"It is so important to rely on your instincts and make choices around what is best for your company, brand, etc."
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), children who read at home have significant advantages – from improved literacy in later years to better reading skills themselves. That’s in addition to the enjoyment that they get from reading.
Author, CEO and avid travel enthusiast Robin Barone believes that books can also open a world of new discoveries for the young. Her company Diplomat Books aims to excite and educate children about the different places and cultures across the world.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Diplomat Books all about?
Diplomat Books is an platform that sells hardback books for children. The books teach them about different places across the globe, exploring history and culture, and planting seeds of curiosity in young children who want to learn about the world.
Our first book, Where is Robin, follows Robin the little bird across the USA. From the Grand Canyon to the Colorado Rockies, Robin tours iconic locations across the country, learning about the history, culture and traditions. The book was illustrated by Robyn Mitchell, who has an instinct for detail and love for color, helping to create our winged protagonist, ready for adventure across the globe.
We believe that learning about people of different backgrounds from an early age enriches lives and drives increased respect and compassion. Diplomat Books aims to instil this drive to learn and explore for children from a young age.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
My desire to travel the world began in sixth grade when my mother bought me a globe. I decided that I wanted an extraordinary life where I would experience places and cultures from across the world. Over the years I have lived in many different places, including France, Singapore, and Buenos Aires, and I have visited nearly 60 countries.
Through those experiences and the travel blog that I started, I recognized the value of international travel and engaging with the world. My company began as an Indiegogo campaign in 2012. It was a passion project for me, I wanted to create an online educational platform to help get children interested in travel.
Q: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
Now that our soft launch is complete, I am working on building the series with the completion of six American city books – New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as expanding into Europe – discovering London, Paris and Rome.
Q: What are your plans for the future, how do you plan to grow this company?
This summer I am focused on increasing distribution and driving our publicity efforts to help put Diplomat Books on the map.
Q: How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a big fan of doodling, sketching ideas, and collaboration. I love to discuss ideas and engage with people. When it comes to the stories I start off identifying places of interest, and then I visit them to explore and learn more about the key places that will feature in the book. I draft the scenes and consider the goal of each one – specifically, what do I want the audience to see, feel and experience. After the outline is complete the illustrator steps into to begin sketching before moving to the creation of images on adobe acrobat. Finally, during the editing phase, we make minor changes to text and images, and we’re finished!
Q: What’s one trend that really excites you?
We are seeing an emergence of the “global citizen” — someone whose nationality, cultural heritage, and person cultural connection or current home location could all be different. The global citizen recognizes that a person, their culture, and where they reside are all different entities. As such, they recognize the differences in perspectives and can navigate cultural and communication differences. This is further enabled with the growth of digital tools that connect people across the globe in the same moment. When I traveled, thanks to digital tools like Skype and Facebook, I never felt out of touch with family and friends. I have always felt connected in wherever I go.
Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?
- My initial budget grossly underestimated the time and costs to produce the books, this was largely due to lack of experience. I realized that in order to continue development I would need to pull in additional hel. You can’t do it all alone.
- Finding and securing distribution was a real challenge for me. I had to dedicate a large amount of time to creating a marketing presentation. I was an unknown face, and I had no idea how difficult it would be to create these partnerships. I realized, it doesn’t matter how great your product is, if no-one can get their hands on it.
- I have competitie personality and often set unreasonable deadlines. I have had to learn to slow down in order to evaluate all my choices, and prevent mistakes that in the end can take longer to correct.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business, and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
My marketing efforts to date have centered around book reading events at schools and stores. In order to really scale we needed to secure national distribution services. After this happened, we saw the biggest growth from word of mouth. Early on in development, it was important for me to create something that could be beloved. And it worked, people love the book and continue to refer it, or buy more copies as presents. I have learned that once I establish a fan of my product they want to keep going with the brand. I am now tasked with adding books to my catalog to leverage the platform.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur – and why?
- Fearlessness, to wake up every day and work towards the unknown. I know that I will be successful. The question is how long is my runway to get there.
- Perseverance and recognizing you have a choice– I have learned that not even the best laid plans go accordingly. There is no failure, there are just a new set of choices and directions. Sometimes I am tired and then something amazing happens and I know that I am on the right path.
- Trust in yourself – It is so important to rely on your instincts and make choices around what is best for your company, brand, etc.
Q: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
- Pipedrive to help me keep track of my follow throughs.
- My moleskin datebook, I write things down.
- Skype – not every person that I want to work with lives in my neighborhood.
Q: What are three books you recommend entrepreneurs to read?
- Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson
- The Startup Playbook by David S. Kidder
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs.