A Storied Startup

By Devon Glenn Comment

There’s no better vocabulary-building exercise than reading, and entrepreneurs Gennady Pritsker and Ilya Lyashevsky have found a way to unite fiction with technology to help students ace the SAT’s and writers use their words.

Storied is an educational and literary application created in New York by Pritsker and Lyashevsky’s company,  Good to Know.  mbStartups recently caught up with the founders to find out how the app  works and how the company is using Kickstarter to take the project to the next level, as well as what’s in it for short fiction writers.

Pritsker and Lyashevsky have taken the 750 words most commonly used in the vocabulary portion of the SAT’s and put them into several short stories that use the words in context. Each story is followed by a quiz that lets the readers know which words they need to see again before the big test.  The words appear in several stories throughout the application to present the material more than once without resorting to flash cards.

What are Pritsker’s favorite vocabulary words? “All of them,” he said. “Especially ‘prose’. We wrote the stories for the first collection (what’s in the app now) ourselves, and so we have an intimate knowledge of the words. Speaking of that, ‘intimate’ (verb) is another favorite, along with ‘impecunious’ and ‘lachrymose’.”

The application is available on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and will soon be available on the Web. Oddly enough, the Web application was an afterthought that came from author Dave Eggers. Pritsker was fortunate to run into Eggers when the author was in New York City promoting his newspaper project, The San Francisco Panorama. “[Eggers] professed enthusiasm for what we’re doing,” said Pritsker, “and encouraged us to port STORIED to the Web in order to make it available to as many users as possible.”

The application is currently free, but Pritsker told mbStartups that he is currently collaborating with students from MFA programs at Brooklyn College, NYU, New School, University of Idaho, Stanford and Hunter on a new, subscription-based version that will launch by the end of this month.  Contributors are paid a small fee upfront and then 7% royalties on the retail price of the application, pro-rated for each story they write.  Not a bad way for writers to get more buck for their bang, and Pritsker said there’s plenty of room for more contributors.

To help with the development costs, the company is trying to raise $5,o00 on Kickstarter.com, the micro-funding site designed to launch creative projects.  To donate, or watch a video about the project, click here.