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TechTalk: Startup Founder Proves “No tech background, no problem.”

May 28, 2024

Yobe Qiu, Co-Founder of Book an Author talks with EisnerAmper's TechTalk host Janina Teoxon about her commitment to educating our children and celebrating diversity. In this episode, Yobe describes how her game-changing web-based platform helps expand connections across the educational landscape, matching authors with academic institutions, and streamlining the entire authoring journey from discovery to payment.


Janina Teoxon:

Hello and welcome to TechTalk where you will hear the latest in technology and investment trends directly from the trendsetters.

I'm your host, Janina Teoxon, member of EisnerAmper's Technology and Life Sciences practice, and in celebration of the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage, this month of May, I'm joined by a very special guest and a fellow member of the AAPI community.

She is the co-founder of a recently launched tech platform Book an Author, Yobe Qiu. Yobe is an educator, entrepreneur and bestselling author with a passion for storytelling, and she has been featured in many media outlets such as Entertainment Tonight and Yahoo Buzzfeed. Yobe, welcome to TechTalk.

Yobe Qiu:

Hi, thank you so much for having me. It's super exciting to be here.

Janina Teoxon:

All right, so let's jump right in. Congratulations on the recent launching of your new tech platform, Book an Author. Can you briefly explain Book an Author for our audience and share the inspiration behind launching this platform?

Yobe Qiu:

Of course. Book an Author is a matchmaking tech platform that helps connect authors and organization institutions like schools. We're really focused on schools at the moment. It's a platform where they get to connect with each other, find each other's profile, and we help streamline the entire process from discovery to payment.

And the inspiration behind this is because it's just been a long, long problem in our community. I was in the education business for a very long time and I transitioned to become an author and a publisher and my community of authors and I are always looking for schools to work with to share our stories with, to read our stories to the children and talk about our books and topics.

But the process is so hard. It's like knocking on doors after doors, sending cold emails. I'm just thinking there has to be an easier way, come on, it's 2024. And after two years or three years being in the industry and struggling this way and realizing there's just nothing like this out there, I decided to build one.

Janina Teoxon:

That sounds fantastic Yobe, and it's such a creative and innovative solution for the education industry and sounds like it's going to be a game changer.

Yobe Qiu:

It's almost a game changer already. We launched pretty early this a few weeks ago, and we had so many authors on the platform fundraising for schools, so then they have the budget nationwide.

This is across so many states to have the budget to hire an author to come in for their students in their schools, and it's been such a wonderful process. I think it's such a hard journey to get it started because I don't have a tech background and then just coming to see how it has unfolded, I'm just super grateful. It's been very exciting.

Janina Teoxon:

That's great. That's great. You've created a good platform. Let's talk about that technology. Tell us about what you have built to accelerate the solution.

Yobe Qiu:

We've built a web-based platform that has really focused on user input. We have authors and speakers setting up their own profile, inputting where they are based on zip code, inputting their rates, inputting their story and their themes and what they can do.

And they were signing up schools. We've attended so many conferences where principals and PTO presidents and some places we call it PTA, the Parent Teacher Association, parent teacher organization in different states is different name, but they go on, they create a profile for dear school and now the technology, we include AI.

I mean this day and age we kind of have to use AI too to help make this process a bit easier. So when they type in for that month, if they're looking for someone for say, Black History Month or AAPI Month, which is this month or Anti-Bully Month or back to school, we'll get them a group of authors that kind of are in their budget range, that are recommended for their time that they're looking for, the theme that they're looking for so they can now start chatting with each other.

They can now go through all of the things really, really quickly. Modern day solutions so we don't have to spend weeks back and forth on email to set up an event like this.

Janina Teoxon:

Oh, that's truly fascinating. This platform is truly fascinating. And I know that building a technology, launching a new platform is not easy for everybody. I can imagine the dedication and the hard work that went into building this platform. And I know for sure there are highs and lows, right? So what motivated you during the challenging moments?

Yobe Qiu:

That's such a great question, Janina. It's just such a big problem in our community, both in the two industries that I really care about both in the industry for education. I was in the private school business before and I'm always looking for people to come in for a presentation for the students at my schools.

And it always goes from, Hey, do you know someone? Hey, do you know someone? Hey, I'm looking for this person. Can you recommend someone to me? And then now I'm on the other side of the platform, I’m the author, I’m looking for schools and I’m like, let me see who I know.

And there has to be an easier way where we’re not just limiting ourself to our network of people, we’re not limiting ourselves to our friends or who we know. And the biggest motivation here is I can’t go on to do business this way in my publishing and the education side, doing this way for taking a very long time.

I have to build something. And it’s really hard. There’s a lot of low moments. We can’t figure out some of the tech. And then there are low moments where we have to register all the schools and going to the conference telling them about this platform one at a time has been a struggle.

