Zoobean Grabs $500K From Kapor Capital & Others For Its Handpicked Kids’ Books Subscription Service & Online Shop

Posted: May 14, 2013 in eCommerce, Funding & Exits, GT, Startup, Technology
Tags: , , , , ,

A number of startups have been trying their hand at
subscription-based children’s books services, or
something like a “Netflix for kids’ books,” so to speak.
Today, another entry called Zoobean joins the flock,
with the debut of its own handpicked catalog which
parents can either subscribe to, or choose to just shop online like a standard e-commerce website. The company was co-founded by Jordan Lloyd
Bookey, Google’s head of K-12 Education Outreach,
and her husband Felix Brandon Lloyd, who is a former
Washington, D.C., Teacher of the Year. Like the
founders of similar services in this space, including
the recently launched Sproutkin and The Little Book Club, for example, the founders are also parents. “About a year ago, when our daughter was born, we
were looking for a book for our son that would help
him understand what it would mean to be a big
brother. And in this particular case – we’re a multi-
racial family – we were looking for something that
might have kids that more resembled our family,” explains Lloyd. That challenge proved harder than they thought. The parents wanted a way to find a recommended
book that matched their interests, but one they knew
was also quality reading. So they built Zoobean to
address this problem. The site, at launch, has nearly 1,500 books for sale,
all of which are parent-recommended, curated by a
team of parents, teachers, librarians and others, and
which are cataloged more extensively with topics,
characters’ backgrounds, recommended ages,
keyword tags and more. That way, when a parent is looking for a specific book on a topic, they can click
to see all those that address that topic – like “self-
esteem,” “anger and frustration,” or “growing up,” for
example, as well as find books that match their own
family structure and characteristics (e.g. “brother &
sister,” “mother & child,” “black,” “Chinese Americans,” etc.) The site will directly sell five featured items per month
centered around a theme, and one of these will be
available through an optional subscription.
Subscribers pay $14.95 for the featured book of the
month, a high-quality, hardcover. However, the
majority of the cataloged books on Zoobean are being sold through affiliates like Amazon. Zoobean also
offers a weekly reading guide for parents detailing the
books in its featured collection along with activities
parent and child can do together to learn more about
the topic. Though when the founders were speaking of their
site’s uniqueness, their focus was on the curation
aspects and the way the books were cataloged in
more detail. But one of the more interesting things
about this service with respect to its competitors is
the diversity its selection reflects. There are books about many different ethnicities and subjects, and
even harder-to-find books that cover transgender
issues or bullying, for example. “Any kid, parent or loved one who’s coming to find the
right book can find one that the child can see him or
herself in,” explains Bookey of the Zoobean
collection. The company has raised $500,000 in a seed round
led by Kapor Capital, along with other private angels,
friends and family. The plan is to raise another
$250,000 on top of that. Until today, Zoobean was in private, invite-only beta
with some 200 testers. Now, it’s opening its doors to
all parents or anyone else in the market for kids’

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