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WAKE FOREST – Toggle Book Factory, which founder Marc Mailand calls a bridge between technology and books, is already generating revenue by  providing families a customizable, personalized book where children are making choices about characters and about what happens in the book.

To fund further developments, the company has raised $55,000 of a possible $100,000 convertible note during the last three weeks from four angel investors.

Mailand began his career in television, working on animated shows for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney, then switched industries and began to work in the video gaming industry with Insomniac Games.

The idea for Toggle Book Factory evolved from Mailand’s experience as a parent, when his child was struggling with nightmares as a toddler.  Mailand helped his kid process the experience by storytelling, allowing his toddler to participate in the creation of the stories.

Later, the two would co-write a personalized book about the experience, which the family still reads.

“We want to tell great stories, and we want our kids to be co-stars in the book,” said Mailand in an interview with WRAL TechWire.

He launched the company after a year of development last October.

“I’m using what I’ve learned in both of those mediums, television and video gaming, and applying them to books,” said Mailand.  “Now, we’re trying to innovate books for children.”

The company goes beyond personalized books, or what Mailand called “vanity gift books.”  He aims to build a company that delivers immersive experiences, through its platform and personalized books.

The process places kids at the center of creating their story, including the color of the book, how their character appears, and also choices about what happens in the story itself, said Mailand. “Kids make choices and they don’t know how those choices affect the story until they read their story,” he added.  “Which helps them develop their natural curiosity.”

The technology platform, accessible through the company website, is guided by a robot, QwerKee, who helps children build their personalized book. The process of building a book, which happens online at the company’s website, will take as long as your child leads, and the role of the parent or adult who is assisting in the creation is to support the child in the creative process.

Once a book is created, the company’s automated system builds the custom book files, and approximately eight minutes after a book order has been placed, the files are submitted to the company’s factory partner, who prints and ships the order.  Soon, said Mailand, the company will be able to scale this process in such a way that it could concurrently create and print a near unlimited number of books, at once, due to the technology.

Toggle saw early success, offering the customization of two books that provided developmentally-appropriate lessons for children.

For example, in one of the company’s books, Presto-Bot refuses help from everyone, but by the end of the book, has learned from the character imagined and created by the child, how to accept assistance, with a meaningful result.

“There’s a lot of great things about kids interacting with other characters,” said Mailand.  “We think by putting them in a story with other characters, it will teach them the developmentally-appropriate lessons that they’ll really benefit from.”

The company plans to deliver 2,500 customized books in 2021, and the funding raised in this early round will assist in that effort, said Mailand.  Funding raised will also be allocated to develop additional character options, including the addition of glasses as a character accessory and at least four additional hairstyles.

“What makes us different is we are video game developers with a talented and influential network,” said Mailand. “We plan to utilize this network for licensing opportunities in the future.”

Mailand noted that after closing the $100,000 convertible note, the company plans to raise a seed round of $1 million.