The founders of LitPick have known each other since birth. Seth Cassel and his dad Gary founded their first company, FlamingNet in 2002 when Seth was in fourth grade. Designed as a book review site, Seth and his dad Gary built the site themselves and began taking a profit.
“I reviewed books on the site and gradually publishers began to find out about us and started sending me their titles to review. Soon, the number of books I was receiving grew to be so large that I first asked my friends to help with the reviews,” said Seth. “Then, we started accepting student reviewers from across the country as the site turned into a sort of rottentomatoes.com for young adult literature.”
Seth grew up a little and went to Harvard, where all precocious budding web entrepreneurs go to drop out. FlamingNet turned into LitPick, a decidedly more professional-looking site and now it’s launched and ready for your reading enjoyment.
“Although Flamingnet.com was successful and generated a sizable community, we realized that we would need to recreate the site and focus on ereading in order to scale up our program and turn it into a full company. LitPick.com is the product of this revamp and is already generating quite a bit of discussion among authors, publishers, and educators,” said Seth.
Seth and his dad worked with EdUpgrade, a Harvard-based startup, but the entire project is self-funded. They were semi-finalists in the Harvard College i3 Innovation Contest, beaten by some weird shoe start-up.
“We’re just emerging from our beta stage, but we’ve already had around 450 eBooks submitted to the site for review (that number keeps growing daily),” said Seth. To be clear, the writing isn’t exactly Paris Review quality but who cares. One title, Signed By Zelda, got five stars and is described thusly:
Heck, I’d pony up a few bucks to read about an aspiring handwriting analyst, right? The site uses Amazon affiliate links and marketing deals to remain profitable.
The Cassels plan to build out their reviewing team and thanks to ebooks they can send more books to more kids for review. “We’re publishing students’ opinions on young adult literature. No other company or review outlet runs a similar program,” he said.