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Startup Weekend winner creates custom storybooks to facilitate learning

By Ashley Boncimino
Published March 10, 2014

“What’s the first thing you kids do when they use your iPhone?” asks Clemson University MBA-in-entrepreneurship candidate Drew Felty to the crowded room in front of him.

The answer is simple, he said: they look at pictures of themselves.

Felty’s idea for TaleSpinner, which won first place at Spartanburg’s first Startup Weekend in February, would harness that attention to teach children to read by generating a customizable storybook where the children are the stars.

Parents would download the app, select camera roll photos for the story and type the names of their children, parents, friends and even pets to make the story personal.

What is Startup Weekend?

Find out more about the fast-paced business competition here.
“It’s something I did a little research going into, and I was basically testing it out and seeing if developers liked the idea,” said Felty, who developed a business plan, application wireframes and a concept to pitch to judges in a mere 54 hours at Startup Weekend with team members Joshua Maxwell, Daniel Donaldson, Andrew Ramos and Lorenzo Barberis Canonico.

Now, Felty is selling the idea on Clemson University’s Kickstarter equivalent,, a crowd-funding site for students. The goal is to raise $20,000, which would fund continued app development and market research.

“Mainly what I’m trying to do is see if the public is willing to pay for this and at what price point,” said Felty.

Felty and his team were able to hyper focus on the project during Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event held in cities in the U.S. and abroad with the aim of bringing entrepreneurs together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch companies.

Felty plans to pitch TaleSpinner in April at Charleston’s interactive festival and business conference, Dig South.

“It’s sort of like Charleston’s version of South by Southwest,” Felty said, referring to the film, interactive and music festival held in Austin, Texas each year.

At Startup Weekend in Spartanburg, Felty’s team won a year’s worth of work space at The Mill in Spartanburg, but since they couldn’t easily use it – Felty is finishing graduate school, Maxwell and Donaldson are enrolled in The Iron Yard’s Code Academy, Barberis Canonico is in high school and Ramos already works out of a coworking space in Greenville – they decided to give it to another Startup Weekend project.

“It just made sense to give it to them,” said Felty.

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