Zoobean


Website: zoobean.com
Twitter: @zoobeanforkids
Facebook: Zoobean
Founders Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey

History

Zoobean is an online platform that curates apps and books for children. Users build a profile on the website, and based on preferences and reading level, the platform offers kids and parents book recommendations. Zoobean uses human and algorithmic curation to offer users personalized reading lists for children's books and apps. [3] Users can search books by age, topic, character, and “most loved.” Users and a handpicked team of parent curators can also leave reviews and recommendations. [9] Unlike other book curators, man of Zoobean's recommended books feature issues that are highly relevant to today's parents including multiracial families, transgender issues or bullying. [16] Zoobean points its members to bookselling sites like Amazon to purchase recommended books. The company has also created a subscription service that sends a curated title from the 'Love Collection' (a Best of the Best group) to members and includes reading guides and activities. Proceeds go to youth literacy nonprofit organizations. [13] 

History

Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Zoobean was founded by husband-and-wife/mom-and-dad team, Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey in 2013. The company began operating in the 1776 offices and now operates out of Rosslyn's Uber offices. [3] The team came up with the idea when they were had trouble finding a book for their son to help him prepare for the arrival of his new sibling as well as reflect their multiracial family. [13] The name 'Zoobean' comes from a nickname the couple had given to their so. [7]  After their success on ABC's Shark Tank, they received an additional $400,000 in funding from Virginia's CIT GAP Funds and Militello Capital, which they will use for marketing and product development. [4] In 2015, Zoobean began to focused on curating apps for children and libraries. The company's latest service, Beanstack, is an app that can integrate into existing library catalogs. Rather than send users books, the beanstack app links to library catalogues and suggests books in a library's collection. [18] Zoobean recently launched Beanstack with the Sacramento Public Library where members and non-members can create a profile on the app based on category like “animals” or “outer space,” and reading level. The app then generates book recommendations that link to the library's catalogm and they are sent to members' inboxes every week. [19]

The Shark Tank Effect

In July of 2014, Brandon and Jordan appeared on ABC's shark tank to pitch their idea to the sharks. Zoobean went on the show looking for $250,000 investment in exchange for 15 percent equity stake in the company. The odds did not look in their favor as the sharks criticized the lack of a need for the company and high customer acquisition costs. Mark Cuban, however, thought the company had the right 'secret sauce' for success. He offered $250,000 for a 30 percent equity, and ultimately settled for $250,000 for 25 percent. That put Zoobean at a valuation of $1 million. [17]

Funding rounds

Funding RoundDatePaper AmountInvestors
VentureApril 23, 2014$400KDingman Center Angels / Mark Cuban
VentureDecember 31, 2013$572.6Kapor Capital
Debt FinancingJune 11, 2013, 2013$270KFriends& Family

References

  1. Emma Mustich #DadsRead Campaign Celebrates Fathers' Efforts To Read With Their Kids The Huffington Post June 3, 2014
  2. Jenny Doren and Tommy McFly "Local entrepreneurs score with children's book discovery platform on 'Shark Tank' " ABC7 (WJLA) April 18, 2014
  3. Bill Flook Zoobean, days after 'Shark Tank' appearance, raises additional funding Washington Business Journal April 22 2014
  4. Billy Mitchell After Shark Tank Success, Zoobean Gets Follow Up Funding DCInno April 23, 2014
  5. CIT GAP Funds backs children’s literacy startup Zoobean Reuters
  6. How we ... Got Mark Cuban to give us $250,000 (Video) Washington Business Journal May 16 2014
  7. Zoobean enters the Shark Tank and catches a check from business mogul Mark Cuban Washington Post
  8. Member Spotlight: Zoobean Launches Personal Recommendation and Digital Guide Service 1776
  9. Tom Krulikowski "Discover the Right Books for Your Children with Zoobean" Tech Cocktail May 28, 2013
  10. "True to the Core: From Iowa, to Google, to Startup Life: How One Entrepreneur Puts Her Values First" Women 2.0
  11. "With Zoobean, D.C. Couple Launches Website to Help Parents Find Books for Their Kids" DCist
  12. "Q&A: Zoobean co-founders Jordan Lloyd Bookey and Felix Brandon Lloyd" Washington Business Journal
  13. Allyson Jacob "Zoobean, an online curator for kids' books, launches and announces seed round" Elevation DC May 13 2013
  14. "Husband-wife team launch Zoobean to make search for kids books smarter" VentureBeat
  15. "Books Business" The Washington Post
  16. Sarah Jacobs "Zoobean Grabs $500K From Kapor Capital & Others" TechCrunch May 13, 2013
  17. Billy Mitchell "ICYMI: Zoobean Snags Mark Cuban Investment on 'Shark Tank" DCInno April 21, 2014
  18. Tim Reagan "Books Mean Business: How a former charter school teacher and ex-Google employee dove into 'Shark Tank' and snagged a billionaire backer." Northern Virginia Magazine January 2015
  19. Terry Chao "Early Literacy App Beanstack Partners with Sacramento Public Library" School Library Journal December 2, 2014