But the motivation part, when I tell a principal I'm building this platform and the principal says, you are the prayer, you're the answer to my prayer. And I said, oh my goodness, you feel just like me. You're looking for a solution like this. So they download the thing right away, really quickly.

And then when I tell the authors they, it's like, can I get on? How do I learn more about this? I think seeing the excitement in the two communities of people that we serve really motivated me to keep going and keep learning about the space that I don't really have experience in.

But seeing their eyes lit up, seeing that we're really creating a solution for two huge communities of people is my biggest motivator.

Janina Teoxon:

That's good. That's great to hear. And it's clear, right? It's clear that your passion for storytelling is a driving force for Book an Author. And I just wanted to take this moment to acknowledge your experience and your perspective as a member of the AAPI community.

It seems as though it's acting as a superpower for you to deliver such a unique product and service that the marketplace is asking for. So as a fellow, Asian-American, I'm proud of you. Proud of you Yobe.

Yobe Qiu:

Aw, thank you so much. That's so sweet. That's so sweet. I never thought about making products and books that feature Asian-American, children, family, and culture. I never really thought about that.

It started because it came from a place of need. We are a growing community. A lot of our friends and allies in schools are celebrating us. They are. I spoke to so many people even in the middle of America and they want to know more about us, but there just isn't that much resources and there's no more waiting around. I think it's time for us to just do it.

And I just did it. I actually launched through Kickstarter, I told you a very humble beginning Kickstarter and we got $20 at a time, but it really just grew for AAPI community and a lot of people came to support having children's books about how we celebrate Moon Festival, which is going to come out in a few months.

And the schools are using our content for AAPI Month, and I'm just beyond grateful for this entire journey. It's been so much fun.

Janina Teoxon:

That's good. That's great to hear. So Yobe, so I've worked with several entrepreneurs and so many of them have pointed back to a pivotal moment along their journey. So can you take us to that pivotal moment that shaped your journey as an author?

Yobe Qiu:

I've been asked so many questions. This is one of the hardest time. I think one of the pivotal moment for me is when I started a Facebook group community of authors like myself, people who are passionate about authentic storytelling, people who are passionate about telling their stories and getting it to schools.

And when I got into the platform, I was connected to over tens of thousands of authors and schools too. And that was when I decided with this kind of reach with there's so many people doing the work that I'm doing, all we need is a good platform to kind of elevate everyone and uplift everyone in the community. I really do believe the strength in number.

I do really believe in having people come together for a big cause. And I think one of the main pivotal moment after having all of that community is launching national fundraising campaigns to bring books into schools all over our country.

Janina Teoxon:

That's good. That's really remarkable how that moment can be a turning point. And I appreciate you sharing that Yobe. We don't get to hear such personal AAPI stories every day, so I find it truly inspiring and thank you. I think our audience and our listeners resonate with that story as well.

Yobe Qiu:

Thank you.

Janina Teoxon:

And I'm down to my last question, Yobe. So to wrap things up, I'm going to ask you a favorite question that I ask my guests during our initial conversation. And I know you just recently launched your new tech platform, but tell me one bragging point about Book an Author that you're most proud of to date.

Yobe Qiu:

I think I am most proud of creating this platform, not really just for the business, but it's much more of a big movement. It's a movement to connect schools to people who may not have this opportunity to elevate the stories and opportunities for all authors, regardless if they have representation, if they have agents, if they're well-connected or not.

Everyone having that same equal opportunity to pitch themselves and be seen without very a lot. They don't really need a marketing background or they don't really have to spend a lot of money for a PR person or have tech experiences. I'm most proud of building Book an Author to ensure everyone else has this opportunity.

And I'm super excited that all of us have come together. When I say us, it's my entire team. I work with another lady called Serena Lee, and then we have founded around 50 authors to help us with this campaign. Now when we launched to fundraise for over 40, 50 schools in just one month, bringing tens of thousands of dollars to schools so that they now can go out and hire teachers and they can now go out and hire authors for their events.

That's my biggest bragging point and thank you so much for asking that. That was really nice to talk about.

Janina Teoxon:

Yeah, and that's very impressive. It's such an impressive achievement. This campaign that you did for sure is going to benefit a lot of diverse groups of students. And so I truly appreciate your commitment to educating our children and building this Book an Author platform to expand your reach. So Yobe, thank you for taking the time to have a conversation with me today.

Yobe Qiu:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. I love everything that you're doing there at the podcast.

Janina Teoxon:

Perfect. And thanks to our listeners for tuning into TechTalk, the entrepreneurs and innovators who turn to EisnerAmper for audit, tax advisory and outsourcing solutions to help propel their business forward.

Please subscribe to the EisnerAmper podcast to listen to more TechTalk episodes or visit for more tech news you can use.

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Janina Mariel Teoxon

Janina Teoxon is an Audit Senior Manager with over 15 years of experience in public accounting. She provides professional services to both public and privately held companies from emerging/early stage to accelerated filers in the life sciences and technology industries.

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