Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Welcome to another interview in our series in which we had the pleasure of speaking with Mitch Kroll, CEO of the company behind the MCA award-winning product, Wonderbook. Wonderbook is a print book with an innovative ready-to-play audiobook inside. Children can read along with their favorite stories with just a push of a button! Wonderbook is the perfect combination of literacy and fun. Read on to find out more about Wonderbook and the CEO that made it all happen!
MCA: Hi Mitch, congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! Thank you for joining us, we were delighted to get the opportunity to speak with you about such a wonderful product. Let’s first start off the interview by finding out a little bit about yourself!
Mitch: The name of my company defines me – Findaway. My career has always been centered on a desire to build a place where people can do great work and for all of our business success, I’m most proud of the reality that we’ve done that at Findaway.
My life is pretty simple – Family First in every possible way, then Findaway and for the first time in over 20 years we finally have a winning football team in my hometown – the Cleveland Browns are back!!!!!!
MCA: That’s very exciting, it’s all about the little wins in life! Can you tell us more about your company Findaway and how it came to be?
Mitch: Findaway was formed in 2004 inspired by the iPod and the new world of portable digital audio – If you can carry a thousand songs in your pocket, what else could you do to replicate that consumer experience while disrupting an entire industry? We launched Playaway an all-in-one preloaded audiobook as our flagship product and over time found enormous success selling over 6 million units to date. We have continued to innovate over the years and today we are the world’s largest digital audiobook distributor with over 100 million hours of listening globally. Findaway is also an audiobook publisher, audiobook producer and we have the industry’s premier self-publishing platform for independent authors. We have an amazing team of 150 Findawayers making it all happen.
MCA: That’s quite an accomplishment! What needs were you trying to fill when you created Wonderbook?
Mitch: Over the years, our products have become a literacy tool that has changed lives in ways we never could have imagined and in typical Findaway fashion we strategized how we can elevate this impact to both grow the business and add value to our customers – enter Wonderbook – a read-along product which seamlessly blends audio & the written word to create a great experience. Parents love Wonderbook as much as kids which means everything to us.
MCA: How did you come up with Wonderbook’s unique features?
Mitch: Whenever we launch products, we demand that they must be differentiated in some way from anything ever created – that “special sauce” that creates the WOW – without it we will not launch. For Wonderbook, after many concepts and ideas, the team presented this brilliant feature: Learning Mode. The idea was that after the child finishes the book, how do we allow the experience to continue by using their imagination and inspiring a conversation with mom or dad. A simple slider switch moves Wonderbook into Learning mode and a series of fun open-ended questions are asked about the book. During focus group testing the engagement was off the charts and we knew we nailed the WOW.
MCA: You certainly did just that, anyone who has used Wonderbook can attest to that. I read on your website that research shows that hearing and seeing words at the same time can improve reading success rates, can you elaborate on this?
Mitch: We work closely with Public Libraries and K-12 schools which allows us deep engagement with teachers & librarians who are deeply focused on learning outcomes for children. We have a high desire to elevate impact with our products which occurs with multimodal learning. Numerous studies have established that exposure to multiple sensory experiences increases retention and improves the learning experience. Wonderbook provides a great multimodal experience.
MCA: What has the feedback been like for Wonderbook?
Mitch: Feedback has been outstanding on every level – we have increased our Content selection by 400% since launch with best sellers, increased diversity & bilingual titles, and renowned children’s classics. We have added thousands of new library & K-12 school customers to broaden our reach even further as we bridge the digital divide for children & parents.
MCA: Wow, congratulations! That is outstanding feedback indeed. What is next for Wonderbook?
Mitch: In 2021, we are launching a next-generation Wonderbook offering to reach global literacy organizations. We have simplified the product and book printing process to decreases costs significantly which will be passed on to organizations focused on a literacy mission so we can expand our reach to millions of new Wonderbook listeners around the world. We will always Find a Way.
MCA: We love the double entendre! We’re excited for what’s to come for Wonderbook, be sure to keep us posted!
You can learn more about Mitch Kroll and his award-winning product, Wonderbook by visiting his MCA Shop pages.