Reading may be a wonderful way to learn, grow, explore, and expand the mind, but try telling that to kids.
Epic provides an all-you-can-read eBook subscription service for kids 12 and under. Today the startup announced the close of $1.4 million in funding, as well as the launch of its iPad app.
“Parents, educators, and kids alike recognize the value of reading, and we’re all aware how popular mobile devices are with kids,” cofounder and CEO Suren Markosian told VentureBeat. “Unfortunately, kids are spending the majority of their screen time playing games and watching videos rather than reading. Epic is the first app that offers an ‘epic’ reading experience for kids by making reading more accessible and fun so kids will read more on the devices they already love.”
Kids can read as much as they want for $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year, which means they don’t have to ask their parents every time they want to buy a new book. The hope is that less friction translates into more reading.
The books are streamed rather than downloaded so there is no wait time, and kids can get personalized book recommendations based on their age and interest, as well as badges and rewards for reading achievements.
Epic’s library currently has 2,000 available titles through partnerships with publishers including Simon & Schuster, Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, Open Road, and Integrated Media.
There are a number of players out there positioning themselves as “Netflix for books” — Amazon, Oyster, Scribd, and Entitle to name a few. Markosian said Epic stands out by designing the product with kids in mind.
“The true competitor here is kids not reading, and that’s the problem we’re working to solve,” Markosian said. “By focusing on this specific age group, we’re giving parents the comfort of knowing that the content their children can access is age-appropriate and curated by leaders in children’s publishing.”
Markosian was one of the founders of Crowdstar, a large social gaming company with more than 250 million game downloads. Cofounder Kevin Donahue previously worked at Google in strategic partnerships and was a member of YouTube’s original team. He has also worked for Disney and the Cartoon Network.
Menlo Ventures, Webb Investment Network, Innovation Endeavors, Maven Ventures, Morado Ventures, and others participated in this round.
Epic is based in Palo Alto, Calif.