The Problems with Handwriting OCRs and Our Solution
StorySquad is a “gaming” platform that turns your child into a reader, writer, and illustrator. It encourages creation and is an alternative to Fortnite and YouTube that children enjoy and parents trust. Each week we send our users a short story to read. Then kids write their own story based on the characters they just read about and draw an illustration (on actual paper to reduce screen time and encourage sustained focus). Then the child can upload pictures of their work to our platform where we assign a readability score that helps the child get better at writing over time!
We also maintain the largest dataset of children's handwriting on the internet. I’m Jack Ross and I am a data scientist that helped build this platform.
I joined StorySquad along with a cross functional team of 6 engineers through the Labs portion of Lambda School. At first I was a bit worried about working with an early startup. I’ve heard the horror stories of startups with chaotic environments, constantly changing visions, or the large chance that this project would fail and never see the light of day. From the first meeting with Graig, I knew this wouldn’t be the case at StorySquad.
Graig Peterson, the founder of StorySquad and my teams shareholder for this project, was a 6th grade teacher when he had the idea for this startup. Like many teachers, when the kids in his class got a little out of control, he would read them a story. This would put them back into “focus mode” but he could tell after a while that the kids were still eager to let out more energy. Graig’s solution was to get the students to write a story based on the characters they had just read about. He saw the full creative potential of his students unlock as they were absorbed into a world of ideas and creation. Story Squad was born.
As a data scientist, the problems we would have to solve to make this platform a reality was clear.