One of the great benefits of working at TU Incubator is getting to work with a wonderful group of entrepreneurs with big dreams and the desire to make a real impact. This is especially true for our education technology members. Fran Bowman and Stephanie Nislow the Co-Founders of OgStar Reading are great example.
Recently Fran gave me her thoughts on being an entrepreneur.
Five Questions with OgStar Reading Co-Founder Fran Bowman
1. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to have control over my career, my goals, and my time. Being an entrepreneur, while quite demanding, allows me to set my own goals and manage my own schedule. I also wanted to have high quality control over my products, articles, and presentations. I have worked for many organizations and companies, and have not always been able to control the quality of the content. As an entrepreneur, I know that if I work hard, I can strive to meet the highest standards possible, with the best possible chances of success.
2. Tell me about your product? What market niche does your company fill? What makes your product unique? There are many reading apps on the market, but there are none that take advantage of the many advances in voice and touch technology. Stephanie Nislow (my business partner in OgStar Reading®) and I feel that the multisensory and evidence-based Orton-Gillingham approach, which has helped many children with dyslexia, English as their second language, and those from impoverished language environments needs to be readily available to students in a high tech format. OgStar® (the letters “Og” stand for Orton-Gillingham) will offer an app for students who do not have access to tutors or teachers trained in this well-respected method.
3. What do you see as the big challenges going forward? The big challenges moving forward are finishing the app so that it includes all of the features that we deem as important—making it multisensory, self-correcting, and fun! We then, of course, face the challenge of marketing the app to individuals and to school districts, so that it can become a part of their master literacy plans.
4. What excites you the most about what you do? The least? It excites both Stephanie and I, beyond belief, to reach more children who need this kind of approach to reading. It is so frustrating to see children suffering needlessly! Right now, we can honestly say that the entire production of the app is motivating, even though it does require a huge restructuring of our time.
5. How has becoming a TU Incubator member company helped your business? It is truly an advantage to be part of the Towson University Incubator. When we won a $10,000 prize at the Milken-Penn competition, we felt that the consultation and guidance that we received helped us so much to prepare and execute our presentation. I have used the lovely and large TU space to teach a course and it was a wonderful venue. Talking with the other entrepreneurs in the TU Incubator has been truly enlightening and I believe that it has helped us to avoid some typical startup mistakes.
Bonus Question: What are you ambitions for OgStar Reading®? We hope that the OgStar Reading® app will be ready to market in the very near future. We are setting up beta sites now, so that we can make OgStar Reading® the best app that it can be! We hope to market it locally, nationally and internationally. We have big dreams!
Big dreams! I believe Fran and Stephanie are well on the road to achieving them. You can learn more about OgStar Reading at www.ogstarreading.com.
Are you an early-stage startup and interested in learning more about opportunities at TU Incubator? Let me know. I would be happy to talk with you.