A Strathclyde University graduate who is revolutionising the art of storytelling for the digital age with illustrated and adapted classic ebooks for children and adults is well on the way to realising his entrepreneurial dreams, thanks to his ‘just do it’ attitude.
22 year old Craig Johnstone is the original founder of Giglets Limited, an e-books publishing company of illustrated and adapted classics for children and adults, such as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which are condensed into 15 minute long reads to provide modern day appeal.
The original idea for Giglets was formed by Craig and his school friends while they were in their sixth year at school in Ayrshire. They left school to set up the business and their first adaptation was of Robert Burns’ epic, Tam o’ Shanter, featuring Tam O’Haggis, a tartan bonnet wearing haggis, who like the original character, gets up to all sorts of adventures in Alloway.
They continued to run Giglets during their college and university studies and sold 7,500 books through commercial outlets, schools, local authorities and other educational institutions.
“During this period the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) were instrumental in Giglets’ success” said Craig. “When I first contacted SIE for advice I was in my ! rst or second year at university and we were in the early stages of expansion. SIE helped us improve the efficiency and operational day to day running of our business and provided invaluable opportunities to meet other student entrepreneurs. This was an important network for me at the time and I personally feel I really benefitted from these early experiences to share ideas with other student entrepreneurs who were going through the same steep learning curve that I was going through.”
Commenting on his future plans for the business, Craig says he would like to increase the appeal of classic literature by broadening its consumer appeal.
“We are increasingly looking towards literacy and language development and ways of making classic literature appeal to the majority. By end of March 2012 we will aim to have produced 30 e-books, contributing to one percent of new literature to the Scottish publishing market, which is quite an achievement. We also want to explore avenues where English is learned as a second language and we have recently signed a contract with the Gaelic Book Council and an organisation called Storlann to put one of our ebooks into Gaelic, which they then will distribute to every pupil in Scotland receiving Gaelic education.”
Encouraging other young people to follow their entrepreneurial ambitions, Craig said, “I can’t think of anything better than being directly responsible for the success or failure of a business. The thrill of the chase is exhilarating and the challenges unique. I believe being an entrepreneur offers up opportunity and success in a form that one could not receive in the corporate world, for example.”
“Then of course there are the people — be it my team who are fantastic, the external people and organisations such as the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network, Liz Walsh at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise or even the school teacher and pupils I speak to help develop our products. Business is built on relationships and I thoroughly enjoy seeing how they grow and what commercial outcomes evolve from them.”
He added, “Of course, it’s not a bad thing being your own boss!”