Most technology innovation in the field focuses on playing the imitation game: to create a machine that could pass for human in its ability to train students to read. Sara.AI takes a different approach; we amplify the complimentary characteristics of human and machine intelligence in an immersive literacy experience.
First, we re-engineering the practice of learning to read from first principles, focusing on the strengths of human intelligence, on cognitive development, on immersion, and ignoring artificial constraints. We implemented the practice without technology and saw amazing results.
Next, we analyzed the difficult aspects of the new practice, and found that most could be addressed with simple algorithms, machine intelligence, and analytics. We are now improving, through iteration, a design that will revolutionize reading instruction through extraordinary results.
What we are not doing is revisiting the tired and worn methods of instruction that are failing 2 in 3 children. We are eliminating cognitive and artificial hurdles to acquisition of lexical word recognition.
Everybody who can read at some prior time could not. Typically, it took years to gain fluency. For the majority, it was frustrating. Those youth and adults who cannot read are either too frustrated by the pedagogy to progress, or do not have access to a teacher.
In the United States, 36 million adults have low literacy, and every year 4 million children begin the long process of learning to read. Currently, there are over 20 million children in the U.S. between the ages of 5 and 9. One in three of them are in serious need of reading intervention. Two in three of them read below proficiency. This represents a market of over 60 million.
Mobile apps like Kids Learn to Read and ABCmouse have 5 – 10 million downloads. These are Early Literacy apps that focus on the cognitive skills of traditional reading instruction; an approach far removed from ours. We appeal to the same market, but deliver far more tangible and lasting results.
Our primary marketing segments are:
The initial channels we rely on to reach our market segments are:
But we are not just focused on the U.S. market, or even just on the English language. As the rising billion come online, many will be illiterate or have low literacy. World wide, nearly 1 billion youth and adults are illiterate.
We intend to reach every individual in need, worldwide, in any language.
Universal Literacy in our Lifetime.
We will implement a Freemium subscription model, and we will sell access to premium services and content within our ecosystem. The Beta App will launch with an option for an in-app purchase of our first premium feature.
By building in the flexibility to utilize any digital text in the user experience, we are able to enter the market of content recommendation and content sales (eBooks and Paper Book online orders). This is our most important revenue stream target. This revenue stream will start with report cards containing user specific information to Beta Users' parents with targeted purchase recommendations through Amazon Associates.
2014 children's book sales in the U.S. were $1.89 billion, including $227 million in children's ebook sales. This market is experiencing double digit annual growth, and by empowering children with greater fluency in literacy we will accelerate that growth. We aim to capture a significant market share of ebook distribution by becoming an integral and trusted partner in a child's experience in literacy. We can recommend books tailored to our user's ability and interest, and sell both paper books (up to 8.5% commission with Amazon Associates) and ebooks (the market supports up to 30% commission). A 25% market share could be over $25 million in annual commissions.
As we collect recordings of users each reading hundreds of hours of text we will refine our speech recognition models. Licencing the use of these highly tuned speech recognition models is also a very promising revenue stream.
We are networking non-stop to build a large community that anticipates our release. Our pitch always captures the attention of young parents with children between 4 and 6. Our founder is active in Homeschooling and Parenting social media groups. One recent social media post by Sara.AI had an organic reach of 3,200 people.
As we gather user data, we will also publish academic papers, present at conferences, and write news releases that document the success of our design.
By offering a free app and in-app access to a stream of targeted readings we create broad success and buzz around our design. We will create promotional material that highlights the success of our users, designed to be Contagious, easy to talk about, and fun to share on social medial. This marketing material along with the amazing results our users experience will create marketers out of our users and their parents.
We are developing a Beta Launch social media campaign to generate more interest and excitement for the full-featured release which will follow the Beta App.
The practice is so simple that despite our pending patent on it we are bound to have copy-cats. We want to establish our brand as the original, and lead the emergent market space. Our biggest challenge is to maintain relevance, intellectually, experientially, and technologically.
To meet this challenge our focus is two-fold:
Our recruitment and partnership outreach includes individuals in computational linguistics, theoretical neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cognitive development, natural language processing, machine learning, data analytics, bibliotherapy, publishing, literacy, and more.
Aspects of this application's design have early roots in our founder's experience in learning to read Chinese. As a language learner, he envisioned an mobile app that could handle the algorithmic aspects of his language practice with an intuitive user interface. His first daughter was the first user of our proprietary accelerated, immersive, and assisted reading practice. His son is the second user. This design is informed by thousands of hours of direct user experience.
We don't see Reading Readiness programs as competition until they begin mimicking us. We know that we can completely disrupt this space. Our mission is in building a relationship between people and technology, and delivering meaningful content to our users.
This mission propels us into markets being pioneered by companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. While we won't be direct competitors to these titans immediately, we do need to prepare ourselves to compete in those markets from day one.
See the answer to What's your biggest risk? What keeps you up at night?
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In order to defend a patent it needs to be shown among other things, to be useful and to be non-obvious. We believe we have usefulness in the bag, and will continue to collect mountains of data to back it up. We have recently moved out of a stealth phase and into an advocacy phase, and the biggest takeaway we've learned is that despite our efforts it really does remain non-obvious to most until they see the results. You are welcome to contact Russ Fugal to answer any questions you may have on the practice that are not answered with a careful reading of the blog.
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