Augmented reality and storytelling: My Kingdom Books

Inspired by his nephew's natural curiosity and love for books, Amile Samarakoon created the world's first customisable augmented reality book for children out of London, bringing together a talented crew experts from America, Argentina, Australia, India, Philippines, UK and Ukraine. His business, My Kingdom Books, is now primed to disrupt the wildly antiquated publishing industry. Here's his story.

My Kingdom Books combines storytelling, personalisation, and augmented reality technology to create an immersive app-led reading experience for the iPad generation. Founder Amile Samarakoon launched the business in hopes of building something that also had a positive impact in the world.

The idea came to him in 2015, after observing his nephew’s love for reading. Samarakoon decided that children’s books was the way to realise his dream, tying in the latest technology with the age-old art of storytelling. His business donates at least 10 per cent of its profits to Dreams and Wishes, a charity dedicated to helping seriously ill children. This is how he started up.

  • Name: Amile Samarakoon
  • Location: London
  • Date launched: 22nd April 2016
  • Number of employees: 1 direct, 30 indirect, through outsourced business partners

What does your business do?

My Kingdom Books designs, publishes, and delivers children’s story books which combine traditional print with modern-day technology such as augmented reality, 3D animation, and personalisation.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

When I first saw my nephew interact with books, I thought it would be great to create something for him which he hadn’t seen before and would love.

How did you know there was a market for augmented reality childrens book

I did my research online, analysed what was available in the market today, and identified an opportunity to be assessed on effort vs. reward.

How did you raise funding, and why?

At the beginning I self-funded the majority of the project, but towards the end I also did a Friends & Family round to allow me to focus on the project full-time. I had various offers from VC’s, but I felt the timing was too early to give away large amounts equity.

Describe your business model in brief.

Our business model is unique when compared to other publishers. We control the end-to-end supply chain of the business. That includes everything from content creation, printing, distribution, IT development, and marketing to consumers. Because each book is personalized we needed to develop a system that could handle individual orders but also cope with large-scale volume from all over the world.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

The biggest milestone to date was being able to use our App technology with the book and watching the story come to life. It was a proud moment knowing we had developed something completely unique in the market.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

When thinking about new ideas, try thinking about your core values and identify a business that ticks those boxes. When times are tough, it’s those core values that will help motivate you to keep going. At the end of it all, you’ll feel happy knowing you’ve developed something for reasons that were right for you.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I’d like to see My Kingdom Books leading the children’s book market in terms of innovation, content, and sales. Our aim is to become a leading global publisher and continue to push the boundaries of traditional print combined with new tech.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…

I’d probably stay in the corporate world and try develop my career towards becoming a CEO of a FTSE 100 business.

What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?

I think about what are the 5 most important things in my life in order for me to feel happy. Then I base every decision I make (business and personal) around that list. By reminding myself on a daily basis what’s most important to me, I support myself to make decisions that steer me towards true happiness.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.