The Dr. is in: Philip Hickman takes reading to the next level
By John Beaudoin

A former superintendent. An entrepreneur.

And yes, a risk-taker.

Dr. Philip Hickman is the creator of PlaBook and the winner of this past July’s Velocity Lee’s Summit Pitch Pub Crawl. PlaBook’s mission is to close the gap of reading and media literacy, bring back the love of writing and to produce immersive multimedia content to increase access and quality to all.

Dr. Hickman said he was frustrated with the obstacles that prevented children from reading as well as the lack of engagement in books. He set out – risks all around him – to change that.

“The risk I took was to launch an EdTech product in Kansas City,” said Dr. Hickman, who out-pitched eight other risk-takers to win the July event, earning him $2,500 in prize money and a scholarship to Velocity’s Listening to Your Business workshop coming up in September. “For some reason, Education Technology is not a product that many Kansas City funders would like to support. So the market to get funding is small. But I believe in the impact of my product. It solves such an important problem no matter the race, demographics, or social-economic status. So I continued to find creative ways to market PlaBook.”

Dr. Hickman founded PlaBook more than 18 months ago and has since picked up a partner and fellow risk-taker in his venture.

“I wanted to invent an innovative reading technology that considers how the brain works and how people are engaged in the reading process,” he said. “The technology has improved as well because we added artificial intelligence to improve our Digital Reading Assistant.”

Dr. Hickman has worked in education for more than 17 years in the field of counseling, special education and as a school psychologist. He’s been a Dean of students, assistant principal, principal, director of education and carried all levels of the superintendent role. His educational aspirations have taken him to St. Louis, Illinois, Houston and Mississippi.

“Unfortunately, everywhere I went, the inability to read was the consistent factor associated with low student achievement,” Dr. Hickman noted.

PlaBook was founded to bring innovation to the book, solve the problem of early reading proficiently and to bring back the love of reading for all ages. PlaBook is utilized by school districts, higher education institutions, individuals and even the entertainment industry.