders
Wilbur reading our story to 3rd graders

The kids thought our story was “meh”.

What we learned from presenting to classrooms

Even though we only had a class of 8–12 children, it was difficult for the kids in back to see the iPad. Books that are meant to be read out loud to a classroom are very big. The iPad is good for 1-to-1 reading with the parent and the child, or for the child to read on their own.

Maria was really good at reading out loud to the classroom (great classroom management). When she saw that the kids were losing interest, she would ask them a question, “Turn to your partner right now and tell them how Steve feels right now.”

It’s important for us to help the parents be great readers. Our idea is to have a button that prompts the parent to ask the child a question: “What is your talent?”

We knew this, but even a girl asked, “Why was the story so long?”

We really need to work on cutting it down. Again, we knew this, but it was so obvious while Wilbur and Maria were reading it out loud to the kids.

We were previously writing under the assumption that the story should stand alone even if there were no illustrations to accompany it. I believe this has now been proven false.

Maria took the time to show us some of the kids’ favorite books. Many of the books greatly depend on whimsical, fun illustrations. The kids respond to the illustrations and ask questions about the illustrations.

Many of the stories kids love are whimsical, creative, and don’t make any sense. One book is about a pig that likes to dress up in different clothes and paint. There is no narrative and no lesson. Kids love this book, Olivia, because the illustrations are so fun and interesting.

We need to focus more on entertaining the kids.

At this age, kids don’t see ethnicities. They don’t care that Steve Aoki is a real person. They’d rather read books about naked mole rats or talking pigs.

Three things stood out to me from testing our prototype:

  1. Kids want to play on an iPad — not read stories on an iPad
  2. Kids love whimsical, creative, funny stories (I know, this is obvious, but we were pushing too hard to force our story to make logical sense)
  3. Parents and teachers don’t have a positive association with Steve Aoki

After speaking with the team, we made the decision to pivot in the following ways:

Our first story will be about Neil deGrasse Tyson

Star Struck

Wilbur felt that a big part of our struggle with creating a whimsical, captivating story was the character we had chosen. He took it upon himself to write a draft about Neil deGrasse Tyson and presented it at our weekly Braintrust — we loved it.

The team immediately knew that changing the story to Neil was the right decision to make.

Create the printed book and a companion iOS game

We no longer aim to publish the story on the iOS; rather, we’re going to self publish the story on Amazon and create a companion iOS game.

Here is a very, very, very rough concept of the game.

Concept for the iOS game

Launch the hardcover book and iOS app by the end of Q2

It’s a very ambitious goal, but we’re committed to do it. Be on the lookout for our story! We may even decide to Kickstart it.

If you would like to support us, then you can help us in two ways:

  1. Follow this publication on Medium, Twitter, or Facebook to get notified when our story publishes
  2. If you know Neil deGrasse Tyson, then we’d really appreciate an intro

Dream on!

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