Storybook is an app that combines massage techniques, children’s stories, and relaxing music. This isn’t a tool to be handled by children with sleep disorders, but to give parents instructions on a cellphone screen.
“For example, the app can help dads read a story to their kids about an ant that climbs a mountain, while following the story with their hands on their child’s back. Massage is incorporated into the story in a didactic way, so that the dad can do it with background music,” says Francisco Cornejo, Storybook creator.
This Ecuadorian entrepreneur, 33, says that all of the app’s almost 50 stories were written by his wife Daniela Vega, 34, who’s also Ecuadorian, incorporating psychologically appropriate themes for kids aged from 0 to 12 into her narratives.
“They’re stories that talk about understanding our own emotions, about feeling confident in ourselves, about strengthening self-esteem. In this pandemic, we’ve seen very wide use, specifically of stories that talk about how to deal with fear, anger, or sadness, feelings that children have experienced acutely,” says Cornejo.
In a survey of more than 1,000 parent users of Storybook, 80% said that thanks to this app, the average time their kids took to go to sleep, from when they went to bed to when they fell asleep, had dropped from 35 to five minutes, the equivalent of the length of two stories.
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An app on the rise
The application was launched on the market in mid-2018. According to Cornejo, it had 800% growth in 2020 compared with 2019. This is reflected in it getting more than a million recent downloads.
“We expect to reach three million downloads by 2021, and we plan to focus a lot on Mexico and the United States, which are 50% of our market,” he adds.
This app has been downloaded in 155 countries, and comes with content in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. The free version has limited content, but the paid version opens up all the promised bonuses.
“We have a premium plan that gives access to the entire application, to all the stories and the music catalog. It costs around 690 pesos per year,” Cornejo explains.
He says that Storybook held its first round of investment at the end of 2020, catching the eye of Jason Calacanis, a Silicon Valley investor who’s famous for being one of the first to invest in Uber.
Cornejo says that Calacanis, with investments in seven unicorn companies, has invested 800,000 dollars in Storybook to make it another one of his unicorns, which are startups that reach a value of 1 billion dollars in under three years.
The Storybook company is currently valued at 8 million dollars.
Problems for children
The Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics explains that up to a third of children and adolescents suffer sleep problems or disorders. However, these issues aren’t addressed in consultations since they’re often underestimated by both parents and pediatricians.
This organization advises that assessment of children’s sleep by a pediatrician should be part of their clinical routine, along with assessment of their diet or growth. It also recommends following bedtime routines from early childhood.