Swarna Ananthan, founder of MagicPolygon, is a software engineer that created an interactive storytelling app for kids and families. Swarna developed this incredible app after she saw a need in the marketplace. I interviewed Swarna and went behind the scenes of creating an app to learn what the process is like.
What does your business do and who do you do it for?
MagicPolygon is an interactive story-telling platform that brings your kids closer to their distant family members through real-time creative storytelling. Your trusted storytellers can narrate stories in their own style and voice from anywhere in the world using synchronized pictures, books, and interactive animations.
The app also has a record story feature that lets you replay stories as many times as you want. We add interactive books to our library every month. You can create your own stories by uploading pictures. MagicPolygon also provides a school version which is aligned towards both in-class and remote class storytelling. The MagicPolygon app is for kids ages 3 to 7 and is available in the AppStore.
Why did you start your business? Share your story.
I am a mother of a 6-year-old boy. When my son was around 2.5 years old, I was trying to narrate the Jack and the Beanstalk story with a picture book. I was a bit uncomfortable in narrating things like stealing to him at that age and I modified the story a little bit but used the same pictures. Then, I was curious about how others are telling such stories to their kids. I started watching how my husband is telling the same story and he was focusing on fantasy like Golden egg, etc. I realized storytelling as opposed to story reading has another aspect – the teller’s perspectives. I felt the need for a platform where kids can listen to stories from their loved ones living anywhere in the world in an engaging way. I could not find any and decided to start MagicPolygon. That’s how MagicPolygon was born.
Can you walk us through your app?
The Magicpolygon platform provides interactive picture books. The storytellers (parents, grandparents, etc) can use interactive picture books to tell stories either by recording or live streaming. The storytellers can share the recordings with the kids and other family members. The live streaming option allows us to schedule a live session where cousins living in different locations can listen to their grandparents at the same time. The audio and the picture will be synchronized.
The MagicPolygon platform uploads a new storybook every month. Apart from the platform provided books, you can also upload your own pictures and create your own picture books. You can also invite your friends and family members to be storytellers for your kids within the app.
Can you give us an overview of the school version of the app?
There is a school registration option for the app and teachers can add students to their classrooms. In schools, the app can be used for creative storytelling. The stories recorded by the teachers will be available to the entire class – students and their parents.
The kids can narrate stories in their own voice in their own way using the picture books. Parents can also send kid’s recordings from home to the teachers for private reviews.
In a classroom setup, the Create Record your own story feature is very useful because a story can be created and recorded as a group activity. Each group of students can create different parts of the story such as picture creation, narration, etc.
What has been your biggest challenge with entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is equally joyful and very challenging at every step. I am coming from a technology and software engineering background. I do not have any experience in marketing, hiring, PR, company incorporation, etc. Figuring out each thing at every step has been very challenging for me. Many times, I have committed mistakes and learned from them.
What has been your proudest moment in entrepreneurship?
I am not sure whether I can say one particular moment. There are many instances that made me very happy and proud like when my son recorded a story in his own voice in MagicPolygon and gave suggestions on stories. Another great moment was when I heard positive feedback from teachers and kids after a Beta trial from a school.
What piece of advice do you have for anyone starting out with their own business?
I would say be passionate and be fearless. It’s okay to commit mistakes and learn from them rather than waiting a long time to find an ideal solution. Set up small milestones and work towards them. Also, be part of the local business community.
When you’re not running your business, how do you spend your time
I play with my son and paint with him. I love listening to music.
The MagicPolygon app is available in the AppStore. MagicPolygon is currently supported only on Apple devices (iPads/iPhones). The app is currently free due to the COVID crisis. The app will be a Subscription-based app in the future.
Swarna Ananthan is the founder and CEO of MagicPolygon, LLC. Swarna is a software Engineer that specializes in mobile apps. Her past experience includes working with large corporations including Motorola, Samsung, iHeartRadio, The New York Times, to name a few. Swarna was one of the very first Engineers of the New York-based fitness tech company Peloton. She left Peloton to start MagicPolygon.
Please feel free to contact Swarna if you have any feedback or questions on the MagicPolygon app. Also, please reach out if you are a teacher or an educator and want to try out the MagicPolygon app in your class for an extended period of time.
Follow on Instagram: @magicpolygonkid
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Connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/swarnaananthan
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