Author and illustrator, Linda Liukas, has a vision. With a background in programming and experience running RailsGirls, a non-profit coding training outfit for women, she decided to embark on creating a series of educational stories for kids, based around the core skills of programming; Hello Ruby was the result.
"I want to write a book for my future kids, about the magical world of technology," says an enthusiastic Liukas with child-like conviction, on her pitch video for Kickstarter.
A campaign she insists came very much at the end of a period of extremely hard work, drawing on her contacts gained through her training project, as well as ex-colleagues in the programming world. She successfully raised 380,000 dollars for Hello Ruby, 370,000 dollars more than the 10,000 she first aimed to.
Although a champion of the Kickstarter movement, Liukas truly believes that such a campaign is only possible after putting in the initial hard work, "Kickstarter is the end, it's not the beginning. You need to have a very dedicated community of people who trust you and believe in what you are doing, to rally around you and your work," she says, "running a successful crowdfunding campaign is a lot of work... in reality, I worked for four years on Hello Ruby before shipping it, and at least half a year on the Kickstarter campaign," a campaign however, that made her dream possible.
Liukas turned to crowdfunding after anticipating over-cautious, cynical and conservative publishers; venture capitalists wary of risking their hard-earned cash on such an experimental niche, with no guaranteed potential for profit, in the already crowded and established children's publishing field.
She says, "If I had gone to a Finnish publisher and told them that I want to make, like, the world's best pre-school series about programming for kids, they would have said, 'Oh Linda there is no market for this,' and they would have been right; because in a land of 5 million people, there wouldn't have been a market for a children's book on technology. If I would have gone to a VC, they would have told me, 'Oh Linda there is no profit in this,' and they would have been also right." She is the first to admit she was a risk, and that her project was, "not a WhatsApp [type] project, or explosive growth kind of thing," though she goes on to say, "being able to crowd fund... gives you amazing creativity and freedom to pursue your dreams."
Her dream is due from the printing house in just a few days, ahead of an October 6 official launch, and deals with traditional publishers have been cut in Finland, Sweden, Japan, Korea, Australia and The Netherlands.
So what's next for Linda and her mission to impress a solid grounding in coding literacy on the world's children?
"I definitely want to make mobile applications, and a summer school next year," she replies. As the search for app developers and animation designers gets underway, and full of enthusiasm for what she sees as a twenty year project, she concludes, "I just look forward to having adventures with my little redhead sidekick in the future." Maybe this tells us more than she realises.