Miami startup that uses digital storytelling to help kids fall asleep wins annual Miami Herald Startup Pitch competition

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Francisco Cornejo and Daniela Vega are the husband-wife co-founding team of an app called Storybook. The two are the developers of the app that helps parents use stories, music and massages to help their children sleep better. The couple now live in Boca Raton.

adiaz@miamiherald.com

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Miami Herald Startup Pitch Contest

Don’t miss the mini-profiles on the product and service innovations of six South Florida startups that won top honors in this year’s Miami Herald Startup Pitch competition.

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Francisco Cornejo and Daniela Vega knew they were on to something when their kids started arguing over who went to bed first for story time.

Vega had combined baby massage, music and bedtime stories to help their children fall asleep – and it also brought them closer as a family. That’s when they decided to develop an app that provides parents with a selection of age-appropriate stories and music and guides them with bedtime massage techniques.

Together, “the result is a relaxing, loving time that will help both parent and child bond, relax and sleep better,” Vega said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of physical affection.”

The day this couple of entrepreneurs launched their Storybook publicly in 2019, 300 families immediately paid for the service. The initial reviews — and the thousands that would come later — confirmed exactly what the couple had been through with their children. For the couple’s innovation, Storybook is the winner of the 2022 Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition Community Track. The track was managed by Endeavor Miami, the startup support and networking group with expertise in pitching. start-up scale.

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“We heard, ‘It helps my kids sleep better, but we connect so much more, we get closer, I feel like I bond more with my kids,'” Cornejo said. “It can have an impact on transformation, and we wanted to spread it around the world.”

Storybook (Storybook-app.com) targets newborns to 12 years old or even older. Vega has created content suitable for all age groups, sometimes in partnership with foundations. For children aged 4 to 6, for example, her stories become more complex, discussing emotions, using kind words, and respecting others and their differences. Some stories include children with autism, Down syndrome and physical disabilities.

Storybook hired a small team in late 2019 and raised its first round of funding from prominent Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis and others in 2020. Last month, Storybook secured $500,000 in commitments from investors and received $100,000 from Google for Startups’ new Latino Founders fund, $50,000 from a Miami-Dade County seed grant program, and $25,000 from City National and eMerge Americas.

To date, the startup has attracted more than 2 million downloads and is on track to surpass $2 million in annual revenue, up from $500,000 last year, said Cornejo, who previously led marketing at Honda Motors. in Ecuador. Storybook is now closing a $2 million seed funding round and preparing for a Series A funding round. The couple moved their family to South Florida in January.

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Francisco Cornejo and Daniela Vega, are the husband-wife co-founding team of an app called Storybook. This is what the app looks like on a mobile phone. It helps parents use stories, music and massage to help their children sleep better. Al Diaz adiaz@miamiherald.com

In collaboration with Florida International University and an Ecuadorian university, Storybook is planning a clinical trial to add to the scientific data on the benefits of Storybook’s product. While there are studies on the benefits of baby massage, bedtime stories and music, “we’ll have the first study on combining those three things together,” Cornejo said.

Storybook annual subscriptions are under $50, with discounts for multi-year plans. (There is also a limited free version). Companies such as City National Bank and Telefonica offered subscriptions as employee benefits, and Kimberly-Clark included Storybook in customer promotions. The app is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese with Japanese, German, and other languages ​​on the roadmap.

What makes this couple live? “100% reviews,” Cornejo said. “Every review we receive from the App Store and Google Play and in our DMs [direct messages] we post to a Slack channel for all team members to see.

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