Entrepreneur

Husband-wife team launch Zoobean to make searching for kids books smarter

BEPhotoLloyd097Underneath the bright illustrations and charming stories, children’s books contain subtext intended to help children relate to the world around them. Zoobean launched today to make it easier for parents to find books that are the most relevant for their children.

Zoobean is a curated catalog of children’s books. Every book on the site is recommended by parents and categorized using “common sense” tags. Parents can search for books that explore specific themes, like bullying, the death of a pet, or magic as well as browse by age group, character background, or genre.

Zoobean was founded by a husband-and-wife duo who both built a carer in education. Maureen Felix Brandon Lloyd was named a Washington, D.C., Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001. He went on to build and sell a platform called Skill-Life that taught children about financial literary through online games. Jordan Lloyd Bookey is a former teacher who also directed a DC-based nonprofit supporting literacy efforts in low-income neighborhoods and is the outgoing head of Google’s K-12 Education Outreach.

This educational power couple was expecting their second children and searching for a book to teach their 3-year-old son about what it meant to be a big brother. Identifying relevant books proved to be a challenge.

“At the time we could not easily find books that told stories about new experiences and featured a brother and sister and a multiracial family,” they said in an email. “In stores, books were organized by genre, author, or very broad themes that weren’t really relevant for them. We also searched many popular shopping websites, but the information was overwhelming and impersonal.  In the end, we were frustrated and empty-handed. Parents and educators rely on remarkable books to help connect children to their worlds and we decided to create Zoobean to address a need that benefits families and helps children imagine and achieve anything.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.18.17 AMThe books are indexed by a team of 10 curators using over 500 tags. Parents can filter the search queries down to exactly what they are looking for or browse through “Most Loved” books or those featuring the most “hearts” (the Zoobean version of a Facebook “like”). The company offers a subscription service, direct sales of featured books and affiliate sales of books in its catalog.

The founders said their mission is to become “the most trusted curator for the $25 billion dollar market for children’s books, games, and other educational products.”

To help them achieve this goal, Kapor Capital has led a seed investment of $500,000 with participation from angels. It is a big market with competitors ranging from startups like Sproutkin to large e-retailers and publishers including Amazon, Scholastic, and non-profit Common Sense Media. Zoobean is based in Washington D.C.


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