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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Reading the Future
Michel Kripalani, Marshall '89

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With two business ventures already under his belt, Michel Kripalani, Marshall '89, was prepared to face growing pains and hurdles in the development of his new digital app venture, Oceanhouse Media.

Surprisingly, it was fairly smooth sailing. Oceanhouse Media's two main areas of focus are self-help and children's books, and the company, which boasts eight full-time employees and a dozen contractors, has quickly become one of the most prolific children's book publishers in digital app form.

"The Dr. Seuss titles are definitely our biggest sellers," says Kripalani. "We've received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from parents, including several who have found Seuss apps to be a great learning tool for their children with autism."

Kripalani's technology differs from the standard e-reader device in a couple ways—it aims to be more accessible to the new reader, and specifically targets educating young children. Rather than working like a traditional e-book, where the electronic version is literally a digital version of the existing novel, Kripalani and his team have taken a different approach.

Oceanhouse's interactive apps allow readers to highlight text—where the selected words rise on-screen towards readers, what Kripalani calls "picture-word association." The company hired voice-over actors to do readings of the books, so children can hear a word read back to them by tapping it on the screen. Best of all, the apps are an affordable alternative to their hardcover counterparts—ranging in price from 99 cents to $4.99.

Founded in January 2009, the company had already sold more than one million apps at the Apple App Store within its first year—a success that Kripalani owes in part to his UCSD connection, particularly the Geisel Library, named in honor of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel.

"After graduating, I stayed very involved with the University and sat on the library's advisory board for two years," he says. "[Librarian] Brian Schottlaender was able to do an introduction for me to Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE). I feel very fortunate and grateful to the University."

The negotiations began in the summer of 2009, and a few months later Kripalani created three wildly successful apps based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. DSE later granted Oceanhouse the rights to 44 classic Dr. Seuss books.

—Neda Salamat, Muir '12