Founder Dan Amos has appointed Lainey Franks as CEO and will now move into the role of Chief Product Officer.
Let me take you back to September 2011. Having left my product manager role at Nokia, and after months of coding and testing, I click 'Launch' and Book Creator for iPad appears on the App Store for the first time.
If you don't know the story, I originally built Book Creator for my 5-year-old son. He has dyslexia and was really struggling with reading and writing.
After many frustrating evenings for my wife and I, it struck me - wouldn't it be better if we could make our own books about the things he loves? Books about Star Wars, books about pets, books about family.
At the same time we're thinking - how do we get our kids as engaged with reading as they are with the iPad?!
Everything was in place.
So I launched this iPad app and to my surprise - teachers LOVED it too! I hadn't thought it would prove so popular but before long I had teachers contacting me asking for new features, and our journey began.
— Richard Beach (@rbeach) September 16, 2011
Fast forward to August 2017 - we’ve expanded the team a little and recently made the switch from iPad-only to an online subscription-based version of Book Creator that works on all devices. The idea now is that we’re building a company that can serve more and more teachers and students, and reach schools and districts in the US and beyond.
This was an uncertain time for us - we didn’t yet know if Book Creator online would be a success in the same way the iPad app is. What we did discover is that there are WAY more costs associated with maintaining an online platform, building a sales team and ultimately remaining profitable!
This was my reaction on Slack a couple of weeks after launching the online version…
Thankfully, Book Creator continued to go from strength to strength. By the end of 2022 - we have reached some key milestones that we are incredibly proud of as a company:
- Over 100 million books made across the world since 2011.
- Over 2 million teachers signed up to Book Creator online.
- Common Sense Education Top Pick for Learning (among many other awards).
- Over 1,000 schools and district customers around the world.
- US districts signed up to Book Creator include Jeffco Public Schools (Colorado), Compton USD (California) and Houston ISD (Texas).
— Heather Baucum 🧩 (she/her/hers) (@BookyBaucum) October 19, 2022
For the past year or so I have been reflecting on the next phase, and what it means to be CEO of a growing organization.
Some of the Book Creator team at ISTE 2022
With the “startup” phase complete, we have to think ahead to the next 10 years - how do we grow the team and the organization to have an ever-increasing impact on education?
I’ve reflected on how I personally can best serve teachers and students, and also how I can best serve the company. I thought back to those early days of building Book Creator and realized that that is where my energy and passion lies and where I can best contribute.
So I am delighted to promote Lainey Franks as the next CEO of Book Creator, and step aside to become our Chief Product Officer, going back to doing what I love every day - making Book Creator the very best it can be.
Lainey has the vision, the skills and the energy to do the job, and most of all she lives and breathes the mission of Book Creator, to help students of all ages and abilities to actively engage in the joy of learning. I couldn’t imagine someone better to lead the company into our next phase.
Lainey Franks joined the Book Creator team as VP of Partnerships in 2020. She was instrumental in leading our sales and teacher success teams through a period of rapid growth. Working closely with school districts in the USA - she helped grow our customer base from 450 to 1,100 schools and districts.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia (USA), Lainey currently lives in the UK and has worked in multiple countries. She possesses global business experience in the US, Europe, Australia, and South America, including senior leadership roles at Lonely Planet and edtech non-profit Breteau Foundation.
With a degree in Computer Science from Harvard University and a more recent Post Graduate Certificate of Education gained in the UK, Lainey has worked in education for over 10 years, including as a middle school math and computing teacher, and brings a wealth of experience to her role at Book Creator.
“As an educator, and the child of an educator, I know first hand how important it is to ignite a student’s love of learning, to enable each of my students to access the learning in the way that best suits them, and to have a simple-to-use tool that delivers on these goals.
“Having worked with this incredibly motivated and talented group of people for over two years, as well as many of our customers, I am thrilled to lead the company through its next stage of growth.”Lainey Franks, Chief Executive Officer
Dan is the founder of Tools for Schools and the Chief Product Officer of Book Creator. He is married to the children’s author Ally Kennen, and they have 4 great kids.